The digital delivery of health library services by Rebecca Stevenson and Andrew Carrick

Advances in digital technologies over recent years have allowed (and necessitated) health libraries to examine how services are delivered, and to explore new ways of meeting the needs of users. For the Library and Knowledge Service of Rotherham Foundation Trust such a challenge has led to the development of an online presence which aims to provide a comprehensive service to users.

 

The library is housed within the hospital, with its physical collection and the services offered readily accessible to those who work within the building itself. However, our services are also provided to a number of organisations based in the wider Rotherham area. These include Rotherham CCG, Rotherham Public Health, GPs, and NHS England.

 

Developing a digital library service has allowed us to reach these groups, and has many advantages for these users. Weng et al (2013) writes of how the rise of digital technologies has allowed for information to be accessed from any location, while web 2.0 and social media allow for interaction with users in new ways (Boulos & Wheeler 2007; Taylor & Francis Group 2014).

 

We use a number of such technologies to engage directly with our users including WordPress, Paper.li, and Twitter. Other platforms are used in support of this including Weebly, Feedly, FiveFilters and IFTTT.

 

Through our website, users are able to access a range of electronic resources from any location, such as e-books; e-journals; health bulletins; databases and guidelines. In addition, the more traditional services offered by the LKS can also be accessed online:

  • electronic forms allow new members to join
  • literature searches can be requested
  • Inter library loan service
  • range of training resources
  • photo library of health promotion resources

All of these can be viewed from tablets and smartphones.

 

However, arguably the key advantage of this online resource lies with the ability to provide and update health professionals with the information and evidence they need. The website is home to a series of specialty pages which are designed around specific subjects and for specific user groups. From these specialty pages, users can select their area of interest and are taken to a bespoke collection of resources in their field.

 

Many of these specialty pages have newsfeeds that appear at the bottom which are updated as and when relevant content is available. Via these newsfeeds, users are kept informed of the latest developments in their field, with links to relevant research, guidelines and policy updates appearing here. Users are encouraged to sign up for alerts which notify them when new content is added. Printable versions of these newsfeeds are also available.

 

We are currently exploring the benefits of collaborative working: current awareness has the potential to be a truly collaborative venture, with different subject areas being looked after by different health librarians – the technologies are now available for the effective sharing of this content so as each organisation has access to a comprehensive collection of newsfeeds.

 

At the time of writing, we have 15 such newsfeeds; the challenge now is to provide a comprehensive current awareness service to cover all the key specialty areas within health.

Rebecca Stevenson and Andrew Carrick 
The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust Library and Knowledge Service

 

References:

Boulos, K.M.N. & Wheeler, S., 2007. The emerging Web 2.0 social software: an enabling suite of sociable technologies in health and health care education. Health information and libraries journal, 24(1), pp.2–23.

Taylor & Francis Group, 2014. Use of social media by the library : current practices and future opportunities. , (October), pp.1–30.

Weng, Y.-H. et al., 2013. Increasing utilization of Internet-based resources following efforts to promote evidence-based medicine. BMC medical informatics and decision making, 13, p.4.

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