Table of Contents

16/10/2015 – I’m Back!
23/10/2015 – Week One
31/10/2015 – MOOCs, Meetings and a Flu Shot
14/11/15 – One Month In
1/12/15 – Strikes and Research Opportunity
20/12/2015 – Christmas Cheer
4/1/16 – Year in Reading
14/01/2016 – Field Trip (Discovery Library)
14/01/2016 – Cataloguing
24/02/2016 – FLIP Cross Post
4/3/16 – Public Library Visit (Paignton)
22/4/16 – Community Visits: Totnes Hospital
22/4/16 – Southmead Hospital Visit
25/4/16 – Met Office
24/5/16 – Knowledge Share
28/6/16 – A whirlwind tour (London Libraries)
5/7/16 – Neurodiversity Day
6/7/16 – Summer Entertainment Campaign
22/7/2016 – Critical Care Presentations
05/08/2016 – Year in Review

Graduate Library Trainee : Portfolio 2015-2016

Year in Review

I write this on my second-to-last day as a trainee in Torquay. Reflecting on my time here, I cannot believe  how quick it’s all been and how much I’ve managed to learn in such a short time.

In my final weeks I’ve been working on our Summer Entertainment Campaign, where I get to deliver fiction (books or DVDs) directly to our users at work. It’s a good excuse to explore the hospital and a fun way to increase membership. As part of this project, I have also created some web pages to promote our health and well-being collection. After graduating with a undergraduate psychology degree and a specialty in fiction/reading, I find myself drawn to working with our non-clinical and mood boosting collections in particular. To deepen my understanding of the impact reading and fiction can have on well-being, I also enrolled in a MOOC about literature and mental health earlier this year. I really appreciated the support I had from my team to pursue my interests with CPD.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a library traineeship without reflecting on smaller jobs such as book stamping, form processing and answering those all-important questions on the help desk – a.k.a. “where is the cafe” and “can I park my car here.” (Why must NHS parking be so challenging??) In all seriousness, because our team is quite small, I started working almost immediately and have been able to dip into loads of projects. I’ve processed new books and journals, answered and requested inter-library loans, and even helped complete a journal weed. We’ve also been developing marketing strategies, and to help sell the library to the rest of the hospital I’ve been creating presentations and animated videos. I’ve even been on the wards, getting to meet clinical staff and see the hospital “in-action.” No doubt one of the benefits of working in a health library is the variety!

Besides work, I’ve also really enjoyed exploring Devon. While the rain did take some getting used to, I’ve managed to spend a lot of time walking on the moor, meeting alpacas and even tortoise racing. Making friends post-university was a challenge, but everyone here has been lovely and joining teams and classes (candle making and netball anyone??) has really helped.

On my first day of work Lucy and Tim got out a tape measure to check if the computer monitor was the appropriate distance from my face. I remember emailing a friend saying “what have I got myself into.” Almost a year of NHS health and safety policy later, I feel comfortable and grateful for the opportunities I’ve been gifted. I’ve visited libraries all over the country, learned about catheters with nurses, gone to a library Christmas meeting and much, much more. With some sadness, I am ready to close this chapter and leave Devon. Thank you to everyone who has hosted me and helped me over the last year. Good luck, and I hope the next Torbay graduate trainee provides you with as least as many snacks as I did!

Critical Care Presentations

After seeing students come in and out of the library everyday, it was nice to be invited to their end of year presentations. For each set of presentations a librarian gets invited to help mark and this time I was free to shadow the whole 1/2 day event.

On this course, each student wrote an essay/made a presentation about a “Mr. Brown,” a case study of a patient that died in hospital due to a number of (human) errors. This is especially relevant in the context of the last few weeks, as there was a national inquiry over the death of a 3 year old from our trust.

  1. Report:
  2. Recent updates:

Each student presented a different aspect of “Mr.Brown’s” treatment, including the importance of communication and the use of different drugs. It was very interesting, and good to see a tangible result of our work here in the library. It’s also nice to see the NHS prioritize continuing education, as everyone on this course was a practicing clinical staff member (from nurses to those in anesthesiology).

Summer Entertainment Campaign

As I am getting ready to leave Torquay (just under five weeks to go!), I have been working on an independent project, the Summer Entertainment Campaign. This is based off of the Winter lucky-dip and is a way that hospital staff can have a book or DVD delivered directly to their ward or office. All they need to do is fill out an online form, and I sign them up to the library, match them with an item and then go and deliver it straight to their door. It’s a fun way to explore the hospital. As part of this program, I have also been learning how to use Modx to develop webpages to promote our health and well-being collection. This includes books on prescription, reading agency recommended fiction and a selection of health-based DVDs.

I like working with our non-clinical/mood boosting collections because, having previously studied reading in the context of psychology, I know how much of an impact reading and fiction can have on well-being and health. For example, you can read here about the evidence behind self-help books. I also took this online course about literature and mental health, which was very interesting.

To find out more about the Reading Agency’s Reading Well scheme, click here.

Neurodiversity Day

A few weeks ago I joined the horizon centre for a day of neurodiversity training. Here we discussed how to best support neurodiversity in the workforce using a strengths-based approach. It was useful to discuss accessibility and learning differences, particularly in the context of libraries and medical education/re-validation. It was also a great way to network with different staff, and it reminded me a lot of the intergroup dialogue classes I took at Oxy.

A Whirlwind Tour

Throughout my year in Torbay, I’ve been lucky enough to visit a number of different libraries, including those in the public and health sectors (herehere and here). Last week I traveled up to London for a crash-course in membership libraries. Visiting five in just under three days (plus the British Library), I met some wonderful new people while only scratching the surface of what this city has to offer.

Day One: After the requisite three-hour train journey, I went directly to the British Library. There I joined fourteen other CILIP members on a tour of the building. And what a building! Highlights included the King’s Library collection and items from the Asian and African Studies special collection. Specifically: Nazi propaganda, a humorous ship newsletter featuring Victorian-era jokes, and a Judaeo-Persian manuscript written in Hebrew. Seeing the latter piqued my curiosity in the process of transliteration, and I must remember to explore this topic further.

Our tour included a trip to the basement stores. Only after walking through room after room filled to the brim with texts did I start to realize how impossibly large the British Library is. When we were down there, you could also hear the tube travelling overhead. How very unnerving!

Day Two: After a night of torrential rain and lightning, I braved the flooded underground to go to the London Library and Chatham House. Two very nice graduate trainees showed me around the London Library. It really is one of the most beautiful libraries I’ve ever seen. After discussing the general ins-and-outs of discovery systems and being membership-based, I wandered around the stacks. One of my favorite collections was the collection of small books, however I think I could have spent days just going around the reading rooms admiring each’s oddities.  Have I mentioned how gorgeous it all was??

After the London Library I popped over to Chatham House. A world-famous international affairs think tank, I had only previously heard of it in the context of the Chatham House Rule. It was nothing like what I imagined. Instead of being shroud in mystery, it was a lovely light/airy building busy with scholars and meetings. And the staff cafeteria is great!

In the afternoon I visited three of the Burlington House libraries: the Royal Astronomical Society, Royal Society of Chemistry and Royal Geological Society. These are very grand, and all “bigger on the inside.” Each had a unique character/feel corresponding to its purpose, and many of the spaces can be rented out for private events. In these libraries I met some of the most passionate staff, and saw some of the most specialized content.

Phew, what a day! After running around London, I was exhausted. But my time was definitely well spent.

Day Three: My final visit was to the Royal College of Nursing. The building was recently refurbished which has resulted in the building’s fun and vibrant interior. As well as study spaces and meeting rooms, the library also featured an archive and exhibition spaces. These included “The Voice of Nursing: Celebrating 100 years of the RCN” and “The Right Sort of Women: Nursing Founders.” To see the collections, click here.

Unfortunately my afternoon visit was cancelled due to the flooding. However, this didn’t deter me from visiting some museums on my own time! All in all, it was a very informative week, and different to the NHS/Devon pace. I’d like to say a big thank you to my team for arranging this trip.

For more information see:

  • British Library –
  • Chatham House –
  • Royal Astronomical Society –
  • Royal Society of Chemistry –
  • Royal Geological Society –
  • Royal College of Nursing –


Knowledge Share

Current awareness is a buzzword in healthcare. For many years librarians have disseminated the latest evidence to their members using tools such as regular email lists. However, recently these systems have become more advanced. Brighton and Sussex University NHS Foundation Trust set up “Knowledge Share” in 2013 as a way to personalize current awareness.

Their system includes an algorithm which matches a database of user interests to indexed current evidence (including NICE resources, policy and events), thus enabling each user to receive a bi-weekly list of the latest information in their area(s) of interest.

This program started off in Brighton, but has quickly grown. It is now used across the NHS. Recently we’ve decided to buy into it, and someone from Brighton came to train us last week. It’s a pretty interesting program that also includes a literature search tool and a skills training management system. They’re also going to be introducing a social networking element soon – how very modern!

We’re trying to get this in place before the new batch of Junior Doctors arrive in August, so we’re probably going to have a steep learning curve.

Met Office

The Met Office is the UK’s national weather service. In 2004 its headquarters were moved to Exeter. It is a stunning building, with a sidewalk-inspired interior complete with street lamps, trees and a small creek. The Met is a huge organization, and has its own in-house library and archive. Last week I shadowed their librarians and archivist for a morning.

Trying to find the Met Office proved to be challenging. As a stereotypical twenty-something, I am overly dependent on my phone, and didn’t see the need to print out a map. Mistake #1, as the area is in a GPS black hole. As soon as I left the train station I got turned around. However, with the help of a few nice strangers I was able to make my way to the offices, just making my appointment. Phew.

The Met has a unique setup with both its archives and library on-site. While they are in different buildings and are run by different staff, many of the requests coming into the Met require information from both places. While the library was nice, I was most impressed with the archive. Each storage unit was temperature controlled, with air-decontamination units activating everytime a door opened. Furthermore, it looked like a “proper” archive (aka one from the movies) with its dark looming corridors and copious amounts of fire proofing.

Some of the things I saw (and got to handle!) include the original d-day weather forecast and the first iteration of the Beaufort wind scale, taken from Beufort’s 1806 diary.

Talking tech with the librarians was also very interesting, as their systems are much more advanced than ours at the NHS. I must admit some of the weather-specific language went way over my head though.

Finally I spoke with an Information Officer, who told me more about their user base. As it is a public library, many different types of people request information and want to use their resources. For instance this can include scientists as well as fiction authors wanting meteorological accuracy in their next historical novel. One of their more popular requests is for weather fact-sheets for baby books. What a great idea! Everyone here seemed to enjoy their work, and it seemed to be partly due to this variety.

Overall, it was a very eye-opening trip, and I look forward to the next libraries I visit!

Southmead Hospital

A few days ago I visited Southmead Hospital and library. Recently re-furbished, the library was much bigger and more modern than ours here at Torbay. It’s really great to be able to meet more people in the profession, and one of the things that I liked most about this visit was talking to staff who had previously worked in mental healthcare libraries. Library people are friendly and always ready to give advice. And, graduating with an undergraduate in psychology, I am always eager to see how people integrate the subject into other careers paths. For instance, I learned more about recovery colleges, which “use an educational paradigm to complement traditional treatment approaches.”

After looking around the library, we were taken to the Brunel building, the latest addition to Southmead hospital. Entering, it was immediately apparent why it has been referred to as a “super hospital.” I have never seen anything like it. Looking more like a combination hotel/airport than hospital, there were even trees growing inside. However, my favourite thing had to be the robots. These unmanned robots take everything from bedding to bread around the hospital. A hospital of the future, indeed.



Community Visits: Totnes

After we became an ICO (Integrated Care Organization) last year, the librarians here at Torbay have been eager to visit community hospitals for outreach. Last week I visited Totnes Hospital with my manager to meet with their staff. There’s no designated library there, and the hospital is much smaller and considerably less frantic. Also its interior reminded me of a log-cabin more than anything else. It was interesting to see how they are run, and we arranged to return in the summer to provide information literacy and database training. I’m looking forward to future visits, both to this hospital and others in the area!