About Andrew

I'm a health librarian in Sydney, Australia, who also happens to be a geocacher.

Brisbane bound!

Early next month I’ll be heading to Brisbane to attend the 8th International Evidence Based Library and Information Practice Conference (EBLIP8). It looks like a great program, with a good mixture of researchers and practitioners speaking. I’ll be presenting a poster titled “How do library and information professionals use Twitter to engage with conferences in Australasia? (or, “A little birdie told me …”)“. It’s taken a while to get it together, but I emailed it off tonight. If you can’t make it to the conference to check it out, I’ll probably be writing it up as a journal article.

Brisbane has hosted an EBLIP conference previously, back in 2005. It was at this conference that I met a group of health librarians from the Central Coast who called themselves the “Spice Girls”. This name came about because of the title of their presentation – “Adding SPICE to our library intranet site: a recipe to enhance usability“. I didn’t know it at the time, but this conference ended up being a life-changing experience for me, as a couple of years later I married one of the “Spice Girls”. This was written up as a news item for the EBLIP Journal.

The 2005 conference was a great experience for me, as it was where I started forming my professional network. I’m looking forward to catching up with some of the “Spice Girls”, as well as other colleagues that I’ve met in the meantime.

Geocaching with the boys

This morning I went out with the boys for a spot of geocaching. A notification came through for a new geocache which was published not far from home. It was a puzzle cache, and I managed to solve it fairly quickly. It had been available for about half an hour, so there was a chance that no-one had found it yet. We headed off in the car, and as we arrived at the cache location I could see that there were people standing in the area that the GPS arrow was pointing to. We ended up second to find, which was still pretty good.

There were another couple of caches nearby which we hadn’t found, so we went for a walk to find them. The first one we went for proved to be a bit tricky to access with two children in tow (if I was by myself I would have given it a go). Initially we were on the wrong side of the creek with no easy way to cross. Even when we ended up on the other side after finding another cache, the bush seemed too overgrown to be able to easily get to the cache. The cache that we did find was a nice big one, and the boys had fun finding it.

It was a very nice morning to be out for a walk, and the boys had a good time. We might need to do this more often now that the weather has cooled down and the snakes have retired for the winter.

Heading to the cache

Heading to the cache

Found it!

Found it!

Well, we did it again

I posted last #blogjune about our unexpected day trip to the Blue Mountains, and today we did the same thing. Thomas had an early soccer match this morning, and afterwards we initially thought that we’d head to a park not too far away to give the boys a chance to play. We were headed in the direction of the Blue Mountains, and along the ay we decided to keep going and head to Blackheath for lunch.

Last year we were pretty unprepared for the cold mountain weather (poor old Blake was wearing shorts), but this time we stopped off and bought some warm clothes for the boys, which they needed anyway. We headed along Bells Line of Road then the Darling Causeway to Mount Victoria. Our lunch stop was at the New Ivanhoe Hotel in Blackheath, where we managed to arrive just after a busload of tourists, which meant we had to wait a while for our lunch. While we were there we bumped into a couple of library people that we knew.

Our destination for the day was Memorial Park in Blackheath, where the boys had fun playing on the play equipment. It wasn’t as cold as last year, which made it a bit more enjoyable. On the way home we stopped in at Leura, where we visited the Candy Store (which the boys loved) and had a coffee at the Wayzgoose Cafe. All in all it was a very nice day, and a pleasant way to spend a Saturday.

A bit of Friday fun

As part of a literature search that I was conducting for a clinician, I came across an editorial in a medical journal which referenced a scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The title of the editorial is What is the Airspeed Velocity of an Unladen Swallow? and it discusses the importance of defining something that you want to measure so that you can measure it. This got me wondering if there were any other references to Monty Python in the medical literature. A quick search of PubMed turned up a couple of articles: one which uses a sketch from the TV show Monty Python’s Flying Circus as an example of “inattentional blindness”, and another which talks about the importance of communication skills by referring to the famous “dead parrot” sketch from And Now For Something Completely Different.

And in case you were wondering, I didn’t send the editorial to the clinician, as it wasn’t especially relevant to their search. It only came up as a “similar article” for an article which was relevant.

Libraries and their communities

Today’s post is in response to Sharon’s post yesterday about libraries as community builders, and how I think academic libraries fit into this space. Academic libraries, particularly for those universities which only have one library and not a series of subject-specific libraries, are a “neutral space” on campus available to everyone. This would make them an ideal hub for community building. Subject-specific libraries could serve the same role, but they would be focused on the staff and students who are working in particular subject areas, rather than the whole university. I’m not sure how well academic libraries do in the community-building role. It would be tricky trying to bring disparate groups together into a single community, I think, if there wasn’t a common purpose. Students studying the same subjects tend to naturally form communities because they all have a common interest. Maybe the academic library’s role is more in facilitating the community-building activities of other groups on campus – for example providing a space for a “Shut up and write” gathering.

There are certainly a range of different communities on a university campus, such as the research community, teaching and learning community, and the internationalisation community, and the library is usually represented in them all. I think a large part of the role of a Liaison or Research Librarian is to try and become part of the community that they support so that they are visible, and people knew the library as being about more than books.

I’m still finding my way around in my new job, so I’m not sure how special libraries fit into the community-building scene. Having a well-defined community of users all with similar interests could be an advantage that special libraries have over academic libraries. I’ll be interested to see how this plays out in my new workplace.

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 🙂

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.