Expert Search Early Adopters pilot – training evaluation

In mid-September 2020, HEE began a pilot to understand how best to help LKS in England move from using HDAS to using provider interfaces (EBSCOhost, Proquest and Ovid – see here for further detail:

We’re now heading towards the end of the project and are currently analysing all of the data we’ve collected so we can pull together a report with recommendations for moving forward. Today we’re sharing some of the results from our training evaluation survey – the valuable feedback we’ve collected from pilot participants will shape the way training is rolled out to the rest of LKS in preparation for migration from HDAS to provider interfaces.

Training was offered by all three interface providers (EBSCO, Proquest and Ovid). The team at University of Cambridge Medical Library also very kindly provided online training that was open to all pilot participants, regardless of geographical region. All of the training sessions were recorded and made available to those who couldn’t attend the live sessions. Of the 68 participants who completed the training evaluation survey, 93% had attended some training as part of the pilot.

When asked if the training provided meant that participants felt ready to switch from using HDAS to provider interfaces for literature searching, the responses were split pretty much equally, with 51% answering yes and 49% answering no. We asked for further detail to help clarify the issues around preparedness, as this will be key to helping staff feel confident about moving from HDAS. Those who had answered ‘yes’ said that a) the training sessions were a good starting point, and that they were ready to dive in and start practicing (38%), or b) they already had some familiarity with provider interfaces and so the training acted as a refresher (34%). The responses for those who answered ‘no’ were more difficult to categorise. There was a feeling that the training on its own was not enough, that people needed time to consolidate their learning and practice. There were also comments about the need for follow up sessions so that there was an opportunity to ask questions and share experiences after the initial sessions.

When asked what they would like to change about the training offered, 68% of participants said that the timing of sessions needed to be earlier. There were definitely slippages in the timing of the whole project, and we appreciate that the training schedule didn’t fit with the expectations of the pilot participants. We know from other comments that people needed time to process what they had learnt, to practice searching so they could increase their familiarity with interfaces and also to have a chance to come back to training if they need to. All of the sessions were demonstrations with time for questions, and 10% of participants would have liked hands on training, where there’s a chance to try a live search for yourself. However, there was a recognition that could be difficult in an online format.

There was a marked difference in the feedback for the training delivered by provider representatives and the sessions held by the University of Cambridge Medical Library. Although satisfaction levels were not drastically different, participants commented positively on the content and structure of the Cambridge sessions. Their training focussed on taking a search from start to finish in an interface, whereas participants felt that the interface providers were demonstrating functionality and features that weren’t necessarily relevant to the search process.

The next blog post for the pilot will be sharing some of the results from the data we’ve collected around ‘post-switch’ searches – those carried out in provider interfaces. Participants captured information about 296 searches, which is a fantastic resource for us to draw from.

For any questions about the project, please email

Emily Hurt, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Vicky Price, Vicky Price Consulting

To fine or not to fine? That is the question…

In the SWIMS Network we’ve recently put fining for overdue items under the spotlight.  We’ve been looking into whether SWIMS Network library services charge fines or not, and their reasons, and also trends in library fining generally. 

 Here’s why we did that, and what we found out. 

 In March 2020 we went live with replacement regional library management system. A new system needs a lot of configuration, and with limited capacity available we need to decide priorities for the work.  Most of the configuration work benefits all library staff and end users, and so this is our highest prioritybut some libraries request local configuration requirements.  One of these is management of fines, as a small number of our libraries charge fines for overdue items. 

 It became clear that configuring the system for fines management would require a fair amount of work, which prompted us to review library fining generally.  We carried out a survey of our 29 library services.  How many libraries charge fines?  What are their reasons?  Have any stopped recently, and if so have they noticed any consequences?  We also looked at literature reviews on the subject. 

 A literature review carried out for the BASE Patch1 in the West Midlands in 2019 didn’t find any particular trend in health libraries; however it did reveal a trend away from charging fines in both public and higher education libraries 

 An update to that review carried out by the Health Education England Knowledge Management team in 20202 confirmed this trend away from library finingThe review summarised a number of arguments in the literature for not charging fines: 

  • they are discriminatory from a socioeconomic angle 
  • they are unnecessary membership barriersand  
  • they are bad for reputational risk especially if seen as income generation (even if there is re-investment in resources).  

The review concluded that it is hard to see a case for them.  

 These arguments were also reflected in the results of a 2020 survey of libraries in the SWIMS Network.  Reasons not to fine or to stop fining also included: 

  • they can jeopardizcustomer relations and staff can feel uncomfortable imposing them  
  • they incur administrative burden and cost including of having a cash register 
  • they may deter people accessing resources they need  
  • they may be seen as some kind of fee to use the service so actually encourage users to keep items longer 
  • they may not be in line with trust guidelines 
  • with increasing use of cashless payments – especially in light of coronavirus – there is a barrier to collection for libraries without the necessary technology 

 Reasons to fine included: 

  • they encourage people to return their books in good time so that they circulate 
  • they generate some income 
  • historical reasons (unspecified! 

 Both libraries which fine and those which don’t mentioned the need to consider alignment with other services in the locality, including higher education libraries. However, a further consideration with regionally-shared NHS library managements system like ours – which enable users to easily move between library services as they move between employers – is the administrative complexity involved where users with outstanding fines move to libraries which don’t fine. 

 Neither the literature reviewnor the survey provided any concrete evidence for the benefits of fining, either on stock circulation or user relations.  In terms of impact on stopping fining, one comment from the SWIMS Network survey stands out: 

 “Along with letting people eat in the library, it’s one of the best things we’ve ever done 

 We would be interested to know if colleagues in different parts of the country have differing views on this question! 

 Jenny Toller 

Library and Knowledge Services Development Manager, South West and South East (Thames Valley and Wessex) 


Becoming digital champions

Library and Knowledge Services (LKS) at Nottinghamshire Healthcare sits within the Health Informatics (HIS) department. I’m fortunate that I am a member of the Senior HIS Management Team, which means I am strategically placed to advocate the skills and services of LKS within ICT. I realised that this had obviously worked when the Head of Digital Services (IT) asked if the LKS team would become Digital Champions for the Trust and support the role out of MS Teams across the whole Organisation during the pandemic.

If you have not come across this before, Digital Champions support digital inclusion through sharing their knowledge and experience to help others develop their digital skills. You don’t have to be an IT guru to be one, but what is important is being motivated to help others at their own pace, and most importantly admitting when you don’t know the answer but will find out!

As a member of the Digital Workplace Project Group, responsible for enabling our Trust to work more digitally, I knew the plan was always to roll out teams using a Digital Champion network within both clinical and non-clinical teams across our Organisation. However, COVID forced our hand. The roll out we had been planning was changed from months to days. The Teams pilot, which LKS had been part of, had to be upscaled to the whole Trust in record time.  The LKS team would become the Digital Champions for the entire Organisation to take the additional pressure away from our IT Support Service.

There was no remit of how this support should be delivered but COVID meant that we must deliver support virtually. A dedicated inbox was created to manage enquiries, although we also responded via telephone, MS Teams and email depending on the complexity of the enquiry, enquirers preference and the implied digital literacy level of the enquirer.  We applied the same level of customer service that we use in LKS to respond quickly and answer enquiries directly to keep the business of the Organisation moving.

Based on the frequently asked questions we were receiving we created an MS Teams support page hosted on our Intranet. We created short visual support materials and provided frequent updates to the ever changing functionally of Teams.  This enabled us to signpost to key guidance and encourage independent learning across the Trust. We began hosting weekly ‘Drop in Sessions’ to cover the basics of MS Teams, giving staff the opportunity to see demonstrations and ask questions, as well as providing sessions for individual teams if requested. Due to the success and high demand we now offer daily ‘Drop in Sessions’. We write communications for the daily Chief Executive staff bulletin and weekly Line Managers update highlighting any changes or new functionality and signposting to the help section if a query has been raised several times recently.  We created an MS Team consisting of the Digital Champions and IT Support Service to facilitate knowledge sharing and problem solving. We are now adopting a more strategic level approach to aid adoption across the Organisation by approaching Managers directly, gaining an understanding of their information needs and selling the benefits of using teams and suggesting appropriate tools they could use with their teams.

At project level I have been involved in all aspects of the rollout and decision-making process, including governance and permission settings. Our Microsoft partner recognised the importance of having a Knowledge Manager involved at this level and the enhanced benefits this can bring.  I have been able to argue for the functionality I believe the business needs, including the upgrade of Communities (Yammer), so we can pilot this tool for Communities of Practice. I am the critical friend representing the user point of view, constantly reminding that digital literacy skills vary across the Organisation, and one training style does not fit all. Personally, as a relatively new manager it has been a fantastic learning opportunity to be centrally involved in a project at such scale and to work so closely and learn from our Senior Project Manager.

We made the decision from the onset that we would be transparent about who the Digital Champions were to raise the profile of the library across the Organisation. This may have been considered risky, but I wanted to showcase to our Trust what LKS can do, and we may never have this type of opportunity again. Although I haven’t got any metrics to substantiate this, I believe this has been effective. We have had some fantastic feedback, and colleagues appreciate our swift response to queries and our excellent customer service. Our “can do” attitude has built stronger relationships within not only IT but also with other services across the Trust, where I’m hoping “from little acorns mighty oaks grow”.

Our involvement in Digital Champions will continue whilst the project group work to develop what the long-term support for MS Teams and wider O365 tools will look like for our Trust. In the short- term we are looking to knowledge share and offer further training to volunteers within local teams across the Trust to grow the Digital Champions Network further.

At the beginning we were all apprehensive about taking on this role and moving out of our ‘library comfort zone’, but we knew we had the skills to do this, even if we were still developing the knowledge. All of us have found Digital Champions hugely rewarding as well as challenging at times! Most importantly we can see the difference we are making supporting our colleagues to change their working practices to continue to deliver services in these difficult times.

Samantha Roberts
Head of Knowledge Services
Nottinghamshire Healthcare