All posts by Catherine McLaren

Support for Library Assistants

Over the past couple of weeks members of the National Continuing Professional Development Group have been working with Library and Knowledge Service colleagues across England to pull together two resource sheets.

The first lists ideas and suggestions for activities that library assistants and those staff working in bands 2-4 within library and knowledge services can do from home or while services are quiet because they are physically closed to users.

The second lists suggested continuing professional development opportunities that library assistants and those staff working in bands 2-4 within library and knowledge services could take the opportunity to explore.

If you have suggestions that you think could be added to either of these resource sheets please email Holly Case Wyatt or Catherine McLaren

Coronavirus, and public health emergencies: the librarian’s role.

On Tuesday 19th February @ukmedlibs held a Twitter Chat on coronavirus, and other public health emergencies: the librarian’s role chaired by Caroline De Brún from Public Health England. 20 Library and knowledge service staff from across the profession and across the world came together and took part.

Throughout the hour Caroline asked the following questions. We talked about how library staff and library services support communities in times of difficultly, from public health crisis to being places of safety. There was good discussion and the sharing of resources. All of these have been included in the Learning Zone either in Information for Public Health and Civil Emergencies or Disaster Recovery.  If you have information that can be added to either of these pages please let us know by using the Recommend Further Resources box on the front page of the Learning Zone.


Are you an NHS Library and Knowledge Service worker looking to develop your leadership skills?

There are a number of opportunities available to you to develop your skills in this area.

The Learning Zone

The learning Zone on the knowledge for healthcare blog has a section looking at leadership; from blogs to books, e-learning to reports. Exploring this site, you will find links to free courses around leadership in the Open University. An example of one of the courses available is Leadership and Followership. Review and reflect on what kind of leader you are (or could be), what makes a good leader and what happens when leadership goes wrong. Continue on to consider why followership is important and finish off with considering how to develop yourself as a leader. If you register and complete the course, you can gain a statement of participation. 

For those of you who prefer reading have a look at:’re passionate about providing high quality information and resources that help you learn and develop the skills you need to make the most of everyday life”.Explore the leadership section and see what you can learn and how you can develop. They explore issues around, “What is a Leader?”, “What Skills do Good Leaders Need?”, “Developing your Leadership Style” before moving on to look more closely at some of the skills good leaders have; planning and organising, strategic thinking, change management and persuasion and influencing skills. 

If you feel that coaching or mentoring would help you develop your leadership skills further than this is also a possibility, see for more details.

Leadership Academy

Continuing in the learning zone you will come across the NHS Leadership Academy. This is not just a site for those aspiring to be senior NHS managers – it there for everyone. Explore the section on the Healthcare leadership modelWe’ve developed the Healthcare Leadership Model to help you become a better leader in your day-to-day role. You don’t have to be in a clinical or service setting to use it. And it doesn’t matter whether you work in a team of five or are responsible for 5,000, you can benefit by discovering and exploring your own leadership behaviours”.  You don’t need to be in a formal management or leadership role to develop these skills they are useful for everyone.


If you are a member of CILIP you can join their leadership network and access webinars and other e-learning resources around leadership. Including one on developing leadership “… We will explore the different leadership styles and the characteristics of each. The main functions of leadership include controlling the process of achieving the task, evaluating the outcome and keeping the team motivated, we will look at each of these in turn. Finally, we will look at the importance of setting a good example.” They also have modules on “What is an Effective Leader” and “Seeing Change Through”.

CILIP also offers webinars to all its members and you can go back and re-watch these if you weren’t able to see them live. There is one by Luke Stevens-Burt on Leadership at all levels. These are designed to fit into a busy day and shouldn’t take more than 60 minutes.

Professional Knowledge and Skills Base for Health

The PKSB for Health outlines the broad range of skills required by librarians and knowledge specialists working in health, enriching them with the addition of examples from a health sector. It is accessible to all NHS library workers, those who have membership of CILIP can use the PKSB for Health along side the online PKSB tool. It allows you to self-assess your current rating against multiple different skills and knowledge and state where you want to end up.  

There are 12 sections within the PKSB for Health one of which (section 9) is focused on Leadership and Advocacy: “Provide active leadership by inspiring and managing themselves and teams, both inside and outside the organisation and by promoting the positive value of library, information and knowledge services across the organisation and society. Includes leading and inspiring teams, influencing key stakeholders and understanding external frameworks. Health LKS staff take an active leadership role and seek opportunities to develop leadership and advocacy skills”.

Talent Management Toolkit

The talent management toolkit was developed to recognise and support the talent of library and knowledge service workers. A section of the talent grid highlights; “Demonstrates Engaging Leadership Behaviours”. It allows you to see what is considered a novice, a professional and a world class talent in this area.

  • Novice: “Leads the team and develops processes that encourage colleagues to develop the service”.
  • Professional: “Develops a positive team culture, networks across internal stakeholders and communicates the local vision to colleagues”.
  • World Class: “Communicates a compelling and credible vision which inspires and motivates others. Shows confidence and integrity under criticism. Create a shared purpose which others are excited to deliver. Demonstrate to others how they are valued and integral in the workplace. Demonstrates an inclusive approach”.

 If you feel that you are working in the world class end of the spectrum then it would be worth talking to your line manager about having a talent conversation using the talent management toolkit.  

Other Opportunities

Accessing information online is not the only way to develop your leadership skills, there may be opportunities within your NHS organisation to access formal learning or become part of a project group or work stream. Look out for these opportunities and take part in them. They will develop you in ways you aren’t expecting and may lead onto other things.

There are always opportunities to get involved in projects, task and finish groups, and work streams within Knowledge for Healthcare. These will continue and they give you a chance to put theoretical learning around leadership into practice while building up your professional networks.