Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Another fine mess

The evil day has come at last - I am introducing fines on overdue items. Why? Because there are a small number of people who seem to think that they can keep books for as long as they want. The intention is that fines are deterrent for those people rather than a punishment for people with genuine difficulties in returning items or a method of income generation. At the risk of being controversial fines are like speed cameras - stick to the rules and you'll never have to pay a penny.

I've recently read a comment about public libraries that says people should be able to borrow as many items as they like for as long as they like. I can see the point - it's annoying when I borrow something that has clearly come from the stacks at Harlow and not been out since 1987 to have to keep renewing it every 3 weeks. On the other hand when I worked in public libraries the nurseries and schools had books on semi-permanent loan and when they came back they were usually in such a state that they had to be thrown away. At least they had been read and used, and arguably the county council was just in the business of supplying free books to schools. A good thing, surely.

However, what we have here is a very small collection and a very small budget. If someone took out our entire collection on crisis management, COPD, reflective practice or Parkinson's and kept it for six months I'd then have to borrow book form other libraries (which does actually costs us) for other people.

The point of the library is that it is a shared resource. Sometimes people will say "oh - but no one else in my department will need these, " or even "oh - I'll stick these in the department and people can share them". Your department, discipline, profession may well not be the only people who will want to read that book. So while you gaily hog it because no other physio/F2 doctor/radiologist will want it various other managers/student nurses/consultants are seething because they see nothing on our shelves on that subject. Anything you borrow and leave in the department that is lost, damage, stolen or strays is your responsibility - you are the person who gets the bill for replacing the item. If your department needs bench books then the department should buy them - the library does not supply free bench books to departments.

If you really need a book for months on end then go and buy a copy of your own that you can dog ear, scribble on, highlight, underline, leave about the department, lend to friends, feed to your dog or abandon on a bus. Library staff are always happy to supply details of books, prices and places to buy them.

To make life a little easier we hope to soon have a big blue box for returning items that will be available for putting books in when the library - and the Postgrad centre - are closed. We do always send reminders on overdue items. If you move then please let us know so that we can make sure you receive your overdue notice. You can always phone or email to renew books. We prefer that you phone as then we can let you know immediately if for any reason it’s not possible to renew a book (normally because someone else is waiting to borrow it.)
Bottom line? Fines will be due on anything that is taken out from the 2nd of July 2007 onwards and returned late. Fines will be 10 per book per day (excluding weekends and Bank Holidays). ALL members of staff with overdue books will have to pay fines. You have been warned!!!

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

What's that supposed to mean?

Good news! The National Library for Health is finally reinstating the dictionary search facility we lost when its forerunner, the National electronic Library for Health, closed.

Where else to go for medical and healthcare definitions? I find Wikipedia is often a good place to start. If you search anything on Google it will often offer links to dictionary sites from the blue horizontal bar towards the top of the page. Beware - definitions vary in quality and are often American, it seems. A lot (all of them now?) of the definitions links take you to Answers.com.

Two American sites - www.dictionary.com and www.bartleby.com offer access to dictionaries.

For something closer to home you can access the Oxford English Dictionary and a range of other reference titles, online, for free through the Essex libraries website. All you need to do is apply for free membership of the library service to access this resource.

If you are thinking of buying your own dictionary you'll find a good selection of recent tiles at Amazon - Black's, Bailliere', Mosby and a couple of Oxford publications will all be worth having. I suspect Amazon's bestseller, the BMA/Dorling Kindersley dictionary is aimed at patients. Apart from Black's which has a long and distinguished history - these are all available for under £10 each.

Informing patients

As from today (19th June) there is a new website for patients. Using the existing nhs.ukURL it combines the information from that site (where to find your nearest hospital, GP, dentist, walk in centre) with information on illness and treatments from NHS Direct Online. There will be a third strand around healthy living. The new site is called NHS Choices.

If as a clinician you want somewhere to look for patient information then the National Library for Health includes patient information from NHS Direct online, Patient.co.uk and other good quality sources. If you are looking for information for patients on specific topics (especially cancers) then the major patient charities often have good quality information on their sites. For anything to do with children you can't go far wrong starting with GOSH.