The Place-based Library & Knowledge Services Project: Surrey Heartlands

Published on 10 March 2022, by Kerry Seelhoff & Olwen Revill

NHS and healthcare system, Service delivery, Collaboration and partnership

The team of Library & Knowledge Service Managers across the Surrey Heartlands Health and Care Partnership discuss how they delivered joined up library services to community-based staff.

The team of Library & Knowledge Service Managers across the Surrey Heartlands Health and Care Partnership successfully bid for non-recurrent funding to develop ‘Place-based Library & Knowledge Services’ across the patch – delivering joined up library services for community-based staff across Surrey Heartlands. Kerry and Olwen led the project as Embedded Librarians, each working one day a week in addition to their roles as Evidence Librarians at Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust (ESTH) and Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (ASPH).

A new ‘job-share’

We had exchanged emails and tweets but had never met in person – we still haven’t! It was a steep learning curve in terms of what the project involved - how we would deliver the services and how we would manage the time. Flexibility was key and to avoid imposing any time restrictions we agreed that the extra hours for the project work would fall on any day (accounting for existing commitments).

We both felt very enthusiastic – boosted by the successful bid and enjoyable collaborative planning meetings. Crossing organisational boundaries ourselves whilst delivering services across the patch was a very positive experience. We positioned ourselves as the ‘face’ of library services, including our photos and contact details in any promotional opportunity, to personalise the offer.

Surrey Heartlands is a partnership of health and care organisations, and identifying who was who across the patch was challenging, as was trying to find the right marketing channels. We worked hard to make the most of virtual introductions, and developed leaflets and advertising to suit various Intranets, newsletters & noticeboards, devising catchy summaries of our offer to make it relevant to community-based staff who are traditionally less-well served.

Developing Munch & Learns

We worked together to develop a suite of bite-size Munch & Learn training sessions, 30 minutes long and delivered via MS Teams. Topics included Evidence Searching and Critical Appraisal Tips – it was great to share our knowledge and ideas whilst assembling the presentations. We were already familiar with MS Teams but this provided a good opportunity to experiment and master it together, and make use of additional features such as the Forms function.

Later on we developed Twitter Tips for Professional Development, and enjoyed collaborating with our colleague Rosy Bennett, Knowledge and Systems Librarian at Royal Surrey, who runs an Oncology Journal Club via Twitter, and with Bongi Sibanda, Corporate Lead for Advanced Practice Education at ESTH. They shared their experiences via two short videos which we included in the Munch and Learn.

Based on requests from our users, we expanded our skills to extend our support to staff undertaking Apprenticeships across the patch. On completion of a FutureLearn Report Writing course – and Kerry also attended an NHS Elect Report Writing course - we developed the Report Writing for Apprentices Munch & Learn which has proved to be very popular and well received.

Undertaking Evidence Summaries

By January we were very excited to have started to receive requests for evidence summaries. We shared ideas for the layout and structure to agree a template, based on the summaries Olwen was already providing for staff at ASPH. Kerry attended HEE’s Synthesising and Summarising course to enhance her skills, and we were soon underway. It was easy to allocate the search requests to eachother, we were never overwhelmed by too many at once. We both manage our time in a similar way and never doubted our ability to meet deadlines. The search requests were interesting, many generated by mental health practitioners, as well as practice nurses and even a Chief Digital Officer.


The infographic below demonstrates the key outcomes of the project. Other members of staff at ESTH were involved in additional projects during this time which also related to the benefits of delivering joined up library services for community-based staff across Surrey Heartlands. The projects included a Community of Practice and Innovation, Virtual Diabetes Webinar sessions, and the provision of training to make the most of the resource. More information about these initiatives will be discussed in other related articles. 

Key outcomes of the Surrey Heartlands Place Based LKS Project

Hand-drawn Illustrations by Deborah Gouveia, Senior Quality Improvement Advisor and QI Programme Lead (ESTH). Infographic produced by Laura Phillips, Senior Library Assistant (ESTH).

Concluding thoughts

We gained a much better understanding of the roles and teams across Surrey Heartlands, the resources they need (we were able to purchase some new electronic journals), and the challenges they were facing. It was a useful insight, particularly during the pandemic, with staff off sick, or working from home with children learning remotely too, and the obvious impact of the increasing demands on their work being quite overwhelming at times.

The Director of Nursing and Quality at Surrey Downs Health and Care Partnership and Sutton Health and Care, referred to librarians as ‘their critical friends’ – we had clearly made an impact and look forward to continuing our work via the new Dispersed Model as embedded knowledge specialists in the Surrey Training Hub.

If you would like to know more or have any questions please get in touch - [email protected] and [email protected]


Lemley, T. (2016) Virtual embedded librarianship program: a personal view, Journal of the Medical Library Association, 104(3), pp. 232–234, [online] Available at: (Accessed 19 January 2022).

Royal College of Physicians (2020) Never too busy to learn How the modern team can learn together in the busy workplace,, [online] Available at: (Accessed 19 January 2022).

Tattersall, A., Beecroft, C. and Freeman, J. (2013) Learn something new in 20 minutes: Bite Size sessions to support research and teaching, Health Information & Libraries Journal, 30(3), pp. 253–258, [online] Available at: (Accessed 19 January 2022).