Informationists Sandra Johnson, Kelly Doolan and Fran Morrisroe reflect on their experiences of working from home, adapting library service provision, and the importance of taking a proactive approach to support their NHS colleagues, in what is a period of great challenge and uncertainty.

In Yorkshire, The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust the hospital library continues to open 24 hours a day, functioning as a safe space for staff to get a hot drink and have a break. While the majority of us are now working from home, we are still offering our usual library and knowledge service (LKS) to library users: such as evidence updates, enquiries, inter-library loans (ILLs), as well as our work ensuring guidelines and policies are accessible to staff in the Trust.

Today, we are holding our staff meeting for the first time over Teams. Although we use the app primarily as an instant messaging service, this will be the first time that we’ve used the video chat for a meeting. As the lack of interaction with the rest of the team (and library users) is one of the most different and keenly felt aspects of working from home, it is great to hear how everyone is getting on and also see them! After mentioning that we could use this more regularly to keep in touch, we decide we will have a weekly meeting for staff to ‘drop in’ too. The meeting also provides a good opportunity for us to reflect on what we are doing to support frontline staff in our Trust during this time.

Video Conference

Image from Pexels

Our LKS Manager is supporting the Trust’s Clinical Ethics Group to explore how the library can help to support decision-making in relation to COVID-19. They also sit on the South Yorkshire Research Ethics Committee, as the group continues to meet virtually, the committee are able to fast track studies on COVID-19.

In terms of clinical librarianship, we are still able to maintain the Library’s presence virtually, one again utilising Teams to support this, such as within the Hand Surgery multidisciplinary team (MDT).

One of our team has been working with lots of local groups to try to source additional personal protective equipment (PPE) for our frontline colleagues. Helen got in touch with a local makerspace (iForge at the University of Sheffield) to see if they were able to send some 3D visors to the Trust. She also contacted a crowdfunding group to see if they were able to help. This led to a contact in Warwickshire, where a company called SolidPrint agreed to send visors to Rotherham.

One of our key tasks at the moment is ensuring that all information and updates relating to COVID-19 are collated, so that this information is disseminated and available to staff through our specialty newsfeeds and on Twitter. We also have a purpose built Corona portal, where we collate content for NHS staff to update them on the latest research, point-of-care updates, guidance for clinicians and NHS managers, information for health professionals and also for the general public.

To complement this, our talented team member has created a health and wellbeing area to highlight and collate all resources that have been designed specifically for frontline NHS staff to support their well-being.

Our work uploading guidelines to the Intranet is as crucial as ever as we want to make certain that internal and external policies are accessible as soon as they are ratified, particularly given the ever-evolving situation.

Ensuring our colleagues have access to the same quality of service is of paramount importance to us, we want to ensure we continue to provide a responsive and dedicated service for them.

LKS colleagues at the Royal Bolton Hospital library in the North West are also adapting to changes in the delivery of their service.

Our library service remains open although we are covering slightly reduced hours. In addition to doing our usual core work, such as document supply and literature searches, staff have changed their shift patterns and taken on new admin roles to support the Trust’s effort during this pandemic. The library manager is helping to fit-test clinical staff for vital personal protective equipment, the library assistant is recording PPE test results and the clinical librarian is recording training records and clinical skills needs of staff being re-deployed. Every day brings a new request for help and we’re happy that we’ve so far remained healthy and are able to step up to the challenge.

Corona portal:

Health & Wellbeing webpage:

Fran Morrisroe (Librarian, The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust)
Sandra Johnson (Clinical Librarian, Royal Bolton Hospital Library)
Kelly Doolan (Library Assistant, Royal Bolton Hospital Library)