A series of insights from delegates to the International Clinical Librarian Conference 2023.

In November I was lucky enough to be able to win an NHS England bursary to attend the International Clinical Librarians Conference 2023 in Leicester.

I have only been a health librarian for three years and was keen to meet up with contacts old and new, put names to faces only known from jisc mail forums and learn more about what other library services are doing.  

There is not enough room here to cover everything we heard over the two days so I will highlight just a few of the presentations that particularly resonated with my current work and plans to develop it.

I was a bit late for the start of the first day (thanks, trains) but enjoyed hearing about Michelle Madden’s career to date and the joys of aiding library users in carrying out systematic reviews.

Systematic reviews were an ongoing theme of the two conference and one which I was keen to learn more about. Some of the key points from some of the presentations, such as “Give rationales for what is (and isn’t) needed in your SR”, “refine your topic” and “a systematic review is not just a really good search”, should be printed on flashcards and t shirts! 

We also heard from, amongst others, Matt Holland from the Ambulance Service KLS discussing establishing and maintaining a research repository, and Suzanne Toft from Black Country Healthcare on the setting up a regional community of knowledge specialists and upskilling colleagues new to library services and the NHS.

I also enjoyed the talks on subjects as disparate as creating a video to promote library services from Katie Barnard at University Hospitals Sussex, authorship for clinical librarians from Steve Glover at Manchester University NHS FT and literature searching for nurses with Rachel Holmes from Royal Surrey NHS FT. I enjoyed hearing from Kerry Flett of Solent Knowledge and Library Services on being a single handed service and Ingrid Francis on working with a large disparate set of users in primary care in Leeds. 

The trust I work likewise has a large geographical footprint but no main clinical base and I confess to feeling rather jealous of the hard won access to a large surgical team earned by Lucy Wells of University Hospitals Sussex (but did also pick up tips for augmenting some of the literature searches I carry out).  

I’ll confess the supporting systematic review workshop at the end of the first day probably overtaxed my brain (it was 5pm by now and I had had an early start) and I had to miss a whole afternoon the following day – Storm Ciarán had been wreaking havoc across the Midlands and I had to leave early so as to have a hope of getting home to the North West before midnight.   

So apologies to everyone whose workshops I missed (worse luck, they included critical appraisal, setting up new services and career paths – all subjects I particularly wanted to hear about) And thanks again to Dan Livesey and Kathryn Graham-Shuttleworth from The Christie for the lift home in horrible weather!  


Information Services Librarian Emma Dent

Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust

Page last reviewed: 10 January 2024