Institutional Repositories – keep it simple!

The reason for being involved in the creation of an Institutional Repository

Creating an Institutional Repository (IR) is about connecting people to people, building on the external reputation of your organisation and increasing access to health and care research funded by public money.

You can chose from bespoke software systems, content management systems, library management systems (LMS), or more straight-forward solutions, for example, Excel spreadsheets and Access databases.

Why I chose to use my LMS for an IR.

  • I wanted to keep it simple.
  • I didn’t want to make the IR a silo. I wanted to raise awareness of knowledge outputs to help put people in touch with one another, and raise awareness of library and knowledge services at the board and throughout the organisation.
  • I wanted to do it within my current budget.
  • Using my LMS means customers find staff papers when they are looking for books on a topic, this is an added bonus.
  • As long as the outputs can be found, for me, the system is not the most important thing. I felt it was better to do it, rather than wait for a gold standard system which may not be affordable.
  • I wasn’t convinced a new system would offer us enough added value, or could offer much more than my LMS could offer. Our system is web-based.
  • To buy a bespoke system would not just cost an initial outlay, but ongoing maintenance costs and potentially storage costs too.
  • Using our LMS increases the scope of the system and provides additional justification for its maintenance.
  • My longer term plan is to link to open access articles where they are available. If I can’t link to full text access, I can still raise awareness of the research. The full text can be sourced though the library.
  • If the research is already available via a university repository or an organisation’s internet page, I plan to explore if I can link to it. However if the content is in PubMed Central, I will link to that, as I hope the links are less likely to break.
  • I don’t store the full-text, I would need additional storage space on our server and copyright can complicate this.
  • Cross linking is important to me, to make the content easy to find. Like many LMS I can create links to specific collections. I have a link which displays all staff papers via our Trust research department.

Hints and Tips to get going

  • The time it takes to set up an IR will depend on how research active or publication active your organisation is.
  • Try and pick a system that won’t become another legacy system or a silo, use one your Trust can easily support.
  • Start with items in the public domain and build on that if you can.
  • Start with staff papers as they are relatively easy to find. Begin by importing citations and use author affiliation searches.
  • Start with the current year; then build on this as far back as you need/want.
  • Seek work experience, college/university work placements and pre-employment placement opportunities, these can help you get an IR up and running and to help maintain it.
  • Consider sharing staff from research departments. It is a shared priority, so see if they can enter some of the information into your system, or can you raise awareness or support them with theirs?
  • If you are storing or linking to internal documents choose a method that will keep them internal (e.g. password protected or on an internal system). Often LMS have hidden categories which can be seen with a password.
  • If you are going to use a straight-forward solution like Excel, then ensure you get advice from library colleagues to make sure you get the best out of it. Items can be categorised, filtered and pick lists created to provide consistency.
  • Speak to library colleagues who you know have an IR or ask the members of the IR task and finish group to buddy you up with a colleague who can help.

Vicky Bramwell

Library Service Manager

Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

(Members of the IR task and finish group are  Lesley Allen, Vicky Bramwell, Dominic Gilroy, Hugh Hanchard, Jackie McGuire, Sue Robertson and Caroline Storer)

ICLC Report – Lorna Dawson – Knowledge Service Assistant – Greater Manchester Mental Health

On Thursday 21st and Friday 22nd September 2017, I attended the International Clinical Librarian Conference, thanks to funding awarded by NHS Health Education England. Healthcare library professionals from as far as America, Iran and Denmark converged on Leicester Racecourse and presented on multiple aspects on the clinical librarian role. I attended with a view to discovering more about the role to assess my suitability for it, and if so, what skills I would need to secure a CL post. Here I give you a taste of a few of the talks I saw and what I learnt from the conference as a whole.

Steve Glover and Olivia Schaff’s presentation showed me how important librarians can be in directing the future of research. Olivia worked with a group of librarians to conduct a systematic review of endometriosis research. Through identifying all the research available, areas where research was currently lacking could be identified and then ranked in terms of priority for further research. It was the first time I’d heard of librarians working in this way and I thought it was a really great use of our skills to influence the future of research.

One of my favourite talks was Bennet Jones and Katie Barnard on setting up a CL service at North Bristol NHS Trust. The creativity with which they developed the service was inspiring: from Bennett’s posters of Nurse Norman who was sad until he found the library, to their willingness to shadow surgeons in order to get a better understanding of their needs, to Katie’s abuse of the AOB section in staff meetings.

Farhad Shokraneh had everyone in a state of disbelief as he reported on clinical librarianship in Iran. Clinical librarianship is almost unheard of there and Farhad is possibly the only one of his kind in the country. He sits with a laptop in the emergency services department finding answers for enquiries there and then as staff come up to him, a bit like a human Cochrane Clinical Answers. It is possibly the fastest paced environment that a CL works in.

Lessons learnt

  • When people ask you to do a systematic review, or in my case a literature search – ask as many questions as possible but particularly: What do you mean by a ‘systematic review’? and What’s your deadline?
  • Being proactive and tenacious is key to establishing a new CL service. Provide the search that team needed but didn’t ask for. Don’t give up because a department didn’t take immediate interest.
  • Attend as many meetings as possible. Make connections with people on the wards, with heads of services, as many people as possible.
  • The CL role is very flexible. It can be defined in essence as meeting the information needs of clinical staff but these needs could be very different from department to department, from Trust to Trust and a CL needs to be flexible, creative and responsive to meet those different needs.
  • It is an exciting, fulfilling role where you can see the impact you have on staff, their practices and patient care.

Many thanks to Health Education England for funding my place at the ICLC 2017. It was an invaluable experience and from it I can say that I would definitely look to apply to CL posts in the future.

Lorna Dawson
Knowledge Service Assistant
Greater Manchester Mental Health

5 Top Tips to Reach Public Health Teams

Positively promoting health and wellbeing and preventing ill health has arguably never been more important. Responsibility for local public health services rests with local authorities. Public health professionals face a complex task. They work in locally specific, politically sensitive and financially constrained contexts.

Evidence from research and learning from best practice are key to their success in influencing decision-making. Yet, the fact is that some 40% of local authority public health teams do not currently have access to healthcare library and knowledge services.

Where information professionals have been able to apply their skills they find it rewarding work, and quickly prove their value.

“Public health staff are keen, appreciative and great ambassadors for our service. Sometimes they search themselves, sometimes they ask us – searches can be complex but have given us the opportunity to stretch develop our knowledge and skills.”

Anne Lancey, Library Service Manager, Isle of Wight NHS Trust

We don’t underestimate the challenge of reaching public health teams – but that 40% gap represents a real risk for them and an opportunity for NHS library and knowledge services to make a significant contribution. What can you do?

1 – Benefit from the experience of colleagues

We’ve drawn on the experience of the knowledge specialists and library teams already supporting public health to create a public health toolkit for NHS librarians who want to reach out to public health. It will also be useful for those looking to further develop their service offer. The Toolkit covers the basics – like ‘What do public health staff do?’. Critically it also covers the nitty-gritty – practicalities such as service specifications and charging models.

‘I’m fairly new to the NHS, so found the networking/best practice support sections of the toolkit most useful. That said the SLA elements will be very helpful when it comes to renewing our agreements in 2018”.

William Henderson, Assistant Librarian, Luton and Dunstable Hospital NHS Foundation Trust:

2 – Join lis-publichealth

Join the growing community of information professionals who support public health and/or want to share ideas and learn from those who do. Sign up here.

3 – Connect with Public Health England librarians and knowledge specialists

Are you linked with the PHE knowledge and library specialists in your area? They don’t provide direct services to local authorities – hence the opportunity for enterprising NHS librarians. However, they can support NHS librarians by producing guides, sharing tips, coordinating networks and helping you to make contacts.

4 – Come to the PHE study day on Wednesday 15 November in London

NHS librarians supporting, or aspiring to support, local authority public health staff are warmly invited to attend the PHE knowledge team’s annual study day in London. There’ll be speakers from PHE, NICE, NIHR and CHAIN. It’ll be a great opportunity to network, learn and debate. Watch out for details on lis-publichealth.

5 –Be ready to seize fresh opportunities to make an impact and to strengthen your business

Local authority public health staff now have access to the 1,300 plus full-text journals funded by PHE, as well as the core content titles purchased by the NHS, via a new bespoke discovery portal. PHE knowledge staff will promote the portal, and this is a perfect opportunity for NHS library managers to step in with the offer to provide value-added knowledge support services to local authority staff.

Helen Bingham, Head of Knowledge Services and TEL, HEE (South) & Wendy Marsh, Senior Knowledge & Evidence Manager, PHE