A day in the life of a health care outreach librarian

Term may have ended last week but things are still busy for me. Today my first hour was spent preparing for a ‘1-to-1’ meeting later in the day with a deputy sister of a ward in the Children’s Hospital at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, where I am based. This had been arranged only the day before, specifically for this afternoon – a brief moment when she was available. Preparation – mainly consisting of building a search on the concepts she provided – being done, I then had to make final preparations for teaching a two-hour online ‘Introduction to Searching: How to find literature on a topic in medicine and health care’ Bodleian information skills session.

I would normally do this with a colleague but circumstances today meant doing it all myself, which would be the first time I had taught all of the content. In the end it was well attended, including by some Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH) staff as well as several University of Oxford Medical Sciences Division (MSD) people (16 in total). Everyone seemed happy, including me. However, I was then straight on to preparing for the next task, which was an hour-long workshop on critical appraisal to be delivered in a teaching room in the Oxford Heart Centre. I met my contact at the appointed time, giving us the opportunity to set up the IT (hybrid attendance, of course). This was the first time for me talking at length on this subject and I had done several hours of planning in the preceding days, including choosing two suitable papers to discuss and sharing them with the group (a forum of advanced practice nurses) in advance.

The hospital’s wired network let us down at one point but, with the help of my host, we were able to switch computers and carry on. At the end I got several ‘thank-yous’ and appreciative comments, which was reassuring. For their next meeting they plan to discuss a paper amongst themselves so it looks like I have helped them get on the right track. I grabbed a sandwich from the lunch they had laid on and headed back to my office to prepare myself for the 1-to-1 I mentioned at the beginning, which was to take place in person at the request of the reader. We ended up having a productive session – she was very happy with the demonstration search I had developed that morning and my explanation of how I had gone about it, and how she might take it on and translate it for other databases. She is an OUH employee on a Master’s course and had a deadline coming up.

After this I spent a while documenting how I had spent my time that day in various team, and one personal, spreadsheet. This sort of admin is vital for us to understand what we are all doing and how long it takes. I also record my own searches so I can easily re-use parts when similar queries come up. I have just completed my one-year probation period in this role and have already run searches for about 70 different people in OUH and MSD during that time, so it is increasingly important for me to keep track of them.

Tomorrow I have a team meeting followed by time blocked out to reply to various people about projects we’re working on – a follow-up email for the person I saw today and another to a hospital pharmacist I had also met in person the previous week about two quality improvement projects she has been given research time to work on, and two new searches to develop, one for an anaesthetist in paediatrics and one for a clinical medical student.