I’m back! Moving into NHS librarianship

It’s been an awfully long time since my last update, so I’m just going to do a quick summary of what I’ve been up to since my last post!

In November 2015 I took up the post of Liaison Support Librarian at St George’s, University of London. This is a medical school in Tooting, South London, which works closely with St George’s NHS Foundation Trust. My job move was primarily for personal reasons as I wanted to move to London to be with my partner. However professionally it was also a great opportunity to move into a new sector as a healthcare librarian. My role primarily involved providing training to lots of healthcare professionals studying for CPD qualifications alongside their busy day jobs. It was a challenge dealing with users who often lacked confidence in IT skills, but such a rewarding experience showing them how easy it could be to find high quality evidence for their work, and providing lots of support and encouragement.¬†Additionally I was also given the opportunity to run literature searches for NHS staff, this was a very valuable skill and one that is very specific to health librarianship. Other things that I did there included helping with marketing/promotion of the library, providing RefWorks training and support, and general enquiry desk duties.

 

I felt I wanted more of a professional challenge after about 4 months, and in May 2016 I started as the Knowledge Resources Manager for the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust. It’s been 10 months in this job and the time has absolutely flown by, I asked for a professional challenge and boy did I get one!! The library team consists of myself and a library assistant so I have had so much to learn – I think I will do a separate post about being a solo librarian. We provide training and support for students taking courses at the Royal Marsden School; I have had library/information skills sessions embedded into 90% of the 20 or so modules that we have run so far this academic year. In addition to this, we provide library support for all staff working at the Royal Marsden; this involves running literature searches, sourcing books/journals, managing access to online resources, and answering enquiries… among other things! Luckily we are a smaller trust than most as we are a specialist cancer hospital, so it is just about doable with a small team.

 

So that’s just a quick snapshot of where I’m at at the moment! I am hoping to bring this blog back to life as it is a useful place to keep track of my professional development. Also, others have mentioned that they have found it useful ūüôā

Chartership portfolio submitted!

There are lots of changes happening in my life at the moment, which is why this blog has gone quiet in recent days! Yesterday, I finally submitted my chartership portfolio – hurrah! It’s been pedal to the metal with chartership over the past two months, as I wanted to submit before beginning my new job next week (more on this in a future blog post!).

Step 1: CILIP chartership event

I found the chartership process quite easy and straightforward. I kicked things off first and foremost by attending a CILIP ‘getting started with chartership’ event in London. This event was really useful because we were able to ask experts our fiddly¬†questions, and had the opportunity to look at different example portfolios. I also felt reassured that there were lots of other people in the same boat as I was, and I came away from the session feeling more confident about the process as a whole. I wouldn’t say the event was essential, but it was helpful.

Step 2: PKSB 

I then went away and worked on my PKSB. I was really anxious about this – it’s a horrible document that’s just far too long, with confusing terminology and lots of the points overlap anyway! Luckily I was reassured by the fact that at the chartership event, it was clarified that we only really needed to focus on 6-10 points, and that it was ok to be totally clueless about areas outside our own experience. The Excel spreadsheet version of the PKSB is infinitely more useful and manageable to use than the unwieldy PDF.

Step 3: Mentor

I found it difficult to locate a mentor outside my sector that was close to me geographically, so I decided to widen the net a little and found the lovely and helpful Alison Millis, who is based in Tunbridge Wells – about 2.5 hours away! We got in touch via email and I did visit her once, but beyond that all our communication was done via email. I found the online portfolio system really lends itself to distance mentoring as Alison was able to track changes in my portfolio and offer her comments without too much hassle. Alison helped me to put together an action plan for my chartership and was very responsive and helpful throughout.

Step 4: Professional Development activities (and gathering evidence along the way)

I am quite lucky in that my (soon to be former) workplace is excellent at providing training and CPD opportunities. Senior management gave us¬†2 hours a month dedicated to chartership discussions, as well as our own training budget. What I found especially useful was the opportunity to participate in the University of Reading’s FLAIR teaching scheme for new academics, which has meant that I am now an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and feel like less of a fraud when delivering teaching and training! I didn’t really have to do a whole lot specifically for chartership – lots of the activities that I used for evidence just came from all the things that I did as part of my job.

Step 5: Putting it all together

I started writing my evaluative statement almost from the very beginning – a really useful piece of advice given to me by Alison. Having the structure outlined, organised according to the evaluative criteria and the PKSB skills I wanted to evidence, was really useful in helping me keep focused in my writing. Also, I am lucky to have had practice with reflective writing during my MA course at Sheffield – thank you Barbara! The VLE is very clunky and not the nicest to use, but I was able to figure my way around it reasonably easily, doing most of my writing in Word and copying things over to the VLE when I’d finished. I didn’t personally need any help but I’ve seen from various forum notifications that the CILIP team are very responsive and helpful, if you do encounter problems.

Anyway, it’s in the hands of the assessors now… fingers crossed!

Lovely wildflowers at the Horniman Museum

Lovely wildflowers at the Horniman Museum

Social media for teaching and learning

Earlier this week I attended a University of Reading workshop on using social media for teaching and learning. A storify summary of the day is available here.

I thought the day was very useful overall, although there were lots of things discussed (such as Padlet¬†and Quizizz)¬†that I would consider more ‘online tools’ than social media, really. There were lots of examples of good practice, but some of the key points that I took away were:

  • Privacy is a real issue of concern for many academics and students. Facebook offers a greater degree of ‘distance’ than Twitter (you don’t have to be ‘friends’ to be in the same group and communicate, groups can be kept private). Some academics were also concerned about potential problems arising from more informal modes of communication with their students and were worried that they might get in trouble with the university for not following established protocols. I suppose the key here is for the university to publish clearer guidelines on acceptable social media use for professional and educational purposes.
  • Cultural differences affect social media choices! Facebook isn’t big with Chinese students, for example. So this is important to bear in mind when selecting the right platform to use with your students
  • It’s better to back web-based tools rather than programs which need to be downloaded (often university machines are locked down and any new programs and updates need IT departments to get involved).
  • Lack of confidence amongst academics is a key barrier as well. I think there is such an opportunity here for us to get involved, as there is a clear demand for more training and expertise sharing!¬†I know many librarians already run social media workshops for staff and students (Judge Business School Library, for example), and as professionals experienced in providing training on new technologies and ways of managing and navigating information, we already have many of the necessary skills.
London skyline

London looking lovely on a summer’s evening

I would like to incorporate social media into my own teaching practices but I’m not sure how well this would work, particularly given the way in which I often only see students for one or two isolated sessions throughout their academic careers, rather than having a sustained relationship with them over time. The web tools, however, are easier to apply in the sessions that I teach, and I will definitely try them out in some of the induction sessions I’m running in October!

Overall the day was a brilliant learning experience for me. I thoroughly enjoyed discussing ideas and opportunities with academics from across the university, finding out what works, and what doesn’t.

Preparing for my first conference paper

In January, I submitted my MA dissertation abstract to¬†the¬†i3 conference. I didn’t really expect much to come from it, but I thought it might be an interesting experience, and it was something to do with my dissertation, anyway. It took ages for them to reply, so I forgot all about it. Then, in March, I received an email telling me that I’d been accepted to present!¬†I was very excited and jumped around the office for a bit, but then I didn’t hear anything for months and I almost forgot all about it again, getting caught up instead with chartership and work-related activities.

The¬†conference programme was recently finalised, and it was a bit of a surprise to see my name there in black and white. I’ve now booked my accommodation and travel and registered for the conference, so it looks like it’s finally official. It seems like a bit of a shock, from my initial stab in the dark! My topic is ‘Representations of privacy in the context of care.data: conflicts of interest between government, newspaper and public discourses’.

Beautiful evening sky in Reading

Beautiful evening sky in Reading

Although I am comfortable with presenting to fellow librarians and students, I can’t help but feel that a conference paper is going to be a different kettle of fish altogether. I feel out of my depth – I’m not an expert in privacy studies, or in information behaviour, or social media interactions! What questions will they ask? Do I know my material well enough? I’m just a puny little MA student amongst the research postgraduates and established academics…

Luckily, the two anonymous reviewers of my abstract have provided some useful and constructive feedback, which I will apply to my presentation. I have also been looking up tips on presenting at conferences; there are lots of reassuring blog posts written by early career academics and professionals. I also have to do lots of reading to catch up on the way in which the field has evolved since I wrote my dissertation – July 2014 seems like a lifetime ago now! Time to get busy – I’m away for two weeks in June, so have to do most of the preparation in what’s left of this month…