Case Study – Setting up an Outreach Service: a beginners perspective by Jane Roberts

What did you do?
I have held the post of Outreach Librarian at Salford Royal for approximately a year and a half. As a new professional I wasn’t sure where to start when setting up an outreach service. I had worked as a Library and Resources Officer in NHS Salford so had some idea of how to go about running an outreach service by observing one of my colleagues there. I also spent time shadowing various colleagues in the North West to observe how they ran their outreach/clinical librarian services. To begin with I focused on promoting the service to community staff as they had recently been transferred from the PCT to Salford Royal. I developed a flyer and sent it round to various bases in the community. The promotional material proved to be fairly successful, with numerous staff asking me to visit them in their workplace. If staff based in the community came into the library I took the opportunity to ask whether I could come to team meetings to introduce myself and provide a brief induction to the library service. I stressed the point that my talk would last no more that 10-15 minutes as I realised the majority of staff would be pressed for time.  Attending team meetings worked well and to date I have visited approximately 6 teams, delivering library inductions and training in the workplace.

What worked?

  • Shadowing and talking to colleagues who already run outreach/clinical librarian services was a really useful exercise-I picked up lots of useful tips and hints on running an outreach service.
  • Asking members of staff whom I trained if I could come to one of their team meetings worked very well. I always followed the request up with an e-mail with a further explanation of how much time my talk would take and what I would be covering.
  • Team meetings provide a good opportunity to introduce yourself and promote the library service at a time and place convenient to the library user.

What didn’t work?

  • It was difficult to measure the impact and effectiveness posting flyers to various community bases had on uptake of the outreach service.  A more personal approach e.g. talking to staff face-to-face or e-mailing them directly may have resulted in greater uptake of the service.

What did you learn?

  • Be flexible and adaptable – be prepared to deliver inductions and training programmes in a workplace setting at a time and place to suit the users.
  • Be proactive – approaching staff individually to request a slot at their team meetings worked really effectively. Flyers promoting the service and distributed around various community bases didn’t really generate many requests.
  • Don’t re-invent the wheel – shadowing and talking to colleagues who run similar outreach/clinical librarian services was extremely beneficial.

What are your next steps?

  • Put together a systematic approach to targeting teamsat the moment I am visiting teams to promote the outreach service on an ad-hoc basis. Over the next year or two I intend to approach this in a much more systematic manner by identifying and contacting leaders of specific teams.
  • Put together a report to measure the impact of the outreach service.
  • Update my promotional material so it is more focused on the benefits users will gain from using the outreach service-rather than just telling them what we offer!

Jane Roberts
Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust Library Information and Resource Centre 

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