An Irish Perspective

As official bloggers for the International Congress on Medical Librarianship (ICML) my Australian colleague Fiona Russell and I have been faced with the difficult choice of having to choose which sessions to cover in our blog entries. I would like to highlight a presentation which took place yesterday (Monday the 6th of May 2013) during the 3.00 to 4.30pm slot of the Medical Library Education Section entitled “ Informing future roles through research: a national approach”. This presentation was given by Aoife Lawton, Systems Librarian at the Health Service Executive, Ireland and Repository Manager of Lenus, the Irish health repository and Kate Kelly from Chief Librarian at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. To declare what could be viewed as a potential conflict of interest, I currently work in the United Kingdom, but I am from Ireland. However, I am covering this topic because I believe that it is an excellent international example of how the findings of a report are being used to help improve the profession. Many library professionals could identify with what is happening in Health Sciences Librarianship in Ireland – struggling to make the best of limited resources and funding, justifying their role within health organisations and working at improving education on health sciences librarianship both for third level students and library and information professionals. Does this sound familiar?
In January 2010, the Health Sciences Libraries Group (HSLG) in Ireland published Irish health libraries: new directions. Report of the status of health librarianship and libraries in Ireland (SHELLI) aka the SHELLI Report. Written by Dr. Janet Harrison Senior Lecturer at the Department of Information Studies at Loughborough University, Claire Creaser and Helen Greenwood, the aim of the report was “to inform strategic development and sustainability for the health sector’s library and information services, by recording the current status of library and information services, and by offering insights into best international practice relevant to the Irish situation”. (SHELLI report page iv) The recommendations from this report are worth reading and are transferable to libraries and librarians facing similar challenges regardless of their location for example, focusing on the skill set of library staff rather than on “the library”, embedding clinical librarians into their institutions, re-inventing the profession in this underdeveloped and shrinking sector. Thanks ladies for a thought-provoking presentation!