Prior to the pandemic the library at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust produced a monthly newsletter of about four pages with information on library resources, outreach and staff news. The newsletter goes out to several hundred staff; recipients generally sign up to receive it when they join the library. Once we entered the first lockdown the library staff were working from home and it was decided the library news should be fortnightly to keep users informed about the latest service developments. We had been taking it in turns to edit the newsletter but I volunteered to become the sole editor.
The Library news is produced using Publisher and initially it was almost entirely information about how users could access library services and the measures we had taken to keep the Preston and Chorley hospital libraries safe as throughout lockdown the libraries remained open to users 24/7.
Gradually I developed the news to include activities and updates from other departments such as Health and Wellbeing, Blended Learning and Learner Support so whilst the bulk of the publication remained “library “news it became more inclusive.
I also started to add items that might help with relaxation and wellbeing such as staff recipes, a regular quiz and a page of recommended media from our team including TV, film, podcasts and of course books. We have received lots of favourable comments regarding the library news including “myself and my friends have really enjoyed the challenge of doing your little quizzes in the monthly Library newsletters”, from staff in our cancer department who enjoy doing the quiz in their break. From the learner support team: “Thank you, the library newsletter is really great full of useful information”. Plus “I always forward your newsletters on to my MHFA contacts list and also the leadership groups, championing the great work you do” from the leadership team.
The newsletter increased in size from approximately four pages monthly pre pandemic to about fourteen fortnightly. From summer 2020, when staff gradually retuned to working on site, the library news reverted to a monthly format. However it is now often up to twenty pages in size, promoting our regular competitions, new resources, events such as PRIDE and Black History Month and virtual training.
Last year a member of staff from the organisational development team commented on how the Library news had made her department think of doing a similar publication and congratulated us on keeping users well informed during a difficult and rapidly changing time. As a result I submitted an impact case study on the positive effect of the library news during the pandemic which was accepted and published last autumn: Impact of ‘Library News’ during COVID19 pandemic’
I continue to edit the monthly news and we also ask for contributions from users. Soon the library staff will be on site more often so the newsletter may evolve again as circumstances change but it has helped inform and entertain our users during very hard times.
Library Assistant, Library and Information Service
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust