Knowledge and library instruction manual - creating a knowledge asset

Published on 22 November 2022, by Nicki Forgham-Healey and Hannah Cochrane

Mobilising evidence and knowledge

During #KNOWvember22 we are sharing ideas, tips and lessons learned from a range of knowledge mobilisation initiatives. To start this mini-series of posts is a discussion about creating and using a knowledge asset.

This blog post will discuss how the Knowledge and Library Service, at the newly-merged organisation of University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust, created a knowledge asset to merge two library services’ procedure manuals. This was done to share information about how the two libraries were run, and act as a quick reference guide as to how procedures were dealt with on two different service sites. The latter was especially important for staff who had to work across both sites. It also expanded as a method of capturing knowledge when staff left the organisation.

What is a knowledge asset?

Knowledge assets capture knowledge and experience in one place to be of maximum use to people who could benefit from that learning in the future. They can contain a variety of information such as key lessons learnt, case histories, key contacts, and best practice.  

Why did we create this resource?

In April 2020, University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust was formed, the result of a merger between a district general hospital and larger teaching hospital in southwest England.. Each organisation had a separate knowledge and library service which, as part of merger, needed to become a single service.  As part of this merger work, library procedures from each service needed review and integration into a single procedure manual.  Alongside this work there was also a need to capture the knowledge of staff who were leaving. Discussions sessions were held with the aim of streamlining process whilst recognising the need for separate procedures which were site specific. It was agreed to create a knowledge asset with the  following functions:

  • Searchable
  • Accessible
  • Easily added to
  • Able to distinguish between the two sites


North Somerset Healthcare Library based at Weston General Hospital had access to LibGuides, and as part of this subscription LibAnswers. This function allowed us to set up a secure area in which we could create an electronic procedure manual for both sites. The procedure manual was written in a form of Questions and Answers, these ranged from:

  • How should I report a printer fault?
  • How do I access/use SPSS software onsite?

Figure 1: Reporting a printer fault question and answer (redacted)

Site-specific answers were labelled according to their location, to enable colleagues to find the right information quickly and easily. Following discussions with the whole team we asked what information they would find useful to know about if they were working on the new site. So, this included information about key contacts, telephone numbers. Alongside this we also reviewed the information which was in the two procedures manuals and added this information in the form of questions.

Figure 2: site specific question and answer (redacted)

If there were any pertinent questions for just one site, the question would be categorised and tagged with the location. This meant that it was easy to search for information based on location. We were also able to add categories and further tags, to allow staff to search based on a particular topic, such as chasing orders, reporting faults, or directing users towards particular support and resources.

Making use of the knowledge asset – Lessons Learnt.

Since its creation, the FAQs database has been updated and amended as staff have left or roles have changed. The role-specific knowledge and information added to the asset by leavers has helped to mitigate against the loss of essential organisational knowledge, and avoided duplication of work. The database is easy to use, add to, and access and is utilised by all of the team. It supports hybrid and cross-site working but it is particularly useful for new members of staff or colleagues who are taking on new roles.

Adopting the use of this database has saved time for library staff, which can then be devoted to our users. Once staff are trained in its use, they can quickly access information about processes and procedures allowing them to respond to queries and find solutions to common issues and problems.

This knowledge asset comprises a wealth of organisational knowledge and team know-how. It is easy to access, search and add to, which has made it an indispensable tool for the library team, supporting continuity of work by enabling staff to find the answers they need quickly and efficiently.