Future Proofing the Profession – UHMLG Summer Residential

Each year, UHMLG (the University Health and Medical Librarians Group) hosts two events, one of which is a summer residential over two half-days. This year’s, the 10th anniversary, was held in Brighton, and for the first time included NHS librarians among the attendees.

It was one of those events that you just have a feeling when you sit down, that it’s going to be stimulating and really applicable.

The presentation slides are available, as well as a Storify of the tweets using the event’s hashtag #uhmlg17.

Brighton Pier

Among talks ranging from the NHS workforce to the primary school computing curriculum, e-learning to the future for Academic libraries, several themes emerged that I want to reflect on.


Talks from primary school teachers and a school librarian really highlighted how little I know of what our students are learning before they enter university. My mother is a teacher, so I am a little embarrassed to admit that!

  • Computing for Primary in the modern age – Adam Young, Headteacher & Taryn Jackson, Curriculum and Lower KS2 Phase Leader, ST George the Martyr CE Primary School

This was an excellent presentation summarising the computing curriculum, challenges of the digital world and implications for children and teachers. The curriculum is much more in-depth and advanced than many of us expected. For example, KS1 are expected to learn what algorithms are, and how to use technology safely. KS2 design, write and debug programs, and learn to understand a computer network.

The curriculum aims to prepare children for the job market, many of whom will be entering jobs that do not yet exist. As an audience member commented, this means there will be a sea-change when these children arrive at university.

Slips of paper with Primary age comupting curriculum

  • Crossing the road without a lollipop lady: exploring ways to navigate information traffic in a secondary school library – Amy Icke, Digital Learning Platform Manager, The Girls’ Day School Trust

Amy’s role supports a school where pupils are aged 3-18, so she sees the whole educational journey up to when pupils leave for university or, increasingly, the world of work. This was particularly interesting for us as an audience to see what happens directly before university. For example, Amy finds that students see books as more weighty than journals, which is useful knowledge for our own first-year inductions.

Most school librarians are expected to teach but so few have formal teaching training. This had a few sympathetic nods from the audience. She worries some skills are potentially falling through the gaps, which are assumed the children know as ‘digital natives’. Amy delivers information literacy training as part of her role, much of which is project-based. For example, she has recently been involved in an extended essay-writing projects with Year 9s and Year 11s. She uses the opportunity to teach them how to find and evaluate information, library resources, and plagiarism.

  • Amy uses a John Green video on plagiarism, about a quote on Instagram misattributed to his novel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVN9nenCGwM. John Green is a well-known author of Young Adult novels and a prominent Youtuber. I think this real-world example from a popular figure in teens’ worlds is a great idea.
  • Many students understand journals to be less weighty, seeing them more as magazines than scholarly publications. Amy suggested New Scientist and The Economist are a good way in to explain what journals are.

Peer support and networks

It was great being in a room full of people doing similar jobs and working in similar library services, which can be quite different from subject support roles for other disciplines. Medicine has its idiosyncrasies.

For a Peer assist workshop, we were asked to individually write down a challenge, and as groups discussed possible approaches. This was an interesting discussion, though many of the challenges came without enough context to provide solid solutions.

The organisers clearly put in a lot of work to make sure the programme is relevant and wide-ranging. Several people I met said they attend every year because it’s such a useful group and event. I will definitely be attending next year, not least because I won a free place as the 100th new member of UHMLG! You can see photos of me and the other winner Diana holding some cake here.

What have I missed?

The presentations looked at both Higher Education and NHS issues. Having moved between these two sectors in the last couple of years, I experienced a strange feeling of limbo! I heard about projects started in the NHS just before I left that are now being implemented, important HE issues I need to catch up on (for example, TEF has been introduced between me leaving HE and joining again!), and back to the NHS for future developments in Health Education! One day, I’ll feel up to speed… hopefully?

A beautiful city for a conference

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