New roles, new skills

It’s been a good while since I posted anything here and the reason is, I’ve been busy. After six months working in a new role I’ve now passed my probation and am all set to work out the remaining 18 months of my contract. I’m still at Oxford but, rather than being at a College, am based in the Bodleian’s library service at the John Radcliffe hospital. Bodleian Health Care Libraries (BHCL) is a group of four sites; one in each of the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s sites. The Cairns Library at the JR is the largest and serves all Trust employees, the Medical Sciences Division (MSD) of the University, and Oxford Brookes students on health care courses. I am employed as a grade 4 senior library assistant with particular responsibility for enquiries and outreach.

Before I list some of the things I’m doing it’s satisfying to be able to make a connection between my last job and this one. The Cairns Library is, of course, named after Sir Hugh Cairns – the pioneering neurosurgeon who ran the wartime head hospital on the site of St Hugh’s College, my previous employer, after having helped found the University of Oxford Medical School.

Whilst my role at St Hugh’s was very book-oriented (and what a beautiful and rich collection it is), much of my time is now focused on the discovery of online resources; in particular, medical journal articles. BHCL has a team of outreach librarians, each attached to departments across the Trust and MSD, thereby specialising in those particular fields of practice and research. My job is to help them by fielding initial enquiries and either handling them myself or passing them on to my colleagues. For example, I can give a reader advice on how to go about a literature search but my colleagues will conduct a full reference interview and carry out a search on their behalf. Many practitioners take part in some form of continuing professional development and there is a steady demand on our services from a variety of people – doctors, nurses and researchers. To this end we also provide a range of information skills sessions, which I also support.

While all of this is going on I am also part of a team running a library service. I do a fair amount of hours on our reception desk (mostly registrations) and help desk (general enquiries, how do I do XYZ?). This is a role that is widely shared throughout the team, from grade 2 to grade 10, which has the very positive effect of giving us a shared and relatable work experience, no matter our seniority. Back at my own desk I spend a lot of time on creative marketing tasks. I’m part of two different teams: one redeveloping some of our webpages, with everything that entails, including information architecture, some basic coding and plenty of CMS work, LibGuide and image editing; and another tasked with developing new ways to promote our services, particularly throughout the hospital. I still do plenty of what I’ve been doing for years: leaflets, posters and presentations.

I’m very happy to be finally poking around with HTML after years of working in marketing but never having had to tackle it directly. I’m also continuing the social media side of things that I had been responsible for at St Hugh’s by taking on the role of web and social media officer for CILIP in the Thames Valley (a group I first mentioned way back in my second post on this blog). All of this web stuff is priming me for that website of my dissertation I posted about a year ago. It is still a work in progress. Honest! In the meantime it can be found here.

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