Thursday, 23 December 2010

Appraising apples and doing something to oranges

Andrew Booth's latest article in HILJ [subscription required] is, I assume, a refection on a forthcoming systematic review of Clinical Librarianship. In it, he looks at the problems of in evaluating a clinical librarian service in an objective, generalisable way. It's also a very entertaining article in Andrew's inimitable style. Definitely get hold of the full copy if you can.

The issues around evaluating clinical librarian services are many, but a particular one that stood out to me is the sample of clinicians and clinical teams.

"The team selected for participation in such a service is not selected at random and so does not represent clinicians in general."

This is so true, we are always advising people setting up new services to seek out "champions" to pilot a project and help to spread the word. These are often already library service users, and experts in evidence based medicine. This approach is partly to avoid wasted effort on the part of the Clinical Librarians, but perhaps those most in need of a service are the clinicians who don't know they want that service.

The different models of Clinical Librarians are discussed, and I identified with the introverted vs. extroverted librarians section. I think here at Leicester, we're all very much in the extrovert camp.

Andrew's final PICO is excellent.
"In a self-selecting or deliberately skewed population of clinicians is a range of activities loosely grouped together under the label of 'clinical librarian' better than doing nothing when measured across a selection of favourable and non-objective outcome measures, including those are difficult both to articulate and quantify?"

Of course! It does make me wonder how we ever managed to prove our worth at all. At UHL, we often feel we ought to be evaluating the service we provide, but never quite get around to it. I'm now wondering whether the excuse of being simpy far too busy providing the service is the only reason for our reluctance.

I'll certainly be interested to read the full systematic review when it's published, though I will admit I've had a couple of sneak previews, both at the HLG conference and the writing for publication course I attended earlier this month (more on that soon).