Leaving behind St Patrick’s Day and World Poetry Day,  time to get serious. Less than three weeks to go to Easter and less to the end of term. Anxiety is palpable in the atmosphere here.  Medical students with presentations to prepare  and queries  coming thick and fast.

All manner of “killer” presentation tools  were being including Prezi, Keynote, Powerpoint and Google.  Our readers are constantly teaching us,  how to help them , help others.

All the high-octane in the air and the laptops decide to go on strike!  Students have booked study rooms a week in advance with the aim of perfecting their presentations and we have the unenviable task of telling them our  laptops aren’t working.  Hard as it may be for the student to hear, it’s also difficult for us to deliver the news. Our raison d’étre is to help our readers and we want our library to fulfil their reasonable needs, not  to fail them.

We had to liaise with  IT  to ascertain what was going on. Meanwhile, with some difficulty we managed to make  alternative arrangements, far from ideal, but better than nothing.

The positive outcome is that our students came back after making their presentations, laughing and chattering while thanking us for our help.

When  things are going well, we don’t even think of how fallible technology can be. I wonder how many can remember Overhead Projectors? Incidentally they are still available for purchase!




Come in! Come in! Come on in!

Medical Library Welcomes You

Welcome to the Medical Library, we like to think that all those who come through these doors will receive the help they ask for and so much more. It is an academic library, but in addition to catering to staff and students of the university,  the library is here for anyone who is employed by any of the Northern Ireland Trusts. In other words social workers, nurses, doctors, radiologists, speech therapists, psychologists, porters, managers and many others who work within the Health and Social Care Trusts.

Many arrive here for the first time, unaware of what this library will be able to offer. It is similar to going to a foreign country where the language, customs and roads are unfamiliar. Everyone who comes in has different attitudes, needs and experiences Some are nervous, perhaps they haven’t studied for a while; others have had bad experiences of a library. Often they have so much to do they just don’t know where to start.

Our first task is to be approachable, make everyone feel comfortable in their new surroundings. A smile is often enough to bring the customer to you, or a simple ‘Can I help you?’. That’s where it starts.

In academic libraries of old, the customer or library user was referred to as a ‘reader’. We use that term interchangeably!

Today a reader came to the desk, honestly I didn’t even remember her, but she greeted me as if she knew me well. I responded in kind. When today’s transaction was finished, she said, ‘I’ll never forget how you helped me when I came to the library. I was sitting over there and you saw I was in difficulty and came to my aid. You showed me how to get the information I needed and referred me to the girl who gave me help on using the databases. I never looked back and I’ve now finished my masters. I’m really grateful’.

That made my day. I was delighted. To have taken away her fear of the library is so rewarding.

So come on on in, we will help if we can.


Tara Sparling writes

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