Friday, 12 November 2010

Updates to the UHL CL website

I've been very slack lately in keeping the Clinical Librarian Bibliography up to date, and I hadn't (until this morning) added links to the presentations from the Study Day in October either. However, I have done it now, and everything should be there to view.

I do worry about the bibliography, I wonder how useful it is, and if I am managing to capture everything. Thankfully, many people are happy to blow their own trumpet & let me know what they've published! I am grateful for that. I do have a lot of alerts set up through HDAS and PubMed, but I know I miss things.

At UHL we use articles about clinical librarianship as inspiration for what we could achieve, and as evidence to pass to our managers to prove our value. Do others do this?

We leads me to wonder if we should publish more, and if so, what? The day job is busy enough keeping on top of the searches and the current awareness, as well as the admin tasks we all have. Do we also have a responsibility to be writing and publishing and practising what we preach on evidence based practice?

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

eBooks Study Day

I was asked to speak at the National eBooks Study Day at Christie Hospital in Manchester last month. I was slightly surprised to be asked, since I don't think I'm any kind of expert in this area, and I did try to foist the "opportunity" onto my colleague Andrew! But I ended up doing it anyway, and found the whole day to be really interesting.

We recently purchased iPads using money generated by hosting external events, and we've been looking at ways to use them in our Clinical Librarian work, and in the wider library setting. With eBooks however, it's quite tricky, since Apple don't allow DRM software on the iPad or iPhone. In my talk, I looked at the issues with using iPads and eBook readers from the point of view of a Clinical Librarian. I had to be honest, my main issue is that I rarely use books at all, whether they're electronic or print. Ideally, what I want to access is clinical summary databases for quick & dirty answers in a clinical meeting or on a ward round, I don't want to be logging in to an eBook provider and searching within individual books. My research reminded me that we did some work on PDA devices some years ago that allowed for localisation of the resources and searching across the information loaded onto them, which were very helpful.

I must admit I'm yet to fully get to grips with everything on offer through the iPad, and to make real use of it on the wards, but there is a huge amount of potential out there and doing it is the only way I will learn. I'd be interested to know what, if any, apps other CLs are using, and if you are making use of eBooks in your work.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Charging for literature searches - from discussion lists

Another topic of interest covered in the discussion lists. This one was brilliantly summarised by Sarah Gardner of Kingsmill Hospital:

Thank you very much to all who replied to my query about charging for lit searching. A lot of people were interested to know what I found out, some had ideas or alternative systems; a few people had had experience of charging but no-one responded who currently does so. Opinions were expressed on the desirability or otherwise of charging. Here is an compilation rather than a true summary of the responses, so apologies for the length!:

"If charges are made by time taken to do the search, then it could be possible to charge people for very few results and a short search but with plenty of hits would be cheaper"
"There is the national work that is underway on costing library services Linda Ferguson and David Copsey are leading on this so this might enable you to actually cost each literature search"

"Our approach is to limit the number of databases searched or time spent searching, as well as to limit who does what search (see table below). This information is included on our request forms. However, we have found out that the majority of our searches are for patient care so they generally involve one of the 2 professional librarians ... which means they can easily spend a large proportion of their time searching. This is where we have come a little unstuck....!
Guidelines for searching
The extent of the literature search and the amount of time spent will be guided by the search purpose, and the number of references required by the user. It is not practical to lay down precise limits; however, the following guidelines should be used:
Searches to support college assignments will be limited to 1 database or 2 hours searching time, whichever is more appropriate;
Searches to support presentations/lectures or interviews will be limited to 3 hrs searching time.
If staff are looking for information to give to patients/relatives, searches will be limited to 1 or 2 good quality web sites, such as EQUIP ( or Patients UK (
Searches to support professional development will be limited to a maximum of 2 relevant databases.
Requests for information to support patient care, research and the production of guidelines and protocols require more detailed searches and will not be restricted to a limited number of sources. However, searches should only be allocated a reasonable length of time. The library does not have the staffing to carry out systematic reviews.

Search purpose Staff grade
Information for patient / relative Library assistant
College assignments Library assistant
Presentations/lectures/interviews Depends on complexity and urgency.
Usually Library assistant.
Professional development Depends on complexity.
Professional librarian or library assistant.
Patient care. Professional librarian
Guidelines/protocols Professional librarian
Research Professional librarian

"Currently we don’t charge for literature searching, though users are advised that they should be doing their own searching and we provide training and e-learning for this (the e-learning is open access and available at – everyone can just log on as a guest and you’re welcome to use this or send the link to your users too!). We do however provide a literature searching service for specific work related projects (the majority of our enquiries come from people doing something academic). These are discussed on a case by case basis with the individual or service for suitability for the programme and we do a ‘mini systematic review’ style search for them. This can often be quite in-depth and time consuming – hence the ‘screening’! It’s a possibility that at some point we will charge departments for these in the future so I would be very interested in the replies to your enquiry"
Opinions / experiences
" Oh, I'd charge, if I thought I'd get away with it! Apart from anything else, it might make some of our users more appreciative of what's involved. Like so much in life, people sometimes only appreciate what they pay for....."

"We do not at present charge for any searches, no matter who asks or for what reason. Our view is that literature searching is a core service of the library, whether for patient care, research or for educational purposes, since we still see this as part of staff development. We do not at present envisage changing this policy. We are in the fortunate position of having a dedicated training/research library post but even without this, the library has always seen search requests as part of our remit, regardless of the reason for the search. We always give clinical requests priority"
"We charged for a few years and then decided not to in order to encourage requests. But it has made little difference. So I’m happy not to in the interests of encouraging library use, and to keep things simple. This relates to staff use rather than for students. We charged £2, which was just to make people think about what they were asking; we did not expect to make money on it. We did not advertise the change. But as we were having more contact by phone and email rather than in person, it became more difficult to manage the charging. We haven't done hundreds of them each year".
"We used to years ago but were told to stop it at an accreditation assessment.... but maybe the economic climate has changed again! It was a system I inherited when I started this job about 13 years ago, and I didn't feel in a position to question it. I think we charged £10 a search but it may have been £20 I can't remember. We charged for all searches, and I have to say looking back that even so we did more searches then than we do now - people manage themselves more now. However it was perceived by the accreditation panel as being a barrier to the knowledge base, and I have to say I tend to agree. I was happy to stop charging - it reduces the admin too. I think it would be difficult to charge only for some sorts of searches, as how would you identify which searches fell into the 'charging' category? We now only charge external (non-NHS) customers, and as far as I can recall we have never been asked to do a search for one of them".

"We don't charge for searches at the moment but if we find ourselves subject to budget cuts this is one of the services we will have to get our users to pay for".

"This is something we were thinking about as well. However, because of the way the healthcare libraries are funded and structured in Northern Ireland, it was felt to be inappropriate at the time. Not much help I know. However, times are changing and it may well be something that needs to be revisited here given the ever decreasing amount of resources available to us".

Monday, 1 November 2010

Literature search disclaimers

I know we all find disclaimers a bit tricky, so nice to know what the Canadian Health Librarian's discussion list came up with on this topic, from Sarah Vanstone in the Canadian Medical Association:

"I am sharing the information I gathered about literature search disclaimers. Here are some examples of disclaimers that were sent to me or that were found on the internet. I also include at the end, emails from librarians who do not currently use disclaimers.
regards, Sarah

Sarah Vanstone Manager, Information Services (Acting) Canadian Medical Association - L’Association Medicale Canadienne 1867 Alta Vista Dr., Ottawa, ON. K1G 5W8
613.731.8610 (2144) 800.663.7336 (2144) Fax: 613.731.2076
Examples of disclaimers and comments about disclaimers
Information is provided as a service by the Neil John Maclean Health Sciences Library. The information is gathered from standard medical sources and is not intended to provide comprehensive coverage of the subject. The information may not be applicable in any given clinical situation, nor is the selection of material intended to suggest a diagnosis or treatment modality. Results of any literature search are subject to the limitations of the database searched, consequently, some citations which are retrieved may not be directly relevant to the desired topic. The information is only valid as of the date and time conducted. From time to time inaccuracies may exist in a citation. The information is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or care from a physician or other health care professional. The Neil John Maclean Health Sciences Library is not responsible for consequential or incidental damages arising out of reliance on the information it gathers, and its liability is limited to the cost of services provided.
------------------------ Please note that this literature search is limited to the contents of the databases and there is no guarantee as to completeness.
Results of any literature search are subject to the limitations of the database searched. Consequently, some citations which are retrieved may not be directly relevant to the desired topic. Inaccuracies from time to time may exist with a citation and are beyond our control. While database searching does offer speed, online searches are not meant to represent a comprehensive treatment of a topic. The Prior Health Sciences Library is not responsible for consequential or incidental damages arising out of reliance on the information it gathers, and its liability is limited to the cost of services provided. ------------------------
The Briscoe Library staff makes every effort to provide accurate and complete database search results. However, we assume no liability for information retrieved, its interpretation, applications, or omissions. ----------------------
Disclaimer: The search is conducted using the resources available to the University of Queensland Library and within time limits. It is not intended to provide healthcare staff with either advice or recommendations on the management of individual patients. Nor does it provide medical advice to health consumers. The search results consist of bibliographic references only, not the full-text of original papers. These requests are stored in a database housed on protected UQ Library server. All requests will be kept confidential.
Exclusion of Liability: The results retrieved by this literature search are for the information of the requestor. Queen’s University or its employees are not liable for any errors or omissions, negligent or otherwise, in the search process or in the content of the database(s). The search results may not represent all the information available on the search topic, and the requestor agrees not to rely exclusively on the information retrieved by this search.
Please carefully examine the results and search terms used for the search. HHN Library Services makes every effort to provide accurate and complete database search results; however, it assumes no liability for the information retrieved, its interpretation its application or for omissions. Your input and subject expertise are invaluable in devising the search strategy and selecting appropriate resources. If after viewing the search result you would like to expand or refine the search, please contact Library Service to further discuss your request. Thank you.
…..while I do not put a disclaimer in the lit searches I perform here, I have, in a previous job as Information Specialist, put the following disclaimer after listing the databases searched.
Date: ___ Researcher: ________________________ Due to the limitation in scope of the databases, it is not certain that all relevant information was detected. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information provided, the researcher cannot be held liable for any loss of business revenue as a result of the provision of the data provided.
I don’t use a disclaimer, because I usually do the search with the person sitting with me. So, we talk about the vagueries
of databases and choose the level of precision versus recall together. They get to see if the search is working or not and
have the opportunity to shape it to their needs. In the academic medical environment, we’re not usually dealing with people who are going to sue us because an article didn’t show up in the search – which is usually the purpose of the
disclaimer. I used to do a lot of patent searching, and for that I did have a disclaimer that I used occasionally – usually when I was dealing
with a member of the general public (read “backyard inventor”) who clearly did not understand that there are limits to searching, and even
though we’d had the discussion and s/he had sat with me through the search, was still asking questions like “Is this 100% certain that there is nothing like my idea out there?” My colleague at UBC, who also did patent searching for the public, had a disclaimer that he always threw on top of the search, just to
be on the safe side. But I think he did a lot more searching without the client present. Sandy Campbell John. W. Scott Health Sciences Library University of Alberta
--------------------- I don’t have a specific disclaimer per se, but am very clear about what I was able to search within the parameters I was given.
This is usually related to the amount of time I have to do the search vs. what they requested (I get a fair number of grey literature search requests, and when my hours were reduced to part-time, it’s not generally possible to be thorough within the lead times I’m given.
Paula Clark, MISt Health Services Research Librarian Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences "