Friday, 31 January 2020

PPRG Marketing Excellence Conference

The Publicity and Public Relations Group Conference held on the 31st of January at Aston University Library, Birmingham. My attendance was mainly due to the fact that I had been given the task of developing the marketing plan for my service and the workshop on putting together a marketing plan on the programme seemed serendipitous. I also wanted to further my activity in the wider community.  The event was attended by about 50 professionals across a variety of sectors which made for great networking opportunities.

The chair, Davina Omar, welcomed attendees and went through housekeeping. The programme was arranged in an unorthodox format with the keynote at the end to allow for the winners of the 2019 Marketing Excellence Awards give their presentations first and allay anxieties. Something I'm sure they appreciated. It kicked off with the Shetland Libraries eServices Outreach Project by Louise Arcus and Kate Riise. The aim was to increase eService uptake by hard to reach clientele who were digitally, socially or geographically excluded, something I could relate to my work in a Community Trust. They marketed their RBDigital collection of audio books, eBooks, and eMagazines by raising awareness during physical visits. They also made use of the local media, newspapers, radio broadcast, and social media. The success of the campaign also led to promotion by word of mouth and created opportunities to highlight other Library services.
The next presentation was by Tracey Williams from Solihull Libraries on an exhibition on the self-build revolution in the 1950s where families gave their time and skills to build homes for the Self-build Housing Association and rent the homes back. It was important to bring it to the attention of decision makers to find parallels with current housing issues. The exhibition promotes a sense of place and empowers feeling of belonging. It promotes a sense of time to anchor past events to the present and shape the future. A combination of methods were used to create exhibition panels with more images than text. The exhibition was marketed with promotional flyers and tweets.
The final award went to Staffordshire Libraries for their Burton Bedtime Stories. The presentation was by Liz Gardner (Staffordshire Libraries), Kate Thomson-Rayne (East Staffordshire Children's Centre), and Dan Wareing (Volunteer). The team filmed recruited volunteers reading featured bedtime stories and posted the videos on Facebook. Theresulting interest demonstrated the value of the Library service and showcased the service offer. It also supported speech language and communication within the home environment. The featured titles were announced beforehand using a variety of media and there was a corresponding rise in the number of issues of the featured title around the time the video is published. Volunteers went on to champion the service and this led to a more volunteer offers.

After lunch, there was a choice between two workshops. One on creating a marketing plan and the other was a forum on exchanging library marketing experiences. I attended the first session which began with the idea of using the PPRG Marketing Excellence Award criteria as a baseline for a marketing plan. A clear statement of objectives is required with a short description of what you aim to achieve and your target audience. The range of marketing channels to use should be identified - social media, posters, email, leaflets etc. What is most suitable for your campaign. Consider how you'll time the execution of tasks and establish roles and areas of responsibility with expected deadlines. Hints and tips for marketing were supplied.
Next was the AGM which revealed that the group has been rebranded from its 36 year name and will now be known as the Marketing and Communications Group. A research grant for marketing has also been introduced. It was followed by the Keynote speech by Rachel Van Riel, Director of Opening the book. She discussed what we need to focus on and steer away from when considering marketing a service positively. An attitude of blaming the user when they do not understand what is meant needs to be discouraged. It is your responsibility to be articulate what you mean clearly. We were given several examples of marketing fails and successes.

My day didn't get all my questions answered but it definitely gave me a starting point. It also helped me reflect on where my marketing focus should lie. What I think is most important might not necessarily be the case. I am considering an audit of most asked questions to identify areas in the service that might need clarification in a future plan. In the meantime I have been able to state an objective which I will present to my team and hopefully move forward with it. All in all it was a productive day.

Monday, 27 January 2020

Strategy on a page Workshop

I attended the one day strategy on a page course led by Amanda Stearn. It was held at St. Chad's Court, Birmingham with 16 attendees. I wanted find a way to align the Library service strategy to that of my organisation and present it in a simple format that is succinct. Amanda steered the conversation away from the NHS to give some context to how we look to strategies as a whole. Bringing the session back to healthcare with a host of examples and exercises, she put us through our paces eliciting ideas on what we considered contributing factors from macro drivers such as the HEE, service users, host organisations to SWOT (local and external factors) such as budgets, staffing pressures, technology, and the political climate.

Aligning the vision and mission to that of the organisations ensures that the strategies and operations executed advance those of the organisation. We looked at how different segments of a strategy fit together and what they address.
Why - Vision - Why the service exists
Who - Mission - Who the service is in support of the vision
What - Priorities - What the service intends to accomplish in to meet the mission.
How - Strategies - Outline of how the priorities will be realised
How, where, when - Operational plan - More detailed practical actions that will be executed to realise the strategies.

We practiced on a whole strategy and converting it into a one page document with the use of a very helpful template. We also had the chance to identify enablers which are the things that will impact and make what we want happen such as funding and technology.

Different terminologies are often used to describe the same thing such as mission / purpose or goals / priorities. It is important to avoid the use of passive words like "support" and embrace the use of power words like enrich and strengthen to sell the service as an integral instrument for meeting the overarching goals of the organisation. We were supplied with tips on how to engage team members in the process by supplying the priorities and having them individually give their opinions on post-its on what the operational plans could entail. This gives every team member the chance to voice their thoughts and then collectively work backwards to the core strategies.

The focus of the workshop was generating a strategy on one page but it gave insight into how a template can be used to derive the summary for the service from my organisation strategy and then develop the full strategy for the service thereafter. It was useful to work with others and see how our different organisations and ways of thinking influenced our approaches to writing and structuring catchy sentences to reflect what we want. I had a wealth of ideas which I intend to implement in the hopes of enhancing the content of the service strategy.

Monday, 28 October 2019

Health Literacy Training

I attended this one day train the trainer event on Health Literacy held on the 17th of October 2019 at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham. My knowledge of health literacy beforehand was vague at best and I attended the event in the hopes of improving my understanding of health literacy levels and how it affects patient care as well as gathering ideas on how to support health literacy within my organization. The event was facilitated by three Librarians, Anita Phul (Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust), Lesley Allen (Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust), and Semanti Chakraborty (University Hospital Birmingham).

It started off with looking at what health literacy is and how issues and challenges surrounding it can be addressed. It was identified as being personal from a patient's point of view with aim of equipping the patient with information on their condition at a level they can understand to make decisions about their care. It was also looked at from a societal point of view which looked at the the accessibility of health information for those in need of it.

We looked at the different types of health literacy, functional - basic skills for everyday lie, Interactive - power to interpret and balance information as well as the confidence to undertake further investigation to inform decision making, Critical - ability to critically appraise and challenge information and make links with economic, social, and cultural factors. We also looked at health literacy levels across regions in England as well as the national and regional literacy of health materials which showed the information generally provided is often at a higher level than the average literacy level of the population. We looked how health literacy levels can be compromised depending on circumstances. I especially liked the activity which helped demonstrate how a professional with a high literacy level can suddenly have a low health literacy level where they or a loved one have been diagnosed with a life changing or life threatening condition.

We had an activity which helped drive home how dealing with health information you don't understand can feel. Comments made by attendees included frustrating, feeling stupid, and this helped stress the importance of providing health information at an understandable level. We looked at the population more likely to have low health literacy and this included people with learning difficulties or learning disabilities, people with low IT skills, older people. there was an activity where attendees were encouraged to discuss examples of when health literacy has had a personal or professional impact on them. The detriments and impact of low health literacy to patients and the NHS were also addressed such as unhealthy habits, high mortality, wrong usage of medication, missed appointments etc.

The areas where librarians and library services can influence health literacy were also covered.This included improving health literacy levels, ensuring information and services are accessible to all, and raising health literacy awareness. This can be done by using techniques such as Teach Back and Chunk and check to empower individuals and ensuring written information provided is at an appropriate level for the audience (i.e. simple, free of jargon, free of acronyms, conversational, use of everyday words, free of needless information etc.). We were also supplied with a list of tools that support creating health information and attendees talked about local initiatives they were aware of. The event ended with some recommendations that should be promoted such as not making assumptions about literacy or ability to speak or hear, and using different media to share health information, use of simple explanations.

The event had a good mix or presentations and activities but I found it a lot to take in and didn't have as much opportunity to share ideas with other attendees as I would have liked. It showed me that there is a varied mix of health literacy support already in place across a range of NHS Libraries and I took away some ideas on how to help my organisation create a patient information register and ensure that the information supplied are at an appropriate level. I also got the idea to support the discharge facilitators with how the information supplied to patients is provided in a way that will enable compliance. I believe the event was suitable for anyone looking to start off a Health Literacy service or looking for more ideas on how to improve an existing service.

Monday, 1 July 2019

UHMLG Summer Conference: Failing to Succeed – How to Learn From Failure

I haven't been to a conference in a while so this last minute arrangement was an exciting opportunity to network. It was a relief to find that the first day of the conference started at noon which meant I didn't have to get out of bed at Crazy O'Clock to get there. It was held at Teeside University in Middlesborough (Yes, Middlesborough. Someone asked me where this was and I was proud to use the wealth of my geography knowledge to respond "North"). The idea of discussing with other professionals how they deal with failure intrigued me.

This all inclusive event (conference, accommodation, and meals) started off with attendees having a really lovely lunch at the Holiday Inn Express. After this, it was a short walk to the University where we saw some exhibitors including Wiley & Mark Allen. Iain Baird, UHMLG Co-Chair, went through housekeeping and introductions before handing us over to Rosie Jones, Director of Student and Library Services, Teesside University. She stressed the importance of being okay with failing and learning from it, experimenting and pushing boundaries. She regaled us with her biggest experience with failure which involved alternate reality gaming about 150 engaged students out of a probable 4000.The response was to communicate how the project failed and why, making recommendations on what works and what doesn’t. The sharing experience enabled her to make contacts which she still has today.
  • Do not fear failure.
  • Take risks.
  • Embrace failure. 
She encouraged attendees to visit the University Library spaces and described it as playful.

Andy Priestner led a workshop on failure and the importance of being realistic that it is going to happen and accepting that. He focused on the fact that responding and reacting to failure positively can lead to productivity. It can be hard to foresee success at the end of failure and how we learn from it. He talked about how knowing you learn from failure doesn’t change how it makes you feel and also stressed that failure is in the eye of the beholder as what constitutes failure varies from one person to the other. Elizabeth Day’s Podcast on “How to fail” was highly recommended. Andy used his own experiences as examples and encouraged attendees to do the same in pairs.

Andy went on to discuss how failure can transform into something positive once you have had the opportunity to process it as well as how unprocessed failure can be damaging especially when it may be beyond our control.
  • Failure will happen
  • It is just part of the journey
  • Putting pressure on ourselves is damaging

He talked about how fear of failure can lead to risk aversion in libraries and librarians thereby resulting in caretaker management. Just doing the same and going through the motions.
  • Not taking risks can be dangerous
  • Not Innovating
  • Not responding to user needs
Andy then presented on Libraries and the Ux where the Target is for a prototype and not a permanent solution. In this, failure is part of the process and you only invest after testing it out and adapting it. You failure fast but fail cheap as not a lot is put into the prototype. The idea generation process involves embracing failure and you may come across some common discouraging remarks when it is not embraced such as "that’s silly", "that’s too expensive", "that’ll never work", "we tried that in 20....". It is important to be creative and imaginative and individual ideation is often more productive than groups. 

Some tips on reacting to work-based failure 
  • Consider how people’s failure affect their feelings in your teams
  • Verbalise that failure is ok
  • Eradicate culture of blame
  • Emphasise teamwork
  • Encourage innovation and risk
  • Stop overreacting to failures
  • Try to be more realistic about what is at stake and behave accordingly
  • Recognise that we are all different with different abilities and strengths
  • Be honest about your own failures. Share them and you will be respected for it
The day was wrapped up with dinner at the Bistrot Pierre. On day two, Tom Roper from Brighton and Sussex NHS Library and Knowledge Service, and Eli Harris from Bodleian Health Care Libraries led a presentation on Imposter Syndrome. It started off with what attendees consider "imposter syndrome" to be and went on to offer recommendations on what can be done about it. 
  • Talk about your feelings
  • Sharing feeling with others
  • Role play
  • Make statements of affirmation
  • Keep a log of big and small successes
  • Get support from a mentor
  • Talk in pairs about your impostor syndrome experiences
  • Clear induction plans
  • Clarity of roles and expectation from staff
  • Share your own impostor experiences
  • Provide opportunities for informal support like buddying system
Alan Fricker from King's College London gave a Lightening Talk on a some of his own experiences and what he learnt. It centered on making adequate preparation before undergoing projects. Dr Anne Llewellyn, Deputy Director in Student and Library Services at Teeside University, talked about how challenges facing the Library sector affect what we do and the impact of such uncertainty on staff well being. She noted that change impacts on our ability to feel safe and comfortable but should prompt us to take advantage of opportunities to innovate and put libraries at the heart of the academic environment to provide a sense of value

Caroline Plaice from the University of West of England gave a Lightening Talk on successes and failures experienced when offering coaching support. Samantha Gavaghan from Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust also gave a Lightening Talk on the challenges faced in providing outreach for mental health over a wide geographical area. The final presentation was on "Anxiety" by Olivia Remes from the University of Cambridge. She stressed the importance of recognising anxiety as a risk factor and the impact on the individual and society at large. She also offered some examples of coping strategies and recommends picking out one or two strategies to do consistently for 3 weeks 
  • Feeling like you are in control of your life by doing what gives you more control
  • Forgive yourself. Don’t be self critical. Be kind to yourself. You wouldn’t want a friend who criticises you all the time.
  • Finding meaning and purpose in life – do something with someone else in mind
  • Mindfulness meditation – Head space app 
  • Don’t focus on the worst 
  • Wait to worry – dedicate a slot time to worry each day 
  • Gratitude – focus on what went well and why they happened 
She also referred attendees to a ted talk which goes into more detail on the topic.
I completed my day with a tour of the recently refurshed Teesside University Library which proved o be a season themed, diverse space with 24/7 access and offers quieter spaces as you move up the building.

I went to this conference prepared to reflect on my failures and adjust how I respond to them. The conference stretched my mind to consider how I react to the failure of others both personally and professionally.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

GDPR and #HIW2018

I was certain that after May the 25th there would be a barrage of lawsuits arising from who did what without consent. I'm relieved that the upheaval has subsided but the question remains IS IT REALLY OVER? The answer would be no. It was never meant to be a quick fix but a change in culture and therefore a regular practice. This much was reiterated at the GDPR training session I attended at Stewart House, London on the 2nd of July. Naomi Korn was a breath of fresh air and it was a relief to have no PowerPoint slides in sight.

The session consisted of case studies, question and answer sessions and covered the interplay between data protection and the GDPR changes. This extended to the need for the speed of the regulatory framework to catch up with the speed of technological change in order to discourage the commercialization of personal data. We also discussed how to collect and process personal data and what action plans we should have in place for our services. The highlights of the session for me were the six principles of data protection and the six grounds for lawful processing.

 Lawful, fair and transparent
Specific, explicit and legitimate
Legal basis
Adequate, relevant and not excessive
Vital interests
Accurate and kept up to date
Public interest
Kept for no longer than necessary
Legitimate interest
Processed securely

It is important to distinguish the need for consent from the other lawful grounds as it is the only one that requires the data subject to actively opt-in. An interesting note was that although individual personal emails constitute personal data, corporate emails do not so it's worth making that distinction.  If you use a system which creates a handicap to compliance, change it. It needs to work for you and not the other way around. There were handouts provided and references to other helpful sources. There's a lot of technical jargon muddying waters in some sources which in no way allays my concern of how to equip frontline staff, particularly Library Assistants, with the skills to ensure they comply with the regulations in their day to day practice. I have found some comfort in the content and straightforward language at which I have now shared with my team in the hopes of filling in the blanks and making the transition a gradual process.

I am in no way a GDPR expert but I did have some notions confirmed and some misconceptions  corrected. I left more confident than I arrived with an action plan sure to make me the least favourite person on my team for a few weeks. I'll need to soften 'em up with lots of chocolate and biscuits. My take home has been the need for experienced information professionals to apply a degree of reasonableness (Naomi's description) i.e. ask ourselves what we consider to be a reasonable expectation from the person who has entrusted us with their personal data. Some things will clearly be right and others will clearly be wrong whilst there will be grey areas. I say stay as far away as you can from what doesn't fall into the clearly right category and you should be fine.

It's also Health Information Week #HIW2018 and I have been tasked with organizing and promoting events. It happens to coincide with NHS70 and I used the opportunity to team up with the Trust Charity who are celebrating with Big7Tea parties. They have cake and we have sources of good quality health information. It's a match made in heaven. I also put together a looped PowerPoint for our local library to promote health and digital literacy, healthy lifestyles, mindfulness, and relaxation on their big screen. Thanks to the templates on the Knowledge for Healthcare blog, I also tailored some posters and promotional materials.

In other news, the team that brought you the Development Needs Analysis is getting back together. Yes, you heard right. Team DNA is back. Commitment, gluttons for punishment or just missing each other (I think quite a bit of the latter LOL). We'll be working together over the next couple of months to get the next survey for the development needs of the NHS Library workforce ready for next autumn. It's gonna be great.

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Presenting at a conference

It's been a while since my last post. A hectic couple of months but I see the light at the end of the tunnel. I won't bore you with the ins and out outs of what I've been up to but I will try to do better. I've been talking about presenting at a conference for years and tried my hand at it again. I feel it wasn't brilliant but practice makes perfect and you'll never know unless you try. I presented our in-house request management system alongside my colleague at the 2018 Interlend Conference in Birmingham. The original attraction was that the conference was local but it wasn't until our proposal was accepted that I realized I hadn't really expected it to be. The prospect was quite scary. On the 25th June when I attended, there were over 80 delegates and unsurprisingly only one other NHS delegate aside from my colleague and myself. Unfortunately, due to service needs I was only able to stay for the keynote speech and my presentation.

The Keynote speaker was CILIP President, Ayub Khan, and he talked about "Rethinking the Library" address how user needs have changes and the responsiveness of libraries. I especially liked that he discussed the need to demonstrate value based on user benefits and feedback rather than just statistics. What I took away from the conference was priceless especially as I was there for only a short time. By sharing the system with colleagues from other sectors, I was able to see it from their perspective and access other development needs and ways in which the system might be evaluated. I'm grateful for the opportunity to test the waters at Interlend and I can confirm that there is probably nothing more daunting than speaking to a room full of information professionals. I am not quite ready to try conference presenting again but I'm certainly not one to encourage others to do anything I am unwilling to. Now that I have faced the fear and crossed the bridge, I'll see where the road takes me.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Network Day for Band 5 & 6 NHS Librarians

I attended this network day held on the 30th of November, 2017 at St. Chads Court in Birmingham which was originally aimed at Librarians in the Midlands but it was refreshing to see Librarians from as far away as Essex in attendance. I found myself  agreeing to facilitate a Knowledge Cafe which turned out to be a valuable experience because to be frank I had no experience as a participant or a facilitator. Within 24 hours, I read and watched everything I could on Knowledge Cafes and felt confident that I could do justice. Catherine McLaren started off the day with some housekeeping and a run through what the content of the day would be. She also introduced Clare Edwards and myself as co-facilitators for the day. Participants were asked to write their expectations from the session on post-its and put it on a board. These were put together as themes and ranged from gaining insights from others to learning about social media.
The first session was the Knowledge Cafe led by me
What went right
I started off by asking if anyone had ever participated or led a Knowledge Cafe to which I got a few hands up. I then had those with the experience to share what the concept was about and it was pretty much spot on. "A knowledge cafe is an opportunity  to bring a group of people together to have an open, creative conversation on a topic of mutual interest. It is meant to be informal, unstructured, fun, social and time-bound. It gives participants the opportunity to share ideas, observe & reflect, tease out information, and gain a deeper understanding".

With the concept thus explained, I supplied the topic for the Knowledge Cafe "What makes a good library website or intranet page?"

The participants were then asked to split into four groups and with 16 participants, there was an even split of four people per group.

I then requested for 2 volunteers from each group and informed the participants that there will be 3 rounds of 15 minutes each. At the end of each round, my volunteers would move to the next table and begin the conversation again. At the end of the 3rd round all participants would reassemble as one large group for an exchange of ideas. This worked really well and there was a real buzz in the room.

What went wrong
At the end of the first round, it became obvious the volunteers hadn't realized they needed to move in their pairs. I had to clarify this and in hindsight should have mentioned it earlier.

Despite trying to stay in the background (I remained seated as much as I could), the buzz in the room seemed to die once participants reassembled into one big group. I had to intervene and elicit contributions but when the contributions came they seemed to be directed at me rather than the group which was not the intention. In hindsight, when the group reassembled I would have reminded them that the segment was the same discussion as before but as one big group and withdrawn myself to the back of the room.

After a quick break, there was a conversation on actions participants planned to take based on what they had learnt during the Knowledge Cafe, who they might need to discuss it with, areas to be changed or developed for quick wins, and how they planned to review what they had done. Participants shared the intention to follow up on ideas such as having Library staff names and pictures on the site and minimizing discrepancies in information on the intranet and internet pages.

The next session was facilitated by Catherine McLaren and it covered how we might measure the impact of social media. She shared some basic information of the average Twitter account in the West Midlands to give a feel for what the statistics were. A very interesting conversation then ensued on what actually constitutes impact of Twitter, tweets, following, followers, likes etc. I shared that I often link tweets to the Trust Twitter handle in the hope of reaching more staff and considered it a win if it was re-tweeted on the Trust account. Although there was no consensus on what would be the answer, the session definitely got everyone thinking. It got me thinking about how many followers of the Library account were actually Library users and therefore if tweets were reaching as many people as we thought.

At this point, we broke for lunch and an opportunity to network.
We returned for a session on Mentoring & Coaching led by Catherine McLaren where the attributes of each one were highlighted and usefulness discussed. There was also a sharing stories session where Liz Askew shared about co-presenting with a student nurse at the library induction for new student nurses. The student nurse shared her positive experience on the benefits of using library services and encouraged the new student cohort to make use of it too. I shared about my experience of professional development as a personal investment. I talked about how I commit personal time to make the most of opportunities, share goals with my line manager so that expectations can be managed, identify support from outside my organization, keep informed by subscribing to blogs and mailing lists, engage in the wider profession especially via Twitter chats, join free groups such as EAHIL & Health Libraries Group and reflect on my experiences which comes in really handy when it is time to revalidate.

After a short break, Clare Edwards facilitated a discussion on what the future holds for Library and Knowledge Services in the NHS. The contributions on this topic resulted in themes such as streamlining services and the effects it would have on demonstrating impact, mergers and more. Participants were asked to feedback on what went well and what could be improved at future events. I thought the day was well put together which gave participants the opportunity to brainstorm away from the hustle and bustle of daily service demands. I learnt a lot and established new relationships.
I have also received feedback that my revalidation for 2017 has been approved so I am really looking forward to a relaxed Christmas. Feliz Navidad and see you in the new year.