Background NHS Knowledge and Library Hub

In October 2021, HEE launched a new National Discovery Service, called the NHS Knowledge and Library Hub

On these pages you will find information about:

  • the packages included in the NHS Knowledge and Library Hub
  • links to FAQs, guidance and resources

See related blog posts about the NHS Knowledge and Library Hub.

Access the Hub here.

Find guidance and promotional resources here. You can download an editable slide deck for use in local presentations here.


Two NHS colleagues in discussion in a hospital corridor
While I have you, let me tell you about the NHS Knowledge and Library Hub

For more FAQs go here or the service desk.

Why do we need a new national discovery service? 

The existing national resource discovery architecture only surfaces journal content.

User discovery research tells us that healthcare staff want to be able to search in one place for all types of high quality, trusted knowledge resources.

An increasing number of NHS-funded library services have been responding to this need by implementing local discovery systems.

Increasing amounts of money and time are spent configuring and maintaining local systems.

Large sections of the healthcare workforce, including those working outside Trusts, do not have access to a discovery system.

Contact [email protected] for the report in an accessible format.

What are the benefits of the new service? 

A single national gateway for all staff and learners in the NHS in England.

A consistent experience for staff, trainees and students moving between placements and posts.

A platform to search for and access all high quality, trusted knowledge resources including national and local e-resources.

Following library management system integration, a platform that will also surface print collections.

An interface that connects users to services and support from libraries.

An intuitive search experience that meets the needs of novice and more advanced searchers and includes semantic searching and a range of options for limiting results.

How will the NHS Knowledge and Library Hub improve the user experience? 

  • User research showed that many users are confused and frustrated by the number of information tools currently in use, and having to learn new ones when they move jobs. 

  • The NHS Knowledge and Library Hub offers a consistent experience for all NHS staff and learners 

How was the specification drawn up? 

The specification for the National Discovery Service was informed by two years of research and engagement with library staff and end-users.  This included:

  • Structured pre-procurement discussions with a range of suppliers in the discovery eco-system to test out some of our ideas and assumptions about discovery platforms and how they interact with other systems

  • Learning from the research and engagement iterative process;, including our knowledge of the most valued features of HDAS

  • Ken Chad, a consultant with a vast experience of library management systems and discovery procurement, produced the core specification:National Discovery Service Specification – Appendix A Requirements – Response Template

Contact [email protected] for the specification an accessible format.

Is the new NHS Knowledge and Library Hub an exercise in cost-saving? 

No. The NHS Knowledge and Library Hub is a significant investment by HEE on behalf of the NHS in England. 

The primary drivers are: 

  • improving the quality and consistency of end-user discovery 

  • increaseing the  use of NHS-funded and curated knowledge resources and library services 

The new service should deliver system-wide cost savings on the purchase of local discovery systems,  and free up funding for investment in other library resources. 

Do library staff need to worry about their jobs? 

No, the National Discovery Service has nothing to do with cutting jobs. 

In fact, library services which have implemented discovery systems report:

  • An increase in the use of library services
  • More requests for resources which are discovered but not immediately accessible

Where staff time is released by the National Discovery Service, this will allow more customer facing work to extend the reach of knowledge and library services across the whole of the NHS. 

What happens if the NHS Knowledge and Library Hub is not compatible with local IT systems? 

The majority of the new NHS Knowledge and Library Hub infrastructure is compatible with existing NHS IT systems and requires no support from local IT teams. However, there are three enhancements which enable NHS staff, learners and library teams to benefit fully from quick and easy access to published knowledge and evidence resources for clinical and management decision making, education and research. Information about these enhancements can be found here.

Page last reviewed: 25 October 2021