Digital Libraries Network is for health librarians and trainers in the UK, interested in promotion and training.

Monday, September 29, 2003

Relaunching our library service

Last week following the amalgamation of two libraries and the move to a new hospital earlier this year we decided to organise a week of events to relaunch the service and promote ourselves to our users - we serve 7 organisations: the local mental health trust and the 6 Berkshire PCT's.

The highlight of the week was to be the Nelh cyber cafe. I had done lots of publicity for the week - written to the senior partner and practice manager of every GP practice in Berkshire, sent out posters to all the NHS sites, got something on front page of Berks intranet, sent out individual invitations to all board members and 'directors' and done an 'All sites' email (this earned me a ticking off by the Head of IT). There was free tea and coffee and a prize quiz.

The turn out was rather disappointing, but those who came experienced quality - rather than drop in training sessions with lots of people we were able to do one-to-one sessions.

On the day of the Nelh cyber cafe we put posters wherever we could (its a PFI building so painted walls are out of bounds!) and waited ... The first telephone training session consisted mainly of librarians so drastic action was needed.

Off we went round the wards - Nick was not perturbed by the fact that it is a psychiatric hospital and the staff were receptive and seemed pleased that we'd made the effort. After lunch we visited the local PCT HQ - we did have to arrange a guide as visitors are not allowed to wander around unaccompanied. Those we met were receptive and promised to try the telephone training - even one public health consultant (who I later discovered is a techno-phobe) having originally said he wasn't interested then emerged from his office to find out more.

We then moved on to the local GP and palliative care units - again the staff were pleased to see us and were receptive to hearing about Nelh and having a go at the telephone training - we asked them to tell the night staff so Nick wouldn't be talking to himself!

When we returned things had livened up, Nelh tours were being given and the laptops receiving some use. Lured perhaps by free Danish pastries! We showed Nelh to many staff who had not heard of it before or been too scared to use it - they were all impressed and enthused. Hopefully the consultant who uses Google to find information will switch her allegiance to Nelh now ...

For Nelh awareness week we will be getting out and about (armed with lots of literature) and visiting GP practices/PCT HQ's and anywhere else that has a concentration of our users.

Role and value of librarian

I came across this interview with Ethel Salonen, President of Special Libraries Association, via the CILIP Weekly Information Update. Here are a couple of snippets, which although focused on a library in the private sector, most are relevant to a health setting too:

What advice would you give to a librarian who is having difficulties providing additional value to their organizations?
We used to say "If you can't change the people….change the people." Meaning, if you are unhappy with your current job, then look for another one. That is easier said than done during these difficult economic times. Whenever I am asked this question, I always ask the person:
  • Are you totally aware of the business needs of their clients?
  • Are the products and services you currently provide even being utilized by their clients?
  • Are there daily tasks that can be eliminated so that your time is freed up to really work on value-added projects?
  • Do you have lunch with the key personnel in your company?
  • Do you attend seminars that may be given in your organization?
  • Are you located near your major constituents?

Many of these questions are difficult to answer and some answers are not pleasant to hear. What a librarian may have to do is to totally re-evaluate the role they currently occupy in the company and re-invent themselves. Solo librarians, the ones who manage an information centre as the sole information professional, have learned to minimize their administrative tasks and concentrate on the assignments that meet the business need of the organization. Once you have identified the client's need, developed the product/service that meets the need, delivered it on schedule, and the client finds it useful, then your value has been demonstrated. We all need to remember that we are a commodity and that every day is a new sales opportunity to sell this commodity - our value!

How would you like the role of a librarian viewed within a corporation?
In the June 2003 issue of SLA's publication Information Outlook is an article by Stephen Abram entitled "e-Sustainability - the Amazing and True Story of Flavius Josephus." The story is absorbing and makes one realize the many issues surrounding sustainability, preservation and very long-term access to information. It is the final sentence from this article that I would like to repeat here:
Knowledge does not persist without librarians.
Librarians are the information resource experts who collect, analyze, evaluate, package and disseminate information. It is this information that drives knowledge and it is this knowledge that drives business decisions. It is the information expertise of the librarian which is vital to the financial health and success of any corporation, as well as any non-profit entity. That is how I would like to see librarians viewed in all organizations.

Friday, September 26, 2003

Have literature to hand

On the 25 September, Alison, Caroline (Papi) and myself went down to Prospect Park Hospital in Reading to help out Rowena Perry and colleagues during launch week of their new library.

We carried out teleconference training for hospital and PCT staff while we were there (to test our new 0800 number), for both day and night staff (which is why I am blogging the middle of the night).

We also got out and about talking to staff which was very successful, but we did learn something ..which was to take sufficient literature out with us. Colleagues were so keen to put posters up we soon ran out! So...

When out and about presenting Digital Libraries in your organisation, remember to have lots of literature to give away. Leaving someone without something to look at after you have spent time with them is a missed opportunity.

Well time for bed!

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Evidence-based practice

I went to a study day on Evidence-Based Librarianship yesterday at the Kings Fund - designed to give UK librarians a flavour of the EBL conference held earlier this year in Canada. A very interesting and inspiring day - and not just because NeLH sponsored it ;-)

Find out more about EBL at www.eblib.net which links to some of the presentations from the EBL conference. One paper which is particularly interesting is from Alison Brettle, who conducted a systematic review into evaluation methods in training. Alison recently published an article on this in Health Information and Libraries Journal.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

NeLH Awareness Week accessories

I came across the site below whilst doing lunchtime wedding planning research. It has some rather natty blue loot bags as well as ribboons and balloons. I will be taking the loot bags full of NeLH and edible goodies to my Trust Board meeting - it's one way of being remembered.


Following on from the latest tip of the week...

...if you press B or W on the keyboard to get a blank black or white screen during your presentation, you need to know how to make your presentation reappear when you're ready again...

Not difficult - press B or W on your keyboard again and your slides will reappear, as if by magic!

Tuesday, September 23, 2003


Delegates at the London DLnet masterclasses were asked to share their marketing and training tips. Here they are...

Marketing tips
  • Tell them you can help with CHI reports and help them meet their targets
  • Use email to cascade messages - use NHS mail directory to find people
  • Use notice boards and event stands
  • Use the intranet to disseminate messages
  • Place flyers at conspicuous points
  • Keep promotion simple - not listing all services
  • Work with library champions and make sure they have the information they need
  • Use postcards (internal and external)
  • Use a service evaluation survey as a platform for promoting services and resources
  • Use or develop your own bulletin/newsletter
  • Purchase pens to give away in libraries, showing local library contact details
  • Keep re-inforcing the message
  • Maintain contact with users - email, intranet links, phone, physical presence
  • Keep promotion relevant to people
  • Have chocolates/sweets on your stand
  • Exploit word of mouth - break through to a group of professionals who will then pass information to colleagues
  • Put up posters
  • Set up local email discussion lists
  • Change home pages of PCs to NeLH
  • Use the NeLH toolbar on intranet and internet sites
  • Promotional materials need to look professionally produced
  • Catch them young i.e. students, new professionals
  • Use local inductions - campaign for a regular library slot
  • Don't assume everyone knows you're there and what you can do
  • Have a library stand at key events
  • Run a week of special events with activities, inviting senior managers
  • Blanket leafleting
  • Develop a coherent style so that library materials are recognisable and consistent
  • Every time a book is issued, give away a bookmark inside it
  • Use colour in promotional materials where possible
  • Use regional/national initiatives to grab attention e.g. NeLH Awareness Week
  • Attend meetings so messages are cascaded through organisation
  • Use current awareness to promote value of library
  • Run competitions with nice prizes e.g. champagne
  • Change screensavers in your organisation to display library messages
  • Walk around the organisation to meet new people, especially in clinical environments
  • Don't be afraid to try to be funny - often, humour helps where there are problems
  • Plug into existing events e.g. open days, conferences, training, meetings where you have a captive audience
  • Be visible - get out of the library from time to time
  • Always be helpful when you are approached
  • Take any opportunity to give your 10 second/3 minute pitch

Training tips
  • Bite your lip - give people a chance to find their own way round and get their brain going
  • Ask your audience what they want to get out of the session
  • Strongly encourage people to 'play' with a system to consolidate their skills
  • When preparing materials, think from the users' point of view and avoid jargon like the plague - even words like 'reserves', 'indexes', 'citations' are not necessarily obvious in their meaning to non-librarians
  • If time is short, introduce 1 resource that doesn't need a password which has an easy to remember website
  • Go to them - don't expect them to come to you
  • Find out their mouse and keyboard skills in advance
  • Understand the training environment and users needs e.g. not everyone has good IT links
  • Customise to level, time, place, individual, group
  • Piggy back on other events
  • Plan for all eventualities
  • Make sure people know what learning objectives are before coming on course
  • Use different methodologies - demos, hands on, handouts, presentations....
  • Start with an icebreaker
  • Know your audience
  • Sometimes you get a better response from single discipline groups than multidisciplinary groups
  • Have examples ready but ask for suggestions to keep their interest
  • Ask for specialist interests in advance so you can plan the session
  • Offer follow ups - 1 to 1 or specific support
  • Take the NeLH tour
  • If you can spare the staff, work with 2 trainers - to vary the voice and ways of explaining
  • Offer tips for how to answer pre-set questions
  • Demonstrate full text access to electronic journals
  • Give people an exercise - not a subject of their choice so they focus on the process rather than the results
  • Avoid jargon, be clear
  • Include humour!
  • Include simple key messages
  • Give your audience realistic expectations
  • Find the right balance in terms of time and don't over-run
  • Try an informal quiz at the end
  • Keep groups small and offer 1 to 1 training if possible
  • Keep the general atmosphere informal
  • Get participants to introduce themselves
  • Be frivolous to some extent, to wake people up, helps them to pay attention
  • Avoid overloading people with too much information
  • Keep sessions short and simple
  • Offer to provide training wherever, whenever and however required
  • Explain that quick and dirty searching is perfectly acceptable but this is all it is - introduce generic principles of good searching
  • Choose training examples that are directly relevant to an information need that has recently cropped up
  • Workbooks allow your audience to work at their own pace
  • Allow for plenty of hands-on if possible and lots of interaction
  • Have Powerpoint slides uploaded to internet so that users can click on the links to find resources
  • When demonstrating a search technique, e.g. boolean, tell people they can use it in other systems and interfaces too, though perhaps in a different way
  • Demonstrate a range of resources, not just the 'usual'
  • Work in time for consolidation at the end of the session to make sure they've learned
  • Ensure training room is set up as you want it before people arrive
  • Encourage users to adjust searches for different databases
  • Use handouts for reference and follow up contact details for support
  • Have a CD-ROM back up of your presentation

Monday, September 22, 2003

Submit your marketing plans

If you haven't already seen it, take a look at the updated DLnet page on Awareness Week. You're invited to take part in Awareness Week and submit your marketing plan via the web. Find out more by joining a teleconference on the 30th - details in earlier posting from today.

Teleconference : Tuesday 30 September

If you weren't able to make the teleconferences on the 18th September, the good news is that we're repeating the calls next Tuesday. Nick will be running through a presentation and talking through the NeLH marketing plan for Awareness Week. Scheduled to run for about 40 minutes, it's a great opportunity to catch up and ask questions.

Conference call details:
  • Tuesday 30 September at 0825 (for 0830) start and again at 1225 (for 1230 start)
  • To get the most from the call, you'll need to be online during the call.
  • On the day, dial 0870 333 1663 and enter 771239 #.

I hope you can join us - please let us know by sending an email to nelh@nhsia.nhs.uk, indicating which session you plan to "attend".

And just to remind you......
After the call, you'll be invited to submit your marketing plan - all entries will be put into a prize draw. The prize is a trip to the Medical Library Association conference in Washington next May.

Further teleconferences will follow, starting on 2nd October - more details to follow shortly.....

Monday, September 15, 2003

NeLH Awareness Week (AW) 2003 teleconference and Washington DC

I shall be hosting a teleconference to brief you on the preparations for NeLH Awareness Week (Nov 24-30) on Thursday 18 September at 0910 (for 0915 start) and again at 1610 (for 1615).

Following the call, leads for organisations will be able to sign up to join NeLH Awareness Week Partnership scheme. The first 150 organisations to submit a "gold" or better marketing plan will secure £100 to help deliver it.

Please dial 0870 333 1663 enter 771239 # .

It is my intention that participants see a short presentation followed by a review the DLNet pages -so to get the most out of it please be online during the call. To get an idea of numbers please send an email to nelh@nhsia.nhs with subject heading of:

AM NeLH Awareness Week Phone Call
PM NeLH Awareness Week Phone Call

As teleconferencing is going to be a key part of AW, I do hope you will be able to join me. Please feel free to have multiple people dialling in or use a speaker phone.

Oh and by the way all AW lead partners will be elidable for the Washington DC MLA Conference in 2004 competition. The more activities signed for the more chances you have to win!

Talk to you Thursday!

Thursday, September 11, 2003

New NeLH publicity

New NeLH publicity can now be ordered from the publicity page:
  • stickers
  • posters
  • internal mail envelopes

You can now also check stock levels before ordering.

Monday, September 08, 2003

Tips for promoting value of libraries

At the DLnet masterclass in Newcastle last Thursday, delegates brainstormed some ideas on how best to promote the value of library services. Here's what they came up with:

Some of the issues:
  • We should think of ourselves as important professionals
  • We need to identify the 'champion' for each user group
  • When resources fail, people are quick to complain therefore must be valued
  • We need to support practice, not just courses
  • Maintaining awareness of traditional library resources
  • How do you promote to remote users?
  • Hard to know who is using which resources therefore hard to plan promotion
  • Get rid of negative messages - the skeleton must go!

Key messages to communicate:
  • Libraries are for life, not just for learning
  • Half an hour in your library will save you hours of your valuable time
  • We are a starting point for educational process
  • We signpost people to the right direction
  • Importance of libraries for continuing professional development
  • Promoting best evidence
  • Use libraries as the first port of call to find information as 'we have the skills'
  • Ask what your library can do for you

Tools we can use:
  • Be a member of appropriate committees and groups
  • Become visible - walk around the hospital
  • Ask to attend departmental meetings
  • Be proactive around your organisation's priorities and delivery areas
  • Publicise our successes
  • Adopting KM principles - PUSH rather than PULL
  • Highlight clinical governance issues e.g. in CHI reviews
  • Target line managers especially in relation to professional development
  • Facilitate learning events in key delivery areas
  • Visits to the users' workplaces
  • Newsletters
  • Global email
  • Hosting mailing lists for clinicians
  • Tasteful publicity (more relevant)
  • Library stands
  • Current awareness services
  • Eye-catching internet access
  • User needs analysis
  • Access into clinicians' training
  • NHSU induction
  • Persistence

Friday, September 05, 2003

Your sales pitch

At the DLnet masterclasses, we've talked about planning a good sales pitch so you have a clear and simple message to tell people when you meet them. Here are some suggestions which I've come across:

The idea of the 3-minute elevator speech is discussed by Judith Seiss in her book, The Visible Librarian(ISBN 0 8389 0848 9):

"Often you will have an impromptu opportunity to market your library, such as finding yourself in the elevator with someone you want to impress. Have a prepared 'elevator speech' that has a beginning (to introduce yourself), a middle (the pitch) and an end (to request action, a meeting or a visit). Start with a provocative statement or question such as 'Did you know that 40% of an executive's time is spent looking for information?'"

Seiss also recommends you plan a 30-second commercial, "designed to tell a stranger who you are and what value you can bring him or her".

In a recent interview with Free Pint, Mary Ellen Bates, talks about how she has developed 10-second commercials:

"I have an example of how to explain our profession, in the book I just wrote, Building and Running a Successful Research Business. The example is taken from Paul and Sarah Edwards, gurus for home-based business. They describe a useful formula for developing your ten-second introduction. The template they use is: 'You know how [describe typical clients' information problem]? Well, I [solve problem] by [doing this].' For example, 'You know how frustrating it is when you spend an hour looking for market research on the Web and never do find what you're really looking for? Well, my company helps you solve business problems by finding information that doesn't even appear on the Web.' [...] I like this formula because it forces me to focus on the benefits I provide to my clients, rather than simply describing what I do, and it keeps the entire description to ten or fifteen seconds."

Monday, September 01, 2003

Digital Libraries Lapel Badges and Publicity pages

DL Net Lapel badges are now available through our order line 08453 660066. Please ask for reference is 2003-IA-1290 when you make your next order for literature.

As has been pointed out in the blog it is irritating to ring the order number and find out there is no stock. Now you can be irritated (without ringing) when you check the stock of an item from the website as you can automatically do so now. www.nelh.nhs.uk/publicity

To prevent further irritation I have ordered larger quantities of literature especially for the run up to Awareness Week. However, where you see stocks are low please order carefully. Currently stocks of 1338 are running down prior to a large order of its updated replacement (very similar but themed with the magnifying glass logo and with a space for an Avery label in right bottom corner to personalise to your library). These new leaflets will be delivered in outers of 50 which we hope you make it easier for you to manage promotional literature.