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 🙂

First week as a trainee liaison librarian

I’ve survived my first week of work as a trainee liaison librarian! So much has happened – I’ve met many people, been told many things, and am starting to get my head around the things I’m meant to be doing. I thought this would be a good opportunity to reflect on what I’ve learnt so far, and what I need to work on.

The first few days of my job were largely spent absorbing information. Monday was used to sort out administrative things, like where things are, a staff card and IT permissions, whilst on Tuesday and Wednesday several members of staff kindly took time out of their busy days to talk me through various Library processes and procedures. By Wednesday afternoon, I felt that I had a good understanding of my roles and responsibilities, although I hadn’t actually done very much myself beyond checking reading lists for the availability of recommended books in our Library.

My staff card

By Thursday afternoon, I was able to order some of these books and ebooks for the use of students in my department – initially with the guidance of my supervisor, Gordon, but later on independently! This was really satisfying as it was my first opportunity to actually perform some of my liaison librarian duties, including making decisions about how many copies to purchase, or whether print or electronic versions would be more appropriate. It was great to be able to put the theory I’d learned over the first few days into practice. On Friday, I booked in some of my first subject-specific induction sessions, and emailed members of academic staff. Real liaison librarian activities!

The 4th Floor of the Library is currently being renovated, so it has been difficult to get a real feel for where I’ll be working and where things are. Also as a result of this, I’ve been unable to assume my management responsibilities, which should cover shelvers on this floor. I’m actually quite grateful for this as it has meant that I will be able to ease in to my responsibilities slowly, taking them on gradually over the coming weeks.

Another challenge that I’ve faced so far is understanding the Library and how things work. One of the unique things about the staff structure here is that (unlike all my places of previous employment) individuals are only rarely given strictly functional roles, and most people have a range of responsibilities across different parts of the Library. For example, one Library Assistant could primary have cataloguing responsibilities, but also have certain hours of their day allocated towards shelving, and others towards liaison assistance in a particular department. This is great and I can see how this would be a really positive thing for the Library overall, but it makes learning who people are and what they do trickier!

Over the next week, I hope to be able to gain a better understanding of my department and its unique information needs, and begin building relationships with academic and administrative staff. I think I’ll investigate other university libraries’ libguides for my subject areas. I should also learn more about my Modern Languages responsibilities, as a key member of staff will have returned from annual leave. I’ll try harder to learn people’s names and responsibilities, particularly Library Assistants and fellow Liaison Librarians – the website and intranet will be useful for this. I could also start thinking about my teaching responsibilities, and how I will approach them.

Overall, I’m relieved to have reached the end of my first week without breaking anything! My colleagues have been really patient and supportive, and I’m really looking forward to learning more from and working with them over the coming weeks. There are times when I still feel really nervous and unprepared for everything I’m meant to be doing, but I’ve just got to stay positive, build on my professional experience, and remember that there are people there to support me.

PS: here is my staff page!

Thing 3: My Personal Brand

When I made the decision to pursue a career in librarianship and information management and began job-hunting in earnest, one of the first things I did was go about increasing my online visibility. I didn’t really see it as ‘branding’ as such, though I recognise now that that’s what it was! Although I didn’t go to the CILIP New Professionals’ Day 2012, lots of people who did attend have blogged helpfully about it, and I’ve watched Ned Potter’s Prezi as well – these give a great overview of what a personal brand is, and how to best control it.

I don’t feel uncomfortable with making my personal name and photograph available on the internet, because I’d like to have any online professional output easily connected to my real-life identity. My main professional output takes place on Twitter, Peripeteia, emagazine and WordPress, where I am happy to use my real name and photograph. Facebook I keep strictly personal, with high security settings, whilst I don’t use my real name on my Victorian-interest blog. I think this means that I’m more of a compartmentalising sort of person – though I’m not a different person altogether when I’m doing library-related things, it’s important to maintain a degree of self-awareness when posting anything that I’ve associated with my name and face.

My name is quite a unique one, so 9/10 of the Google Search Results page is accurate, showing my LinkedIn, Twitter, Peripeteia and LISNPN profile pages. This blog also shows up, which is heartening. Everything that turns up is positive and work-related, so I’m pleased with the outcome of this exercise.

I always feel quite self-conscious about ‘non-academic’ writing, especially since with blogging and twitter I feel like I’m writing to an anonymous audience. That’s why this cpd23 programme will be good for me, as it will take me outside of my comfort zone and help me find my own professional online voice. I think I’m going to work more on my  visual branding as well, and try to standardize the presentation of my online output across the various platforms.

I had my first experience of meeting online people in real life yesterday at #GLTU4 and it was interesting – I felt like I already “knew” them to a certain extent, having read their blogs and tweets, but there’s so much more to a face-to-face meeting as well, with the nuances of expression and voice.

What do you think? How am I coming across?

Getting started

So, I thought I’d participate in the cpd23 project this year. I think it would be a really useful way for me to build on my existing skills as well as learn new tricks.

This website would also be a great space for gathering together my various online activities; I also blog on Victorian history/culture and write articles for A-level English study resources. I’ll be integrating these with this blog over the coming weeks.

Here’s a wee introduction. My name is YiWen Hon, I’m an Information Assistant based in Glasgow (I work in three different libraries in this wonderful city). Come August, I’ll be starting a graduate library trainee post in Cambridge. I’m right at the beginning of my career in librarianship and information management, and I’m so excited to be here 🙂