Clinical Evidence Based Information Specialist Part III

Natasha S. den Dekker
7 min readFeb 3, 2019


In my most recent (but previous!) posts I’ve been talking about the research element of my job but clearly I don’t *just* do research all day — mainly because in this day and age, as anyone who works in a library will tell you, we all have to do work that doesn’t quite fit the job description that we originally applied for.

Social Media Strategy

What does this mean for me? Since I do have the skills and resources of The MERL (that sheep though!) I try and spend time each week scheduling tweets and interesting articles twice a day. As well as that, I’ve managed to convince my team to create a set of videos about the work that we do. Since it’s noted that people respond well to videos (fun videos) on Twitter and elsewhere. My aim, is to grow followers and allow people across the hospital and beyond to engage with us. This is one of those tasks that should actually be a fulltime job, but sadly a lot of people see social media as an add-on to the work that they do (it’s not — digital engagement requires time and skill and an understanding of the audience(s) that you work with/for). I’ve been properly doing it for about 4–5 months, I’ve grown followers and been trying to make it less about that add-on element but more a place where the non-standard research is shared.

I manage to do this, because frankly I consume amounts of information whether if it’s from Wired, MIT, Forbes, Nautilus, Quartz, The Atlantic, BBC Future, Outline, Bustle, The Smithsonian, Atlas Obscura (the list goes on) — there’s something relevant for everyone. And also my team sends me things that they think could be of interest, usually from the BMJ and varying medical journals that have open access. I enjoy doing this, so this was an easy win for me. And usually (I’ve found in most of my roles) a lot of people actually DON’T want to do it so again win/win!

Management Activities

Urgh, the worst. BUT necessary. I fully acknowledge that in terms of my development that this is next step for me. I’ve spoken to my manager about this (unlike Oxfam where any concept of doing ‘more’ at a higher level terrified people) she’s been very receptive to me stretching myself. As a caveat I’m pretty sure I loathe management, however, open-mind and experience may change that. In context, this has meant that I have facilitated the library team (frontline staff) to create a poster of their experiences during a refurbishment.

Sounds like a small thing, but actually getting a group of people in a room, to talk about their experiences, write it down, and create a poster is actually really hard. AND then to provide feedback at every stage to make sure that it looks good, provides the relevant information and can also be shared externally should the occasion arise, is a LOT of work. I’ve had to learn how to give feedback in a constructive way as opposed to how my old managers used to do it — a combination of: Redoing everything because it’s easier than sitting me down and telling me it’s crap OR, actually sending a piece of work back to me and telling me all the ways that it’s crap and suggesting that I rewrite it, and aren’t I happy that he’s so truthful? Bear in mind that this is my own perception of the process, my ability to interact with people can leave a lot to be desired sometimes, and it’s definitely something that I need to continue working on.

As you can see, both approaches leave a lot to be desired, so it was definitely a learning experience for me to toe that line between ‘This is really not what you should be doing’ and ‘good job but do it again it’s actually not very good’. And learning how to guide and steer but not micromanage. I would be lying if I said I enjoyed it. Half of management is just listening to people and understanding their motivations, the other half is removing barriers and giving your team (should they want to) the chance to access opportunities and feel supported. Anyone that sees management as a ticket to more money and seniority and not much else is probably going to be a terrible manager. Unfortunately, it would appear that I learnt a lot from this 6 week exercise.

It was definitely a challenge for me! That’s not to say there weren’t positives, but as you know — I’m someone that likes to work from the critical points because that’s the space where you grow. Praise is nice, and good work is brilliant — but it doesn’t enable you to get better, it always means that you’re doing fine and therefore have no need to change, a position that I don’t ever want to find myself. That way, stagnation lies.

I’ve also been tasked with writing a business plan — which I’ve never done before because that it is definitely something that has always been above my paygrade, but like I said ‘stretching’. Luckily, because I’ve learnt to ask for help, I’ve asked people on my team with experience of this so I have a fairly good idea of what I should be doing. Definitely not something I would have done a year or even two years ago — so new experiences all around. (I will obviously keep you posted on the outcome of said business plan — my only remit was; to ‘keep it simple’).

Book Club — Wellbeing Lead

Ah ha! I see you thinking — that looks like more a library/librarian thing, and indeed it is!! I’ve decided to do this separately although you could argue that it falls under ‘management activities’ but it’s not something that I thought would fall within my remit but somehow it has done. Alongside running the bookclub — so doing the external liaising with the public libraries in the area and choosing the books, and running the book club proper (we have two every 4–6 weeks) I am also the Wellbeing Lead for the library.

I’m still figuring out what this means — essentially keeping on top of what the library can offer to the hospital in terms of staff wellbeing. We have a wellbeing corner (which is now fairly standard in NHS libraries) puzzles, colouring etc. And I’ve been sourcing good books — which I will be advertising in a more targeted way and keeping an eye for interesting partnerships i.e. Medicinema (this is a bit of a pipe dream though Simon Pegg IS ALWAYS WELCOME THOUGH). Currently working stocking The Happy Newspaper. This roles is probably the closest to traditional librarianing that I do and it’s ‘alright’. What it has been and is, is a good exercise in big picture thinking (something I do struggle with) and how to the whole ‘aligning yourself to strategy’ thing that is so vitally important to embedded libraries. I’ve made some great contacts in the hospital because of it and it’s something that I’m intrigued to see grow and develop. Also, I get to choose fun books for people to read and share their experiences with them which is half the fun!


This old chestnut. My team split this between us, so really it’s a team activity. But it’s one we take seriously. Pulling off who we do research for, which department they work in, what the research is for. What impact it has had, is a large part of how we justify our existence (which everyone should be doing by the way). And we are currently working a User Needs Research Project so we can do this better. Assessing how we provide the service, how people engage with us and what we could be doing better is our 2019 project!

Not a small thing, but necessary, we’re all kinda doing it around all the other stuff I’ve previously mentioned and when one of the team wrote out the timeline we all had to take a deep breath. Suffice to say, May will be a very busy month. BUT one of my aims for 2019 was to be published in a journal and this is something that goes towards that. I don’t have much more to say on this, since we’re still working on the survey questions. Flashbacks to every dissertation I’ve ever done (3) abound!

And there you have it. The last three posts encapsulate a lot of the work that I do on a regular basis. (I also do a fair amount of extra-curricular stuff but it’s not overly relevant to my day-to-day at the moment). I definitely don’t think that I would have the wherewithal to do a lot of it if I hadn’t worked in multiple industries OR if I wasn’t massively invested in my own learning and development outside of what my job requires. My ambition isn’t to have a corner office or anything like that — mine just wants me to do better, be better and earn more money. My holidays won’t pay for themselves!

Originally published at on February 3, 2019.



Natasha S. den Dekker

User researcher, Ex-Librarian. Microsoft, Oxfam, NHS. Civica. Hyperlearning AI, Lexis Nexis exercise. Probably drumming, lifting weights or planning a holiday.