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Case study: The National Library for Health (NLH) Specialist Libraries An example of a Community of Practice.

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Presentation on theme: "Case study: The National Library for Health (NLH) Specialist Libraries An example of a Community of Practice."— Presentation transcript:

1 Case study: The National Library for Health (NLH) Specialist Libraries An example of a Community of Practice

2 What are Specialist Libraries? Specialist Libraries (SLs) form part of the National Library for Health (NLH). They are online information resources which “contain collections of clinical and non-clinical resources within specialty themes”. The SLs share the aim of the NLH: to provide health care professionals with the knowledge and know-how to support health related decisions. A screenshot of the Knowledge Management Specialist Library is provided on the next slide.


4 What are Specialist Libraries? In total there are 31 SLs which cover a wide range of medical and health related specialities. 30 of these are active and 1 is currently in development. For an example of the range of SL specialities, see the list of a selection of SLs below: Cancer Cardiovascular Diseases Child Health Diabetes Emergency Care ENT & Audiology Health Management Learning Disabilities Mental Health Stroke Screening Musculoskeletal Diseases Oral Health Respiratory Skin Disorders Women's Health Patient & Public Involvement Knowledge Management Public Health

5 Communities of practice As we saw yesterday, Communities of Practice (CoPs) can be defined as: “Networks of people who work on similar processes or in similar disciplines, and who come together to develop and share their knowledge in that field for the benefit of both themselves and their organisation(s). They may be created formally or informally, and they can interact online or in person.” (1)

6 Specialist Libraries as a Community of Practice The SLs are a formally created CoP. The CoP was formed by the National Electronic Library for Health (NeLH) now the NLH because despite the differences in medical and health related information that each SL provides, the SLs use common technology (RMS and CMS) and follow common guidelines and quality assessment criteria for the publication of information on the SLs. Knowledge and good practice is shared in the CoP to ensure that those working on SLs are informed about SL related matters and to ensure that each SL provides information which is relevant, has a high standard of quality and has a high level of presentation.

7 Specialist Libraries as a Community of Practice The CoP is particularly useful for SLs that are in the development stage because they are provided with the facility to learn from the more established SLs.

8 Specialist Libraries Community of Practice Stakeholders There are five main groups that are involved in the SL CoP: SL Information Specialists SL Managers SL Clinical Leads The central NLH Team SL Reference Groups

9 SL Information Specialists Role in the CoP: The Information Specialists share knowledge and good practice with each other to aid their ‘day-to-day’ work on the Specialist Libraries. The Information Specialists also share knowledge about issues encountered during their day-to- day work on the SLs with the entire CoP to aid the development of the SLs.

10 SL Managers Role in the CoP: The SL managers manage the SLs and oversee the work of the Information Specialists (Sometimes Information Specialists or Clinical Leads function as the SL Managers) They regularly liaise with the senior managers within the central NeLH Team, the Clinical Leads and the Reference Groups in order to discuss SL developments

11 SL Clinical Leads Role in the CoP: Each SL has a Clinical Lead who is an expert in the topic of the SL The non-clinical SLs have Leads that are experts in the field of the SL speciality The Leads share their knowledge with the SL Information Specialists and the SL Managers to advise on the content and the quality of the information that is inputted into the SLs The Leads also liaise with the wider CoP members to discuss SL development issues

12 Central NLH Team Role in the CoP: The central NLH team is made up of the SL senior managers and the SL Information Technology (IT) personnel. The senior managers share knowledge with the CoP members about developmental and policy matters relating to the SLs. The IT personnel share knowledge by providing help and guidance to the CoP members regarding the technological aspects of the SLs.

13 SL Reference Groups Role in the CoP: Each SL has a Reference Group which is made up of representatives from external organisations that are of relevance to the SL topic. The Reference Groups share knowledge to guide the development of the SLs by: ensuring that the content of the SLs is responsive to the needs of users within the specification set out by the NLH programme; and encouraging creativity and innovation in the SLs.

14 Other CoP stakeholders The five CoP groups that have been discussed are common to all of the SLs. However, some SLs have extra CoP members such as: Editorial teams (advise on the content of the SLs) Organisational groups (External organisations that are related to the topic of the SLs and work with the SLs in order to guide content so that the content meets user needs more effectively)

15 Knowledge sharing facilities The members of the SL CoP meet regularly both online and face-to-face in order to learn and share knowledge.

16 Online knowledge sharing In order to share knowledge online, the SLs utilise a knowledge sharing forum called the “NLH SL Online Community”. This forum is used by the Information Specialists, SL Managers, Clinical Leads and the NLH central team. The advantages of the online community are that as the SLs are spread throughout England, the online forum enables the SLs to share knowledge with each other easily and on a regular basis. In addition, as information is stored in the online community, the forum enables members to learn from the messages or queries and answers that have been previously posted by other members.

17 Online knowledge sharing The online community enables the relevant CoP members to: Provide each other with information Ask questions and receive answers about SL related matters

18 Online knowledge sharing Types of knowledge shared: News and current awareness Details of events Minutes and presentations of SL meetings and conferences Policy and guidelines Tips and advice Good practice Reports of and solutions for SL technological issues

19 Face-to-face knowledge sharing Face-to-face knowledge sharing takes place in a number of ways: SL ‘working groups’ SL regional meetings Annual SL meetings Reference group meetings NB- Many of the face-to-face meetings also involve communication via the online community, email and telephone before and after the ‘physical’ meetings have taken place

20 SL ‘working groups’ Small groups of SLs often meet and work together in order to test new or existing features and functions of the SLs (for e.g. navigation, searching functions, classification etc) in order to aid the development of the SLs Their findings are reported via the online community and face-to-face at annual meetings

21 SL regional meetings As the SLs are spread throughout England, it is difficult for them all to meet on a regular basis. Although the online community is beneficial for the sharing of knowledge, it is useful for the SLs to also meet ‘face-to- face’ to discuss SL related issues Therefore, members such as SL Information Specialists, SL Managers and Clinical Leads from SLs that are located within the same region meet on a quarterly basis Minutes from these meetings are recorded and sent to the SL senior managers within the central NLH team. Any queries or questions contained in the minutes are then answered by the senior managers Information of relevance to other SLs is made available on the online community

22 Annual SL meetings Two national annual SL conferences are held each year. The first conference is held in July and the purpose of it is for the central NLH Team to inform SL Information Specialists, SL Managers and SL Clinical Leads about current and future policy and technological developments regarding the SLs The second conference is held in December and the purpose of it is to enable the central NLH Team, the SL Information Specialists and the SL Managers to discuss issues relating to the ‘day to day’ work and the development of the SLs

23 Reference group meetings SL Reference Groups meet the members of their SL (Clinical Leads, SL Managers, Information Specialists) and the central NLH team once or twice a year. During these meetings, ideas about new developments for the SLs are shared and those working on the SLs are able to gain valuable user feedback about the SLs from the external Reference Group members

24 References 1. NLH Knowledge Management Specialist Library. 2005. NLH Knowledge Management glossary [Online] [Accessed July 2005] NLH Knowledge Management glossary 2. Alison Yeoman, Christine Urquhart and Susan Sharp. NeLH Communities of Practice Evaluation Report. University of Aberystwyth; 2002. [Online] [Accessed July 2005] NeLH Communities of Practice Evaluation Report 3. Alison Yeoman, Christine Urquhart and Susan Sharp. “Moving communities of practice forward: The challenge for the National electronic Library and its Virtual Branch Libraries”. Health Informatics Journal. Vol 9, No 4, December 2003; pp 241-251.

25 Resources The National Library for Health websiteNational Library for Health The NLH Specialist LibrariesNLH Specialist Libraries

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