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I have finally got round to reviewing my notes from the HLG Conference in Oxford that took place from the 24th to the 25th of July. It provided a good opportunity to see some interesting presentations, meet product suppliers and network with other health librarians.

In the first plenary, Annie Mauger, CEO of CILIP, emphasised that librarians are needed because of the explosion in knowledge and data. As it so widely available we need to focus on added value.

In the second plenary, John Newton and Anne Brice from Public Health England presented their excellent Knowledge Strategy of supplying data in a usable form, turning it into knowledge.

We then split into parallel sessions.

Lynsey Hawker from Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health Trust, reported on using 247lib as their new web based LMS. They may be a company to consider when our time with Koha ends.

Dr Su Golder, University of York, presented on Sure-Info, an online resource appraising research on information retrieval for producers of Health Technology Assessments. This research could help us improve our searches, although we don’t search to HTA standard.

In the second set of parallel sessions, Tom Roper and Archana Deshmukh from Brighton and Sussex NHS Library Knowledge and Services/University of Brighton reported on the impact of the Brighton Clinical Librarians. Unfortunately they could not demonstrate quantitative impact. In seeking qualitative data, the evaluation became more of a marketing tool.

Jenny Craven from NICE reported on measuring the impact of their training. They managed to train 14% of their staff. They used semi-structured interviews to measure impact.

After lunch and the HLG AGM, there were various soap box sessions where we could share ideas on topical issues. I went to the one on ebooks which rehearsed the usual arguments on subscriptions, access and technology, and another on social media. One interesting fact was that NHS Tayside went 100% virtual to save space.

Then there were more parallel sessions. I was chairing one: Sarah Chaney/Caroline Lynch, of the RCN on audience engagement as the RCN planned opening its building to the public.

The final plenary of the day was from Ruth Carlyle from Macmillan Cancer Support. She predicted that there would be an increasing demand for information from patients as they live longer with illness.

The day ended with the conference dinner at Oxford Town Hall, where we were greeted by the Oxford town crier.

The first plenary of the second day was from Lisa Hughes of Health Education England. This was a most informative presentation. Their purpose and vision of LKS:

NHS staff, learners, patients and the public use the right knowledge and evidence, at the right time, in the right place, enabling high quality decision-making, learning, research and innovation, to achieve excellent healthcare and health improvement .

For the first time all the regional library leads work for the same organisation, and so it is hoped that the Review of NHS Library and Knowledge Services due in December 2014 will have some effect. It will look at national, regional and local roles, funding, impact, and skills needed among other things. In the question time afterwards, the inequity of information access was raised. The core content only amounts to £2 million out of £52 million on NHS Libraries in England.

We then moved into parallel sessions. I attended the ones on providing information for commissioners. Kieran Lamb and Lis Edwards from Cheshire and Merseyside CSU showed how they convert data and evidence into narratives commissioners can grasp. They want case studies rather than research papers. Then Caroline Storer and Jill Rutt of NHS West and South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw CSU talked about their experience. They revealed that CSUs would be fewer and independent by 2016. They focus on current awareness bulletins with only a residual library service. It does raise the question of how CSU information units see their relationship with local library services. When I asked they denied there is a competition, but are they just creaming off the higher level work?

For the next parallel sessions, I first saw Mark Ingram demonstrate JoVE, a video journal. It is intended to overcome the problem that 64% of published research cannot be replicated. You submit your manuscript to JoVE and they film the video, but it costs $10K.

Clare Payne from Mersey Care Mental Health Trust then spoke about supporting change methodology in their Trust. They ask:

  1. What is your mission? The Library can help provide the evidence to answer this.
  2. Set up your sponsor group
  3. Get people on board.

They found that their users want synthesised evidence, information about what the rest of the Trust is doing and services already available. They have a Clinical Question Answering Service.

At the next parallel sessions(!), I listened to Anne Webb and Steven Glover from The Christie NHS Foundation Trust and The Christie School of Oncology on supporting research. They have an institutional repository using BMC software. A challenge has been locating papers as authors don’t always publish under the hospital name. They report on articles cited more than 50 times and those never cited.

Then Joanne Shawcross and Tracey Pratchett from University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust saw 1 FTE librarian work for 18 months with an internal investigation. This was a lot of capacity but it did raise the profile of the library. They used Heritage to store the documents (different database from the books)

After lunch and an historical lecture about nurses in WWI, there was a straw-man debate on the motion “This House believes patient care would improve if hospitals cut librarian posts to fund more nursing hours”. The motion was defeated (using electronic voting) 88%-12%. While no-one seriously advocated this position, it was good to hear ideas of how to make our case.

For the final set of parallel sessions I first of all heard Sabelo Mapasure of Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust on reaching GPs. They like to use colleagues and textbooks, and rarely search for evidence because of time constraints. GP tutors are key contacts. One-to-one training in the workplace is wanted.

Finally Barbara Sen of the University of Sheffield reported on Project WHIPPET which aimed to map the skills of health information professionals. The words “library” and “librarian” are still common in job titles. Librarians are multi-skilled but risk underestimating core skills. Challenges include budget, workload, and lack of awareness appreciation.

In addition to all this there were 35 exhibitors and a poster display.

Overall it was a good conference. The venue (The Examination Schools) was very grand and good for lectures, but networking space was harder to come by. There is lots of good practice taking place across the UK, which I have fed back to my team, and the information on the HEE Review of Library and Knowledge will be very useful.Conversations with exhibitors may result in some new relationships. 

We will have to see about HLG 2016!

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