Reflection on week 2 of the LIHNN Literature Searching MOOC

16 10 2015

I’ve found it more difficult this week to get round to doing the Literature Searching MOOC, hence why this blog post is being written on a Friday afternoon 🙂

This week looked at scoping a literature search and I found that a lot of the steps covered I tend to skip during a typical literature search – out of habit, or lack of time.  It’s been useful to look at those in more detail.  I am definitely guilty of “sticking with what you do” and the MOOC this week has highlighted some resources that I use less often, such as QIPP, that I’ll certainly look at again in the future.

The MOOC wiki arranges resources according to type of literature and type of question.  I can see how this will be useful in a practical way when conducting searches.  I was especially pleased to see the 6S model resources list , since here at Wirral we structure the layout of our search results according to the 6S hierarchy.

There was one quiz this week that I found really challenging! Participants were asked to identify the best level of evidence to answer a particular question and the quiz required you to figure out the type of question (e.g. prognosis, etiology) and then the best type of study to answer that question (e.g. RCT, systematic review).  I found this quite difficult as when faced with an incoming literature search request, this isn’t usually the thought process that I’d go through.  It certainly challenged my usual way of thinking!  It got me thinking that the questions that we are asked don’t usually fit very well into a question type, and increasingly aren’t clinical questions at all.  For example, this week I’ve been asked to find examples of leadership programmes for clinicians in Emergency Medicine.  So this way of thinking, although useful from a theoretical point of view, perhaps doesn’t always match the reality of delivering a literature searching service (for me, at least).

Another video featured in the MOOC this week (that I LOVED) was one that demonstrated how to use Boolean operators.  I’d really like to be able to use these videos in training and I wonder if an end-product of the MOOC could be a bank (or, dare I say it, a ‘library’) of training videos that people can use in training their end users.

Overall, this was another thought-provoking week on the MOOC and I look forward to the next!


Producing a promotional video for your library service

13 10 2015

There have been several promotional library videos that have caught my attention this year, so I thought I would share some of my favourites and reflect on my own experience of producing one for my own Library and Knowledge Service.


The motivation to produce a short promotional video was inspired in February 2015 by a need to capture the impact of our service, and recognising that a short film might be a good way to do this.

Our inspiration

We were inspired after seeing this excellent offering from Pennine Acute NHS Trust.  We loved the fresh graphics and contemporary feel of the video, but we knew that we didn’t have the resources or expertise to produce similar effects.

More recently this video produced by Lancashire Teaching Hospitals has caught my eye with its slick graphics and clear branding.

We also really like the message of ‘the library everywhere’ that was at the forefront of this video from St Michael’s Hospital in Ontario, Canada.  However, we felt it was important that our video was from a customer perspective, rather than the library staff.

So, what we wanted was a way of demonstrating the impact of the LKS, using the stories of our customers in their own words.

The process

We produced a series of storyboards, liaised with our Communications team to discuss key messages, intended audience and purpose.  We agreed that the core messages we wanted to convey were that we were a service for all staff groups, and could be accessed anywhere, anytime, in any place.

We approached key LKS members that we knew had a story to tell about the impact of our service.  They were customers with whom we had built a good relationship and who indicated they would be happy to be involved.  We arranged a filming schedule over several weeks in April and May 2015 which included interviews these customers as well as some additional footage of the library and departments in the hospital.  We made sure that we filmed in a variety of locations, including Pharmacy, Accident and Emergency, Intensive Care and the Undergraduate Centre.  We were keen to illustrate the wide variety of our customers and access points.

The footage was edited by the Communications team and a first edit presented to us in May 2015.  The first edit was presented to the Workforce and Communications Group as well as the wider HR&OD team for comments and feedback.  Following some minor changes (captions illustrating name/role of interviewees and additional graphics) we launched the final edit on the Trust’s YouTube channel on 1st July 2015.

So, what worked?

We had an extremely good working relationship with the Communications team who prioritised the project and worked to our deadlines.

We filmed in various locations (inside and outside the library) to illustrate the accessibility and flexibility of the service.

We identified people from different staff groups to film so that the video featured a diverse customer base.

Each person being filmed was interviewed in a very informal style and we didn’t use any scripts.  This put them at ease and the end result is a very natural and meaningful series of statements from the customer.

And what didn’t work?

We originally intended to have more graphics – however no resources or expertise were available within our Trust.

Filming took longer than expected due to availability of the people we wanted to film so our timeframe slipped slightly.

Some locations were not suitable filming locations due to technical or logistical issues (lighting, shared offices, patients in background).


The video was promoted on Twitter via the Trust’s official Twitter feed which has over 2000 followers.  It was re-tweeted by many people including other librarians and senior managers from within the organisation.

We got some feedback from people who viewed the video:

“That’s really good, I like how you got interviews with people we’ll have to do that!”

“It is fabulous!  It has the right amount of services information and flows very naturally. The narrator captures your attention without sounding boring. I also thought the length is just about right.”

“This is really great!  It’s a really good idea having customers talking about the benefits of the service.”

“Very impressive!”

“Involving the staff of the trust makes this one stand out from the crowd!   Must have been difficult to organise but well worth the time.”

Final reflections

The entire process from drafting storyboards and approaching customers, to arranging the filming schedule and editing, took months.  However, the project was exciting and fun for the LKS team to work on and strengthened our relationships with the customers that were featured in the video.  The project has also improved our relationship with the Communications team, who now have a more in-depth understanding of the services that we provide.  Less than four months following its release the video has been viewed nearly 500 times on YouTube, and we now have a ‘ready made’ video that we can use at events and library inductions.

Reflection on week 1 of the LIHNN Literature Searching MOOC

12 10 2015

To add to the LIHNN MOOC blog post published today, I though I’d reflect on my own experiences of participating in Week 1 of the MOOC.

This was the first MOOC I’ve done and it’s been really interesting so far.  Although literature searching is something I’ve got experience of, I wanted to keep my skills fresh and pick up some tips from other librarians along the way.  I was also keen to see how literature searching training could be delivered effectively online, as this is an area into which we may be moving within my own service.

The video clips in the MOOC so far have been quite short, and I really valued that.  It made it much easier for me to dip in and out of the MOOC during the working day.  They felt really ‘bite size’ and not long winded at all, which was impressive considering there were some meaty concepts included in the content.  It would have been really useful if there was a way for the MOOC to remember where I was up to; when I’d been interrupted and went back to the MOOC later, I sometimes found it difficult to remember my place!

There were video clips and exercises that would translate really well into training that we deliver to the end user, particularly the exercise matching study types and definitions.  This is something we do in group sessions such as Journal Clubs, but this was a really effective way of delivering that exercise in an e-learning format.

I found the detail that was covered in Week 1 to be quite extensive, especially when describing different types of question.  I wondered if perhaps some of the terminology used here might be quite off-putting to someone who was a beginner to literature searching.  I also found that there was a lot of focus on the PICO framework and perhaps other frameworks could have been used in some of the examples.  We don’t tend to use PICO as standard in training as most of the questions we are asked don’t fit in neatly to that framework.  However, other services might have a different experience.

The discussion boards were a great way to submit answers (and see other people’s answers) to questions posed by the MOOC, and I think there’s huge potential here to share insight and tips internationally with other librarians, which is really exciting.

Overall I really enjoyed Week 1 and I’m really looking forward to seeing what Week 2 will bring!

Branding our library service

21 09 2015

In May 2015 I attended ‘Brand Up and Be Counted’; a course on branding your library service organised by LIHNN and facilitated by the wonderful Amanda Stearn of Align.  Four months on, I want to reflect on the impact that the course has had on me and my service.

I came away from the course hugely motivated and with the following learning points:

  • A brand is something that evokes an emotion or feeling
  • Library services have opportunities for many ‘brand moments’ with customers through which to communicate the brand personality
  • A brand DNA exercise is a great way to develop a brand for your service
  • Our Library and Knowledge Service does not have a defined brand and we are not taking advantage of our ‘brand moments’

Branding is a huge deal to companies all over the world.  Millions of pounds are spent on developing and maintaining brands.  Good branding is always memorable.  Yet in libraries, who are arguably also trying to sell a ‘product’, the same emphasis is not given to branding.  Why?  We want to be remembered too (and for the right reasons).  Is it that we’ve never had to do it?  Is it that we’re not very good at it?  Times are changing, and the course convinced me that branding should also be a huge deal to libraries, too.

My brand DNA exercise

My brand DNA exercise

So, back at work, I cascaded my learning to my team, and we each brought in an item from our favourite brand, which sparked a discussion around what emotions a good brand evokes.  We repeated the Brand DNA exercise that I’d done on the course.  Undertaking this exercise together really helped me to think from all perspectives of the team, not just my own.  The ‘brand moment’ that a Library Assistant might have with a customer at the desk are very different to one that I might experience at a meeting, for example.  Following an energetic discussion, we agreed a brand DNA for our service.  Our new brand promise evokes the themes of bespoke services, libraries without walls and perfectly poised library staff: “Tailored services in the right place at the right time”.  We agreed some additional actions that we needed to address.  Below is a list of the things we have introduced / changed as a result:

  • The LKS brand promise has been added to our webpages, our leaflet and our plasma TV screen.
  • We successfully bid for funding from HCLU’s Library Development Fund for an IT Suite podium, a blackboard, new bins and a clock to improve signage and ambiance in the library.
  • We changed how we answer the phone so that we are consistent.
  • The library entrance is double doors.  For as long as any of us could remember we’ve only opened one door.  Following our branding discussion we now open both doors to convey that we are a welcoming and approachable service.
  • We undertook a review of our noticeboards.
  • We now introduce ourselves by name when we deal with a customer.
  • We re-badged our ‘Clinical Librarian service’ webpage as ‘Our specialist services’ and gave examples of what our specialist services are.
  • We asked our Communications team to take a new team photo (below) and this photo is on the webpages and in reports such as our Quarterly Report, which goes out to all stakeholders.
Our new team photo

Our new team photo

Having a team conversation about branding has been a really important step for us.  We’ve made some small changes but we also have long term plans, including a new Facebook page.  We’re trying to be consistent in how we communicate and deal with customers and exploit every brand moment.  Moving forward, I hope we can continue to put our brand into practice and become known as a service that is consistent, engaging and unforgettable.

CILIP Conference 2015

13 07 2015

I have produced a storify of my learning and reflections on CILIP Conference 2015.

Team one-to-ones

26 03 2015

I recently write a guest post on the NW Clinical Librarians Blog on the value of team one-to-ones.  You can read the post here.

Parenting skills that help me be a better librarian

31 10 2014

I’ve just returned to work following my second maternity leave, having spent the past 10 months at home with a baby and toddler.  Being able to sit on a chair (as opposed to the floor) and enjoy a hot cup of tea (as opposed to a luke warm offering) in relative peace is still a novelty.  To some it might seem that maternity leave is a break in your career; valuable time out of the workplace that is lost forever.  I’d argue that being a parent, and spending time at home with small children, has actually helped me to develop skills that I’m going to find invaluable in my library career.



I thought I was pretty good at multitasking, but managing with two small children on my own at home has taken this TO ANOTHER LEVEL.  I spend my mornings picking dried Weetabix out of the carpet, while trying to stop the crawling baby dunking himself head first into the dog’s water dish, keeping one eye on the 3 year old who is shouting “Watch this, Mummy!” as he hurtles off the sofa onto a pile of cushions.  If I can do this, I can get through all those outstanding emails, a dozen literature searches and a page-long ‘to-do’ list no problem.


Not taking myself too seriously

Yesterday my toddler announced, “Mummy, I’ll be Thomas and you be the Fat Controller” (thanks for that), and we embarked on a very detailed and serious role play scenario, me using my most authentic and well-practised Fat Controller’s voice (it’s taken months to perfect).  Other times we’ll have a moment of frenetic dancing around the living room, the toddler shouting out instructions: “Clap your hands! Kick your legs! Higher, Mummy!”  Singing ridiculous songs at playgroup and having a ‘funny faces’ competition is a good reminder that a bit of silliness and fun is sometimes necessary to help you through the day.


Thinking on my feet

I have never had to field so many awkward questions, and be so creative in my responses to irrational demands as I have since living with a 3 year old.  “Mummy, what does donkey poo look like?”. “Mummy, I want Rice Krispies, I want Rice Krispies!” [Mummy brings Rice Krispies] “No, I don’t want that!”.  “Mummy, I want to go to Father Christmas’ house NOWWWWWWWW!”.  Responding to such unreasonable requests makes those difficult questions at the end of a work presentation seem a breeze.



Being a fulltime working parent means I have to be super organised.  Each month a family rota details childcare arrangements; meals are batch cooked and frozen until needed; clothes are laid out the night before.  A never-ending ‘to-do’ list constantly floats around in my head.  Attention to detail is essential (toddler likes the striped bowl and the orange spoon), and the chaos of life means that minor details and useless facts have to be plucked from my memory instantly (that one needs more work).  All of which is great practice for organising my workload, writing accurate reports and remembering names in meetings (that one definitely needs more work).


Social media

You thought librarians were good at social media?  Mums (and dads) are at it too.  Facebook allows me to join all sorts of parenting groups to converse with like-minded parents, and I can ask random parenting questions on Twitter (“Can you freeze cheese sandwiches?”) and know that another parent, somewhere in cyberspace, will know the answer (Yes, you can, by the way.  And tuna sandwiches too).  I’ve even joined an online slow cooker group for people who love slow cookers, in an effort to be a more accomplished and organised parent.  Good grief.  And there are any number of mummy bloggers out there recounting their parenting failures and accomplishments to reassure you that you’re not alone.  So even while on maternity leave I was on Twitter every day to help me solve life’s little problems, and was connecting with an online community that’s just as active as the library and information world.



My parenting experience so far has been a continuous cycle of What? So what? Now what? (Driscoll, 2007); it’s a constant learning experience.  Dealing with the illogical and hectic behaviour of small people requires a very steep learning curve.  Every day I’m required to reflect on what worked, what didn’t and what I’ll do differently next time, in order to navigate my way through the chaos of modern family life and answer some of those big questions: How do I remove baby’s clothing most effectively following a nappy explosion?   How many towels are required to dry the bathroom floor following bathtime?  What is the best way to diffuse a toddler tantrum in the middle of Tesco car park?  With reflection as a daily custom at home, I can ensure that I apply those skills in the workplace too, and endeavour to learn continuously from both positive and negative experiences.


Time out of work has given me the opportunity to grow and develop personally, which will hopefully have positive implications for my professional life too.  So while I may have been away from the library, I’ve been continuing to gain experience in a wide range of useful skills that will equip me for the next chapter of my career.



Driscoll, J. (2007) Practising Clinical Supervision: A Reflective Approach for Healthcare Professionals. 2nd ed. Edinburgh: Bailliere Tindall Elsevier.