Well,  its been about a month since we welcomed the new students to the School of Clinical Medicine and the Medical Library.  The number of new students has increased and library staff are enjoying meeting and helping the new intake as well as being reacquainted with familiar faces. Many are enjoying the refurbished library space and its great to receive the very positive feedback.

Changes since the start of the new academic year, we have a new print system – DS Print.  This gives more flexibility in using print services across the University and adding credit and wi-fi printing.

Library staff across University of Cambridge libraries are preparing for the implementation of ALMA (the new LMS).  We are familiarizing ourselves with ‘the look and feel’ of ALMA and will be attending (and in some instances) delivering training.  Colleagues are testing the system and much more is being undertaken on data and record cleaning and management.

The first booksale for over a year – not possible when we were in our temporary accommodation.


The installation of the Non Print Legal Deposit PC.  Let me explain – Cambridge University Library is one of six libraries entitled under the Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 to receive material published in the United Kingdom and Ireland.  The other libraries are the British Library, the Bodleian Library in Oxford, the national libraries of Scotland and Wales, and Trinity College Library Dublin. Since April 2013 legal deposit legislation has also covered material published digitally and online, so that the Legal Deposit Libraries can provide a national archive of the UK’s non-print published material, such as websites, blogs, ejournals, and ebooks. Many publishers are choosing to deposit digitally.  The Medical Library has a dedicated PC in which users can engage with this material.

Display of some of the current print journals that the Medical Library holds –

More print journals can be found in the dedicated journals room near the library desk.  Of course, in addition to print journals there is an extensive range of electronic journals accessible via the library catalogue – iDiscover and NHS Athens.

As well as the highlighted changes, we are still serving our users, running training sessions, attending inductions for new staff, promoting library services via Pop-Up libraries in the main concourse of Addenbrookes hospital, running E-book training for library staff and student drop – in sessions.

It feels like usage and footfall has increased overall, the library has a definite buzz, the start of the new academic year has gone well, long may it continue!



October Reflection

Partnership and Collaboration at the Midlands and East Health Libraries Summer Conference 2017

The 3rd one day conference was held at the ABAX Stadium in Peterborough.

ABAX Stadium Pboro

Colleagues from the Eastern region and East and West Midlands converged to share their experiences of collaboration and partnerships.

Ruth Carlyle  (Head of Library and Knowledge Services across the region) opened the proceedings.

David Farrelly, Regional Director for Midlands and East Health Education England, gave the keynote speech. He talked about need to champion our services and accomplishments.

Doug Knock – (Library & Knowledge Services Manager at King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust) – talked about the Impact Toolkit and the differences between feedback and impact.  About collecting evidence and then using the evidence you have, rather than collecting info/data for the sake of it.  The Gumi Bear of Evidence was making its final appearance at this conference.

Gummi Bear of Evidence

Several presentations and activities over the day had particular resonance for me.

Mo Hussain and Wendy Marsh – East of England, Public Health England – on supporting Collaboration Between the Public Health Community & NHS Libraries.  Using bespoke software to tailor services, providing access for local authority public health teams to EBSCO Discovery, Public Health England e-journal content, training guides and KM events.

From our East Region Peter Ransome  – Library Manager,  James Paget Library and Ali Thayne – Dementia Care Lead, gave an excellent demonstration of collaboration at its best.  The library works with local public library services, Alzheimer’s Society, MP’s, local voluntary services.  Within the dementia team the library attend meetings, run literature searches, purchase tailored resources, current awareness services and support initiatives within the team/hospital.  From Ali’s perspective evidence of literature searches had provided evidence to buy realistic new born baby dolls and dignity gowns for patients (like a Onesy with fastenings at the back).

HLN 2017 Dignity gowns

Lunch – post lunch presentation on voluntary services, information and patients – Ruth Carlyle.  Ruth highlighted the challenges the NHS is facing and why greater collaboration and partnership is needed.HLN 2017 Conference Rith Carlyle Demographic slide.JPGPatients and the public need access to information to support decision making for themselves and families.  A quite sad statistic – 42% of over 16 year olds do not understand general health information.  Ruth mentioned the Information Standard Kite Mark, an identifier to show information that is clear, accurate, evidence-based, up-to-date and easy to use.  Health libraries, charities, voluntary organisations, local authorities etc. can work together to help promote this.

Then small breakout sessions.

I attended Ian Rennie – (LKS Manager Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust) Pop -Up Libraries – the Medical Library at Cambridge hosts regular pop up libraries – however we have a different interpretation to the term.  Ian has a ‘Library in a Box’ which he takes to teams on pre-arranged visits.  The box contains books, training materials, library guides for example.  Ian stays with the team to answer queries, provide training where appropriate and be the face of the library.  Ian has a very distributed user base.  Here at the Medical Library in Cambridge we take publicity and information materials into the main hospital concourse to highlight that there is a library service that NHS can utilise and raise awareness of the services available.  So a different interpretation of a Pop Up library.

Photograph below is the Cambridge Medical Library take on Pop Up Library, taking a portable display, leflets, range of books, goodies into the main concourse to raise awareness with NHS staff of the library service and what it can offer and mean to them.

Pop-up Library Sheila & NHS Staff

My next break out session was run by Pip Divall – (Clinical Librarian, Leicester) – Sharing Best Practice. Discussion ensued on the definition of best practice – relevant, timely, efficient, how to share ideas – conferences, meetings, social media, LQAF, can do cafe and that it is OK to mention your failures as well success, view it as a learning opportunity. We can’t always get things right 100% all of the time.

The final session for me was CA$H! – Current Awareness Service for Health – a collaborative service provided by a network of library and information staff who monitor and capture content across a range of subject areas.

Then closing remarks and prize giving.  The East of England were well represented in poster submissions, amongst the regional libraries Colchester General Hospital Library and the Warner Library at Mid Essex Hospital, as did our Library Manager Isla and myself and a colleague – great to have our work recognised.

HLN2017 Poster submission Pop Up Library

The theme of partnership and collaboration was excellent and timely.  Libraries are very outward facing and recognise the strength of external relationships with other depts. and organisations.  In times of cut backs and making your brand more recognised it can make a substantial difference.

The presentations and workshops fitted the theme well.  Standouts for me are Public Heath England’s work with public libraries, working with the voluntary section and providing patient information, a different view of pop up libraries and Peters presentation on working with the dementia team and it illustrates how much we plan and aim for such working partnerships the timing on both sides needs to be right.







Hosting Erasmus Visitors

At the end of June, the Medical Library welcomed 2 librarians from Rīga Stradiņš University Library.  Inga Batare and Gunta Vasariņa visited as part of the Erasmus programme.

Inga and Gunta spent 2 very full days in Cambridge.  Inga is Head of the Information Resources Usage and Maintenance Department – responsible for effective information resources providing for students and other users.  Gunta – is a librarian in Information Resources Usage and Maintenance Department.  Usually stationed in library information centre or Open Access Loan service point. Gunta’s main task is to help  students to use library services, other duties are  related with maintenance of stock.

Day one was spent at the Medical Library.  Inga and Gunta met members of the team to discuss their roles including document supply, reader services, training and teaching information and research skills to library users, cataloguing, collection management and user centred service design.

Riga - Inga, Gunta Sheila

We heard from Inga and Gunta about Latvia and working at their university library.  Between them they have worked for the university library for over 15 years.  Each main town in Latvia has a university.  The library offers PCs, books, databases, E-books and has a self service circulation system.  All book stock is RFID.

The RSU University  is over 50 years old.  There over 40 library staff employed at the university and there are libraries on a number of sites in Riga and Liepāja .  The libraries support the fields of medicine, public health and social sciences.  On the last Friday of the month, the library in which Inga and Gunta are based closes for cleaning!  I can’t imagine that happening on such as regular basis here.  In 2004 – the World Health Organization opened a deposit library within the main library.

We invited colleagues from nearby libraries to come and exchange ideas and information with our visitors.  I think everyone found the afternoon to be an interesting and worthwhile experience.

Riga - Isla, Anna, Katie, edu librarians, Inga, Gunta 4

On Day 2 Inga, Gunta and I visited a number of Cambridge libraries.  The morning was spent at the Betty and Gordon Moore Library – initially with Yvonne, Head Of Science Information Services.  Yvonne gave us a tour and history of the library and we shared ideas on service development and refurbishing library spaces.  Then some time with Sue – on cataloguing and finally Georgina – research support librarian.  Georgina gave us an insight into her role and recent projects, including the 23 research things programme.

In the afternoon, Kay gave us a tour and history of the Squire Law library.  Then onto the University of Cambridge Library.  Lindsay informed us all of the development of the E-books service, issues and the variety of ways that E-books can be ordered.  Matthias explained the work of the Office of Scholarly Communications and his role.  Finally a tour of the library and the history and development of the University Library as we know it today.  We also had a look at the current exhibition – “Discarded History – The Genizah of Medieval Cairo”.

It was  interesting and insightful to spend time with Inga and Gunta.  I also learnt more about the organisation I work for and the variety of roles within it.  I think we often under estimate the value of spending time with our colleagues working in different departments to our own,

I would like to thank all of my colleagues for making Inga and Guntas’ visit memorable.  I appreciate the time and effort that was dedicated to this visit.  I have received very positive feedback from both visitors.  Inga has a number of ideas that she would like to develop as a result of this visit.  I hope we get to hear how they progress.

Riga Stradins University Library and Riga itself look well worth a visit – you never can tell!



EAHIL 2017 – Running a workshop – internationally



During EAHIL 2016  in Seville – I got talking with Muharrem Yilman – librarian at the | University of Oslo: Medical Library, Ullevål Hospital.  We both have an interest in service development and user centred design.  We agreed to develop and host a workshop on User Experience for EAHIL 2017.

Distance was no object.  We submitted our abstract and waited with fingers crossed.  Once we got the ‘go ahead’ – via emails, Skype and a meeting when I was in Norway (on library business), we planned and developed our workshop.  We structured and timed the session, divided the areas between us and devised practical activities for attendees.

Prior to the start of EAHIL 2017 we contacted all attendees to welcome them in advance.   Then DUBLIN!.  Muharrem and I met up on the pre-workshop evening to go over the final details.

Workshop 11 – “User Experience (UX) Design for User-Centred Libraries – Thursday 15th June @11:00 – Muharrem and I were ready to go.

There was some setting up to do – laying out the room with flip charts, sets of coloured pens, Post – It notes  and sheaves of paper for each user.

UX workshops Dublin Eahil 2017 - b4 the start

UX workshops Dublin Eahil 2017 - b4 the start 3

The room where the workshop was held has historical significance.  Mary Robinson (Ireland’s first female president) signed the Declaration in this room.  Set into the centre of the table is a specially commissioned piece of glass commemorating this event.

We nervously waited for our participants to arrive.  Over 20 people attended representing 11 countries.

The aim of the workshop is to introduce user experience methods, which can be used in libraries to gain greater insight and depth into user needs and behaviour.  This information can then be used to develop library services and rethink the use of physical spaces.

After a short introduction to user experience and the methods were would be trying, the group began their first activity.

Graffiti Wall.  Flip charts were distributed around the room and questions were posed, requiring users to respond.  Everyone was then encouraged to walk around the room and look at the comments people had raised in relation to the library they worked in and then respond to the comments.

The next activity was a cognitive mapping exercise – drawing your library.  You have 6 minutes and every 2 minutes the pen is swapped for a different colour.  Highlighting what is drawn at a particular moment.  In small groups people shared information on their drawing.  In addition to examining what has been drawn – omissions from the drawing can be equally telling.  For example my first cognitive mapping of my library excluded users!  (Very common in the group I was in!).  For more information on cognitive mapping – click here

The final activity was writing a letter – either a love letter Love letter heart image

or break-up letter heart-1952347_1920

Each person wrote a letter to their library  – comfy chairs, PC area, document supply.  Then in small groups each person read their letter aloud, whilst the others listened.  The letter was read several times, allowing observers to note points made, observe vocal tones and body language.  Ideally this would then be used as a basis for a more in depth conversation /semi – structured interview which can be recorded.  We did not have time to take this forward in our workshop.  Further information on the letter writing technique can be found here.

UX workshops Dublin Eahil 2017

After some information on data analysis and decoding your results – we gave some examples of other UX methods for consideration and then lunchtime and the workshop had concluded.

The emphasis of our workshop was practical.  We both really enjoyed the planning and running the session.  Hearing the positive responses of our attendees and how they would use the techniques we have introduced to them was very encouraging.


EAHIL 2017 – Dublin Workshop


I was fortunate to attend the latest EAHIL programme.  This year was a workshop year.  Although there were keynote and plenary speakers, the main focus was on small group workshops.  I will write about some of the workshops I attended.

Attendance was high, weather was great and the practical workshops helped delegates to overcome shyness, nerves and engage in order to get the most from their preferred workshops.

wow-2388382_1920My first workshop was brilliantly entitled – “WOW: Workshop on Workshops”.  As I was co-leading a workshop later in the programme I was keen to find out what I could do to make it the best ever!

After an introduction to the speakers and timetable for the session the leaders – Niamh O’ Sullivan and Jane Burns – shared their insights and experiences.  Icebreakers (much as we might moan about them) are a good way to introduce group members to one another.  Active participation on behalf of the group and prizes are good to include.  (Sadly there were no prizes in the workshop I was leading – other than the glory of taking part!).

Props can encourage engagement – in a circle of 20 people we were throwing and catching a 3D model of a helix

After splitting into small teams we were each given a different task to complete  – my group was devising a workshop for librarians on marketing. No group had time to complete the task, however we enjoyed working together and used the framework and tips we had discussed so far.

  • Pre -workshop – establish who your audience are.  Think about setting a pre-workshop assignment.
  • Prep – organise your supplies, props and prepare your presentation
  • Introduction- Introduce yourself and your topic.  Get the group to introduce themselves.  Set the outline for the workshop
  • The Work! – Assign tasks and explain clearly.  Help as require but DON’T interfere and get in the way
  • Obtain feedback and sum up.
  • Follow up – provide any further references / reading, give your contact details and post workshop ask for their feedback.


The Co-operation and bench marking workshop – introduced a technique of “Brain Writing” – a more structured method than brain storming.  We worked on 6-3-5 concept – 6 participants per group, generating 3 ideas and a time limit of 5 minutes.

Our brief was to generate new indicators which can be used for library comparison/bench marking.  At the end of the workshop the groups had identified the following;

  1. Measuring librarians as authors on published papers
  2. Hits on library web pages
  3. The number of collaborations your library/dept. has
  4. The number of successful research funding bids
  5. Number of retweets from your library Twitter account
  6. Amount of time library services/help have saved staff time (good idea – but not easy to measure or get feedback from users on this.

Then we got a little a silly ….  number of gifts bought into the library.

We have a very generous set of users, so I think my library would measure up quite well against others!


One workshop that I was especially interested in (and which preceded the workshop I was running) was – “Design for Libraries” – Dr Johanna Archbold – RCSI.

Johanna took a more methodological approach to user design – providing the history of user design and linking user design to the organisational strategy.

Johanna then gave examples of work currently ongoing at the RCSI.  The library will be refurbished over the next few months and the staff are keen to hear their library users views.  One piece of work I particularly liked related to chairs!

  • What kind of chair are you?
  • What features of the chairs you can see – would you select to make the best chair ever?
  • What style of chair would be best for PC use/long studies/quick searching.


The final workshop I would like to mention – was the final workshop of the EAHIL programme.  “Partnerships for leadership exchange” –  Lotta Haglund & Andrea Sutton

This workshop looked at what made good leaders/managers in different countries and what differences and similarities there were.

In 2 rows facing one another we had 3 minutes to talk about examples of management, leadership and challenges within our organisations.  The clock chimed and we all move around to share with some one else.  Although time was tight we did have the opportunity to speak with everyone.  We then feedback points we had collected from our discussions.

Many different workshops,following different topics and formats.  I enjoyed all that I attended.  I have mentioned a number here which really did ‘strike a chord’.   I thank the organisers and presenters for all their hard work, imagination and patience.











I recently attended the 2nd East of England Health Libraries CanDoCafe event.  These events are based on Knowledge Cafe formats – championed by our very own @lawilk.

A small but perfectly formed group gathered in Cambridge.  @ilk21 chaired the day, smoothly and expertly.  Post introductions,  groups discussed the following question

Given that there is a perception that there are limits to the library’s reach within an organisation, how would you create, capture, share, utilise or reuse knowledge in the organisations you serve?”  (Any one who is following this blog and would like to comment will be happy to hear your thoughts).

Points were captured on post it notes.  For photographic evidence go to https://t.co/T4QOx51s9u  Initially I was not sure where to begin with this as a topic – it is such a biggie!  But over gentle discussions with colleagues in my group  we came up with some good ideas.  For example –

  • creating more partnerships
  • increasing awareness and profile of the library within the stakeholders
  • offering  library space as meeting area for groups (Knowledge Cafes, journal clubs etc)
  • librarians as facilitators to the organisation
  • libraries offerings spaces/resources/skills for basic numeracy and literacy
  • Creating a local knowledge directory for new staff/members
  • Repository for publications

Clearly thought needs to be applied to ensure boundaries with other teams are not crossed and there is no confusion as the library is offering xxxx which is very similar to xxx offered elsewhere.

These group discussions are run on the lines of ‘speed dating’.  (As I am reliably informed!)  So when the alarm went off, a number of us moved around the room to continue discussions with other colleagues.

Suitably refreshed – the next discussion topic was;

“How can we work more closely with public libraries , social care and mental health to improve our information provision for patients and the public? Tweet as you talk, using the hashtag #candocafe”.

We stayed in our groups to debate this one.  Evidence of the day (including this discussion can be found via Storify of the event.

After lunch the afternoon we shared between 5 colleagues – “Sharing their stories”.  first – https://twitter.com/PeterJRansome

Peter spoke about the successful partnership  between health and public libraries for Dementia Awareness Week

Seek out friendly, supportive staff, use their language, discover who is in charge of health projects.

Isla shared her work with Evidence Aid – Inspiring and enabling those guiding the humanitarian sector to apply an evidence-based approach. Papers/case-studies are provided to volunteers, who then read, synthesize & summarize publications which are then hosted onto Evidence Aids website.

Deborah Lepley (@DebsL72) spoke about project on making trust guidelines and policies easier to find at Mid Essex Hospital.  Great idea, good promotion of what libraries can offer and utilises the skills of library staff.

Penultimate presentation from helen from @wshlibrary talking ‘how to make a conference poster.  Excellent presentation – everyone in the room wants a copy of this poster! Useful information on what colours and font types work together (or clash horribly!), landscape is better than portrait.

Final presentation was mine – on the positive benefits of moving from a paper book ordering system to using an online method.  Book ordering form is a Google doc.  Responses tabulated in an Excel spreadsheet – meaning more reporting and filtering options, reducing the amount of time a piece of paper is handled, no more lost order slips and its better for the environment!

I left the CanDoCafe with a spring in my step!  The informal nature of the event, having a running theme and structured questions to debate meant (for me at least) a really good opportunity to ‘pick apart’ some of the large and small challenges facing us.  I spoke to new colleagues in the region and debated with colleagues who I don’t always get to see and network with.  Good ideas and practice were shared.  I came away with some ideas that I would like to explore for the library service I work in.  Isn’t that the point and real success of an event.

I would encourage colleagues in the region to attend the CanDoCafes in the future.  The intention is to run them on a quarterly basis.  Better still don’t just attend – get involved! You won’t regret it 🙂







2 weeks into the ‘new’ Medical Library

I am pleased to say that more gains have been made over this last week.

The Journals room is open for users to look at journals in the library.


The Medical Humanities has been relocated in the Share area of the library.  The collection consists of books – fiction and non-fiction titles with a medical ‘slant’ – a break from textbooks, plus a small number of DVDs.

Screenshot_Newsfeed_Medical Humanities2

The plants are back in place, also in the Share space.

Screenshot_Share space_1

The Medical Library is now dispensing, er I mean issuing noise cancelling headphones.  To borrow a set for the day please ask at the enquiry desk in the reception area of The Library.

Screenshot_Headphones and Earplugs

Of course there is still work to be finished, but it feels like we are getting there.  Library staff and users are pleased to be back ‘home’, as evidenced by the number of people using the library at lunchtime today.


Churchill Archives Centre

The most recent Cambridge Library Group event was to the Churchill Archives Centre.  This visit had a greater significance for me, as the general election is not far away.

After refreshments the group were taken to the Centre’s search room and shown by the archivists, samples of the papers and artefacts from the various collections the Centre houses.

The Churchill Archives Centre housed in Churchill College opened in 1973, founded by donations from US citizens and later assistance from the National Lottery.

The Centre holds papers and artefacts relating to over 600 individuals.  Notable collections include:

The ‘average’ collection has 800 pieces of paper per box, with the amount estimated for the Winston Churchill collection being over 1 million pieces.  The Churchill collection is still growing.

In addition to Churchill’s school reports – “… Rebellious character unwilling to conform to school discipline (St. Georges School – Ascot – Berkshire – aged 9 ½), the collection includes his first ever letter to his son Randolph (who was 4 years old at the time).  The letter was written from the Western Front.  There are numerous artefacts – a bronze cast of Churchill’s right hand, cigar cutter and butts, and unusually, a whole cigar from a collector in America.  The story behind this item being that as a young child he took the train from New York to the harbour to see Churchill when he was visiting.  It was raining heavily and he didn’t get to see Churchill.  He tried again the next day but was still unlucky.  A member of Churchill’s staff felt sorry for the boy and gave him a cigar as a memento.

Non Churchill items which made a real impression on me are, photos from Neil Kinnocks pop video “My Guy” with Tracy Ullman (1984).  In an anecdote one of the archivists mentioned that Neil Kinnock had helped her to pack up his memoirs (this probably does not happen very often).

The collection also includes a volume from a German encyclopaedia set kept by Hitler in his bunker in the grounds of the Reich Chancellery Berlin.

Amongst the Thatcher memorabilia is one of the handbags with the contents.  Apparently Mrs T liked Clinique and Estée Lauder makeup.  An early election pamphlet, Stanley, a black toy cat who ‘guarded’ the front door of the No. 10 Downing Street flat throughput the Falklands Campaign (2nd April – 14th June 1982), a black and white photo of Thatcher in trousers and with smiling miners and analysis of polling research on the public image of Thatcher and Kinnock are in the archive.

Letters, memos and press cutting from and relating to Enid Russell Smith (civil servant – who participated in the formation of the NHS) form part of the collection.

Apparently Enoch Powell’s archives were covered in sawdust when they arrived as he was having his roof repaired.

Obviously some of the collections are bound by the “20 year rule”.  Presumably the future collection will also include digital memorabilia – emails etc.

The group were also allowed into one of the strong rooms – which has a constant temperature of 17C.  A new wing was opened in 2002 by Margaret Thatcher.

The knowledge, anecdotes and thoughtful presentation by the archivists made this a really interesting, informative and unusual visit.  I am sure members of the group all had a favourite item.  I know I did!  When I asked the archivists, one replied that it changed weekly!

The Churchill Archives Centre is open to all.  However please contact the team in advance to make an appointment.  Contact details:

Churchill Archives Centre
Churchill College
Telephone: (01223) 336087 / Email: archives@chu.cam.ac.uk

I would recommend a visit to this fascinating collection to anyone, whatever your political views and thoughts on some of the people whose collections have been preserved for us all.

First blog post

As I sit at my desk in my office in the refurbished Medical Library, in the refurbished School of Clinical Medicine everything seems very familiar.  In some ways yes it is, back in our ‘old’ home after 9 months in temporary accommodation in the gloriously named Bay 13.   In other ways no.  A week ago we were all packing up to leave our temporary home, having coped with a much reduced space for the library, for user areas and for staff areas.

Library Bay 13

Over the last 9 months we have planned the refurbishment, layout and our return.

The library is now on one level rather than two.

Staircase pre-furb

The journals that were on the upper level are now housed in the Journals room adjacent to the enquiry desk.


The enclosed Wolfson pc room is now a silent working area – SHHH!

The PCs are in the main Share area.


Also in the Share area we have some great new comfortable furniture, the design of which encourages people to work and Share together –

and the Medical Humanities collection – titles, biographies, fiction for example which have a medical theme to them but are not textbooks.


Library users and the library staff are getting used to the changes and of course some things are a still work in progress – media screens, increased signage and the missing second date stamp!

All in all the Library team are very pleased to be back in our updated home, we like the changes and hope that you do too.