Tag Archives: Health information

#GLTU15 – Gartnavel Hospital Libraries: anatomy of a visit

18 Jun

Thanks to Christine Glasgow (@glasg0wg1rl) for her report of this fascinating visit.

Gartnavel General Library awaits its visitors

Gartnavel General Library awaits its visitors

Yes, library tweeters, I couldn’t resist a cheesy medical pun to lead us into a description of the excellent GLTU visit to the libraries at Gartnavel which took place on Tuesday the 28th April 2015. I had thought about using “a book a day keeps the doctor away”, but as you’ll soon discover, thanks to the excellent services provided by Shona McQuistan and her colleagues, it doesn’t keep them away—it draws them to the library! And not just doctors, but nurses, students, child play experts, community health visitors, canteen staff and numerous other stakeholders use these libraries on a regular basis. On the 28th April, the user group widened further to include 10 or so librarians from a variety of sectors, all eager to learn more about health libraries with #GLTU15.

This was my first library tweet-up and, having never visited a health library before, I really had no idea what to expect. I naively assumed that health librarians simply “help doctors with a bit of research”, but as I was soon to discover, this is only one aspect of the job (and a ‘bit’ of research is putting it mildly!). I also expected to get some interesting cross-sectoral chat with my peers, but again I underestimated how valuable this would be. So, about to have my teeny-weeny preconceptions blown away, I settled into the comfy chairs at Gartnavel General Hospital library, where Shona our host gave us a warm welcome and a CILIPS goody-bag. (Cheers, CILIPS!)

Shona shows us the library

Shona shows us the library

Shona began by explaining the structure of NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde Library Network and her role within that as Library Hub Manager (West). Shona manages (what was) the library at the Western Infirmary as well as the library at Gartnavel General, and during the afternoon we visited 3 other information services on the hospital campus, including those at the Beatson, the Public Health Resource Unit and Gartnavel Royal. It was clear from the outset that Shona and her staff have a real passion for their work and that the libraries are a huge part of the hospital community. The library at Gartnavel General in particular has a very warm, welcoming feel, similar to a public library, and many of us were surprised to see a large selection of fiction books on display, alongside popular self-help and fitness titles and language learning and literacy materials as well as the expected medical textbooks. Shona then explained that due to the shift patterns worked by many hospital staff, they may struggle to find time to visit their local public library, whereas the hospital library is right on their doorstep. The library at Gartnavel General is a neutral area where staff can get information on a variety of personal development areas such as quitting smoking or coping with change at work. Shona and her staff also run a literacy and numeracy project as well as IT classes for staff who did not have the opportunity to gain these skills at school. This includes outreach to staff in other locations, such as the laundries in Hillington, and staff are encouraged to take part in the Reading Agency’s “Six Book Challenge”. Many staff have already taken part and gained a sense of achievement from receiving their Challenge certificates. To promote this, the libraries have also held author visits (Christopher Brookmyre and Janice Galloway to name a couple). As you can imagine, this totally confounded my narrow preconceptions of what a health librarian did, and goes to illustrate the importance of the library service to the whole hospital community.

Having said that, assisting medical professionals with their research is obviously a major part of the work of a health librarian, and Shona’s sense of job satisfaction was clear when she talked about the important contribution which the library staff make to patient care. The library at Gartnavel stocks a range of medical texts and we were shown how to understand the National Library of Medicine classification scheme which is used in the libraries. Shona gave us some examples of the type of enquiry she can receive (some were not for the faint hearted!) and explained how searches were divided into ‘levels’ – with a level 3 search taking maybe 5 days to a level 1 search lasting several months. The library staff also help students with their literature searches and this led into a mini-debate about the age-old issue of “how far should you go to help a customer?”

Gartnavel General Library

Gartnavel General Library

This was perhaps the part of the visit which I found most enjoyable and useful as we got to hear the views of librarians from different sectors, all at different stages in their career. Government, health, public, academic, music and college libraries were all represented and on the tweet-up were library assistants, job hunters and those in their first professional post, as well as library managers, subject librarians, retired (but very active!) professionals and even the Director of CILIPS! We all had a good natter about “how far is too far?” This seemed particularly relevant as we had just been talking about the classes which Shona and her staff run to help people to be more self-sufficient in their reading, writing, numeracy and IT skills. A few librarians from the academic sector spoke about their experiences with students expecting library staff to do their full literature searches for them. This led back to our discussion on librarians as teachers and the important fact that we are there to teach people information seeking skills and to provide them with the resources they need in order to help themselves, not to do their work for them. This is certainly a golden rule which I endeavour to adhere to in my own working practice.

Beatson Library

Beatson Library

The next stop on our tour was the library at the Beatson, the West of Scotland’s specialist cancer care centre. This library is closed to the public and is for academic and research purposes. The texts available are obviously mainly concerned with the treatment of cancer in its various forms, and doctors at the Beatson carry out important research in this area. The librarians here are therefore specialists in this subject area, and the work they do greatly contributes to patient care. At this stage in the visit, we collected some leaflets about the various online information services provided to NHSGGC staff. These are all collated under a single online interface called QUEST and include document delivery, ILLs, current awareness services and literature searches. Part of these services is the ‘Tools and Measures’ service. I found it interesting to learn that diagnostic tools and frameworks may be copyrighted, and this service investigates whether a tool is under copyright or not so that medical professionals may use it, or purchase a licence if necessary.

Public Health Resource Unit

Public Health Resource Unit

After the Beatson, we visited the Public Health Resource Unit which is also based on the Gartnavel campus. This is the NHSGGC’s information service for all matters related to public health, from smoking cessation campaigns to what would happen in the case of a citywide swine flu epidemic! Staff liaise with emergency services and provide a free batch ordering service for public health related leaflets, such as those found in your local GP’s surgery. It was very interesting to hear about an information service which plays a part in all of our lives even though we may not be aware of it, and it made me wonder how many other unsung information heroes there are across the nation?

The final stop on our tour was the library at Gartnavel Royal Hospital, a mental health hospital which provides inpatient care for the west side of Glasgow. The library is open to all staff but has a more academic library feel than that of Gartnavel General. The vast majority of the resources available deal with the subject of mental health and, once again, library staff become like academic subject librarians as over time they build up specialist knowledge in this area. Some library staff are currently undertaking a digital preservation project, to safeguard the hospital’s historical collections for future generations. Once again, this kind of activity is not something I had imagined to be part of the role of a health librarian.

At the end of the visit, I think it is safe to say that all of us on the tour were impressed by the variety of tasks which make up the job of a health librarian. Indeed, Shona and her staff seem to be fulfilling the role of public and academic librarian at the same time, not to mention the role of subject and special collections librarian witnessed in the three smaller information services. Their depth of knowledge, experience and unrelenting passion for their work is inspirational to see, as is their resilience to the changes currently taking place at NHSGCC (the Western Infirmary transferred to the new South Glasgow hospitals at the end of May 2015). From a personal point of view, I was encouraged to learn that, although some of our skill sets may vary, the values which underpin the work of a health librarian and a public librarian are really no different. Sector aside, every librarian there has a heart for seeing their service users gain access to the information, skills and resources they need to flourish and to help others flourish in their turn. I believe that libraries are places of healing, just as hospitals are, and thanks to Shona McQuistan, her staff and my fellow Glasgow Library Tweeters, this particular librarian is feeling encouraged to continue prescribing books and other online resources to her ‘patients’ for the foreseeable future.

Thanks to Christine for that comprehensive and entertaining account. An added bonus of the visit was strolling between libraries and viewing Gartnavel’s grounds – and, for four of us, a delicious meal afterwards at Sisters’ Restaurant in Jordanhill. Ideas for #GLTU16 welcome!

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Announcing #GLTU15 – Gartnavel Hospitals, 28th April

24 Mar
Library at Gartnavel General

Library at Gartnavel General

I’m happy to tell you that #GLTU15 has now been fixed for the afternoon of Tuesday, 28th April at 2pm. We’ll be visiting the libraries at Gartnavel: the General and Royal Hospitals, the Beatson and the Public Health Resource Unit. I had a preview before Christmas, so pop over to the post I wrote then for more pictures – it was a fabulous afternoon and I learned a lot about the variety of work in health librarianship. Many thanks to Shona McQuistan for all her work organising this.

Getting to Gartnavel is easy – it’s well served by buses on Great Western Road (there’s a stop just next to the hospital) or by Hyndland Station (via the footbridge – turn right on the bridge then left at the bottom of the steps.) I don’t recommend driving – the carpark is always full, though there is the option of paying to park at the nearby Pond Hotel.

We’ll meet just before 2pm at WH Smith’s at the main entrance to Gartnavel General. There’s a fair amount of walking between buildings, so dress for the weather – if it’s nice, we can enjoy the grounds. If it’s not, we’ll run! The visit will finish by 5pm, after which there is the option of a traditional GLTU curry. Indian Platform is just across the road and opens, conveniently, at 5.

How to book? Numbers are limited to 10 so I haven’t bothered with an Eventbrite page. Contact me by leaving a comment below, tweeting @AnabelMarsh or emailing anabelmarshATgooglemailDOTcom. Make sure to tell me whether you are booking for the visit, the curry or both. I look forward to seeing you there.

Gartnavel Hospital – a future #GLTU?

15 Dec

Last week, I went to the Gartnavel Hospitals Campus on a reconnaissance for a future GLTU. I had a great tour and am grateful to Shona McQuistan, Librarian at Gartnavel General, for showing me round. As well as Shona, I met several other, equally enthusiastic, librarians and learned about services at the General, Gartnavel Royal, the Beatson and the Public Health Resource Unit. We also popped in to the beautiful Maggie’s Centre.

Below are a few pictures (taken on an iPad so not very great) to whet your appetite for a future visit. They show the Library at Gartnavel General, an embroidery of Glasgow School of Art based on a painting by Avril Paton, a poster for the 21st birthday celebrations of the Library at the Royal (this was the day I was visiting, so there was cake), a sheaf catalogue on display as a historic artefact (sad to say, I have worked with those) and mirrored tree stumps in the Maggie’s Centre Garden.

There’s quite a lot of walking between buildings (the grounds are worth seeing too) and the wind blew and the rain rained, so this is probably an event for the Spring when we have a better chance of good weather. It’s likely to be a Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon followed by the traditional GLTU curry – there just happens to be an Indian restaurant across the road. Watch this space!

#GLTU5 Health: it’s not just clinical – review

24 Jun

Shayna Conn and Joanna Ptolomey

Late afternoon on Thursday, 21st June was, to say the least, dreich. About a dozen library and information professionals were grateful to escape from the rain into Breast Cancer Care’s offices for #GLTU5. Shayna Conn (@ShaynaC1), National Information Worker at BCC, was our host, and she and Joanna Ptolomey (@chibbie) led the discussions.

Joanna has been self-employed as a freelance librarian for 12 years, offering consultancy mainly on health matters (her background is in the NHS). She began by introducing us to the concepts of “quality assured health information” and “non-quality assured health information”. The former is high quality, evidence based information emanating from, for example, bodies such as NHS24 and government departments. The latter, despite the negative sounding name, can be just as useful but comes from the community. Both types of information are difficult to track down sometimes: quality-assured might be protected by the organisation’s need to keep its data secure, and non-quality assured could come from anywhere, such as libraries, sports centres, or just word of mouth.

The need for health information professionals is therefore obvious and Joanna illustrated her work with the example of the ALISS Project (“Access to Local Information to Support Self-management” for people with long-term health conditions) which allows people to share and curate content. Joanna has been involved in creating records for Living Well at the Library, a co-operation between Renfrewshire Libraries, Macmillan  Cancer Care and community groups who were fed up collecting the same information all the time. The site is powered by ALISS and only searches the links that the LW@TL community partners have contributed and curated, so that results are local, relevant and current.

Shayna then took over to talk about the use of information in BCC, whose role is to support people and give advice and help (NB, not counselling). Shayna deals with the non-medical enquiries. Again, some information is quality assured, e.g. journals, and some is community based e.g. details of support groups. BCCs own leaflets are quality assured with an Information Standard Certificate; their magazine is a mixture of both types. They also have telephone and email helplines and an online forum with thousands of members helping each other through peer support (though this is moderated and wrong, or misleading, information will be commented upon). The use of social media has widened their reach still further, as has their online interactive map of support groups. This is kept very up-to-date and is therefore invaluable – it was originally compiled via FOI requests to Health Boards and about 20% of their information was found to be wrong! Altogether, BCC is seen as a reputable source of information which is either from clinical staff or reviewed by clinical staff.

The above is merely a selection of the points covered by Joanna and Shayna. The session developed into a discussion between them and with audience members, many of whom made contributions based on their own experiences, either professional or personal. The post would be far too long if I summarised it all, but I think the most important point is that the health area clearly values the skills of librarians who are good at sharing information and who understand the need for plain language and different levels of content. Public libraries are well placed to help in the provision of this type of community information. A variety of access points is necessary, especially to help those whose information skills are not high or who do not have online access.

(For another, very interesting, account of the evening see Louise’s post on the MmITS Blog, @MmITScotland.)

Finally, a sub-set of the party ventured across the road to McPhabbs for drinks and food. And that’s it folks – GLTU is over till the autumn. Please let me know your ideas for events we could hold then, either by leaving a comment here or on Twitter @AnabelMarsh. Have a great summer!

Announcing #GLTU5 – Health: it’s not just clinical

31 May

As previously announced, GLTU5 will take place on Thursday, 21st June at 4pm. The venue is Breast Cancer Care (1st Floor, 169 Elderslie Street, Glasgow, G3 7JR ), and the session will be led by Shayna Conn and Joanna Ptolomey. If you can’t make the talks, you are welcome to join us for a drink afterwards – we will be in McFabbs at 23 Sandyford Place, which is very close to BCC.

The programme is:

An overview of health information

  • What is it?
  • Where do we find it and who produces it?
  • How do we share health information?
  • What is the role of information professionals in health?

How health information is currently being used in the voluntary sector

  • Specifically, how health information is used in Breast Cancer Care.

Questions and answers

  • Shayna and Joanna have a few questions for participants, and there will be time for you to ask them questions as well.

Places are limited to 20 so please book soon via this sign-up. (There is no need to book for the after-session tweetup.)

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