All posts by Richard Bridgen

Black Lives Matter in Health Libraries

“To show up imperfectly but open to change is better than not showing up at all”
@shopsundae, Instagram

On Friday 17th July, 76 healthcare knowledge and Library staff joined us for the Black Lives Matter in Health Libraries virtual discussion. It was led by Hong-Anh Nguyen and Natasha Howard who have previously delivered sessions on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion to the healthcare library workforce and have acted as beacons in this work.

Natasha, Hong-Anh and I started to discuss ED&I learning opportunities last year. We wanted to push forward open conversations and galvanise us as a workforce to take more action. It might not come as a surprise that our initial idea was to have face to face workshops across each region, but due to the pandemic we had to explore the idea of doing something virtual. Then the world watched in horror as George Floyd was murdered by the people who were supposed to protect him and the Black Lives Matter movement exploded. I, like many white people or people with privilege, was suddenly uncomfortably aware that I wasn’t doing enough. That I wasn’t being anti-racist and that I needed to take action. Fully confronting your privilege and complicity is a deeply uncomfortable but necessary process, and once you have come to accept it, it is time to get to work. Seeing how many people booked on to this session made me realise that many of us feel the same way and that taking action in our professional lives can help make the changes we so desperately want to embody.

We asked the network which topics you wanted to discuss and we had some great questions. When we looked through them ahead of the event there were some clear themes emerging. These are the main questions that we worked through, although further questions and experiences were shared by participants throughout;

  • How can library staff, regardless of level or role, effect positive change and influence upwards where resistance is being met?
  • What does it mean to decolonise a library in the healthcare context?
  • How can libraries promote their EDI collections and encourage engagement with this topic through the resources they provide?
  • What should library collections relating to EDI or BAME groups be called? What language would be most appropriate and least offensive?

From our discussions it was clear that many of us are worried about doing or saying the wrong thing, but the clearest message I took away was to educate myself when feeling unsure. That’s why we have created a reading list of resources for you. This covers a wide range of media (articles, books, podcasts), educational tools to work through, broad themes on the topic to more specific information on diversity in libraries. We have made the recording of the event available for you to view and will soon publish a transcript of the discussion. Hopefully these resources will be the starting point for us in taking action in dismantling inequality in health libraries and our workforce.

One of the key things I’ve learnt so far is that it is not the responsibility of our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic friends and colleagues to educate us about discrimination they may face to work, nor how our services contribute to that discrimination. Those of us with privilege can undertake that learning ourselves. I have made the commitment to being an ally through a process of lifelong learning. With that comes the understanding that I might not always get it right, but as long as we are trying then change can begin to occur. I hope you will join me.

Holly Case-Wyatt
LKS Development Manager, HEE London, Kent, Surrey and Sussex
lks-lkss@hee.nhs.uk 

Coronavirus information for patient groups

A key role for library and knowledge specialists through the pandemic is to signpost to trusted information. Notably, we can help NHS organisations fulfil their obligations under the Accessible Information Standard to provide information for patients, service users, carers and parents with a disability, impairment or sensory loss.

HEE’s Library and Knowledge Services team identified that it is difficult to find information about COVID-19 in accessible formats and for specific patient groups. In liaison with Public Health England, NHS England/Improvement and the Patient Information Forum, we have compiled information:

We will be adding information for carers, for people with specific conditions and on health and well-being.  Please help us to promote these invaluable resources to health and care staff and to information workers in other sectors.

The resources at https://library.nhs.uk  are the first part of a website promoting the work of NHS library and knowledge specialists to the healthcare workforce, the public and other stakeholders.  If you have thoughts on topics that you would like to see covered on Coronavirus or in the new website, please contact KFH.England@hee.nhs.uk

AI For Healthcare: Equipping the Workforce for Digital Transformation

AI For Healthcare was a course created by Health Education England and the University of Manchester, to provide a general overview of AI and how it can and is being used in the health sector. Anyone could access this course for a limited amount of time, although it was designed for healthcare workers in mind.

As someone who’s really interested in AI and machine learning (and a big fan of the Topol Review), I took the plunge and had a go. The course was incredibly useful, providing a great introduction to AI. It showed working examples of how it could be utilised, and the pros and cons of implementing new technologies.

Discussion was actively encouraged, and I chatted with wide variety of people working within the healthcare sector. There was the occasional quiz, but mostly people benefited from the rich conversations taking place in the comments sections.

The course was split into five weeks:

  • Week 1: Motivating AI in Healthcare
  • Week 2: What is Artificial Intelligence
  • Week 3: Data in Healthcare
  • Week 4: Making it Work
  • Week 5: Supporting and Skilling the Workforce

The first week was a brief introduction to the course, and looked at the opportunities and challenges of working within the health sector; using technologies to assist with healthcare in an increasingly demanding setting.  It was also an opportunity to introduce ourselves within the discussion, and how we believe our roles could utilise AI in the future. I mentioned monitoring library usage (seeing what resources/topics are popular) and targeted promotion, making resources more accessible and findable for users, more relevant current awareness updates and taking the edge out of literature searching.

We focused on ethical and social aspects of AI and machine learning, generating interesting discussion around if we would be comfortable with being provided personal information and news regarding our health by AI, and whether AI should be used by healthcare professionals to inform decision making. There was also debate on whether AI could essentially ‘replace’ certain services, such as GPs. The general consensus was that as the technology is designed to support, rather than replace services, that it is not capable or desirable for technology to replace human roles.

Further down the line, we looked at cases of AI in action with regards to identifying cancer in breast images. This was particularly topical as it had been recently reported in the news.

There was also an introduction to ‘team science’ theory, creating interdisciplinary teams to work together on projects. Experts from all kinds of different fields and backgrounds will be required for the development of AI in healthcare. Having a diverse range of professionals with different backgrounds, expertise and insights would be highly beneficial, both to reduce bias in software and to create something which can be used by a wide variety of people. I was keen to point out that LKS workers have great skills around Knowledge Management, accessibility and user-centred design, and that having LKS staff embedded into multidisciplinary teams would be an excellent use of our expertise.

We also looked at the challenges of AI; its implementation, management, and the need to educate and train staff on how to use it effectively. I believe this in particular is a golden opportunity for LKS staff; to educate, train, and advocate for the user, enabling them access to quality technology and providing them a safe space to learn and develop new skills.

All in all, the course was an excellent introduction. Being able to network with healthcare professionals was also very useful, as I was able to gage their thoughts and feelings about AI. The course tutors and mentors were fantastic, contributing to discussion and encouraging people to think outside the box. It was heartening also to see the support and interest from others in the roles of LKS staff, and how AI can be a useful tool in our libraries.

Below is a list of some resources which were recommended by the course:

 

Hannah Wood
Librarian
Weston Area Health Library
hannah.wood8@nhs.net