What goes up, comes down and stays roughly the same?

 

In this blog I would like to give an overview of the collated activity data that you have been submitting to your regional Library and Knowledge Service Leads. I will look at some of the trends in the hope of starting a discussion about what the trends might mean.

High level overview

In the three years since the 2014 publication of Knowledge for Healthcare, library and knowledge services staff have:

  • Supplied 6.2 million items (books, reports, articles)
  • Handled 3.7 million enquiries
  • Trained 513,000 NHS staff
  • Supported 97,000 expert searches

The breakdown by year is shown below:

  2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17  
supplied 2.1m 2.2m 2.7m 1.8m 1.7m items
handled 1m 1.2m 1.3m 1.2m 1.2m enquiries
Trained* 140k 153k 174k 176k 163k staff
supported 32k 31k 32k 32k 33k expert searches

* includes user education and user induction totals

What is collected?

The Health Education England Regional Library Leads and their predecessors have routinely asked you for data on among other things the following:

  1. Enquiry services – providing answers to questions
  2. Information consultancy – expert search services
  3. User education – training users
  4. User induction – ensuring they know what is available to them
  5. Document supply – books, copies of articles etc.
  6. Current awareness services – keeping up-to-date

The data provides a rich picture of the ups and downs of some of the activity that you NHS library and knowledge services staff undertake to enable your users access the evidence they need to support their work, studies or research.

What does the data show?

1. Enquiry services

A key part of our role as library staff supporting NHS staff and learners is in answering queries from your users.  These take two different forms: procedural /directional enquiries and Information resource related enquiries.

Procedural enquiries e.g. “How do I join?”, “What are your opening hours

Directional enquiries e.g. “Where can I find this book?”,  “Where is the copier?”

Information resource related enquiries e.g. “Where can I find a copy of the Hippocratic oath?”, “How do I search for..?”, “What have you got on..?”, “Can you show me how to..?”.

The split of the categories has remained relatively steady over the years with an average of 61% of enquiries being procedural or directional. The total number of enquiries is steadily dropping off from the highest level in 2014-15. Can we assume our users are more skilled at finding the answers for themselves or can you suggest another reason for this decrease?

Enquiries by type
  2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17
Number of procedural/ directional enquiries 603,762 733,193 796,908 745,738 699,168
Number of information resource related enquiries 418,995 452,651 491,824 474,808 460,299
TOTAL 1,022,757 1,185,844 1,288,732 1,220,546 1,159,467

2. Information consultancy – expert search services

This covers mediated searches i.e. where library and knowledge services staff undertake a literature search on behalf of users. We are experts in searching for information and doing it more quickly and effectively than our users particularly when it is a multi-faceted search or one where results cannot be found in the traditional databases. The figures have remained relatively steady over the last five years although 2016-17 shows the highest figures for this five year period. We are providing more clinical/outreach services which traditionally encourage more requests for mediated searches.

  2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17
Total number of mediated literature searches 31,978 31,121 32,550 31,668 32,819
No. of clinical /outreach librarian services 106 113 111 104 113

3. User education

Complementing the bespoke service we provide, we also support NHS staff and learners to “do it themselves”. We train them (user education) to carry out effective and efficient searches on databases and websites by giving them the skills to narrow down their searches or broaden them as appropriate. We try to show them that “just googling it” is not necessarily the effective way to find answers.  Any thoughts on why the number of users receiving user education is now dropping after increasing each year since 2012-13?

2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17
No. of library users receiving user education 41,301 45,576 51,814 53,594 47,425
Total number of user education sessions 20,097 22,945 26,845 27,748 24,086
Of which no. of 1-1 training sessions 14,651 15,440 18,972 16,533 15,683
Of  which no. of group training sessions 4,171 3,732 4,681 4,421 3,554

4. User induction

We also ensure they know what is services are available for them to use (user induction). We know that in many Trusts library and knowledge staff no longer have a slot at corporate inductions and have to find new ways of introducing services to new Trust staff and the figures back this up for 2016-17.

  2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17
No. of library users receiving induction/year 98,737 107,393 121,709 122,456 115,519
Total number of user induction sessions 34,458 35,457 38,974 40,872 36,596
Of which no. of 1-1 user induction sessions 27,136 29,545 32,299 33,818 29,711
Of which no. of group user induction sessions 5,089 5,269 7,614 5,567 4,652

5. Document supply

Libraries have traditionally been seen as storehouses of printed books and journals. We now our art is sourcing items and supplying them without the requester necessarily knowing the items are not from your own stock.

Where once users relied on library staff to deliver the whole package: conduct the expert search, source and then supply copies of articles or other items – Increasingly users are doing it for themselves. Users issue and renew book loans via our self-service machines and download articles from national, regional and local e-resources or the growing number of open access journals. Downloads of chapters from books by users are also another element of self-service.  Anecdotally we also suspect our users are becoming more discerning and request fewer items or are abstracts now their key source of information?

2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17
Total items supplied  to users 2,117,528 2,059,429 2,781,557 1,820,143 1,554,799
Total items received for users 264,369 270,138 133,551 115,551 90,498

6. Current awareness services

With information overload increasing every year, we help to lay a path through the information forest. We provide a range of current awareness service designed to alert users to new information in their areas of interest or to keep them up to date. We do this in three ways: we create, modify or contribute to someone else’s bulletins or circulate a bulletin from another supplier without any changes.

2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17
Current Awareness Services Provided by LKS 956 961 1,046 1,134 1,215

The chart shows the number of library and knowledge services providing one of more type of current awareness service.  While the production of new acquisition bulletins is decreasing; the number of subject/topic bulletins is increasing with a significant increase in 2016-17 for personalised bulletins (e.g. from sources such as KnowledgeShare).

We also use different means to deliver current awareness:

  • E-toc alerts (electronic tables of content from journals)
  • Library blog or wiki
  • Netvibes or equivalent
  • RSS feeds
  • Social networking (e.g. Twitter and Facebook)

Perhaps most significantly while other formats of current awareness are staying steady, there have been major increases in the use of social networking (e.g. Twitter and Facebook) as a means of delivering current wwareness services with a 156% increase from 2012-13 to 2016-17.

Have you shared what you produce through the CAS portal? Why not have a look at http://kfh.libraryservices.nhs.uk/current-awareness/

Looking forward

Library and knowledge staff are certainly moving with the times and finding new ways to deliver services. From 2017-18 the HEE Leads will be asking you to report on different aspects of the services you deliver (see the 2017-18 annual statistics return). It will be interesting to see what the next five years show about how what we deliver and how we deliver it in a world of increasing automation and collaborative working.

I am also interested to see the outcome of the HEE Leadership project that is currently gathering information about what you collect locally and how you use it. The group will be developing a Statistics Toolbox to help you. Watch out for a presentation/ focus group being held near you soon.

If you would like to see more of the data for 2012-13 up to 2016-17 please download the summary file.

If you have any thought or comments on the data please add a comment to the blog.

Linda Ferguson

HEE LKS Statistics Lead

Linda.ferguson@hee.nhs.uk

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