Using Twitter to be a better librarian

26 11 2015

Twitter icon, Flickr CC

Twitter has become so integral to my professional identity that it’s perhaps time to pause and reflect on my use of Twitter, in particular how it connects me to librarians and colleagues in other sectors.

I’ve been on Twitter since 2012 (as a result of participating in the CPD23 programme).  I Tweet as @librarianpocket about issues relating to libraries, health care, professional development and other work stuff.

What I love about Twitter is that it allows me to connect with people that I might otherwise feel too wary to approach directly (something that I’m getting better at).  As someone who is naturally cautious, Twitter makes me feel brave.

Twitter comes into its own, for me, at an event where people are tweeting, be it a conference or meeting, social event or workshop.  Twitter has helped me to spark conversations with people that would never have happened under my own steam.  After tweeting one of the speakers at a library conference, we ended up arranging to meet in the break and we had a really interesting discussion about ways we might work together.  At an event to launch a new health care initiative, I tweeted using the official hashtag, and one of the event organisers approached me afterwards after recognising me from the photo on my Twitter account.  Twitter helps me to engage and connect with people.

I use Twitter to keep up to date.  For me, gone are the days of RSS feeds and email discussion lists – Twitter is what I use to stay connected to professional issues.  Tweets from people that I follow signpost me to useful reports, news items and innovation in my areas of interest.  I surround myself on Twitter with news feeds relating to my local community and local health issues, looking for opportunities to work in partnership with people outside my organisation.  I recently used Twitter to promote our Reminiscence Box service to the local community.  Using Twitter means I don’t lose touch with people.  I engage with library colleagues from all sectors, including library contacts I’ve made from visiting libraries and conferences in India, Canada and across the UK.

Twitter has helped me to raise the profile of the Library and Knowledge Service within my own organisation.  Our Communications team has encouraged the use of Twitter in the organisation over the last couple of years, so senior managers and clinicians, who ordinarily I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to speak to, are fellow Tweeters.  It’s a good way to show that the Library and Knowledge Service is at the forefront of social media and technology – that we are librarians who know our stuff!  The official Trust Twitter account often re-tweets me, endorsing what I’ve shared and disseminating it to a much wider range of people.

I’d definitely say that using Twitter helps me to be better at my job – I am more intrepid, I am better connected, gregarious and (arguably*) more interesting!

*Disclaimer: my colleagues may disagree!


Reflection on Week 6 of the LIHNN Literature Searching MOOC

19 11 2015

Evaluation scale by  Bill Sodeman (Flickr CC)

The last week of the MOOC is here!  And we finish with arguably the most crucial aspect of literature searching… evaluation.  I thought a lot of the content this week would be really useful to someone who is setting up a literature searching service, after all, evaluation shouldn’t be an afterthought but rather something we should be thinking about from the very beginning, right?

I loved this week’s examination of impact and how we might present and disseminate impact to our stakeholders.  It strikes me that there’s content and learning here that ventures more widely than literature searching and more widely than health libraries (an opportunity for sharing / branching out?).

Within my own service we have, over the last 6 months, piloted and implemented a thorough system to capture impact data via questionnaire.  It took months of planning and it is aligned with our organisational objectives.  However, after completing this week’s MOOC , I think we need to go further and capture some interview data too, so that’s one thing I’ll be taking back into the workplace.

Again this week I’ve found that so much of what I’ve enjoyed in the MOOC has been seeing examples from other services.  I love the posters and reports that present and disseminate impact data – is there a way we can keep these as a repository of good practice?  I’d love to see more of them.  I look forward to next week reflecting back on the MOOC in its entirety and thinking about what I can take away from the wonderful experience of my first ever MOOC!

Reflection on Week 5 of the LIHNN Literature Searching MOOC

13 11 2015

Week 5 has been the most mind-blowing week of the MOOC so far!  This week focused on summarising the results of literature searches and presenting them to the customer.  It has led me to reflect a lot about the service that we deliver in my own team and perhaps some adjustments that we could make to improve the customer experience.

Firstly, perhaps the most useful part of this week’s MOOC was looking at the evidence summary examples from other services.  I was blown away by the examples from Mersey Care in particular; they were so clear and engaging and really focused on making it easy for the customer to digest the available evidence.  Kudos to Clare Payne and the team at Mersey Care.  I also liked the way that SENSE described the different levels of searching that they provide, which raises the question of terminology again; is ‘literature searching service’ something that health professionals understand, and should we be calling it something different?

Something I’d be keen to understand from the librarians who provide a synthesising service is how they reached this level of service.  Currently, we provide a limited summary of the evidence, we certainly don’t summarise in depth, and the thought of synthesising every single literature search we get is terrifying.  But if this is the level of service that we are aiming for (which I think it would be, for me, anyway), then how do we move towards that?  Testing out the templates on one or two searches might be a good way to start I suppose.  Perhaps this also depends on organisational culture, and how much evidence base practice is embedded in the Trust.  We still get lots of general requests for things like ‘Give me all the evidence on managing head injury in A&E’, rather than clear, focused questions like the ones used in the examples here.  I’m not sure that all our search requests would be suitable for synthesis.  Any insight from people working in library services where synthesising services are provided would be really helpful.

Additionally, there’s a real issue here, I think, around the skills and confidence of librarians to deliver a service where we synthesise evidence routinely.  My experience is that it’s something that a lot of librarians are apprehensive about.  This MOOC is one way to encourage those skills to be developed, but I think further support in the workplace would be required in order to move us towards delivering this level of service.

Having said that, I’m itching to try out the synthesis templates demonstrated in this week’s MOOC content, and I will try to look out for a ‘real life’ opportunity to do so 🙂

Reflecting on Week 4 of the LIHNN Literature Searching MOOC

6 11 2015

Ooh, lots of great tips and tricks in this week’s installment of the LIHNN Literature Searching MOOC!  This week’s REFINE topic covered lots of real-life literature searching dilemmas that I’ve never before seen covered in any formal teaching – only ever discussed in my own team or at LIHNN Clinical Librarians Groups (great stuff, MOOC creators :-))

My own favourite tip was around the use of search filters in HDAS.  I have been using the publication type filter in Medline, when in fact it is not 100% reliable.  There are more watertight search filters, as published on the InterTASC pages, and these can be replicated in HDAS.  As most of these filters are quite detailed (and therefore quite long), the MOOC suggests that you save a search filter as a separate search so you can then re-run it at the end of any searches that you need to apply the filter to.  Genius (why have I never done this before?!)!  This is something I’ll definitely be trying.

Another highlight this week was the quiz.  I have been known to enjoy a good quiz, and I thought the quiz this week was excellent.  It’s something I can see myself using in training sessions with end users, because it really helped me to think about different techniques and the circumstances in which I’d employ them.

Finally, a MOOC tip from me: don’t eat an apple while doing the MOOC, the crunching invariably drowns out Michelle’s lovely narration and means you have to keep winding back to listen to the bits you missed :-/