Reflections from 3 NHS Librarians regarding LILAC: The Information Literacy Conference held at the University of Nottingham 24-26 April 2019

HLG Nursing Bulletin Vol. 38 (3/4)

Lisa Mason
Clinical Librarian
George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust

Sinead Stringwell
Clinical Librarian
United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust

Suzanne Toft
Training Librarian
University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust

The health care newbie experience

I attended LILAC as a new(ish) recruit to working in the health library sector. I was lucky enough to have been awarded a bursary from Health Education England which enabled me to attend, and as I’d been in my Clinical Librarian post less than a year, it seemed like too good an opportunity to miss. My experience was overwhelmingly positive. I’m still sifting through the experiences and working out which of the many superb talks inspired me most, however some key themes have definitely stayed with me.

I was struck by the scaffolding that literacies give to people’s lives – there were statistics a plenty showing how great an impact literacy, information literacy and (no surprise I chose this one) health literacy have on people’s ability to thrive in the modern world. I was thrilled to find out that health literacy struck a chord with great numbers of the delegates, and it kept coming up in sessions after session as a place to start, something relevant to all. As a new health librarian, I found that us NHS librarians followed each other around, with the same workshops and talks attracting us. I was very pleasantly surprised by the number of sessions that were very relevant to a health setting.  I was unsurprised by how inspiring many of them were.

So what have I brought back to my everyday practice? A few interesting tips and tricks – online voting in teaching, targeting evaluation of teaching to keep it on track, some great fake news cartoons. Also some ideas to develop – applying de Bono’s 6 hats theory to journal clubs, delivering critical appraisal training to patients, a new source evaluation tool. There’s a lot to do, one LILAC visit will give me food for thought for the year.

Lisa Mason


The LILAC experience

Although I have attended other conferences in my role as a clinical librarian this was the first time I had been to LILAC. I was drawn to attending the conference because of the knowledge I could potentially gain to improve my teaching and training skills. Attending the keynote speeches and the sessions provided me with knowledge of other (non-health related) library services and practical advice on how to plan, execute and evaluate any training undertaken. As well as that there were plenty of health related sessions and presentations that were really useful and relevant to my role.

Ruth Carlyle (Head of Library and Knowledge Services & Technology Enhanced Learning, Midlands and East) gave a thought provoking keynote speech on health literacy. Ruth explained how health literacy matters as we are all likely to access health information about ourselves, our friends or family at stressful points in our lives. So to be able to easily access quality and trusted information is vital. The information from this presentation has helped to shape our proposed activities for Health Information Week and has formed the basis of a themed library newsletter based around health literacy. 

There were some great sessions run by health librarians or colleagues that work in medical libraries / health care settings. I have obtained some useful presentation slides and tips for running courses that we had not considered previously but will in the future (e.g. how to create conference posters and how to write to get published). 

One of the learning points I took away from the panel discussion at the end of the conference was the different perspectives that could be placed on training. Rebranding the promotion and content of training to focus on the why and not the how could be more productive. It is easy to get into the same routine for journal clubs and critical appraisal sessions in which just one paper is evaluated. So like Lisa, I also found the session applying de Bono’s 6 hats theory to journal clubs something new and interesting to consider. This session showed me how multiple articles can be evaluated but under different perspectives, using the 6 hats theory, in order for a group of clinicians to create a plan which they can then apply to their service or client group.

In several of the sessions I attended the issue of white, male, Eurocentric information being the majority of what was available to learners arose. This has definitely made me think about the potential impact on selection of resources for training and also the language that should be used in sessions. 

Although not healthcare related I found a session on failing really helpful. In this there was a very constructive small group discussion about what to do if you feel that your teaching was a failure. It was a reminder that even with the best-laid plans sometimes training sessions do not go as expected and there is always room to improve and learn so that next time it will be better!

Sinead Stringwell


The first-time presenter experience

This was the first time I had attended LILAC. It was also the first time I had been asked to present at a conference, so it was a voyage of discovery.

As a training librarian, a large part of my role is providing information skills training to staff and students within an acute hospital Trust, so I was very keen to attend LILAC, especially as there was a larger health component this year.  Despite delivering training sessions on a regular basis, the thought of presenting at a conference felt very different. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it!), I was assigned the graveyard shift, the Friday afternoon of a 3-day conference. This is, understandably, not a popular slot. However, it did have the advantage that by then I knew where the room was. I also thought that it might help my nerves if the attendees were half asleep!

So, for the first day of the conference I put my session to the back of my mind and enjoyed myself. As the conference progressed however, my presentation slot loomed. The presentation had already been emailed to the organisers, so was ready to be uploaded. Even though I was apprehensive about speaking to a room full of people, I was equally worried that no one would come; people may have left the conference early or my presentation would be too clinical or health-related. It was encouraging that most of my fellow health librarians came along to support me.

As the presentation began my confidence grew and I relaxed into it, despite a mini mid-presentation ‘rabbit-in the-headlights’ moment when I lost my train of thought. However, I was able to get over this hurdle and felt that my presentation went well, despite my nerves. I even had the presence of mind to incorporate the health literacy theme from Ruth Carlyle’s keynote speech into my session! The timing of my session was good and the feedback was very positive.  I was even asked to submit my abstract for consideration for the forthcoming International Clinical Librarian Conference.

So, what are my learning points for next time? I will definitely ask my colleagues to have a read through my presentation beforehand, as I did before LILAC. In hindsight, having a test run in front of a few colleagues would also be a good idea. This would then help me to become more familiar with the presentation and will iron out any issues before the big day.

I would encourage any of you who have not submitted a presentation before to give it a go. Yes, it’s nerve-wracking, but you’ll be proud of yourself when you’ve achieved it!

Suzanne Toft@notsoloftytofty

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