A network for new and aspiring library professionals
1. Can you tell us a bit about your background? How did you first become involved in the library and information profession?
I studied Fine Art and History at undergraduate level and worked at Tate Liverpool once I graduated. I thought about applying to do a PGCE and had a couple of work placements in primary schools but decided it wasn’t for me. I then saw the Library and Information Management postgraduate course at Liverpool John Moores University and after visiting the tutor and being shown around, I enrolled on the course part time for two years. I was successful in gaining a part time Trainee Librarian position at Halton Borough Council whilst on the course and volunteered at the Liverpool Medical Institution library and HealthCare Libraries Unit.
2. Can you tell us about your current role as an Outreach Librarian for the NHS Foundation Trust?
I began my post in September 2013 where I was given the task of visiting all of the GP practices in the Warrington area. The main objective was to make medical undergraduates aware of the library services available to them whilst they are on placements in the community. I am on hand to deliver training sessions, produce literature searches on various topics and provide books and full text articles to the medical undergraduates as well as other community staff.
3. What skills do you use within your job role?
Communication skills are regularly used – I approach the Practice Managers via email to arrange meetings at each GP practice. I need to be clear and precise in explaining the benefits of setting up a meeting as the Practice Managers get a lot of emails and doctors don’t have much spare time.
Public speaking skills are used as I often talk to a group of people in the practice, usually during the GP’s Protected Learning Time when the surgery is closed to patients. I use organisation skills to arrange the meetings and manage my calendar. I am able to use the searching skills developed in university by conducting literature searches on various topics.
3b. Have you had an opportunity to expand and develop your skill set? If so, what skills and opportunities?
Yes, there are always opportunities for me to develop my skill set working in the NHS. I recently attended the course ‘Effective Copywriting to Market your Services’ run by Library and Information Health Network NW (LIHNN) to learn more about producing promotional materials, including writing effective emails. I have produced a leaflet to advertise the library services which I distribute whilst on my visits. I also spend my time compiling evidence for literature search requests so, with practice have seen my searching skills improve and my confidence build. Sometimes there isn’t any information out there and you feel like you have missed something, but with experience I now feel confident that I have searched all areas. I am becoming more comfortable talking to groups of people. After speaking to various groups of practice staff, I volunteered to speak to Library School undergraduates at Manchester Metropolitan University, therefore being able to improve my public speaking skills. I now take part in the Healthcare Assistant’s Inductions at the hospital where I demonstrate one of our subscribed to resources. I gained funding from HealthCare Libraries Unit (HCLU) to attend the Health Libraries Group Conference in Oxford during July so, being new to the NHS learnt lots of different information about what other trusts are doing, and even attended a talk on how to engage GPs.
4. How do you think the future of the information profession will shape your role? And what would you like to happen?
Working in the NHS, there can be uncertainty in terms of job security. I myself am on a temporary contract and with changing governments and funding you never quite know what will happen.
5. You are currently working towards Chartership, what advice can you give to those in our network who are thinking of undertaking Chartership?
Speak to those who have completed the Chartership process in order to familiarise yourself with the regulations and various types of evidence that can be submitted. Ensure you have a good relationship with your mentor so Chartership can be completed quickly.
6. What advice would you give to new library and information professionals who are currently looking for a job in the library and information sector?
To attend events and network with people from various library sectors. I’ve found there are a lot of librarians on Twitter, so having an account and communicating was useful when keeping up to date with the latest news. Another way to gain skills and meet people is to have a work placement in a library – you never know if a paid position might come up there.
7. You are involved with CILIP NW Member Network; what do you see as being the benefits of being in a network?
I am part of the events team which means I can increase my skills base by doing tasks I wouldn’t normally do in the workplace. This can also be added to my CV. I am currently working on planning my first event. For each meeting and event I attend I am networking with other information and library professionals.
8. What would you like to see from NLPN in the future?
I would like NLPN to keep putting on a range of events and raising the profile of the library sector.