Top Tips for Setting up a Clinical Librarian Service by Victoria Treadway

Don’t wait for people to ask you who you are.  Introduce yourself at meetings that you attend, take a pen and leaflets with you wherever you go! Have an ‘elevator pitch’ rehearsed and ready in case you bump into anyone in the corridor.  Plaster photos of yourself in social areas, e.g. doctors mess, staff rooms (with a photo) – people will start to recognise you.  Make it personal.

Take advantage of opportunities that present themselves, sometime it’s just a case of being in the right place at the right time.  BUT be proactive as well.  Position yourself within a process or activity that already exists, e.g. audits, clinical governance, MDT meetings, research groups.  This will ensure that you are having contact with clinicians and managers at the point where they need the right evidence.

Finding out what these processes and activities are will involve a bit of research.  Try to identify who the ‘movers and shakers’ are within your Trust – possibly those people with an educational element to their role (Clinical Tutors), or those who are involved in innovation and service improvement (look in the Trust newsletter).  See if you can arrange a ten minute meeting with them and deliver your elevator pitch.

Importantly, follow up these meetings and contacts.  Aim to develop long term relationships with those people and their departments.  Visit them on their territory rather than arranging for them to come to the library.  Talk to people about work, but also try to give away a bit of your personality, it will help you to make friends with people and they will trust you more.  Plus you might end up actually making friends too!

Start small – rather than spread yourself too thinly, set up a service to one department or work with one team, then use that example to show others what you can do.  Demonstrate your usefulness to teams by using examples of how you’ve worked in other departments in the hospital – if you’re just starting out, use examples from other Trusts – this blog is a good start.

It will be really useful to look at how CL services have developed in other Trusts – shadow other CLs, read their publications, but don’t feel under pressure to make your service the same.  Organisational culture is a big factor and what has worked in their Trust won’t necessarily work in yours.

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed and out of your depth.  A successful CL service is built on experience and relationships, and these don’t develop overnight.  Plan for some ‘quick wins’, but also remember that it’s important to take a long term view.

Victoria Treadway (BA Hons, MA)
Clinical Librarian
Trust Library and Knowledge Service
Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

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