A day in the life of an NHS Librarian

If you’ve ever wondered what the work of an NHS librarian entails, this extract from Lesley Firth may just give you a flavour.  To read the full article click here.   

In your Staff  Library you will find people trained in locating up-to-date, evidence based information from reliable sources to support patient care just like Lesley.

Health professionals rely on the expertise provided by NHS librarians to aid the treatment of patients or to research rare illnesses.

Health libraries and librarians are vital to the support of evidence-based medicine (EBM) and evidence-based practice (EBP). EBM and EBP is “the process of systematically reviewing, appraising and using clinical research findings to aid the delivery of optimum clinical care to patients” (fromWhat is Evidence-Based Medicine?).

… My job is to ensure health professionals have access to the best available information so that patients receive evidence-based treatments and care. Health libraries are essential to this provision and without them health professionals would have another burden on their shoulders; how to find the best information fast?

So, what do health librarians and health libraries do that is so important?

“I conduct literature searches for staff which involves searching online for guidelines, published research and systematic reviews (which are generally considered the strongest form of evidence-based medicine) on many different topics. Staff then go on to use this information to develop guidelines and policies; treat patients directly; research rare illnesses; or publish their own work. Many of the results of a literature search are not fully and freely available to staff because, although health library services try to make as much online content available by buying access to journals and databases, budgets will only stretch so far. When staff are faced with information that they can’t access the library will make an inter-library loan request to places such as the British Medical Association (BMA) or the British Library. Without the expert help of health libraries many health professionals would be unable to access this wealth of information either through lack of time or skills.

Often health staff are very enthusiastic about learning how to find relevant evidence-based information themselves. Again the library is essential in providing this training and as part of my job I conduct regular information skills sessions. I show staff the range of online resources available to them, how to search them effectively, how to access the results and how to appraise basic health information. My colleague takes staff through more advanced critical appraisal training which equips them with the skills to assess the credibility and relevance of different kinds of clinical research. Developing a health workforce that is information literate is essential to excellent patient care and one which health libraries are experts in.

I hope this short introduction to some of the work health librarians do emphasises how vital health libraries are to all aspects of health care provision and patient care in both the NHS and the wider health sector.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s