Returning from the wilderness by Yvonne Stubbington

Having spent just over two years working outside the library profession, my first feelings on hearing I’d been successful in my interview for the post of Clinical/Outreach Librarian were of joy and excitement. Fortunately for me, my prospective manager was not put off by my enthusiastic, but slightly incoherent babbling when she called to give me the news. At two o’clock that morning though, the obligatory doubts and worries began to creep in. It had been two years after all…what if I’d forgotten how to Librarian? Everything had probably changed; all of the resources I’d been familiar with would no doubt have been upgraded out of all recognition. Could I still remember how to search? How to train? All skills I’d had no opportunity to practice during my foray into the wilderness of Administration. Then came the realisation that, with the lapse of my CILIP membership, came the loss of my chartered status, so revalidation was added to my list of things to fret over.

I would like to say that I was really organised during my notice period, and that I came up with a plan to help start getting me back into the swing of being a librarian again, but that would be a lie. I did have a plan, but my good intentions were swallowed up in the complexities and frustrations of dealing with various payroll, H/R and pensions people, along with trying to ensure a smooth handover of my department and staff to my, as yet, unknown replacement.

Still, I did manage to have some useful conversations with the local Clinical Librarian who gave me some more insight into the role and some of the day to day practicalities. She also gave me copies of some of her training material and I managed to dig up some material I had created in my previous dim and distant Librarian post. These materials have since proved really useful as starting points for creating content for training I will be carrying out in my new role.

I spent some time practicing my literature searching skills, unfortunately this was less helpful than I’d expected as I hadn’t taken into account the fact that NHS Wales and NHS England use different platforms. I didn’t know what a ‘HDAS’ was when I started, but was soon pointed in the direction of the LIHNN MOOC on Literature Searching, a tool that I have found very helpful. It was reassuring how quickly it all came flooding back to me; boolean searching, using the thesaurus, limiting my results…what fond memories. I was also fortunate, as my start date meant I could concentrate on learning the new HDAS interface without having to learn the old one and I was able to use my own experience as a learner to begin creating training materials to use with library customers.

On starting my new post I discovered that my new manager had already booked me into a dazzling array of training sessions and meetings. Although a little bit daunting it has been invaluable as it meant I hit the ground running, giving me the opportunity to meet my fellow Clinical Librarians (at the LIHNN Clinical Librarian and Trainers Group meeting) and brush up on my training skills (on the Training the Trainer’s Course). I also got to go to the HCLU New Starters Day which gave me some valuable insights into NHS England and the support available to me from HCLU and LIHNN.

Since then I have taken shameless advantage of the contacts I made at those initial meetings. I have spent a day with Victoria and Linda at Arrowe Park hospital, picking their brains on the role of the Clinical and Outreach Librarian and getting ideas from projects they have worked on and training they have carried out. I’ve started to use the skills I learnt on the Training the Trainers’ sessions to put together sessions on using New HDAS, Critical Appraisal and Writing for Publication and I’ve been sending emails and travelling out and about around the hospital visiting teams and departments to promote the new Clinical Librarian Service. Now the next challenge is to start delivering that service and getting to grips with the CILIP VLE to get my revalidation done.

Yvonne Stubbington
Clinical/Outreach Librarian
Library & Knowledge Service
St Helens & Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

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2 Responses to Returning from the wilderness by Yvonne Stubbington

  1. lismcl says:

    Really interesting post Yvonne! Sounds like you are doing all the right things – maybe that 2 year break was exactly what you needed to come back in libraries at just the right time!

  2. Yvonne says:

    I have to admit, I have really been enjoying my return to the profession. I’m very fortunate to be getting great support which has helped immensely.

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