Current Awareness is a term used to describe users receiving the latest information, whether it be news, research, publications or some other format – in this context, you could also use the phrase “keeping up to date”. Current awareness is something that users can do for themselves, as there are many resources that they can sign up to directly, or it is something that libraries can provide in the form of current awareness services.
Users on their own
There are many ways that users can keep up to date with what is going on through accessing different resources. One way that is relatively simple is through a contents alert service, where the table of contents of recently published journals are emailed to users. Many libraries offer a dedicated service, but there are also providers that have set up services that users can sign up to generally. One of these is JournalTOCs, a service that allows users to sign up for free, and then select the journals they want to receive notification from. JournalTOCs also has a premium service for libraries to subscribe to that allows the institution’s own library management system to be integrated with the JournalTOCs database.
KnowledgeShare provides users with personalised email updates based on the topics that are of specific interest to them. These updates will include evidence that is in KnowledgeShare’s overall database, but can also feature items , including locally procured resources and training sessions, that have been made available by the user’s own organisation.
Users can set up their own updates by using so called “news aggregator” sites, also known as RSS readers, to collate content from various sources, including news sites, blogs and social media platforms, into a single feed. By selecting the topic areas of interest, the aggregator can then mine relevant web sources to bring together the feed on a daily basis.
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Current awareness services
The Current Awareness Service for Health (CASH) is a collaborative service featuring a number of NHS organisations that capture content across subject areas, creating a database of newly published material that library and knowledge services can then use to create their own current awareness bulletins / evidence updates. This works to reduce cost, as it means that there is no duplication of the work of finding content by multiple library services. Additionally, CASH provides daily health news via its own RSS reader.
Horizon Scanning Bulletins are produced by LKS (North) to provide monthly email updates of key information, and are aimed at commissioning and service redesign in the health sector. Individual bulletins on different topics are produced, all of which are freely available.
|Cardio||Diabetes Type 2||Falls Prevention|
|Child Mental Health||End of Life Care||Stroke|
NICE has a series of newsletters and alerts that it sends out on a regular basis – some of these are sent daily, some monthly, and others are quarterly, while some are sent whenever new evidence is published. Users are able to subscribe directly to the ones that are of interest and receive updates via email.
Where can I learn more?
While many library services directly provide current awareness to users, others provide information about external services, of which there are many. See whether your own library service has a page detailing such services, if they don’t provide their own updates.
Take a look at the different resources that have been discussed – some will require registration, while others may need a subscription for you to get access.
Your colleagues may already run training sessions for users on current awareness. If they do, or they know someone else that does, ask them for more information.
Who can I contact?
Find out what current awareness tools are being used within your health library.
- KnowledgeShare: Ben Skinner, Head of Library Services, Brighton and Sussex NHS Library and Knowledge Service
- CASH: Contact CASH on their website or by email at KMHeresources@nhft.nhs.uk
- LIHNN: Contact LKS North by email at HEELKSNorth@lksnorth.nhs.uk