Along with a small group of the London graduate trainee librarians I visited the Bloomsbury Healthcare Library. The Library is housed in a converted ballroom and offers suitably salubrious surroundings for study. The library is funded by the NHS and caters primarily for NHS staff, specialising in nursing and allied health professions. The Library employs five members of staff including the Senior Librarian Mike and Assistant Librarian Daphne, who introduced us to the workings of the library.
Apart from the routine duties involved in maintaining a library, staff also offer a number of specialised services to their users. The library subscribes to a wide range of online resources, which NHS staff can access remotely as well as in the Library. Library staff offer an alerts service, designing custom-made email alerts to notify users of new material in their subject area or to the table of contents lists for journals of interest. The library also produces a current awareness newsletter and quality reviews new journal articles.
Mike and Daphne seem to find their work really rewarding. They enjoy having the opportunity to engage with the academic content of their collections in order to possess the knowledge to steer users to authoritative and useful materials. Daphne has a substantial scientific background, which she has been able to exploit working in the library. Mike’s background, like many librarians, is in the arts. Though he felt a scientific background would be beneficial to a medical librarian, Mike did not consider this by any means essential.
The visit was enjoyable and gave me valuable insight into the work of medical librarians. Mike and Daphne were really informative and seemed genuinely happy in their work, which is always encouraging.