Nearly there…

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Photo credit: K Dolman 2019 UPDATE 27.6.19: what I got in to this morning at work…

So, after quite a long while, lots of wine and not a few re-writes of the evaluative statement, this week sees the Chartership journey come to a (potential) end. I am about to press the BUTTON! (Cue: drum roll, dry ice from the ground, glitter from the sky, et al. You get the picture…).

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it, to be honest. On the one hand, I am feeling quite excited at the prospect, slightly nervous and hollow-bellied, but happy to be finally in a position where I have been able to send the promised email to my colleagues about a well-earned drink on Friday evening (pressing the submit button is just an aside to this 🙂 ).

On the other hand…I feel like a child who’s had her favourite toy taken away, or my 20 year old self receiving tickets to the panto, rather than to the Bon Jovi concert: as if my life has moved sideways somewhat and isnt following the designated course it is meant to follow…sounds ridiculous, right? (To set the record straight: I did enjoy the panto, but would’ve enjoyed Bon Jovi more, particularly as I was dressed for the latter, rather than the former 🙂 ).

But when I reflect on the journey that has brought me to this point (reflect, moi, kidding, right?), I realise that I have invested a huge amount of effort into this process; much more than probably anything I have ever done before, apart from being a Mum and maybe my Undergrad degree (which took me six years: procrastination at its best). When I think of all the training I’ve done, the conference attendances, the negotiating, the resources designed and delivered, that have all contributed to being able to submit this application, my mind boggles. And I haven’t included all of it, just the bits that were relevant. And this is without having to gather the evidence, organise and order it (which I should be good at!), write the evaluative statement amid the struggles I have with being reflective, blog posting (ok, not been exceptionally brilliant at keeping this dialogue going: my bad), networking and getting to grips with the portfolio platform (sorry, CILIP, it’s not the best…) that I have also had to do to get to this point! I don’t even want to imagine how many hours it has likely taken me. I should really have kept a spreadsheet but I think that the sheer numbers would’ve made me run to the hills (see what I did there? I’ll get my coat…).

That said, I need to make a shout out to a fair number of people who have supported me during this time, and that’s the reason for this blog post (and not to whinge about the amount of work I’ve had to do: I made my bed…). Cue Oscar acceptance speech…

First and foremost, my mentor, without whom I wouldn’t be at this point and who has put up with me and supported me through an incredibly hard part of my life. Submission has been dogged with family issues, illness, accidents, weather, holidays and just my complete incompetence at times (Me “I’ve done my re-evaluation of PKSB”. Mentor “I cant see the changes” – four hours of work not saved…). Throughout the process, my mentor has been steadfast in supporting me and I am incredibly grateful and humbled by the dedication I have been shown. I am keeping this anonymous, but you know who you are. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Also to my managers, past and present, who have also supported, encouraged, cajoled (and occasionally threatened 🙂 ) me into getting this far. Without you allowing me time, space and training budget, I definitely wouldn’t be here. Again, you know who you are and I thank you.

And not forgetting my long-suffering work colleagues, family and friends, who have all put up with my whining, prevaricating and repeated announcements that ‘this is the week!’ for the duration of this process. A combination of encouragement and ‘tough love’ has been available for me from various sources during this journey and again, part of this is down to you lot. Deal with it. 🙂

Lastly, to my lovely partner who has shared this with me, much in the way that I shared his PhD write-up all those years ago (although he hasn’t checked my referencing). I told you it would be pay-back time, at some point, Just think of the money…

So. Nearly there. I’m signing off (as they do in those weird sci-fi films where the aliens/fungus/suspicious buggers in long coats have eaten the rest of the crew/humanity/the planet) with some words of wisdom. Watch this space…

 

Conference Reflections and summery fun…

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(Waiting for the keynote. Little me, top left right at the back, hand on my chin, on me tod. Larger image here. Image courtesy of HLG Conference)

This year, I have been privileged to attend not one, not even two, but THREE conferences, almost back to back. They have all been Health Library focused, and identified on last year’s PDR (Performance and Development Review – more on that in a later blog post). As this is going to be a long post, I’m going to concentrate on the first conference, which was the bi-annual Health Libraries Group conference, held this year in the lovely environs of Keele University. For the very first time in my professional career, this conferences was a stay-over, so I had the very great pleasure of honouring the Holiday Inn with my presence for one night only…and a very pleasurable stay it was.

I cant possibly go through every session in detail in this post: two full-on days of innovative practice and engaging, interactive discourse is very difficult to disseminate. So I will say that the main themes of the conference were demonstrating impact, raising awareness of libraries and librarians, their work, their problem-solving and their innovative ways of engaging service users and collecting feedback. To try to give a flavour and some reflection, I have picked out some photos from the conference (with me in them, mostly the back of my head!) and given a brief precis of the session. In no particular order…

  • HLG Conference saw the launch of the CILIP Health Hub
  • Keynote 1: Nick talked about the boundaries between study and work blurring and about the changing work and study environments: online, personalised, flipped. And about digital exclusion, the proliferation of social media, diversity and culture and about how librarians make the links between all of the above. We must change as a profession to keep abreast and ahead of these developments.
    • I am currently part of a team developing a project (to be approved) around reading for pleasure supporting wellbeing, diversity and belonging. We are looking at developing a ‘Big Read’ for Hallam. I have searched the literature to find evidence on how reading for pleasure supports these issues, to show that it has impact for our project manifesto. I got involved in this project via my work with Feeling Fiction book group, and something I have a long-standing interest in an interest in: reading for pleasure and mental health. My MA dissertation investigated the impact on literacy development by engaging in reading for pleasure – and by association, building self-confidence, promoting better education and raising aspirations, all of which help towards promoting belonging, mental wellbeing and understanding diversity.
  • Keynote 2: Dr Mark Taylor delivered a keynote on why clinicians need to use evidence-informed practice. There was a lot about communicating health decisions to patients and how this is done. Language, lenses, financial and political concerns. And fake news, misinformation and manipulated content and how we need to debunk this for the public. I thought this would go over my head but actually it made a lot of sense!
    • It’s important for me to know about how clinicians and health professionals do this, as my students learn a lot about communicating health decisions and so I can use this as further evidence of how important good quality research, and the skills needed to find it, are. I tend to also promote ‘Behind the Headlines‘ to students, as a good place to look for debunking those amazingly manipulated health headlines, such as the Telegraph reporting, ‘Middle aged drinking may reduce dementia risk, new study finds‘. Behind the Headlines debunk this in an easy to read and understandable way.
  • Playing the Communication Game! And the team behind the games. A fun-filled first session with board games aimed at transferring knowledge and skills through play. It was really difficult to do; like Pictionary but with words! My team won.
  • Listening to Jane Falconer report on quality of reporting of lit searches in systematic reviews – some very unnerving stats!
    • After doing the SCHARR training (more in another post) earlier this year, this was a good session to remind me to reinforce why reporting your search strategy is really important in health research! I now talk authoritatively (and enthusiastically!) to students about why reporting your research strategy is important to the methodology and transparency of their research, and also about meta-analysis and narrative synthesis. Before the training, I would have backed off from this, but now feel very confident in addressing these issues with students. I’ve also been previously asked to help with systematic reviews and have declined, but, as a result of the training, I would now feel confident in taking part.
  • Talking about barriers to research in Gillian’s session Dont use anecdotes, use research!’ Collaboration is what we do: barriers to research such as time, opportunity and value mean we learn from others, rather than looking for it ourselves. Librarians can help!
  • The very engaging Shirley Yearwood-Jackman speaking my language about developing evidence based practitioners! ‘Yes, you do know this, I told you in the last session!’.
    • We had a good chat after the session about how students say things like ‘I wish I’d known this in the first year’ when we see them in the first year and tell them! It’s so frustrating some times as I feel that I am either not communicating effectively, or I am just wasting my time. But I do feel very happy when it just clicks for some people and others do eventually get there.
  • Helen and I, on the left of the photo, listening to the findings of a report on the impact clinical librarians have on patient care. Helen is another friend and ex-colleague from Uni. She is a clinical librarian also, so it was good to have her views on what was being reported too. The upshot: librarians make a difference!

Full album of HLG Conference photos here Conference presentations here

This conference had a few surprises up its sleeve for me. I learned a lot of things of course, and I have taken a lot away from it. But I also met a very old friend and ex-colleague whom I haven’t seen for many years since we both worked at Walsall Mobile and Home Library ServiceDavid Laws! We managed a very quick catch up during the first session, but had a longer one a bit later on, on Facebook. The impact of this isnt just re-engaging with a friend (which was lovely in its own right): he is now Library Services Manager for the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust and a member of the HLG Board, and so therefore ideally placed to be an information source and a critical friend for work – wider professional knowledge as defined in the Chartership criteria. I am currently about to contact him about the new funding structure and student access to NHS resources, something which we have struggled to get a definitive answer to.

As this conference is very expensive, we share the attendance alternately between the Health Librarians at Hallam, which now means that Simon gets to go to one, then me the next…Now, when Simon went in 2016, he got to go for a seaside jolly up to Scarborough, home also to his passion for cricket. I got to go to Stoke. Not that this is a really bad thing (the seaside would’ve been better, though!); it’s only that I am originally from quite close to Wolverhampton and – as the footballers amongst my readers will know – there is a long-standing ridicule of both environs on the part of the other. Basically, we dont like Stoke!…however, I wasnt tarred and feathered, and Keele really is a beautiful part of the world. Coupled with that, my parents only live 30 miles away, so I forewent the conference dinner in order to pay them a surprise visit on the eve of their Golden Wedding Anniversary. I was forgiven by my fellow conference attendees on this merit.

The conference wasnt all about Librarians though. There were lots of opportunities to give things a go and one of the sessions that interested me was the ‘Laughter for Healthcare’ session. This comprised of an exercise called Laughing Yoga’ (I am in the middle of the photo, next to the lady with the green and white striped jumper. And, yes, I really am that short). Laughing is apparently a great form of therapy and one we do not do enough of. I felt a bit silly in this session, but actually it was a great relaxer after a quite full-on morning. Typically, I havent really revisited this since, but once I have a bit of spare time it’s definitely something I will be looking into. Who knows, I may even suggest it for our next team away-day! 🙂

So I am enthused, motivated and all conferenced out, now! I am looking forward to disseminating this to my fellow Learning & Teaching Team members at some point in the future (probably the next away day, which this post will be useful for – reflecting back!). I’ll do another post on the other two conferences which, while by no means less interesting and exciting (there was a little escapade on the Tube…), were slightly shorter and therefore can be summarised more effectively.

But it hasnt all been work. This summer, as previously indicated, has been full of fun, frolics and other frivolity beginning with letters other than ‘F’. We’ve had heatwave madness, in the form of short trips out to the East coast – Filey (oops, F!), Cleethorpes and Skeggy (lots of Podling-paddling happening!); to the West – Aberystwyth (nope, in charge of Lemmy the Whippet and he was having none of this paddling malarkey, thank-you-never-so-much!); and a nostalgic return to some youthful haunts in the south Mids. There was also, last weekend, a return to the outdoor climbing scene for the first time in years, in a visit to Birchens Edge. My knees are covered in bruises from a fight up a chimney…

paddling

(Image taken at Deal, Kent. Podling-paddling in the sea! Copyright K Dolman, 2018)