#candocafe – the first “Can Do Cafe” for NHS librarians

On Monday 27th March, 20 NHS librarians of the East of England enjoyed the very first, anywhere, Can Do Cafe. In the reasonable expectation that you don’t know what one of these is, the essence of the event was :

“All staff are welcome to attend, but you must be prepared to come along and get actively involved,
take away an action and do it.”

It’s so easy for us to get into a rut of “this is rubbish, why doesn’t someone do something about it” – it’s not possible for all of us to solve all the worlds ills, but there are some things that are within our grasp, regardless of what grade we’re working on. So the point of the cafe was to be an opportunity to think about the things in our working life that we could improve, and to get inspiration from colleagues by hearing about how they approach the same situation. And then get on and take some action, however small!

The day consisted of:

  • A Knowledge Café
  • A mini TeachMeet
  • An #EoELibrarians #CanDoCafe discussion which will be tweeted live.

There was plenty of tweeting with #candocafe on the day, of of which (not just the discussion) are storified here.

Knowledge Cafe – we talked about library inductions

I’ve never been to one of these before (more information about them if you’re in the same boat), and to a certain extent I have to say the lack of formal outcomes/actions was a little difficult, but the point was to learn, and get something for me and my library. We chatted in small groups for c.15 mins and then mixed up the groups and chatted again. We did feed back round the whole group at the end, but this was optional. I certainly learned some good suggestions for library inductions, sorry if they’re obvious to you, eg:

  • introduce the library service at a staff induction, and then wait a few weeks, and introduce yourself again. Corporate inductions are notoriously information heavy, plus staff will take a little while just to settle in, so give them a chance to find their feet, and remind them of the services we can offer
  • better tailoring of OpenATHENS registration emails – I’ve been meaning to do this for ages, so this is a definite action
  • some of the things that other people noted were captured on post-its:


Touted as a mini-teachmeet, actually it was pretty much full size, with 7 speakers. Topics ranged from #amilliondecisions, supporting systematic reviews, preparing an elevator pitch and coaching/mentoring skills training. So much was packed in to each presentation I can’t capture them here, but it reminded me what a good forum TeachMeets.

There was so much discussion after each presenter that it became clear that we’ll need to re-think the time allocations for each part of the next Can Do Cafe (happening Wed 7th June, btw), and we’ve already had a good debrief about how to make the next cafes even better.

The whole Can Do Cafe came out of just such a conversation between Leanne Kendrick, Deborah LepleyLaura Wilkes  NHS librarians in Kings Lynn, Chelmsford, and Bury St Edmonds respectively, and me. So to a large extent, by having an knowledge cafe via conference call, the 4 of us came up with an idea of a way to fill what we saw as a gap. The perfect example of trying to take control, and make a change ourselves, rather than relying on anyone else to fix it for us.

We realised we can do something about it, and so we did it!

One Response to #candocafe – the first “Can Do Cafe” for NHS librarians

  1. […] On Monday 27th March, 20 NHS librarians of the East of England enjoyed the very first, anywhere, Can Do Cafe. I’ve blogged about it….. […]

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