#uhmlgsf15 – UHMLG Spring Forum – part 1

Friday 6th March meant I was in the Royal Society of Medicine at the UHMLG Spring Forum. It was a great line up, and the RSM is always a good venue.  I meet with local NHS librarians on a regular basis, so this is a great opportunity to catch up with HE colleagues.

The theme was “survival of the fittest” – goodness knows this is not a novelty for librarians in general, or health librarians specifically: the only thing certain in life is death, taxes and change! But there were particular themes that caught my eye:

  • the new Knowledge for Healthcare framework for the NHS
  • librarians as teachers, and linked with this Higher Education Academy fellowship
  • supporting researchers
  • role of librarians in supporting systematic reviews
  • innovation scouts (and the consequential change in role of the librarian)

So that’s pretty much the whole event! As well as tweeting like fury all day (I’ve made a Storify of all the tweets – happily there were other stalwart tweeters, so you wont be relying purely on my output!) I thought I’d summarise what I got from the day.

Jason Briddon, from the University of West of England, was first up. He started with the 4 horsemen of the library apocalypse: the fact that costs were increasingly unsustainable (OA has yet to make a significant impact on journal expenditure), there were so many viable alternatives for people as sources of information, the consequential decrease in demand (falling book loans for example), and the fact that libraries are not seen as meeting new demands. All doom and gloom…. but there were 2 recent reports which gave visions of a new future:

  • NMC Horizon Report > 2014 Library Edition this includes the encouragement that embedding a librarian in academia is solvable – a challenge, but solvable. It also raises the issue of “competition” – those alternative sources of information (Goo…?) Perhaps we should stop seeing them as competition, and start/continue considering how we can guide users to make the best of them.

  • At a tipping point: education, learning and libraries – an OCLC report explores the information consumer’s behaviors, beliefs and expectations for online learning. We should start embracing the fact that students see us a place to get *work* done, serious work

A point I took was that we should be facilitating connection, rather than concentrating exclusively on collection, and that we should be looking to UX, library anthropology, recruiting staff from non-traditional library backgrounds etc to support this transition.

“job is not just to look after books but as enabling students to learn”

David Stewart, Director or Health Libraries North West, gave a typically entertaining introduction to  Knowledge for Healthcare, the new strategy for NHS libraries (please don’t mention Hill 2008, library KSF 1997 etc) NHS libraries need a strategy to justify the £2million required to keep the core content going, and need an approach to help make the service much more equitable across the country.

As well as looking at the skill sets necessary to deliver a modern library service, the NHS need to consider the partnerships that are necessary to the success of this new framework.

It was great to hear Ruth Murphy and Sonya Lipczynska talking about their teaching experience – they get us going to begin with using quotes from this 1979 paper

“it is a fiction that librarians are teachers. This fiction is used.. to provide a more comforting self image…”

After we’d hooted about what a turnabout in attitude there has, in general, been they asked questions about the difference between teaching and training (a question that has long been a bit of a struggle for some of us).

They also noted how they moved from a “trial and error” approach to leading classes, to a more pedagogically and androgogically sound approach. Both Ruth and Sonya did postgrad qualifications in teaching, which helped embed reflection into their practice. Now teaching is student centred, is interactive & engaging, uses problem based learning, and tech enhanced learning – and all  integrated into the curriculum to ensure relevance. Happy days!

They emphasised the need to move from surface learning to deep learning (things they’ll remember for more than 5mins after the class has finished) – they achieve this by getting the students to teach each other (top idea!). They reinforce this by using polleverywhere, and with a bedrock of libguides.

This session linked nicely with Rosalind Francis who’s just got her Higher Education Academy Associate status –  I’ll hopefully be following in her footsteps.

Janette Colclough, University of York, and Pat Spoor, University of Leeds, talked about how their respective universities reorganised themselves to better support researchers. We’d had a bit of a heads up at last years event from Mark Clowes talked about this last summer, so it was interesting to hear the follow up. Neither Janette nor Pat’s job titles include “librarian”. The consequence was not “new roles for librarians”, but “librarians for new roles” – we need to change our perception of what we should be doing.

One significant factor was that academics have to comply with research funders in terms of OA and RDM – and perhaps by helping them comply, instead of just helping them, that librarians have an opportunity for a change of image. This has resulted, at least in Leeds, of engaging more with research administrators, postgrads, researchers etc rather than spending time with undergraduates (now there’s an interesting refocusing on effort!).

Pat at Leeds has also used this as an opportunity to embed the library at the start of preparations for REF 2020, and as an opportunity to bring in, and develop additional skill sets. Leeds even have an entire floor of their new and swanky library devoted to researchers – deliberately designed to have a different atmosphere. (note to self – I’ve always wanted to go to Leeds….but this may have to do in the meantime)

Health Sciences Library, Leeds University

At this point, I’ll pause – lunch beckons….!


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