This is a shot of me surrounded by some of my team at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital (RSH) where we supply library services for students from KeeleUniversity, StaffordshireUniversity and staff in the Shropshire health community. The building is only about 6 years old and most of the computers are on the Staffs Uni network, so our users don’t have the frustrations of NHS computers (unlike my staff who are still on XP, Office 2003 and IE7).
I also manage another team at Princess Royal Hospital, Telford (PRH). The library here is within the hospital and will shortly be reconfigured as part of a project to increase clinical ward space.
Akin to a swan, everything works fairly smoothly, whilst underneath we are badgering away to conquer the challenges of a very complex funding model (which is even worse since the demise of ring-fencing for NHS library services) and the limitations/frustrations of IT. Despite the much predicted demise of libraries, we are still seeing increased use and April was our busiest month since we opened.
The Old Librarian
Maybe that should be “mature”, but it does feel like I’ve been around libraries for ever. I have had jobs outside the profession and I might mention these during the week (I used to manage a bar on the Isle of Mull). However, my first library job was in 1979 at the British Library in Boston Spa. We weren’t called “librarians”, in fact the “librarians” were quite snotty about us, but we were essential. In my first week, Maggie Thatcher became Prime Minister and there was a cheer from the ladies working the photocopiers and I thought “Oh dear, this might be a mistake”. Anyway life continued with the distinction that we were possibly the only thing that wasn’t closed down or sold off.
Anyway, I gratefully absorbed the training that BLDSC offered as a foundation to greater things. I went on to work in a commercial library (healthcare and pharmaceuticals), a government library (MOD Research Agency), a metropolitan library service (Leeds and its 56 libraries), a county library service (Cornwall, the most beautiful and wettest place I have ever known) and two NHS libraries (Milton Keynes and now Shrewsbury & Telford). In between all these libraries, I was also the first Director of the Thackray Medical Museum in Leeds and Theatre Manager at Hereford Hospital (the one with lasers and scalpels rather than actors, although there was always a lot of drama).
I might be old, but I still have my head in the blue sky. I am always looking at how we can make use of emerging technology. We have purchased iPads and other “alternative platforms” so that we can ensure our staff know how to assist our users and also that our services work in the places our users want them to. Our website http://library.sath.nhs.uk/ works everywhere except IE6.
We’ve just replaced our very old self-service machine with a new one. It’ll be great once we iron out a couple of issues, such as taking money… I’m sure that 3M and OCLC will sort it (did I say that I’m an optimist, an endangered species in the NHS).
Last week we did a presentation on using Twitter for our Workforce Directorate Away(half)day. It went really well and prompted a lot of discussion even though the # and @ keys wouldn’t work on the keyboard, which made it a bit of a challenge!
Dave usually tweets as @davethebird