100 not out!

Well, this is my 100th #blogjune post. I’m pretty impressed that I’ve managed to keep up with it for this long. When I started back in 2012 I was hoping that #blogjune would be the encouragement I needed to try and blog more often. I don’t think it’s worked out that way, though, as my posts are still pretty sporadic. I guess I feel that I don’t really have anything “big” to blog about in the professional sense, so that’s why I tend to only write about non-work things. I like the fact that there seems to be a bit of of a push at the moment to try and revitalise the Australian biblioblogosphere (see Kate Davis’ posts here, here and here for some examples). It does seem to me that there is less blogging going on compared to when I started participating in #blogjune, but I’m not sure why.

I’d like to be writing a bit more often, so I’ll have to work on that. Anyone got any tips for keeping my writing mojo going past June?

So what does a health librarian need to know?

Back in April, I enrolled in the Health Librarianship Essentials course, developed by the QUT Information Studies Group and Health Libraries Australia. The timing for this was ideal, as I’d just started my new job in the medical library at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, so I was keen to learn more about the specific skills and knowledge that health librarians need to have. Tonight was the last class, and I found it a very useful course to have been part of.

The content was broken up into three modules: the Australian healthcare environment, health information sources and how to search them, and evidence based healthcare. As discussed by Steven Chang and Nikki May in their post on the NLS7 blog, a lot of the work of health librarians is focused on those last two areas. Even though I’d spent many years working in a university library showing students how to search databases, I still found it useful to be introduced to some health-specific resources which I’d never used before. I also learnt some new ways of searching some of the databases which I was already familiar with. The module on evidence based practice was a good refresher for me, especially now that I’m in a role which directly supports clinical staff who are using this approach to their practice. I’d also forgotten how useful it can be for librarians working on a research project ūüôā

I would certainly recommend this course to any new medical librarians or academic librarians who support medical, nursing or other health science staff and students. It gives a good introduction to the essentials of working in this field. Keep an eye out to see if there are any future offerings. Now, I’m off to work on that last assignment!

Still on the run (barely)

I posted an update about my running last year, and figured that I’d update it again for this #blogjune. I did finish the Bridge Run last year, and completed it in under an hour (55mins 34 secs), which was my goal. I was surprised at how easy the 9k run seemed, and how good I felt at the end. However, I didn’t really get back into running much after finished Bridge Run. I tried to keep it up for a while, but didn’t stick with it. My main running time was when I got home from work, and now that I get home an hour later than I used to I don’t really have that time available.

To overcome this I’ve decided to switch things up and go for a walk in the morning. This means getting up at about 5:15am. I have tried running in the morning, but I seem to be more of a later-in-the-day runner. I figure that a walk is better than nothing when it comes to exercise, and I might even get in the swing on things and turn it into a run. We had a Parkrun start up near us a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve registered for it. I haven’t gone for a run with them yet, but it’s certainly on the cards.

I won’t be doing the Bridge Run this year because I don’t really have the time to do the training. However, I am looking forward to getting back to being more active.

#operationeveggiepatch one year on

A year ago I posted about our efforts to get a vegetable patch going. On the whole it was pretty successful. The cherry tomato plants flourished, and gave us a tasty series of crops over the year. They reached the stage where they weren’t really very productive, however, so a couple of weeks ago I pulled them out of the veggie patch. There’s still some rocket in there, and I’m pretty sure we’ll be planting something else in there when the weather warms up a bit.

The capsicums were a failure, and didn’t grow at all. We planted some seeds in another part of the garden, and they didn’t like that spot either. I guess we’re destined to not grow them.

The other crop we tried planting was sweet corn. We’ve had mixed results with it, though. The first batch of plants gave us some nice cobs, but the second batch is looking a bit underdone. I probably didn’t give them the attention they needed, but we’ve still got some seeds we can plant to try again.

Corn plantsCorn harvestReady to cook

The other part of #operationveggiepatch I mentioned was our compost bin. This hasn’t really worked out at all over the last year. Again, I’ve neglected it too much, and haven’t spent enough time on mixing it and making sure that I’ve been adding the right mix of material to it. I think it might be time to empty it out and start again, or least try and use some of the “compost”. Part of the problem might be the lack of space that we’ve got, which means that it’s hard for me to take out the older material. Maybe we need another bin, so we can have a “fresh bin” and an “older bin”. Hopefully I can get this sort out soon.

I do enjoy gardening, and trying to grow some of our own vegies. The boys enjoy it too, and hopefully we can come up with another bumper crop this year.

A musical morning

It was a bit of a musical morning at our house this morning. Blake learnt “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” at preschool this week, so I found a video of the song on YouTube:

I’d forgotten how high some of those notes are! We also found a version of some police officers (I think they were Israeli) miming to it:

We finished off the musical morning with a couple of songs from Steve’n’Seagulls, a Finnish hillbilly band who do covers of rock songs. I first saw them doing AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck”, and they’ve now also covered “You Shook Me All Night Long”, with the video featuring the Finnish national ice hockey team.


I now have an earworm of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” stuck in my head.

Should the library be a window, or a black box?

In a #blogjune post from earlier this week, Sharon asked the following questions in relation to the way libraries provide information to clients:

Should we be like the farmers and start educating people about the process of getting the information to them?  What does it involve?  How do we go about it?  What skills are needed?  What hurdles do we jump to get the information?  Or do they really need/want to know?

This is one of the biggest differences between academic and health libraries that I’ve found in my short time as a health librarian. In my role as a Research Librarian in a university library, I did show clients how I found information for them, in order for them to learn how to do it themselves. This was a natural part of working in an educational institution. However, the situation is quite different in the health library where I currently work. We provide information as a service – the client (usually a busy, time-poor clinician) submits their literature search request, we search the relevant resources and find some results, and then we send those results to the client. The same applies to requests for journal articles.

This is what I was referring to when I included “black box” in the title of this post. The processes that we go through in order to find the information that our clients are looking for is hidden from the clients. By contrast, in the academic setting I was providing a “window” into the process so that the clients could understand it better. I’m not saying that none of our clients want to learn how to find information – I have sat with a couple of them and showed them how to construct a good search strategy. However, these have tended to be the exception rather than the rule. There are times when health librarians do need to provide clients with an insight into how the information was found, e.g. when they’re assisting a team who are preparing a systematic review. On the whole though, the information retrieval process remains a mystery to our clients. Again, I’m not saying this as a bad thing, it’s just the way that things are and it seems to work for everyone concerned.

Lighting up the town

In what has become a bit of #blogjune tradition for me, today’s fourth post is about our night out at the Vivid festival. We took the boys in to the city last night, having done a bit of reconnaissance a week or so ago without them. The highlight for them was the display on Customs House, which was very much aimed at kids, with dinosaurs, gnomes and giant snails featuring in the show.

20150603_181813After watching the Customs House show a couple of times, we headed off to the MCA and checked out the nearby installations. They were pretty interactive, although the queue was too long at some of them. The boys had fun with the large lit-up drums, and they enjoyed checking out the glowing “spider web”. The big pig was also an attraction. We stopped here for dinner, which included cupcakes for dessert to celebrate my wife’s birthday.

CubesPigWebWe had two very tired boys with us by the end of the night, and they slept well once we got home. I’m pretty sure we’ll be going back to Vivid next year.

Library and Information Week 2015 – a review

Last week was Library and Information Week (LIW) for 2015. My workplace prepared a series of events to celebrate. We hosted training sessions or webinars from several vendors who updated us on their products. On Thursday morning we hosted a morning tea in the library as part of Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea, which raised over $100 for the Cancer Council. Clients also came along to the training sessions that we ran – one on EndNote, and another that I led looking at measuring and improving research impact.

During LIW, we also took the opportunity to visit the other hospital we serve, where the staff only have virtual access to library services. We planned a day of training sessions covering accessing resources, searching, EndNote, and my research impact presentation, as well as having drop-in sessions where we’d answer any library-related questions that the staff had. Despite having a limited period in which to promote the day, we were happy with the attendance that we got. We will try and visit more regularly from now on, now that we have a full complement of staff in the library.

Another LIW event we were involved in was National Simultaneous Storytime (NSS). Although we didn’t a storytime ourselves, we contacted the Starlight Room and the hospital school to see if they would be interested in participating, and they both did. Unfortunately the date for NSS was the same day I was visiting the other hospital, so I didn’t get to see how it went, but by all accounts it was a success.

Overall I think it was a successful LIW this year, and we’ll be planning events for next year.

So what’s changed since #blogjune last year?

The most significant change that has happened to me since last year’s #blogjune is that I started a new job. After 12 years at Macquarie University Library (MUL), I took up a position at the medical library at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead (CHW). I started there in March, and have been very happy that I made the move. MUL was the first library I worked in, and I really enjoyed my time working there. As I mentioned in my farewell speech, I feel very fortunate to have begun my library career in a workplace which offered a great deal of support for its staff. I was lucky enough to work with managers and team leaders who encouraged me to take advantage of opportunities as they arose, and I’m very glad I did. They stood me in good stead when it came to applying for the job at CHW.

As you’d expect, the library at CHW is much smaller than MUL, with a staff of five. This means that everyone does a bit of everything, but still has responsibility for certain things. My role focuses on the management of the electronic resources that the library subscribes to. I make sure that our Serials Solutions information is kept up to date, and also administer the OpenAthens accounts that the hospital staff set up. This is an area of the library that I didn’t have much direct involvement with at MUL – there was a team dedicated to maintaining the records for our electronic resources. However, I’ve managed to pick it up pretty quickly, and I have some sympathy for my former colleagues who I used to refer the problems to.

I have made some contacts in the health library sector over the years, and it has been an area of librarianship that has appealed to me. Although there has always been the threat of budget cuts hanging over them, I felt that health librarians¬† were an innovative group who were always looking out for ways to improve and update the services they offer to their clients. I’m excited to be part of that group, and am looking forward to this next stage in my career.

Blogjune, year 4

I can’t believe that I’m about to embark on my fourth year of #blogjune. I think I’ve got enough content to write 30 posts (well, 29 after this one), and hopefully there’ll be a few memes doing the rounds to help me out if I need it. As usual, there’ll be a mixture of library content (but not about academic libraries this time), geocaching content, and whatever else I can think of that’s worthy of a post.

It will be a family effort again this year, with my wife and sons also both taking part. Hopefully we can all come up with some interesting material for you. Happy reading!