Designing and delivering reflective reading groups

When you’ve put a lot of work into something, it’s sometimes hard to accept when it’s not the runaway success you hoped. My reflective reading groups for nurses have been hit and miss. When they go well, it’s elating, and everyone agrees it’s a great thing to pursue. When no one turns up despite six bookings, it is disheartening to have put in hours of preparation for nothing.

However… Overall? It’s been a valuable learning experience, and I am glad I have stuck with it. As I said before, when it goes well, I feel over the moon. And even if people book but no one comes, they at least know the library exists when they might not have before.

So what are reflective reading groups?

As of April 2016, nurses and midwives undertake revalidation to maintain their registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). One criteria of the revalidation portfolio is evidence of 35 hours of continuing professional development (CPD), of which 20 hours must be participatory. To support this, I introduced reflective reading groups for nurses; roughly one-hour guided discussion to reflect on an article with other nurses.

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There’s a lot of preparation involved. I use the SRLA Tool in Collins et al (2015) Using reflection on your reading for revalidation, which I discovered from LIS-MEDICAL, to structure the discussion questions. The article is emailed in advance along with some questions to prompt reflection. I try to pick articles that can apply to a range of nursing areas; such as telehealth, apps or compassionate care.

Although I send the article in advance, not everyone will have read it or read it in full, so the first ten minutes or so are spent running over the key points. This works as an icebreaker too, since those who are more reluctant have some time while I’m talking. The discussion is more about the themes of the article and how it might apply to nursing practice, rather than a critical appraisal of the paper.


My role is a facilitator, so I encouraged the discussion to be led by the nurses, but guided by myself with prompt questions or follow-up. Sometimes the conversation dies down, especially if it’s a small group, so having a facilitator is valuable here.

The groups have been a lot of mental effort, not just in the group itself but with the preparation of articles and reflection. As a non-expert, reading articles on nursing and thinking of discussion points has been challenging and interesting. I haven’t read articles with such scrutiny since my Masters degree, so although it’s sometimes demanding, it’s a good brain workout.


Of the six groups I’ve scheduled, five have gone ahead, but two of those had only one person turn up. More people were booked to come but didn’t show on the day, so it’s difficult to rearrange in that circumstance. It can be disheartening when so much preparation and time has gone into it, but it’s important not to take it personally – nurses are incredibly busy people, and the feedback for the groups that have gone ahead is positive, so it’s not me!

The hope is that we’ll attract new people to the library, who may not have used the service before, by aligning with a national change.

Personally, I have learnt a lot about developing a program from scratch, promoting it, and evaluating it. I’ve had to tweak things, and deal with the unexpected, but I’m proud despite it occasionally not quite working.

Let’s get this library show on the road

Over the last two weeks, the library team has been zipping up and down the M4, visiting our Trust’s hospitals for our Library Roadshow.

Working for a community health NHS Trust means our staff (and therefore our library users and potential library users) are spread out all over the county. We put a lot of effort into outreach activities, which has really paid off, and the latest of these was our Roadshow. We wanted to physically represent the library outside our base hospital to raise the profile of the service. In hindsight, we wouldn’t have chosen the week we all needed to have our annual reviews!

RJ at Roadshow

Ready to roadshow

We kept things fairly simple, as we’re a small team so we don’t have a huge capacity. Two library staff went to each Roadshow date, taking place over lunchtime, with a display stand, leaflets and freebies. Strawberries were a lovely, slightly unusual (and seasonal!) freebie. We also ran a prize draw for a £20 Amazon voucher – entry was just filling out any of our forms (registration, current awareness bulletins, comments slip). One of our library assistants printed out new registration forms on purple paper, so we could identify any that came back to us afterwards, which was a very smart idea!

Of the five dates, I manned two, both outside the hospitals’ receptions/cafes which was a good location for ‘passing trade’. I made a conscious effort not to just list everything the library does, instead focusing on one or two things that might pique interest for particular types of staff. For example, the way nurses revalidate changes earlier this year, so I could promote my nurse reflective reading groups. Or if someone said they don’t have time to use the library, I talked about our literature searching service and that we can send items out in the internal post. Also just telling people about why we were doing a Roadshow worked well too – I hope it made people feel more included and valued.

I was unexpectedly fine with approaching people to chat. I put this down to having to drive to the venues. I’ve only been driving for about a year and I’m still a little nervous. But I’m too busy being nervous about driving to worry about public speaking! I just need to find something worse than driving to conquer my nerves on the road…

Top tips for a Library Roadshow

  • Don’t just list everything you offer. Focus on what’s particularly relevant to that member of staff and show them the benefits.
  • If your stand is over lunch, stealthily eat something throughout, or you’ll end up driving back hungry with a library assistant merrily chomping away in the passenger seat  😦
  • Keep your box of refill leaflets tidy, so you’re not rooting around under the table awkwardly while someone waits for a flyer on laptop loans.
  • Use coloured paper for forms your handing out for a simple way to track them coming back in afterwards.
  • Relax and be yourself – people will respond to that and will be more inclined to stop and chat.

Professional reading for CPD

newspapersWhen I was working on my Chartership portfolio back in 2013, most of the CPD activities I was doing were training courses, events and conferences. The idea of reading a journal article rarely occurred to me – I think I saw journal articles as too scholarly and remote. However, these days, I am attending much less training (I have gone for a quality over quantity approach, and it’s really working) and, looking back at my CPD log, am reading a lot more professional literature to keep myself up to date.

There was a #uklibchat the other day on mid-career directions. Although I’m still early on in my librarian career, perhaps this is an indicator of moving away from an immediate post-qualification compulsion to learn all the things.

It’s good to reflect on what I’ve learnt from reading the article, book or blog post, so in my CPD log I have a column for Learning outcomes, new knowledge, will I do things differently? and another for the skills gap it’s helping me to fill. I often try to map it against the Professional Knowledge and Skills Base (PKSB), which will help when putting my Revalidation portfolio together. But if it’s a particularly thought-provoking piece, you could write your reflections down into a Word document – perfect evidence for Chartership or Revalidation.

(By the way, the converse of this is a sheet in my CPD log where I can write down any skills gaps I notice, and note down ideas to fill it)

Some examples of my professional reading lately, in case you’re interested or nosey:

Professional reading Learning outcomes, new knowledge, will I do things differently? Skills gap
Collins, G. et al (2015) Using reflection on reading for revalidation, Nursing Times, 111: 23/24, p. 14-16 SRLA reflection framework. I will be using it for nurse revalidation reflection club – reflection model to structure club Asked to start Nurse revalidation reflective reading club
Dovi, G (2015) Empowering change with traditional or virtual journal clubs. Nursing Management, 46(1):46-50 Help with structuring possible journal club, including virtually. Eg ‘How participants can prepare for a meeting’, overcoming barriers Asked to start Nurse revalidation reflective reading club (possibly including via Skype)
Wright, K, Golder, S, & Lewis-Light, K (2015) ‘What value is the CINAHL database when searching for systematic reviews of qualitative studies?’ Systematic Reviews, 4:104 CINAHL has good index terms for qualitative research and methods, and in some cases retrieved unique results. As a result, I will use CINAHL for qualitative literature searches, even if it isn’t necessarily a nursing or allied health related topic I could have more knowledge of the systematic review process. Skills gap relating to carrying out searches for systematic reviews
Ebenezer, C, Bath, P, Pinfield, S, (2014) ‘Access to and use of Web 2.0 and social media applications within the NHS in England: the role and impact of organisational culture, information governance, and communications policy It will inform my Twitter training PKSB 12.4 Social media and collaborative tools
The non-designer’s design book, Robin Williams Useful for designing eLearning, promotional material and ideas to pass onto other library staff involved in creating eg posters, leaflets. I was familiar with some of the principles; this book has lots of examples which will help me get ideas Graphic design


Compared to last year, 2015 has been low-key in terms of CPD. Last year I was working towards Chartership, and this year I took a purposeful step back from doing lots of library stuff. 2015 has looked different to 2014, but as with last year, I again only have 3 days of annual leave to last me to April.

Library stuff

My Twitter training is as popular as ever. I also started running reflective reading groups for nurses. Unfortunately, the turnout was low, but I have made adjustments for the next groups which will be running through 2016.

We’ve been putting a lot of effort into outreach within the organisation, and it’s wonderful to be seeing some reward for our efforts.

Personal achievements

My biggest achievement in 2015, however, was passing my driving test. I am very glad to have my Saturday morning lie-in back.

And not only did I learn to drive a car this year, I also got to drive a skidoo during my trip round Iceland.


One of my resolutions was to rock climb outdoors, and this September I visited Portland in Dorset with some climbing friends. I climbed a few sport routes and even led one. Scary, but good scary.


Searching and Beyond: The Librarian’s role in systematic reviews

This a day-long course on the systematic review (SR) process and the role/opportunities for librarians and information professionals was just what I was looking for. Knowledge of SRs is something I’d recognised as a skills gap, so I jumped at the chance to attend this course in Winchester last month.

There was a surprising amount of interaction considering this wasn’t a hands-on workshop, and the time passed quickly – it never felt like a lecture. Four members of ESMI (Evidence Synthesis & Modelling for Health Improvement) based at the University of Exeter took us through an overview of how SRs are undertaken and how info skills fit into a SR, including searching, reference management and screening.

What are SRs?

“A systematic review attempts to identify, appraise and synthesize all the empirical evidence that meets pre-specified eligibility criteria to answer a given research question. Researchers conducting systematic reviews use explicit methods aimed at minimizing bias, in order to produce more reliable findings that can be used to inform decision making.” This definition is taken from the Cochrane Library website, an organisation which produces SRs and which I regularly refer to when searching for evidence.

SRs are at the top of the traditional hierarchy of evidence. Although the hierarchy is not a perfect measure, the idea is that SRs limit bias, aim for high reliability (replicable with the same results) and carry more weight.

Systematic review vs Literature review?

Both provide summaries of the literature, but there are important differences. The question, protocol, and process of selecting and evaluating studies, among other things, should be stated clearly in an SR, whereas a literature review has less emphasis on transparency and reliability.

The role of the info pro

Looking back over my information pack from the day, I see that two of the objectives were “confidence in your existing skills” and “Learn new skills”. On reflection, I am surprised how unintimidating the speakers made the whole thing. Yes, SRs are a huge undertaking, but I do have confidence in my skills and can see myself adapting to the SR process.

Understandably, searching is the primary way information professionals are involved in SRs. I know I have definitely done scoping searches for our staff in the past. But we can be involved in other less obvious parts of the process, such as screening results for inclusion/exclusion. The speakers showed how they use reference management software to screen, which is something I’d never considered. For a large scale literature search, I might now use free software like Mendeley or Zotero.

A lot of the attendees were healthcare librarians like myself – involved in literature searching for clinicians and researchers, but not currently involved in SRs, and possibly not in a position to be. SRs can take 12 months at least for a good one (roughly) so not something to get involved in lightly, but a lot of the methodology and processes are applicable on a smaller scale.

The course really clarified SRs and our role within them, I highly recommend it (and in fact there is another one running in Exeter in January!)

Designing Twitter training for the terrified – the basics of Twitter for professional development

Get Tweeting - Twitter training for professional development

Get Tweeting – Twitter training for professional development

I’ve been running Twitter workshops for a year now, and it’s become a standard part of our library training offer. Over the past year, I’ve had time to refine and experiment with the training, and I’ve learned a lot.

I wouldn’t call myself a social media expert, but I’ve been on Twitter a long time (since 2008), and most importantly I was the only one of the library staff on it!

It’s not a traditional library training course, but since using Twitter for professional development and networking involves finding and sharing information, it seemed like a logical extension for us. We’d just set up our own profile too, so we had to preach what we practiced! We hoped these workshops would reach people who may not normally use the library, and we were excited to see the bookings for the first dates come in thick and fast.

The 1.5 hour training is aimed at novice level and covers the basic features of Twitter, setting up a profile, and how to ‘tweet well’. The workshops are an opportunity to find out about Twitter and how it works in a ‘safe’ space. Many people come with the express purpose to keep up with new technologies and their younger patients (or their kids).

I usually have about 10 minutes wiggle-room – either for continued exploration on Twitter, or for discussion around privacy, more advanced features, recommended accounts, etc. A month after the training I send a feedback form via surveymonkey. The reason I wait so long, is to ask an important indicator of the training’s success – have you used Twitter since?

The workshops have been a great way to raise awareness of the library service and get into people’s ‘peripheral vision’.  I’ve helped the school nursing team get their service onto social media, I’ve presented at team meetings, and I’ve brought non-library-users into the library for training.

Some challenges

Initially the training was monthly, but I found we got short notice cancellations and occasional no-shows (which is fine but obviously not ideal). So I’ve recently switched to trialing every other month, but I’ve now got waiting lists. This is something I’ll be evaluating to attempt the best balance.

A huge worry is the public nature of Twitter, and the difficulties of professional boundaries with service-users. Unless your profile is set to private, anyone can follow you on Twitter, which is a difficulty for those healthcare professionals using it. It has come up a lot in discussions in my workshops, so if you’re thinking of running some it’s worth brushing up on these issues and having some discussion points prepared.

Overall, the training has been a great success!

What I do: A presentation about being a health librarian

My former workplace does this great programme of continuing professional development (CPD) activities for their staff. Every Friday morning the library desks close for an hour so the staff can attend talks, visits or workshops. I was invited back to talk about my role now as a healthcare librarian, and I was very happy to oblige.

Hospital libraries, like other special libraries, can be a bit hidden, so it was nice to talk about what I do with academic library professionals. I thought I’d share and amended version here too, as it’s coming up to 2 years that I’ve been here, so seems a good time to reflect on my role.

I’m the librarian in a small healthcare library in an NHS Mental Health and Community Trust. We do have a physical library, which is where I’m based, but a lot of the work we do is done remotely. In terms of library stock, it’s a few print journals, mainly books on psychiatry and psychology, things like medical textbooks, handbooks, books on leadership and management, or books on types of therapy. We also have a bibliotherapy collection and a wellbeing collection. In terms of e-resources, it’s an interesting setup. We purchase them in two ways. Firstly, locally bought stuff for each library. Secondly, there is a National Core Content collection, purchased and negotiated by Health Education England.

The purpose of the library is to support evidence-based practice in the Trust. That means helping our Trust staff keep up to date with the latest practice guidelines and research, supporting them in their studies, and saving them time by taking on a lot of that searching.

The main parts of my role…


Every two weeks we have Finding the Evidence Workshops; a 2.5 hour workshop on searching and using databases. I also run Twitter training on how to use it for professional development and networking. I designed this from scratch, so I’m excited it’s been well received. In November I’m starting something completely new and running reflective reading groups for nurses to support their revalidation when they renew registration with the Nursing & Midwifery Council.

Literature searching

Staff might need evidence to decide between two different interventions and the want to know which is more effective, or maybe they want an overview of the research on a particular condition, or they want to know the official guidelines for doing something.

You get to research all sorts of topics. Something I really liked about working in university libraries was helping students research for their dissertations, and getting to hear about all the different topics they were looking into. But searching the literature for people was a big difference for me coming from an academic library.

Some of the other particularly interesting searches have been on:

  • The effect of stress, anxiety and depression on the voice
  • Impact of employment on the wellbeing of people with a mental health diagnosis
  • Is mood instability in children and young people a predictor for later bipolar disorder?


It’s online delivery of training, so for example tutorials teaching you about information governance, or fire safety, etc. eLearning is cost-effective because people can do it in their own time at their own pace, rather than getting everyone in a room together at the same time. I’ve been designing e-learning courses for departments, including a couple for Pharmacy – for example, safe prescribing on antibiotics. I don’t write the course myself, but I design how the information is delivered as a course.

Current awareness

It is email bulletins of newly published research on a variety of topics. We have mental health specialist topics and ones which cover a broader range of healthcare, including:

  • eating disorders
  • electroconvulsive therapy
  • mental health law and ethics
  • health promotion
  • black & minority ethnic patients
  • nutrition
  • and approximately 65 more…

Challenges / main differences

One of the biggest challenges coming to the role was adjusting to a new and very different organisational culture, which is much more hierarchical than I’ve previously encountered. Academic libraries I’ve worked in have tended to have a bit more of a flatter hierarchy, with groups of staff at the same grade. The difference is something that really struck me starting in this role.

The pace is also very different. There isn’t the peaks and troughs of term-time and vacation. It did seem to get a bit quieter in summer, because people go on holiday, or we do have students on placements so their courses stop, but mostly we go along at the same pace.

The geographic spread of the Trust is a challenge. We’re working on outreach to our community staff and different sites, and encouraging increased physical use of the library.