My name is Wendy Foster and I’m a Library & Knowledge Services Manager at Hywel Dda University Health Board. My role is to ensure that resources are in place to support all Health Board staff in their work, continuing education and patient care. This includes providing books, journals, and study areas as well as services such as document supply and literature searches.
I’m generally at my desk by 8am and spend about an hour going through the emails which have arrived overnight and checking our Facebook and Twitter accounts. Some of this is dealing with requests from library users and some is keeping myself up-to-date with health information and news and also news in the LIS sector.
My internal networks cover everyone from board members to maintenance staff and my external networks are similarly broad and worldwide. I have always enjoyed networking and have found that a wide network really helps me in my work. I almost always know someone who can help. I’ve made a point of joining professional bodies throughout my career and the support offered and the contacts made have been invaluable.
I am Chair of the All Wales Health Information & Libraries Extension Service (AWHILES) so part of each day includes work in this sphere. I might be working on new policies or preparing a training event. In this role I’m also in contact with other health library services throughout the UK and Ireland but also abroad, most notably in Australia.
I have honorary contracts with both Cardiff University and Swansea University. All AWHILES library managers have these contracts as our libraries support their students and we are involved in teaching them information literacy. Within the Health Board where I work I also sit on the Medical Education Board and am part of the education faculty.
My to-do list includes a wide variety of tasks. Currently on the list is
· Journal subscription renewals for 2018
· Arrange copyright training for support staff
· Marketing of e-journals
· Agree new lease for photocopier
· Collate monthly statistics
All of these things are important for our service but may well get pushed aside if an urgent literature request arrives on my desk or if I’m booked to do some training on using library resources. Clinicians know that we can provide material to help them with their examinations, to assist them in writing articles or books, to support their teaching, or just about anything else they do in their work.
I’m lucky that I’m part of two great teams, the Library & Knowledge Services within Hywel Dda University Health Board and also AWHILES. Both of these teams are hugely supportive of their members so when the pressure is on I can be sure that someone will help me if necessary.
I have almost always worked in special libraries and enjoy the variety this brings. One minute I’m clearing a photocopier paper jam and the next I’m talking to a government minister about perceived problems in the health library world.
The other great love in my work is bringing forward new LIS professionals. Helping them to develop their careers and abilities teaches me a lot too so it really is a symbiotic relationship.
I find that generally people still perceive librarians as being those people who stamp books and although I do still occasionally do this, it has always been a tiny part of my work. Having said this, I’m regularly amused by the dichotomy that people think I’m only a book stamper but still expect me to be able to find information that they can’t.
Wendy is the Welsh Librarian of the Year Award winner for 2017.