Program Review – Gold Coast University Hospital Health Library – JBI training

The GCUH Health Library operates from with Queensland Health’s Gold Coast Hospital Services at Southport and Robina.  The mission of the library is to facilitate access to high quality information and customer service .. in information discovery, retrieval and management … deliver(ing) responsive and innovation services and resources in support of patient care, research, management…” for GCUH Health Service health professionals and students.

Within this overarching mission, the library  has sought to understand its users’ needs and information seeking behaviours through qualitative and quantitative analysis, including a consultative process with users, non-users, industry professionals and other stakeholders.  This aligns with a model recommended by Joanna Ludbrooke.    The library offers a suite of  regular short lunch-time programs to GCUH staff and students [patrons] designed to develop their navigation skills facilitating access to relevant information from any of the databases available online at any time.   In particular, nursing staff regularly refer to the Joanna Briggs Institute [JBI] database  in the course of their duty.  Therefore, their ability to quickly access information is essential, as it is can be critical to patient care.

The Joanna Briggs Institute database provides information to nursing staff and is designed to guide nurses to identify the issue, test their diagnosis, administer appropriate interventions at the point of care.   The two publication types most used are firstly, the evidence summaries based on structured searches of litérature and evidence-based health care databases and secondly, évidence based recommended practices providing the best available évidence including an equipment list, a recommended practice, OHS provisions and an évidence summary where available.

The éducation program for patrons was designed to run for approximately 20 minutes at 12.10 and again at 1.10 to fit with patrons’ regular lunch breaks.  The format of the program was an overview of the system, the main features, the popular publication types and the expected results from the program.  The research librarians created a PowerPoint présentation using screen captures and call-outs to indicate the preferred méthod of navigation.  The dedicated area within the library was set up with comfortable seating, side tables for note-taking and a projection screen connecter to a laptop.

A pre-run of the présentation ensured there were no technical glitches.    From my perspective with no health industry expérience and limited health library experience, the présentation logically and simply explained the pathways within the program for the benefit of any new users.

However, despite the well-planned structure of the program which had content, context, relevance, currency and relativity – busy hospital staff and health professionals did not attend.  Short lunch breaks are not long enough to include a serving of professional development,  as well as a deserved meal break.

Perhaps the library could consider delivering the présentations to staff rooms closer to clinics or wards so that patrons could benefit from their sharing of knowledge and information.  They could also trial social media as a means of communication.  However I believe that the major barrier to the ongoing délivery of this excellent program is dépendent on commitment and support of the parent organisation to give patrons more time to  take advantage of the librarians’ expertise and willingness to co-ordinate instructive sessions.

A further initiative of the GCUHH Library program was the issue of a Quality Scale Survey, enabling them to measure the success of the program and inviting comments about future programs.   The survey focussed on outcomes for the user asking questions about content, basis and navigation of JBI, ability to access JBI, available reports, understanding of advanced searching and overall satisfaction with JBI.   Unfortunately with the lack of patronage all of this excellent planning did not déliver results at this time.

Research and Library – a perfect partnership

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Who’s the researcher?

So, why do I think that research and library are a perfect partnership?

The concept of a partnership between research and librarianship is not new, nor is it one that not been discussed widely and explored actively by academic and specialist libraries over many years. ALIA’s recognition of the connectedness of these skills was first adopted in 2002 and has since been amended in 2006 and 2015 to recognise the tumultuous evolution of information and data.

Library disciplines of organisation and descriptors perfectly complement the analysis and synthesis of information skills of researchers, placing librarians in a position to support research. This aligns with the ALIA’s basic principle on its role in research:

ALIA is committed to promoting and encouraging a research culture and research practice amongst library and information professionals in order to improve theory and practice.

Evidence-based practices are emerging in the form of research data management plans which are developed to meet the rigorous demands of professional standards.  Academic libraries are focussing attention on  data, developing roles for data librarians who manage and organise the data.

Emma Uprichards speaks of the v-dimensionality of ‘big data’, the top three descriptors are volume, velocity and variety with a second tier of value, veracity, validity, vitality and viscosity. The characteristics of data become increasingly complex.  With so much data being produced so quickly in so many formats, the big question is how to deal with that data in a meaningful way.  According to Alice Keller, Australian academic libraries are taking a lead role of research data management, with many dedicated data management roles being developed.

Similarly a survey of member libraries of the Queensland University Libraries Office of Cooperation (QULOC) revealed that 77% of their members have research plans in place.  This proactive and innovative approach to partnerships between librarians and researchers is further supported in a paper by  Janke & Rush, 2014 , who argue that librarians play a pivotal role in the investigative team for research because they have a suite of advanced skills in literature review, copyright issues, publication policies and compliance.   The partnerships deliver an amalgamation of skills to create structured plans that contextualise information and provide a framework for future projects.

Gold Coast University Hospital, Southport
Gold Coast University Hospital, Southport

During fieldwork placement at Gold Coast University Hospital and Health Library (GCUHHL) I observed firsthand the benefits of partnerships between librarians and health professionals.  With branches at Southport and Robina Hospitals, the library mission is to ‘provide a range of information and knowledge service … to support the provision of patient care, clinical research, professional development, education and management activities’.

The research librarians work closely with their users to deliver information that is relevant, current and accurate.  This aligns with the base principles discussed in a paper presented to ALIA 2014 conference Sharon Karasmanis and Fiona Murphy discussed the changing role of librarians supporting health researchers at La Trobe University, Melbourne (LTU).

They talked about collaboration and relationship building to create a connectedness that was a partnership between researchers and information professionals rather than support.   With an abundance of online resources and a myriad of pathways to information, librarians were key to guiding researchers to resources through improved information literacy.  The  La Trobe Future Ready: Strategic Plan 2013 to 2017 identified five Research Focus Areas to ‘measure and improve research quality, impact and volume and to increase cross-disciplinary research collaborations while developing and implementing strategically important research partnerships‘ (p.4).

Under the LTU 2013 Library Business Plan the traditional role of reference librarian expanded to include expert searching, training and research consultations.   Through consultation and collaboration with researchers and faculties, a system of evaluation of reference services was developed to measure the effectiveness of the new services.    This shift in focus has resulted in greater visibility for information professionals with better alignment with researchers and a plethora of opportunities for diverse professional development. 

 

 

 

Book Chat vs Book Club

Literally from the driver’s seat of my car this week, I tweeted merrily about readers’ advisory services.  As a newbie to public libraries, I am amazed at the different perspectives of librarians, borrowers and user groups that all revolve around reading.

Firstly the sophistication of the ‘Book Coasters’ reader’s advisory service is impressive with many new and not so new titles displayed giving readers a wide choice of genre and writing style to choose from together with advice on DIY Book Club.

At Fraser Coast Regional Council Libraries, both Book Chat and Book Clubs exist meeting the different needs of users.   Book Chat is an introduction to new publications, fiction and non fiction, in a range of genres and styles to suit the members.  Attendance at the monthly meetings fluctuates from as few as four readers to fifteen.  At the meeting on Wednesday all of the 12 female attendees were retirees. Two library staff guided the session, and four of the regular readers presented prepared critical appraisals of their recently read books.   The session was hilarious with plenty of rivalry for first speaking position and only mildly covert comments on the appraisals.  After a lengthy description of the plots and sub-plots of The Golden Key, one reader commented that: ‘Actually, I realised that I wasn’t really interested in what the secret was, where the golden key was, or whether they actually found any of it! It was all far too bizarre’.  Book Chat is about introducing readers to readers, readers to books, engagement with library staff and gathering information about what readers want.

Similarly Book Clubs build connections between readers and their library.  In Hervey Bay, Maryborough and the smaller communities of Howard, Burrum Heads, and Tiaro, readers meet either at the library or at a cafe or private home to share their reading experience.  Ten copies of the same title, often chosen from the recommendations from websites like Goodreads and Reading Group Choices and from popular demand, are supplied to the Book Club for up to three months.  It is up to the book club members to establish the ground rules for  the club.

In establishing a readers’ advisory service, both these programs provide great insight for librarians to gauge interest areas from their keenest readers while circulation statistics further support reviews of the reading and information trends within the community.

Becky Spratford’s comprehensive list of Readers’Advisory blogs, although published in 2012 would be a great starting point for any RAs as the diversity of blog sites gives librarians and RAs a guide to RA resources, library resources, major media outlets, general book blogs and podcasts.   Sifting through the myriad of advice online in relation to RA services is quite onerous and time consuming and confusing, if not overwhelming.

The most critical factors for an RA include communicating with the readers, taking on board suggestions, identifying trends, catering to interests/demographics and responding accordingly.  These were reflected in a recent advertisement for a Readers’ Advisory Librarian, where the Mosman Council specified a need for a qualified library professional ….with knowledge of literature and current reading trends … and experienced in social media for promotion and marketing.  It seems that RA services will become a critical part of information services as the volume and complexity of information continually evolves.

In different environments the user needs will be different and accordingly, a readers’ advisor’s knowledge of the physical collection as well as online sources of information will make a difference to the efficiency and completeness of the service provided, as will their soft people skills to understand what is needed and how best to provide it.

 

The Changing Role of Reference Librarian

An original idea? That can’t be too hard. The library must be full of them. – Stephen Fry

In the Twitter Chat session this week #IFN614refchat, I suggested flippantly, that reference librarians might be labelled as iKnowitall. In researching information on current understanding of the term ‘reference’, the meaning is described by Valerie Gross as

  • An opinion of another in relation to character or ability
  • A note in a published work referring to the source of information
  • A mention of an occurrence or event
  • An act of referring

By way of contrast ‘research’ is described to mean

  • An inquiry
  • An investigation for facts
  • A systematic search for knowledge and information

So, the question is whether the term ‘reference’ is sending the right message. Shakespeare’s observation: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose – by any other name would smell as sweet” comes to mind. The term ‘reference’ is often misconstrued by library users who believe that it is only about traditional reference materials such as dictionaries, encyclopeadias, atlases, almanacs – not about finding the right book for each reader as is so succinctly described in Ranganthan’s five laws.

In the dynamic evolving environment of information organisation, management, access and retrieval it is really important for information professionals to review the position of ‘reference’ with a 360° perspective.   To do this, the generic view of a reference librarian and the associations commonly attributed to librarianship should be considered and compared to the reference librarians perspective of their role and contribution to community and the public perception of library services.

I agree with Gross, 2013, that the issue begins with language and can be addressed using the Three Pillar Philosophy, based on that which has been implemented at the Howard County Library with sensational outcomes of two and three times the foot traffic, circulation and engagement with the community. The three pillars of self-directed education, research assistance and instruction, and instructive and enlightening experiences combine to deliver education to the community.

The Howard County Library has introduced role descriptions for library staff referring to librarians as ‘Information Specialists’ and ‘Instruction & Research Specialists,’ encouraging staff to refer to ‘working in information’ rather than ‘working in reference’. After all, it’s not what you say, it’s what people hear.

The public perspective is that library services are out-dated and that information can be sourced online – so why have a library? From the patron’s perspective – what can the library give me that I cannot access online? From the funding perspective – is the library providing a return on investment?

Commercial and corporate environments create strategic marketing plans to survive and thrive – so why not use the same drivers for not for profit community organisations such as library services?

In an address to the American Library Association way back in 1999, Susan Palmer talked about the changing role of librarian.   Palmer’s observation of the reference librarian more as an instructor, information manager, mentor, administrator echo the sentiments of Gross that librarianship is an ever-changing role, gathering a diverse range of skills and responsibilities as the role evolves to meet the demands of internal and external stakeholders.

Who, how, what and why intro

I’m a life-long learner with a belief that education (and information) leads to greater tolerance and understanding across the world.  I confess I’m quirky, coming from a traditional conservative background, I’ve always pushed the boundaries a bit and have tried to follow my dreams and passions whenever I could.   My partner, three girls, two boys and a dog make my family circle complete.  We love to get together whenever we can and we all enjoy the great outdoors, but most especially the beach at Byron Bay.

Making it all work – uni, work, home time, ‘my’ time – takes a little organising but I do try to  have just a bit of equilibrium in my life.  I like to walk, entertain, listen to live music, see live theatre and I love travel, either locally, nationally or overseas.  My travel bug started with long car trips and light aircraft travel in western Queensland and New South Wales.  Years (and thousands of kilometres) later, I still have wanderlust. If I can’t go there, then I enjoy movies about travel, destinations, geography and natural history.  I’m still trying to master photobooks and paperless record keeping for everything, but I just can’t throw away all those original artefacts that my artistic family create.  When I finish my Masters, I keep telling myself.

Where I’m up to…

As a final semester student of Masters in IT – Library and Information Sciences – I am happy that I will finish the course this semester, understanding so much more about information management and emerging technologies.  The road has been a little rocky along the way as I have sometimes been overwhelmed with the deluge of information and technology delivered via the units.  However – I am still here, learning through a collaborative workspace (that totally freaked me out to begin with) and accepting that it’s only through experiment, making mistakes, and more exploring that I continue to build on my knowledge base and pack a few more tools in the toolkit.

Where I’ve been before…

My diverse work experience includes everything from basic admin to executive assistance, to flight attendant, retail manager, legal practice management, parliamentary services and 10+ years in school libraries.   I have used information organisation and information management in all of these positions, from colour coding filing systems to complex customer relationship management systems and implementation and integration of databases.

Where I want to go…

I see myself as an information manager more so than a librarian – but the line is blurred, as I think that  ‘library’ skills are synchronous with ‘information management’ skills.  My fieldwork placement at Helensvale Library proved to be an eye-opener to the diversity of community engagement offered by the library.   From toddler rhyme times to one on one sessions assisting patrons in the use of mobile devices there was a full spectrum of community engagement offered far and beyond literature loans in many formats.  Making a contribution to guiding self-learning and self-education in an informal environment is really appealing to me.  I’d like to work within a team of people who aim to make a difference for people who might not otherwise have the opportunity to learn.

Optimising optimism…

That would have to be either my Pollyanna attitude or my completely ridiculous sense of humour.  Old-fashioned as it may seem, there really always is a bright side. (My thanks go to Monty Python for bringing this perspective more up to date).  I think that the ability to keep looking at an issue from different perspectives and remaining optimistic really add to my cope-ability and dogged determination to keep going to reach my goals.

Superpower on show…

Apparently I am a natural networker, gathering information and delivering it to the right people at the right time.  Does this mean that I also talk a lot?  Perhaps it does – but maybe it also means that people see me as a good listener and communicator.  So I guess if that’s my superpower that shines brightest, then I’m very happy with that.

My ideal superpower…

I agree with Kate – teleportation would be the best – commuting from the Gold Coast is so time-consuming and tiring.  Having the ability to complete mundane tasks like laundry and cleaning at the push of a button so I had more ‘people’ time would be great. So my ideal superpower seems to shape to being able to create more time to be where I want to be, doing the things I love to do.