Now, if you’re familiar with Meet the Librarian, you will know that we typically speak to university librarians, yet this edition is slightly different. We’ve left the campus behind for a change and we’ve headed to Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells (MTW) NHS Trust to interview the trust’s clinical librarian – Hayley Beresford.
If Hayley’s name rings a bell, you would be correct in remembering that we spoke with her late last year to discuss the book club that is hosted on Twitter that she and her colleagues hold, as a method of getting people involved in reading and utilising the library’s services.
That said, we were keen to catch up with Hayley once more to truly meet the librarian. It’s always interesting to find out what route librarians take to get to where they are, as often, they are accidental librarians.
“Although I loved books, I think at the stage when I was applying to university, I didn’t really see it as a career choice. I don’t know why, but I just didn’t. So I studied psychology.
“I also have a postgraduate qualification in forensic psychology. I’ve actually asked myself a few times: ‘how did I end up where I am?’”
Well, how did Hayley become a librarian?
“As I’ve always loved books and liked to read, one of my pipe dreams was to own a quaint, old, rickety book shop that was also a tea room, with half the profits going to saving the orcas.”
“During my education, I learnt a lot about how to do research, how to appraise research, and how to present it and that’s a core element of being a clinical librarian. It’s about supporting our staff to better use evidence and understand its quality and integrity. So… there’s the indirect, convoluted way from where I started in psychology to where I’ve ended up now.”
In a role that’s fitting for Hayley, we dared to find out what her favourite element of her role is.
Without skipping a beat, she exclaimed:
“When you’re helping healthcare professionals who are almost always working full time in a stressful job and doing a qualification on top of that, it can be really overwhelming and they just don’t know where to start. Part of my job is to support them in that by helping them feel a bit more confident.”
“When they get that aha moment, and everything clicks – that’s the best feeling.”
Another part of the job that Hayley enjoys is ‘hands down’ the community, she says.
“There is no other community like the library community because everyone is so helpful and so friendly – I love it. That’s what I always thought it would be.
“When I got here, it lived up to all my expectations. When people say to me ‘ohh, how are you finding working in libraries?’ I always say to people ‘I’ve arrived’.
“I’m where I’m meant to be – it sounds really cheesy and cliche, but that’s honestly how I feel.”
Speaking of cliches, are there any librarian cliches Hayley has fallen into?
“This actually really interests me because there is a whole body of literature on librarian stereotypes. I don’t want to say the library stereotypes as I’d be reinforcing it!”
As Hayley works for an NHS Trust, we were eager to find out what role the library plays within the trust?
“I think libraries and librarians are fundamental to healthcare.”
“That’s how I would like it to be perceived… I’m not sure it is and I think libraries can probably work harder to demonstrate that. When you think about libraries, evidence is our bread and butter. Our currency is evidence and information, and that should be the underpinning of practice”
That is no mean feat – so if and when Hayley’s job does get a little tough, here’s what makes her smile again:
“I honestly love my job. I can say that hands down and it makes me sad that not everyone can say that, but I honestly do! Also coming home to my dog – I love him and he always makes me smile!
“And but yeah, I’m pleased to say there aren’t many tough times!!
And that’s what we all love to hear. With the rise in digital content, we asked Hayley what elements of Kortext she considers to be the most beneficial.
Having content online that is easily accessible.
“Accessing high-quality information has been really good for two reasons. One, because of COVID as not everyone could get to a physical library and in hospitals, we’ve only just seen the relaxing of some of those measures.
“Kortext and other e-resources have been vital to that package that we tried to deliver… and people like it much more.”
“That’s why I think e-resources are here to stay. I think, in a roundabout way, COVID has been beneficial for that, and it’s made us think of how we can make better use of our resources and work more efficiently. I think Kortext is a cog in a bigger machine of service offer.”
Nearing the end of our interview, I ask an idealistic question: If you had a magic wand, what would your library-based wish be?
I wish I would never have to say no to anyone!
“So, that’s a pretty big wish. Having said that, I did go to Sandwich on Saturday and the library in Sandwich has a beautiful garden out the back and it is really lovely, it was sunny and I thought ‘I wish my library had a garden’.
Every librarian’s favourite question… What’s your favourite book?
“A lot of people ask librarians this question… My favourite, best, most memorable book that I’ve ever read is The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. The reason I say that is because it was the first book that I remember I kept thinking about after reading.”
So this is our last question. If you could send out a universal message, to library users, what would it be?
I always finish every presentation by saying there is no such thing as a silly question. I might be one librarian and I’m not always going to know the answer, librarians are a network of people who all work together and someone will know the answer.
Playing us out, Hayley has provided us with two close contenders for her favourite song.
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