HLG 75, October 2022: January Reflections
Event: HLG 75th Anniversary
The Light Auditorium, Friends House, 173-177 Euston Road, London NW1 2BJ
Health Libraries Group (HLG), Special Interest Group of CILIP

October last year might feel like ages ago, even though it’s really only a few weeks – Bolton is one of those Trusts where a lot happens in a week. Since the week of January when I’m writing this is known to be one of the toughest in the work calendar, I thought I’d cheer myself up by reflecting on HLG75, which I was able to attend in October courtesy of a LIHNN travel grant.

I can’t pretend I wasn’t a little bit nervous at the thought of attending an event in London in person, after working exclusively from home for over two years during the COVID-19 pandemic. Once there though, I was so glad I’d made the effort.

The day was very enjoyable, extremely well-organised, and a great chance to see just how much HLG has managed to achieve in the 75 years since that very first meeting. The presentations were streamed at the same time as the live sessions. What was very apparent in the conference room was the warmth and sense of collaborative project management that is one of the reasons I enjoy working in health libraries so much.

After a typically engaging kick-off from David Stewart and Imrana Ghumra, there were presentations from Lynsey Hawker, Ruth Carlyle, and Sue Lacey-Bryant, looking in turn at the past, present, and future of HLG. Nick Poole also called in, bringing his usual charm and joie de vivre.

The topics through the day were both eclectic and engaging. We found out, for instance, how NICE had made Microsoft Teams work for them against the backdrop of the pandemic. We learned about how Coventry University had increased engagement with its library users – yes, it did involve animals, and the “Awwwww!” factor was very high. Gizmo the dog from Gloucester also got a mention in his role as a library health champion. Locally, we have now made the acquaintance of Tandal, our own Trust’s designated, dedicated staff well-being canine colleague, who belongs to one of our human chaplains (who happens to be an ex-neonatal nurse). So watch this space…!

There were plenty of practically-focused KLS stories too. Colleagues from the East Midlands shared their experience of implementing their new shared library management system Koha (very pertinent to the North West!). The working groups have made pragmatic use of the NHS Futures platform.
There was mention of the current cohort of library staff around the country who have embarked on their HEE-funded formal university library and information management courses, from Aberystwyth to Robert Gordon.

In the breaks we were able to check out the wide range of posters on display and catch up with the sponsoring suppliers about developments in healthcare resources. And just in case that wasn’t enough, attendees could also follow a live scribing of the day from the amazing Analees Lim.

One theme that threaded through the day was health literacy, the importance of which was highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic. We heard about the Making It Easy health literacy strategy for Scotland which was of particular interest personally. One of the posters on display covered the Health Literacy project which I had worked on in my previous Trust in Somerset, with Outreach Librarian Veronica Price. We also worked with very supportive colleagues at the public library service and NHS Health Coaches employed by the CCG (as was).

We’ll shortly be looking at how we can localise what we learned for use in Bolton. Keep an eye out for “coming soon!” developments from our very Dawn Grundy.

Other highlights of the day included cake, mocktails, and the other wellness initiatives laid on for us – seriously, a neck and shoulder massage from a professional therapist can make a world of difference to someone who sits in front of a screen and keyboard pretty much all day.

The past and the present of HLG and KLS in a healthcare context were counterbalanced with a peek into the possible, probable, and certain future. This included partnerships and memberships of organisations including FEDIP (the Federation for Informatics Professionals).

Future overarching themes for the profession are likely to include the impact of technology and climate change; health learning systems; help with navigating the digital environment; and the ongoing need for adaptability. Even in the NHS, eLearning is moving on – one of the Hampshire Trusts, for instance, is building green-screen rooms and getting very involved with VR.

We also need to be realistic about what can be achieved. The originator of the quote remains uncertain, according to Thought Leader Extraordinaire Bill Gates who mentions it on his blog, but we (mostly) overestimate what we can achieve in a year. We underestimate, on the other hand, what can be achieved in the next ten.

Thinking back to 2012, the world was a very different place (even without allowing for the little matter of a certain coronavirus pandemic). Whatever lies ahead, we can probably guarantee it’s still going to come under the “interesting times” heading…It’s also worth pointing out that this celebration was the start of a year of HLG festivities, not the end.
What was most valuable? The whole day was useful, from networking to the updates.
What will I do differently? I will definitely incorporate some of the Health Literacy resources from the national Community of Practice into any sessions I deliver.
Like to Know More?

• Federation for Informatics Professionals, https://www.fedip.org/

• HLG 75th Anniversary, CILIP Health Libraries Group, 14 October 2022, content available from: https://ciliphlg.com/hlg75-content-from-the-day/ including recordings of live sessions available on the YouTube Channel

• Making it easier: a health literacy action plan 2017-2025, Scottish Government, 27 November 2017, available from: https://www.gov.scot/publications/making-easier-health-literacy-action-plan-scotland-2017-2025/

• National Health Literacy Community of Practice, available from: https://southlks.libguides.com/healthliteracy/home

• New therapy dog at Royal Bolton Hospital to improve staff wellbeing, Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, 7 September 2022, available from:

• Regional library management systems: June 2022 roundup, Health Education England, 17 June 2022, available from: https://library.hee.nhs.uk/about/blogs/regional-library-management-systems-june-2022-roundup

Paula Younger
Clinical Librarian/Evidence and Knowledge Specialist
Bolton NHS Foundation Trust