Category Archives: Uncategorized

Streamlining inter-lending and document supply 

In the NHS LKS community we have been pondering for years, if not decades, how we might streamline inter-lending and document supply processes, in order to:

  • make it quicker and easier for LKS staff to manage requests and source suppliers
  • make it quicker and easier and for end users to place and receive their requests
  • optimise use of NHS- purchased content and reduce the risk of paying external sources for articles which are in fact available within the NHS

In recent years, reciprocal inter-lending and document supply has extended to cover the whole of England. The INC scheme is a great example of working collaboratively across the country. However, the underpinning systems haven’t necessarily kept up. ILL staff have developed smart ways of working, but it can still be unnecessarily time-consuming to check different catalogues, copy and paste data from one system to another, or maintain holdings data and library user information in more than one place. The need to ensure compliance with copyright and data protection legislation adds to the complexity. The mechanics of requesting items are also different for end users across the country.

The arrival of the National Discovery Service and the plan to migrate towards fewer, regional library management systems presents an opportunity to review document requesting and supply workflows and consider what improvements may be made. Library services which have implemented local discovery systems report that this can increase demand for inter-lending and document supply services. We need sourcing and supply processes to be as efficient as possible to meet the demand and extend the reach of our services.

So, as the National Discovery Service and library management system work progresses, we will work with system suppliers and library staff to explore opportunities. Please look out for future requests for input from library staff willing to help us with considering workflows and test solutions. More news to follow in due course.

For more information on the National Discovery Service, have a look at the FAQs.

Jenny Toller, chair of the SINC Group which oversees the INC scheme

Homeworking and improving poor home WiFi

Like many of you, when COVID hit I was expected to work from home for much of my working week. I quickly put dibs on the dining room table. I borrowed a work laptop that had recently been upgraded to Windows 10, which meant that I could easily connect to my computer files and Trust’s intranet. I purchased a computer chair after a week or so of enduring what I once thought were comfortable dining chairs and an ergonomic mouse that stopped me from getting RSI. All sorted.

But there was one huge elephant in the room.

Poor wifi connection – lots of coverage blackspots and our devices regularly fell off the wifi connection. We live in a weirdly shaped bungalow – it’s very long, with rooms going off at strange angles and lots of thick walls in the way. The router was located at the very back of the house in an extension the previous owners had built, and it was on a separate electrical network. This is an important point for trying to sort out connectivity issues.

Ever since moving in, we’ve been trying to sort out this problem. I’ve spoken to our wifi providers – we’re on the fastest coverage possible for our area. I’ve spent a couple of evenings on the phone to them trying to tweak our set-up to get maximum oomph out of our connection, which included switching between different frequency channels depending on which ones were less well used at that particular point, and making sure there was nothing near it that could be stopping the signal etc. That didn’t make any difference.

We investigated and purchased a wi-fi extender. The first one we tried was a powerline adaptor – these devices use existing electrical wiring to transmit data between them and extend the reach of the wifi. This is when we discovered that our router is on a different electrical circuit to the rest of the house, so that didn’t work. We next tried a general wireless extender, which acts as a relay to re-broadcast the signal onwards to other parts of the house. This made a small improvement, but we still had blackspots and devices dropping off wifi and needed a separate password.

I investigated getting Virgin cable connected to our house. Note to self – never, ever purchase a house on a private road which can only be accessed via another private road. The Virgin technician very cheerfully told me I was a hiding to nothing there as I needed written permission from every home owner to say that they could tunnel under the roads, and did I have any inkling of the costs involved.

A colleague mentioned to me that they had purchased a more expensive router which had sorted out their issues. Upon further investigation (I really recommend the free articles on the Which website), I came across the idea of mesh routers. These are a network of hubs or satellites – one of them plugs into your existing modem (these days your router is often a combined router/modem) and the others are placed strategically around your house (we have our second hub in the loft). They are a more expensive solution but they have worked brilliantly for us. No more blackspots, no more dropping off wifi. I can get connectivity from any corner of the house. Most importantly, we can now watch television over the internet with zero buffering!

Before purchasing anything as expensive as mesh routers, do your research. Check that the one you are planning on purchasing will be powerful enough for your size of house. Check that it really will eliminate all blackspots if this is your issue and how many devices it supports. I recommend Techradar as a good place to start; they also cover Black Friday deals if you fancy a bargain.

Catherine Micklethwaite
South Devon Healthcare Library Service
catherine.micklethwaite@nhs.net

Expert Search Early Adopters Pilot Update

In mid-September 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). The Expert Search Early Adopters pilot is now nearly two months in, and the following is an update of how the project is progressing, along with some detail around what will happen over the next few months.

There are four early adopter groups, which are roughly aligned to regional geographies: Greater Manchester, East Midlands, East of England, and Kent, Surrey and Sussex. 33 LKS are taking part with approximately 120 staff involved in total in the pilot. There’s a wide mix of experience across the groups, with some services frequently using provider interfaces to search and others rarely setting foot outside of HDAS.

Training sessions have been delivered to pilot participants by Proquest, EBSCOhost and Ovid. Cambridge University Medical Library have also run sessions for staff as they have extensive experience of using provider interfaces for searching and wanted to share their knowledge with peers.

Those services without reference management software in place were offered licences for Endnote, and a subscription to Refworks is also available to all participants. The two products use different distribution models (Endnote requires individual licences and software needs downloading onto PCs, whereas Refworks is web based) as the pilot needs to evaluate ease of access and stability as well as the functionality of reference management software. Participants are also being encouraged to use freely available reference management tools such as Zotero and Mendeley if they wish.

To date there have been three different stages of data collection: an initial baseline participant survey, which collected some demographic info and asked people to think about the potential challenges and benefits of switching to provider interfaces, a phase one baseline search data collection survey (pre-switch) and a phase two search data collection survey (post-switch). It was hoped that participants in the pilot would be able to switch from using HDAS in October, but for a variety of reasons this has been moved to early November.

84 participants completed the initial baseline participant survey. 69% of respondents had 5 or more years searching experience, with 52% carrying out between 1 and 3 searches a week, and 10% carrying out between 4 and 6 searches a week. Participants were asked: What do you expect to be the greatest challenges of moving away from HDAS to provider interfaces? Responses were analysed for themes and six were identified, in order of frequency:

• Challenges relating to search results
• Challenges relating to using new products
• Challenges relating to helping library users
• Challenges relating to time
• Challenges relating to provider interfaces
• Challenges relating to using multiple interfaces

Participants were also asked: What do you foresee as the biggest potential benefits of moving from HDAS to provider interfaces? For this question there were nine themes identified, listed below in order of frequency:

• Benefits relating to stability of the search interface
• No benefits
• Benefits relating to search results
• Currently unsure of benefits
• Benefits relating to the skills of library staff
• Benefits relating to library users
• Benefits relating to the development and improvement of interfaces
• Benefits relating to reference management software
• Benefits relating to the functionality of interfaces

During the evaluation stage of the project, which will be towards the end of this year and the start of the next, participants will be asked about the training provided, reference management experiences and revisiting what they thought would be the potential challenges and benefits of switching. The information we collect about searches carried out pre and post switch will be examined to ascertain the impact on the time it takes to carry out a search, and identify any specific issues with the search process. All of the resulting data will be used to help shape the rollout of training and support for the rest of the LKS in England.

For any questions about the project, please email Emily.hurt@lthtr.nhs.uk.

Emily Hurt
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Vicky Price
Vicky Price Consulting