Guest Post: Reflections of a health library from an FE librarian perspective by Lorna Thomson

I was kindly allowed the opportunity to visit Fairfield Hospital library, as I had wanted to familiarise myself with a sector of which I had no prior knowledge. With a public library background and now working in an FE college, I had always perceived the work of health librarians to be far removed from my own.

I was surprised to find that the services offered and the challenges faced were not so different from my own experiences. The most unexpected similarity for me was the challenge of enticing non-traditional users into the library. Although it is clear there is a huge demand for the service, the library staff still endeavour to encourage a wide range of users by offering resources such as fiction. The team is then be able to demonstrate the different ways in which these users could utilise the other facilities that are available. This is a challenge that I face daily and find very frustrating: the knowledge that as a service we can benefit everyone in the college if only we had the opportunity to showcase our facilities.

We discussed the delivery of critical appraisals and again I was surprised by the similarity of these classes, and sessions that I run. I had made the assumption that most of the users would be professionally qualified therefore there would be little demand for this sort of service. Within my own sector the entry level of the students require us to demonstrate the skills required to evaluate resources. Discussing the similarities in this service we offer, to such different user groups, was thought provoking and very interesting.

I took away so much from this visit, I was really impressed by the way the e-resources were organised by topic. I will definitely be exploring this in an attempt to adopt a similar system in our library. In my area the e-resources are underused so it was great to get some advice and guidance from a sector where online resources are the preferred method of access.

The aspect of this service that impressed me the most was the level of collaboration between the various libraries on a local and national level. It has made me think about the networking that I engage in. Seeing the obvious benefits to both the users and the staff has really inspired me to explore the opportunities available in the FE sector.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to have visited this library: it has provided me with so much to think about going forward with my own service.

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