Reflections on a Conference – HLG 2016 by LIHNN Members

Katie Nicholas – Health Education England, working across the North West: HLG 2016 was my first HLG conference and my first time presenting at a conference and I loved it! I saw the whole conference process from submitting a proposal, being given the chance to speak with my colleague and getting to experience other sessions and workshops with colleagues. I enjoyed delivering our presentation (we were session 1a so we didn’t have too long to get nervous) and hearing about Mary Hill and Tim Jacobs’ work on their staff Research repository – we were lucky enough to share a session with them. I also really enjoyed Clare Bradshaw’s session on the Talent Management Toolkit as part of Knowledge for Healthcare. Clare delivered a really great workshop with lots of discussion about identifying talent, holding talent conversations and retaining and valuing talented staff and its potential benefit to the network and the organisation. I ended the two days by attending a Knowledge Cafe (a Knowledge Management tool) with the provocative talking point How would you end your profession in the next two years?which was a really clever way of reversing the discussion. By identifying ways in which we could mess the whole thing up it gave us all ideas of how to prevent our worst fears from happening!

Mary Hill – The Christie Library & Knowledge Service: However, experienced you are at giving presentations you still make mistakes.  So I will reflect on the two I am willing to own up to.

What I did:  I tried to answer a question I didn’t fully know the answer to.

What I should have done: Admit it wasn’t my area of expertise and pass it over to my colleague.  Doing this would have saved me appearing rather stupid.  The next time I am in that situation, I will remember the feeling of discomfort I had and take the right course of action.

What I did: I mapped out all my times for the workshop I gave so I didn’t run overtime and kept to it until the last quarter of an hour when I relaxed as I was covering something I regularly do.  I switched into work mode and thought I had the time I would normally have at work and completely ruined the end of the workshop.

What I should have done:  Not relax and kept to my timetable I had drawn up and placed in front of myself.  I felt I had let my audience down badly and rushed everything.  I was aware I was tight on time and had planned for it, not only by drawing up the timetable, but also by telling myself I could just talk about one of the activities rather than getting people to do it.   It has reminded me how important timing is.  I felt unprofessional at the end.  The memory of that feeling will help guard against a repeat.  I will also make a more visible and possible audible reminder with me.


Susan Smith – Joint Education & Training (JET) Library: Knowledge for Healthcare (KfH) programmes dominated the conference (as well as my current work life with touring the launch of the impact toolkit), which is all very good as it’s extremely useful and very, very important.  Many non-NHS librarians I spoke to were in awe of the amount of high quality work being delivered.  NHS librarians may be suffering ennui from the effort of engagement or implementation of the programmes.  For that reason I’m dropping my KfH hat and reflecting on a specific session on User Experience (UX) in Libraries by Jo Milton from University of Cambridge.

In my past career working as a ranger, mapping user experience was key to designing a country park.  If you didn’t build a path correctly, desire lines would appear and scar the landscape.  Lots of little psychological tricks could be used to mark out paths and limit unwanted behaviour.  Some of these things I still do e.g. the staff area has a different coloured carpet.  Most people don’t notice, but they also don’t tend to cross the line.  I also moved the OPAC based on user behaviour so that it was nearer the book stock. A session on user-centred design certainly tweaked my interest.

After librarians at Cambridge re-designed one of their libraries, they were surprised that no-one used it.  Features the librarians thought were helpful, such as placing the computers near the enquiry desk, turned out to be deterrents to the students.  Lessons were learned and for the next re-fit a consultation was planned.

Staff used UX techniques to map out how people used the library.  They shadowed users to experience what their actual journey through the library was like, from coming in to finding what they were looking for.  Some consultations used focus groups to draw the perfect library during which the users were given 3 minutes to draw their ideas and suggestions, then the pen colour was changed and the users had another 3 mins and so on.  People draw what is important to them first, so this helped to prioritise.  Seemingly, if you try this exercise with librarians, we forget to put in our users as we focus on the building itself, whereas our users tend to put us in their drawings.  These drawings were backed-up by post-it note suggestions (as wild as they liked), about what people wanted.  Cocktail bars translated as improved refreshment areas with a bit of lateral thinking! The presentation was full of interesting tips for exercises we can use to better consult with our stakeholders.  The staff library is ordering a copy of UX Lib: User Experience in Libraries: Applying ethnography and human-centred design by Priester, A. and Brog, M. which was recommended during the session or check out @UXLibs.  Keep a look out!


Lisa McLaren – Bridgewater Community Healthcare: The HLG conference was a great mix of serious, “big” issues, around Knowledge for Healthcare and its implementation and how we champion our profession (thanks Nick Poole….), but it was also interspersed with more relaxed human items, such the excellent, thought provoking plenary from Lynn Daniel, from the Expert Patient Programme and also Gareth Allen, a triathlete and triathlon coach who helps people overcome mental illness with exercise.

The biggest thing for me was my first conference presentation, with Michelle Maden and Gil Young, on the LIHNN MOOC on Literature Searching, which went very well, if you overlook me forgetting to move my slides on. I have come home with a lot of notes, contacts and ideas, but if you weren’t lucky enough to come along to the conference and be inspired by the wide variety of information professionals talking about their work and big projects, you can always have a look back at Twitter, with #HLG2016. The mayor features a fair bit…

Emily Hurt – Lancashire Teaching Hospitals: I presented at HLG and found it to be a very positive experience. The HLG Presenters Workshop, organised by LIHNN and delivered by Deborah Daley, was a fantastic way of preparing for the conference and was a great opportunity to get informal and constructive feedback on what can be an intimidating task! It boosted my confidence and meant that when I came to present I felt (relatively!) calm and composed. I shared my session with Lynn Easton, from NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, who talked about her work defining users of library space by type. Our presentations complimented each other and I think the audience were interested in both, as we were asked some very thought provoking questions about our projects. You can see Lynne’s slides here, and mine are available here – as mine are mainly images I’ve included my script as well. If you are thinking about presenting at HLG 2018 then I would encourage you to take the plunge. As long as you’re speaking about something you’re passionate about then your enthusiasm and knowledge will help you overcome any nerves.


Sarah Owen – Trust Library Wigan: I would like to give a huge thank you to LIHNN for funding my place at the HLG Conference in Scarborough. This is the first HLG Conference I have attended and my first conference for many years.  I didn’t really know what to expect and was impressed with the whole atmosphere and experience. Everyone was very welcoming and it was great to meet so many lovely people and make new friends. There was a balance of expanding ideas, introduction to new ideas and proposals, reinforcing current practice, discovering new products and putting faces to names and meeting new people. 

There were so many interesting sessions to go to and it was difficult to make a choice at times, so I was pleased to see all the sessions available on the HLG website so I don’t feel I’ve missed anything. The whole event was full of inspiring moments both on a professional and a personal level. 

One of the lasting impressions for me is recurrence of the theme on impact and I was keen to find out as much as I could to take back to the workplace. The session ‘Practical tools to collect evidence of impact using the online Impact Toolkit’ provided me with just that opportunity; it was a fun session presented by Susan Smith and Doug Knock with background, practical exercises, opportunity for discussion and the all-important questionnaire, interview and case study tools which will be put into practice. 

I found the sessions by Lynn Daniel (From a patient’s perspective) and Gareth Allen (Bishop and Le Fanu Memorial Lecture: PT your brain – The benefits of exercise on mental health) to be both inspirational and motivational. Lynn presented  techniques from her Expert Patient Programme Courses on changing thoughts and feelings with a positive approach and on developing coping strategies and improving confidence in such an inspirational way. Gareth was motivational in giving suggestions to make tangible measurable improvements to mental wellbeing through physical activity. In giving details about their roles and programmes, they demonstrated  the many benefits for their patients but they also made their ideas relevant to others in their day to day lives.

David Stewart – Health Care Libraries Unit North: Scarborough. Thick fog for two days. Nice hotel on the cliff top which might have had good views.

The hotel put me in mind of my first HLG Conference in 1985 in Coventry. The thing that struck me then was “nice hotel”.  We stayed at the De Vere Hotel and the meeting report in Health Libraries Review notes it was a “four star hotel … with a colour television and a sewing kit in every room”.

The theme for that 1985 conference was “Impact and image: succeeding with public relations”- some themes seem to be everlasting . I’m afraid I remember very little about the content and certainly hadn’t remembered that there was a visit to the Barnes Medical Library at the University of Birmingham, where I started my career as a Library Assistant in 1978. I see from the review that the great and good were speakers: Michael Carmel, Maureen Forrest, Bob Gann. Didn’t I see Bob at EAHIL in Seville this year?

I think I’ve been to every HLG Conference since 1985, save two, most notably missing the Aberystwyth conference which was apparently a blessing – only those that were present will know what I mean. A few really stick out in my mind, Exeter was very hilly; Canterbury because I helped organise it, Edinburgh was so far out of the centre that we saw nothing of the city, Oxford was very hot and Eastbourne was very tidy. I liked Eastbourne.

So, HLG in Scarborough, 2016. I hope that this one will be more memorable because it was a really great conference: there was excellent networking, there was a good exhibition and above all there were interesting and engaging presentations. A fantastic key note from Patrick Mitchell and Louise Goswami on Knowledge for Healthcare (KfH), an insight into writing a book for Facet by Gil Young and Tracey Pratchett and a thoughtful workshop on the future of the LQAF by Clare Edwards, Dominic Gilroy and Linda Ferguson, all bravely speaking up in a room with a glass roof and heavy rain. And, yes, I gave a presentation too – something on the workforce element of KfH with Sue Lacey Bryant at my side to answer the difficult questions. I note I am still nervous before speaking and I wonder if Michael and Maureen and Bob were nervous too in 1985. LIHNN Members  

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