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Information Scotland

The Journal of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland

ISSN 1743-5471

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June 2003 Volume 1 (3)

Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland

CILIPS conference 2003 - Branches and groups

A healthy future?

Presentations from CILIPS' Branches and Groups included updates on health information and what new entrants to the profession are learning, writes Debby Raven.

The Branch and Group Day at the Annual Conference proved popular as usual. To the conference's 150 delegates were added 220 extra for a varied programme on the Wednesday. This is just a taste of presentations by Scottish Health Information Network (SHINE); ICLG(S); and CoFHE/UC&R(S)

A recent study put access to health services as the top requirement for health and wellbeing. But if you don't know about what services are available, how do you get help?

Access to health information is crucial and Norma Greenwood, of Glasgow's Health Promotion Department, ran through what the UK's biggest health authority is doing.

Within Norma's wide remit is Community Learning Strategy at city level, and embedding Lifelong Learning into the health service. Talking of local ICT strategy, she said it is "fabulous because now someone is saying how important libraries are", working as they do across silos with local authorities.

Glasgow is still a city of contrasts with some pockets which continue to score highest on all deprivation indices including smoking during pregnancy, weight at birth and lung cancer in females.

Studies provide a lot of information to work on but also show up shortcomings: language is a huge barrier to accessing health information. Currently only 6 of the trust's 42 languages are being met, in terms of information dissemination.

Virtual access is crucial in strengthening both public and professional access to information, especially evidence-based. Not so far in the past, Norma reminded us, only consultants had access to computers. Now, the Glasgow Health Information Gateway offers desktop access to learning, evidence and knowledge - databases, journals and books; NHS, HE, voluntary sector websites; libraries; and local and national government information. Although primarily for the healthcare community, everybody must be interested, for example, in the links to a health news monitoring service.

Services for the public are soon to include Information Kiosks bringing health information and education out across city in a cost-effective way and in collaboration with the City Council.

The Gateway raises the profile of what libraries can offer as it links directly to the cities' learning centres and libraries. But at the same time it is essential that all library staff themselves know that such a resource exists.

Glasgow Health Information - www.ghi.org.uk

Soon all Scotland will have access to NHS24 - the Scottish arm of NHS Direct. A national phone number leads to assured health information and advice, including if required a nurse consultation and evaluation for what to do next. Four boards have the service so far, explained Gillian Heron, Information Officer, North. As well as offering the public a new entry point to health information, it aims to reduce inappropriate workload and duplication of effort in the NHS.

The people who develop IT systems and those who want to apply IT often don't speak to each other, said Norma Greenwood. Can the same be said of those who teach IT and those who apply it in their work?

Alan Poulter took the opportunity of his CILIPS conference slot to consult the assembled professionals on his university's approach to teaching ICT skills to library students. Strathclyde University has a relatively new multimedia-centred ICT course. But is what they are teaching real-world driven?

The course, Fundamentals of ICT, tries to go beyond the click-by-click approach of applications-based teaching. Aiming to get students to think more about things such as where things are stored, sorting out their own problems, and going beyond OS specifics in practical lab-based tutorials. Some surprises were that few students were aware of subscription-based databases, what to do with a compressed file, how to trouble shoot beyond turning off and on and hoping for the best.

Amongst the 'over surveyed' students, learning advanced web searching skills was found to be the most invaluable component.

The audience wanted to know if the course would be put online. This is not considered suitable for this type of training; CPD courses were a more likely progression.

There was surprisingly little mention of training for supporting the public in developing ICT literacy, and a comparison with courses run elsewhere would have been useful. Responses to whether the course had got it right ranged from 'a frightening amount to learn in such a short time' to 'don't they learn this at school these days?'

Glasgow Digital Library

Conceived by Derek Law, inspired by California, and currently unfunded, the Glasgow Digital Library is free resource, based at Strathclyde University's Centre for Digital Library Research. It is minimalist (read underfunded) but collaborative, explained Alan Dawson. Initially funded under the Research Support Libraries Programme, it faces the usual issue of sustainability.

Good for looking at nostalgic pictures of Glasgow and as far away as Antarctica - main collections include 'Red Clydeside' history of the Labour movement in Glasgow, the Voyage of the Scotia, 'Memoirs and portraits of 100 Glasgow Men'; and records of the '99 Scottish Election. Alan described how a straightforward book becomes a searchable and linkable 'collection'.

Glasgow Digital Library - gdl.cdlr.strath.ac.uk


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Information Scotland Vol.1 (3) June 2003

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Last updated: 13 February 2004