Keeping information centre stage amid changing scenery was the overarching theme for HLG conference last week (see also this from my tHI colleague). As ever it was a packed couple of days so I am trying to record a few thoughts now before it all gets lost in the day job. I did tweet at the time but found it very challenging to convey much while also giving concentration to the speaker. Would have been easier on a laptop rather than on my only moderately smartish phone I suspect.
Please note I am going to link the presentations where I can – files may be large! You can find nearly all of them here.
Having been in Suffolk till late the evening before the trip to Salford was challenging. I arrived just before the opening key Note by Dr Gillian Leng, (COO for NHS Evidence and NICE Deputy CEO). Her presentation focussed on the wider remit of NICE with relatively little on NHS Evidence. It was pretty clear that NICE have some significant challenges to deliver the Standards documents that they have been tasked to produced by the White Paper. Work around Information Pathways looked worth following but raised questions for me over how it would link with Map of Medicine (the technology from which appeared to support it – at least from my distant vision of the slide). I am sure I was not alone in being disappointed about the absence of reference to how NHS Evidence might better work with the wider NHS knowledge structures.
After a gulped cup of coffee and under a barrage of high volume tannoy announcements (that made an interesting chat with Athens some what difficult) I headed for the first parallel session.
First up was Kath Wright on the new CRD interface . It was interesting to get a better picture of their work. I do not tend to use the native interface for CRD so it is hard to comment on the revised functionality.
Andrew Regan & Emma Shaw told us about how Imperial support online access for NHS staff . A good example of how options in terms of IT enabled support can be opened up for those bridging the NHS and HE. A recurring theme at the conference was the workarounds libraries are setting in place due to IT constraints. In this case you got a feeling of real progress in tackling issues to improve the user experience.
Last up in this session was Richard Parker on implementing RFID . This was a really valuable talk in terms of covering some of the pitfalls. It is all too easy to get caught up in the possibilities of such technologies.
Lunch was good (though sadly sans pudding!) and filled with a quick round of catchups. A rapid dash through the slightly confusing Lowry building saw me end up back in Parallel Session A around IT rather than one I had planned to attend on IT Literacy.
In the event I was very glad of my mistake as I caught a great talk from Caroline Storer and colleagues on Collaborative approaches being taken in the Bradford area . I was particularly interested in the toolkit for Evidence Based Practice. My heart sank when I saw it was a paper folder (online available though I couldn’t find it in time available today!) but it turns out this was a cunning plan to meet the users and set up what amounts to Hill Report style Team Knowledge Officers. I also liked there Special Interest Group model – a new way to think about journal clubs (see also the great talk on IMPACTe elsewhere at conference).
After an update on CASH we heard from Katherine Dumenil and Linda Jump about their Knowledge Updating Service . This is a very slick take on the current awareness portal – ingesting and tagging large numbers of feeds and sites and then presenting it in a flexible form via web, rss and email. It looked a nice bit of development. Questions on technical matters where somewhat deflected by the speakers which was a shame.
A brief break for exhibitors, posters and a donut was much appreciated before the final round of parallel sessions for day 1. I followed the Collaboration strand.
Gwen Giles and David Law spoke about how they are working together in the Midlands as BASE . Of particular interest to listeners was how they used external support to make them a more effective network. Linking together around a shared LMS project was also clearly useful in providing a real must do set of tasks.
Carolyn Smith updated on progress in Scotland . They are somewhat ahead on implementing the Fast Search technology that underpins the google style NHS Evidence search. Items of note – support from librarians is integrated into the interface presentation, tools for collaboration are offered, it is Athens integrated. Question marks for me about the effectiveness of offering access to the bibliographic databases via the Fast Search interface (native interface also available).
The day closed with three plenary talks. I missed the start of the first one and admit to not getting to grips with it. Sara Clarke and Zoe Thomas then spoke on what they called the Legitimate Peripheral Participation model for developing professional competence. It sounded an awful lot like induction to me. In question was whether an academic qualification prepares people or not for their first role in health. Peoples experience of “Library School” vary enormously and I think it will always work better for some than others depending on choices made and options offered. Last in this session was a fascinating talk by Andrew Booth on whether there is evidence for the value of an experienced librarian over a novice. We need to focus on the things we do beyond just technical search skills as our advantage in these areas is eroding and limited when not looking at the esoteric interfaces we create for ourselves and then inflict on innocent users.
The HLG AGM followed (do read the annual report). It would be great if we could find a way to make better use of this opportunity rather than just working through the formalities required of HLG as a body. The accounts show a chance to invest in things members want and some research is taking place to examine the CPD needs of HLG members. Something I would like to have seen is systematic recording of the talks at conference. These could then be made available alongside the slides. This would be a benefit to those who attended but want to refresh their memories and to those who could not attend to give them a flavour of things. It could be free to members and available for a small cost (or nothing) to others.
The day closed with an excellent dinner, a comic, dancing, extensive discussion and the traditional Manchester summer – torrential rain.