Case Study: Measuring the Impact of your Library on the strategic objectives and priorities of your organisation by Clare Payne

What did you do? We recognised that it was vital that we collect data on the impact our service has on the business of our Trust. We wanted to make sure that we used language that resonated with the Board, clinical and non-clinical staff and other stakeholders and that the data we collected would speak for us.

We’d been involved in the Clinical Librarians Impact Project led by Alison Brettle from the School of Nursing, Midwifery & Social Work at the University of Salford which looked at the impact of Clinical Librarian Services. The survey used for this project had been updated in 2011 to reflect the drivers and priorities of the NHS through a careful process of mapping outcomes to those found in key NHS policies, business plans and strategies. We therefore knew that this was a robust basis to work from.  We took this survey and identified all the key values, priorities and objectives for our own Trust by looking at annual reports, business plans, our Quality Account and Trust webpages and added these outcomes to the survey.  The survey was then sent out via SurveyMonkey to each person who requested a search at least 6 weeks after they had received it. The survey was based on the Critical Incident Technique, asking people to reflect on a specific search, so we attached a copy of the search results as a reminder.


What worked? We achieved a 50% rate which remains constant.  We think this is partly due to following evidence based practice in survey design and delivery such as sending out a personalised request, making the outcomes assessed pertinent to people surveyed and sending reminder emails.

The survey generates some fantastic and clear results which can be filtered by profession or business area. We then use this to demonstrate the impact of our services through profession specific reports, posters, displays on how we support particular topics (e.g. reducing self harm), sound bites on our website and greater detail in our annual report.  We can state for example that last year we  provided information to support 65 clinical decisions,  44 of which informed the choice of intervention or that 11 searches supported business development and 13 contributed to avoidance of admission.


What didn’t work? It can be time consuming to generate these personalised emails and we frequently don’t get round to sending them as often as we’d like to – usually sending several months worth at a time, but a procedure has now been written so multiple people can send them out.


What did you learn? We learnt that it was certainly worth spending the time in identifying the priorities of the Trust and selecting outcomes to reflect this so we could generate data that spoke for us, even in its raw state.


What are your “next steps”? We have started to take the process a step further by writing case studies. We’ve selected groups and individuals that have made good use of the service and interviewed them about how they used the information provided in their practice. This has resulted in narratives that clearly articulate the benefits of our services as well as illustrating the working partnerships we have with staff. The interview process also increased our understanding of how staff are using evidence in practice and several staff featured also felt that the case studies would work for them in raising the profile of the work they were doing.


Clare Payne
Outreach Librarian
Rathbone Library, Mersey Care Knowledge and Library Service
Mersey Care NHS Trust

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