I did my undergraduate degree in English Literature and I was quite certain that I didn’t want to go into teaching even though lots of people kept saying to me “why don’t you be a teacher? You’d be a really good teacher!”. So I was trying to think of things that were using a fairly similar skill set and where there was some sort of element of imparting knowledge. While I was thinking about what I wanted to do a job came up in my local public library and I thought I’d give it a try and see if I liked it. I ended up really enjoying it and then started looking into how I could take that further. I applied to do a graduate trainee year at Manchester Metropolitan University in their big academic library and loved it, then did a masters in librarianship over at the Information School here at Sheffield.
Did you always want to work in the health sector?
It was just by happy coincidence really. I finished the masters and was very quickly wanting to find a job as I was fairly strapped for cash after a year of studying! I was quite open minded about what sector and location that I worked in, and it just so happened that the first job I applied for and got was here at ScHARR. It was a temporary post as a research assistant on a specific project that Information Resources were doing at the time, to do with evaluating NHS library services in the region. I did that for 8 months, really enjoyed it, thought it was a really good place to work, got really interested in the health information side of the library and information profession. Around the time my temporary job finished an Information Officer job came up at ScHARR, I applied for that, got it, and I’ve been here ever since. As I say it was a coincidence but I’m very happy with how things turned out as I think it's a really good profession to work in.
What sort of thing do you do on a typical day?
I’ve been thinking about this, it’s quite difficult to capture a typical day really. I think that’s probably true across Information Resources, I think we all have very varied roles and are involved in lots of different things.
For the Information Resources Management side of it one of the big things that I spend a lot of time doing is our workload planning for the group, so any work that comes in, I’m the main contact for that, and it's up to me to firstly find someone to do it, and secondly involvement in costing our work on projects. So that's one of the big things that can take up time in my day. I’m also still an information specialist, I’ve got my own projects that I work on, so literature searching and information management. I’ve always got some of that sort of work going on as well. I run a module on systematically reviewing literature so depending on the time of year I can be quite busy with that, with all the teaching and marking and all the things that are involved with running a module. Today I’ve been to an Open Access clinic that Andy ran, and I’ve also had a meeting about our CPD courses for library and information professionals. I don’t know that today is particularly typical, but that’s what I’ve been doing! It’s quite varied really, but I’d say they are the main things.
You mentioned a meeting about CPD courses for library and information professionals - does this mean there are plans for FOLIO?
FOLIO is a programme of online courses that we run for other LIS professionals, generally working in the health sector, but we have done broader things for other sectors as well. We’ve run a number of courses over a number of years. At the moment we are going to be running a course in collaboration with the Australian Library and Information Association, which is all about rapidly reviewing evidence. It’s aimed at LIS professionals who want to add value to their literature searching services by providing an evidence bulletin, so that they’ve done some kind of scanning and synthesis of the information and developed it into a product rather than just a list of references. We’ve run it in the UK previously, so we’re currently looking at the materials and making that changes we need to, both in terms of updating things, but also when we ran it in the UK we ran it for health LIS whereas in Australia it’s for a more general audience. So it’s anyone who might be doing that type of work, whatever sector they work in.
Can you tell us a bit about your work as reviews editor for the Health Information and Libraries Journal (HILJ)?
What do you like to do outside of work?
I’m quite a music fan so I try and see as much live music as I can, I also really like the theatre, particularly the Sheffield theatres, we get a lot of good stuff on. I like a good film. I’m in a book group, probably quite stereotypically for a librarian?! The rest of the time I spend walking my dog.
Do you have a hidden talent or party trick?
I managed to teach my dog how to do a high five which I was quite proud of. I can also whistle really loudly which is very useful for the aforementioned dog!
Thank you to Anthea for agreeing to be our first interviewee. Look out for interviews with the rest of the lovely IR team in the future!