Seminar Retrospective - Wednesday, 24 May - Medical and School Libraries

Believe it or not, I haven't forgotten about the seminar retrospective, nor have I abandoned the blog here. In fact, I have a very great motivation to finish the seminar retrospective posts this week - I'm giving a short presentation on the seminar for a talk our Library Student Organization is hosting on Saturday, and I want to be able to say, "and if you want more detail, go read my blog." What's been holding me up has been the fact that Wednesday marked the day that I remember the least well. My head cold finally cleared up in the afternoon, but not before inflicting upon me its worst in the morning. As a result, I was fuzzy in the morning due to feeling bad (and to the cough medication) and I was fuzzy in the afternoon due to relief at no longer feeling ill. (And, I must confess that medical and school (as in K-12 - the stuff before college school) libraries are two areas of librarianship that I really have no interest in, so my mind tended to wander a bit anyway.) However, here's what I remember:

Medical (or Health Care) Libraries This was a joint presentation given by Donald McKay (Head of Health Care Libraries, Oxford University Library Services) and Jo Hunter (Research and Effectiveness Librarian, Health Care Libraries, Oxford University Library Services). It sounds like the heath care libraries in Oxford face some interesting challenges that the average medical school library may not. For one thing, they're used by local hospitals and practices as well as the university (making them something of a hybrid between an academic medical library and a more general hospital library - though, for all I know, this may be the way libraries in teaching hospitals are set up - this really isn't my area of expertise). For another, they have to deal with the British National Health Service, a bureaucracy for which terms like "Byzantine" and "ponderous" seem to be made for. Oh, and Evidence-Based Medicine is big in England (though I think that's true in the states, too).

Still, it sounds like they're doing a lot of work to bring the health care library services to where they're needed (electronic resources are a big help here) and to make sure that medical research is easy to come by in a lot of clinical settings in addition to in the libraries.

School Libraries

The school libraries presentation was given by Kate Potter, Senior Librarian at St. Clare's International School (a private school in Oxford that participates in the International Baccaloriate - and yes, I know I probably spelled that wrong - program). And here, alas, my memory really fails me (and unlike with the medical libraries presentation I have no copy of PowerPoint slides to use as notes). Two things, and two things only stick out in my mind:

The first was the idea that getting kids involved in choosing the books for the library is a good thing. (Which seems like a no-brainer to me, but apparrantly it isn't done as frequently as it could be.)

The second was a little thinking exercise our presenter had us do at the beginning of the presentation. There is on BBC Radio 4 a program called Desert Island Disks, where famous people come on and tell the world what 5 music CDs they'd want to take with them if they were stranded on a desert island. Well, since this was seminar for librarians we did a variation on the theme and were asked what book we'd want with us if we were stranded on a desert island, but with a twist. We were to mention the book we would have picked when we were kids.

And you want to know the scary thing? For me, its the same book: "The Hobbit" It's been my favorite since I was six (or so) and it still is. I've read it so many times I have fairly large parts of it memorized (don't worry, I won't inflict any upon you), and yet every time I read it I manage to find something new in it. (Decide for yourself what this says about my taste in literature, but that's my choice and I'm sticking to it.)

And so, I'd like to end this entry by posing that same question to you. If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have one book with you, what would you choose (and what would you have chosen when you were a kid)? You can comment by clicking on the title of this entry and then scrolling down to the comment form at the bottom of the page. And no fair saying the book you'd choose is "How to Escape Being Stranded on a Desert Island," although "Robinson Crusoe" would be reasonable....