Tag Archives: competencies

Roll the drums and sound the trumpets the Professional Knowledge and Skills Base for Health has arrived

Launched at the CILIP Conference on the 12th July 2016, the Professional Knowledge and Skills Base (PKSB) for Health (login required) is now available.

If only there was a way of encapsulating the broad range of skills and knowledge required to develop the health library and knowledge workforce to meet current and future needs?  Over the last year the Competencies Task and Finish Group have worked with CILIP to create an enriched version of the CILIP PKSB which has examples from a health setting throughout.

The Group have scrutinised every word in the CILIP PKSB and interpreted it for a health setting.  We have also had lengthy debates about what constitutes a competency and the differences between knowledge, skills, values and behaviours.  We have looked at numerous other examples of competency and value frameworks for different professions and have worked tirelessly to produce a tool that can be used by anyone working in the health library and knowledge sector, whatever their role.

The PKSB for Health will only be of use if it is embraced by the whole health library and knowledge workforce and as such we would like to encourage you to take a look and start using the self- assessment tool to plan your own personal development.   Don’t panic – there is no expectation that an individual will have the same level of skills and knowledge across the whole of the Professional Knowledge and Skills Base for Health.  The level of knowledge and skills will vary depending upon your role.

How can it help you?

  • As a self-assessment tool it can help you to plan your personal development and be used as part of the process of gaining professional registration and revalidation by CILIP
  • It can be used to demonstrate your unique skill set to employers and enhance their understanding of the competencies required by library and knowledge staff
  • It can be used to inform role and service redesign, staff training and be used to support staff recruitment and retention
  • It can be used by managers as part of the appraisal and talent management process
  • It will be used to support workforce planning and development at local, regional and national level.

Download the full PKSB for Health (login required)

CILIP members may also access via the CILIP website

Practical suggestions to get you started:

  • Read and share with colleagues the brochure –  The Professional Knowledge and Skills Base for Health
  • Read the full Professional Knowledge and Skills Base for Health
  • Use the self-assessment ratings to score your level of knowledge and skills
  • Identify any areas that you want to develop and think about how you might do that – the Learning Zone may help here
  • Share the PKSB for Health with your employer or line manager and colleagues.
  • Consider using it with your line manager as a way of jointly identifying areas which you want to develop

The second Competencies Task and Finish Group have met to discuss the second phase of their work which will consider additional tools to supplement the PKSB for Health and create resources for role reconfiguration– more of this in a future post.

Please let us know how you get on using the PKSB for Health or get in touch with your LKLS Lead if you would like further information.

Alison Day on behalf of the Competencies TAF

What should our behaviours be?

Our ‘Competencies’ Task and Finish Group, part of the Knowledge for Healthcare workforce planning and development work-stream, has been looking at what kind of behaviours we should exhibit as health librarians and knowledge specialists.

The group has looked at the CILIP Code of Conduct, the NHS constitution, stated NHS values and a number of articles and some publications from the US Medical Library Association (MLA):

  • Developing Core Leadership Competencies for the Library Profession 2009 Library Leadership and Management 23(2) pp63-74
  • A review of competencies needed for health librarians – a comparison of Irish and international practice 2014 HILJ 32, pp89-94
  • Managerial competencies for information professionals: an international perspective.2013 Library Review 62 (4/5) 335-343
  • MLA Personal Attributes to Contribute to Success: Practice related competencies
  • MLA Personal Attributes to Contribute to Success: personal characteristics


We have enjoyed extended detailed discussions on this and feel it worthwhile to generate wider discussion about our professional values, attitudes and behaviours. As a result of our deliberations we drew up the following as a guide to the behaviours to which library and knowledge services staff should commit.

What do you think? Let us know.


Healthcare values, attitudes and behaviours

  1. Improvement to healthcare and health for all is fundamental to all we do. We prioritise patients in every decision we take.

The ethos of all NHS bodies, private and voluntary sector providers supplying NHS services, local authorities in the exercise of their public health functions and Public Health England, is driven by the values enshrined in the NHS Constitution:

  • Respect and dignity
  • Commitment to the quality of care
  • Compassion
  • Improving lives
  • Working together for patients
  • Everyone counts



  1. The qualities identified below indicate specific values, attitudes and behaviours required to underpin the work of information and knowledge practitioners within the healthcare sector.

Our thinking is based on a statement of NHS behaviours (as at April 2016).



  • We recognise self, service and organisation as part of a wider health care system.
  • We contribute and share ideas, knowledge and a common purpose by being team players, supporting others, and working in collaboration. Listening and learning are key behaviours for this to happen,
  • We are motivated to work independently and willing to use our own initiative.
  • We strive for improvements to our service, for our customers and ultimately for patients by being motivational and engaging leaders, having drive, ambition and commitment to transformational change.
  • We take risks, are innovative and learn from our mistakes
  • We communicate in a proactive and approachable manner, being mindful of the needs of the customer and the patient and always acting in an inclusive manner.
  • We are willing to embrace technological solutions and new ways of doing things.
  • We work in a manner that is evidence-based and takes into account the outcome and impact of our service and actions
  • We think analytically and methodically with an eye for detail and work systematically.
  • We work in a safe manner with respect for legal and organisational boundaries.
  • We are self-aware and willing to think reflectively, work in an open and transparent way, act with integrity and are accountable for our own actions
  • We are committed to the library and information profession whilst balancing personal and professional life


As a reminder:

CILIP members are bound by a code of conduct which was published in 2012.

The NHS Constitution defines a set of behaviours that we should follow. This is what it says:

We prioritise patients in every decision we take: everything we do is directly connected to our purpose of improving outcomes – not a process, not an organisation, not a profession – but the people who are at the heart of all that we do.

We listen and learn: we believe everybody has good ideas and has the right to be listened to carefully and thoughtfully. We respect and support each other, building trust and empowering one another and staff across the NHS, to achieve the highest standards.

We are evidence-based: we listen to the people and communities we serve, we look at insight and evidence and we measure our outcomes, so that our decisions are objective and we understand their impact.

We are open and transparent: we are accountable and we take individual and collective responsibility for our actions. We act with integrity and we are transparent about the decisions we make, the way we operate and the impact we have.

We are inclusive: we work in partnership with patients, clinicians in the NHS, the public and our partners because we get the very best outcomes when we work together with common purpose.

We strive for improvement: we believe we can always do better for patients and will challenge and seek challenge. We share ideas and knowledge and take risks because we believe in innovation and learn from our mistakes

A force to be reckoned with – the NHS LKS workforce

The implementation of Knowledge for Healthcare calls for flexible, multi-skilled knowledge specialists – and we know that our staff are our greatest asset.

It is the expertise of qualified librarians and information specialists, together with our colleagues on the front line of NHS funded library service points, who can make all the difference in bringing knowledge to bear on learning, research, decision-making and innovation. The principles and values defined within the development framework shape our workforce planning and development agenda. It signals skills and experience set to become ever more important.

Focussed on issues around Workforce Planning and Development, this blog is one to watch.

As Chair of the working group which oversees this part of the implementation plan, I am delighted that this key area has attracted highly experienced volunteers from across the profession to help us get this right for the future. The working group members are:

David Stewart – Director of Health Libraries North

Sue Lacey Bryant – Advisor to the Knowledge for Healthcare Programme

Anthea Sutton – Senior Information Specialist, ScHARR, University of Sheffield

Gary Sutton – Library Manager, Warrington & Halton Hospital NHS FT

Simon Edwards – Head of Professional Development, CILIP

Sharon Markless – Senior Lecturer in Education, King’s College London

Gil Young (working group secretary) – CPD & Partnerships Manager, NW Health Care Libraries Unit

Meeting for the first time in May 2015, the group has set up three initial ‘task and finish’ groups (TAFs) so far to work on specific time-limited project groups. Each is made up of volunteers from NHS LKS staff. These TAFs will:

  • develop a set of core competencies for health LKS staff, building on CILIP’s PKSB

Chair: Mary Hill, Christie Hospital

  • define a core national curriculum – setting priorities for ongoing training to meet the needs of future service delivery

Chair: Hugh Hanchard, South Tees Hospitals

  • Launch an online learning zone of resources and career opportunities for library staff

Chair: Paula Elliott, Bolton Hospital

We know that continuing professional development is essential for members of our small, specialised workforce to be able to ensure that they have the right expertise and experience to take the opportunities that lie ahead. We know too that the leaders of tomorrow’s library and knowledge services are already part of today’s workforce. So, in addition to setting up our task and finish groups we have:

  • Commissioned a Talent Management Toolkit

Building on the existing toolkit, this will underpin the conversations we need to have, and development activity we need to undertake, to open up opportunities for career progression and ensure robust succession planning

  • Started to develop a leadership programme

Working closely with CILIP, we are shaping an introductory leadership programme for library managers and their deputies or assistants. Strengthening capacity and capability to deliver Knowledge for Healthcare , this will also serve to build leadership skills amongst those wanting to take on more senior roles in the future.

As you can see, there is a great deal happening and this is only year one of our five-year programme! More news to follow in further postings.

You are invited to get involved. To find out more, and if you have any questions please email me at david.stewart@nhs.net

David Stewart

Director of Health Libraries North