Health Libraries North was a friendly and well organised conference that was high energy and focused on ensuring positive experiences of the attendees.  

Whilst I didn’t gain any specific ideas on developing my professional practice it was interesting to discuss common themes from across the sector that correlate my more specialised role – helping me gain new insight and built upon existing knowledge on different aspects of the whole sector. I even caught up with friends old and new, and obviously managed to fit in a couple of runs in. I left the conference on (early) Friday afternoon with my metaphorical cup full of library-love very much full to the brim, believing we should be very proud of what we have all built in the North! It was also nice to be able to speak to Linda Ferguson and thank her for the support over the years.



I think my two favourite presentations were Helen Kiely- speaking about use of jargon with Health Library services and Sinead English – speaking about the health and wellbeing offer within her Library. Although very different thematically, I found both presentations engaging as they were knowledgeable, articulate and passionate about their topics – knowing exactly what they wanted to get across and were able to enthuse and educate their audience equally.  

These examples (among others at the session) of successfully communicating a message in a condensed period highlight different approaches and opportunities to share knowledge – and that just because you have the content and knowledge to talk on a topic for an hour – it doesn’t mean you should! There are different ways to effectively share your knowledge and tailoring it to the audience and setting can increase effectiveness of delivery.

From listening and speaking to people, it became apparent to me that even in my ‘solo-library-ish’ role (which more and more of us have) we still have common challenges across the board – communication with users, issues with legitimacy/awareness of our profession beyond traditional roles and advocacy for the role we play – either as an individual in our teams or as a service. I suspect these aren’t unique to health libraries either. But it was fascinating how people are tackling these issues in innovative ways – be it through better use of language, or using guerrilla tactics (such as advent calendars or shelf-elfs) to raise awareness of services 



Moving forward I am going to take my learning on the ‘communication relationships’ between staff and users in more traditional settings and see how I can shape it across my role – as the transaction is often the same, just in different scenarios. By adapting and evolving this best practice, I shall be able to improve awareness of what I offer, leading to more effective use of evidence across the health and social care economy.

Thinking about how information was delivered, I am going to look at how I deliver my knowledge (especially in a peer-peer setting) to facilitate better clarity and understanding in a more condensed manner. In fact I’ve already got an idea for next years Health Library North Conference!

I will also be double checking run routes in the future for closed roads and pavements to reduce near-death experiences when running in strange lands…



Michael Cook
Public Health Evidence & Knowledge Specialist, Bolton Council