Testing a presentation: Find Use Access the Royal Marsden Manual

As part of the second day of the “How to deliver a memorable library induction” course I had to structure, organise and present a short presentation in front of a group of health librarians.

I decided to work around one of our library e-resource: The Royal Marsden Manual of Nursing Procedures.

First I started developing the content and then I moved to visual impact.

Audience – New qualified nurses joining the Trust

Time – 5 minutes

Three key messages –how to find, access and use the resource (FAU). I simply modified adapted the FRBR conceptual model (never forget your cataloguing principles!).

Tell a story – I used a real story. In one of our recent CQC inspection a nurse has been asked to provide the source of information for a specific procedure: how to remove peripherally inserted central catheters. He replied that the Royal Marsden was the source of information and the inspect asked the nurse to access it. The nurse was able to retrieve the piece of information online. This example needs to engage the audience. What if you had to show an inspector how to retrieve procedures. For this reason the audience needs to know how to find, access and correctly use the resource.

Design – I used PowerPoint and found some nice graphics on FreePik; I modified them using Photoshop.

Clever Gimmick – keep the presentation short; signposting the audience through the presentation (e.g. you are 4 clicks away from the information you need); use positive body language (smile, take pause, stress key words etc).

So this my short presentation:


(Presentation_Royal Marsden PDF version)


  • Colleagues were engaged and they said that my personality had shown through the presentation.
  • I should state that any other information about the resource (=facts) are available in a booklet.
  • People liked the three key concepts, the flow and the compelling story of the CQC inspection.
  • One colleague said that she is going to create a guide for each e-resource using the Find – Access and Use approach. Cool!

Yes, I can be scared about the idea of talking in front of a lot of people. Yes, English is not my first language. However I have to admit that I really enjoy presenting information in front of people, let’s say it is a natural talent.


How to deliver a memorable library induction

I attended a two-day course that explored the golden principles and the dynamics of any presentation or induction of library services.

During the first day we examined and investigated the basics of a good presentation. On the last day we had to create and deliver a presentation in front of our group in order to get feedback and comments.

Library inductions have usually common characteristics: librarians have a maximum of 10 minutes space; they need to compress all the services/resources in that given time; they need to impress a very mixed audience (senior staff, new qualified staff, clinical staff, non-clinical staff etc); they need to attract new users.

That is a big task!

However what I learnt from this course is that a good library induction should follow these principles:

  • Be benefit-led (as opposed to service-led). It’s useless to list endless e-resources without showing real benefit. We need to demonstrate the true value of a service.
  • Less is more. Just forget fully text slides and endless bullet points. Keep it simple: one or two concepts on each slide.
  • Stick to 3 key concepts. It so tempting to compress EVERY SINGLE SERVICE that the library can offer on a presentation, but this structure simply does not work. We need to select a maximum of 3 concepts. If we focus on these people will remember them.
  • Use images / graphics. Visual aids can be a very powerful tool to enhance the impact of your induction. Have you ever heard about the ‘dual coding’ theory? If we synchronise verbal associations and visual imagery you become really persuasive.


    Video / Audio – Photo CC by Florian Pitcher

  • Tell a story! I love this point. Instead of listing facts we should attract people with a story, in this way  we can bring our message alive for our audience. I discovered there are 8 classic storytelling techniques.
    • Do you have to state facts? Put them in a booklet!
    • Use quotations or feedback your library received. People will listen to them.
  • Connect with the audience. Induction day is a very busy and fast-pace time. Try to think how people feel and what they expect. They are now working with new people, in a new place, facing new responsibilities. Show respect for these emotions and offer your support. A simple but persuasive message could relief this stressing time: the library is here for you.

These are great concepts, stick with them and you will win any audience. Need inspirations? Watch some Teds talks.

On the second day I presented my presentation in front of my group: How to use the Royal Marsden Manual.

Info skills training – My checklist

As part of my role (assistant librarian in the healthcare public sector) I organise and deliver 1-2-1 and group information skills training. During the last year I developed and tested this checklist. Preparation is the main secret of a good info skills training.

I have to admit that people like my “teaching” style and thanks to this checklist I can time-manage my self and make sure that the information skill training is tailored around the user’s needs.

Let me give you a real example: a new staff member, a Diabetes Dietitian, just joined the Trust and requested an info skills training with me. On the form she specified that she is investigating how to manage weight during pregnancy and in post-natal period for South-Asian women. She also intended to carry a literature review on this topic.

In this case the user had a clear question in mind therefore I simply tailored the training according to her needs. Before the training I carried a brief search on Medline, selected books on the literature review process and printed some poster about the difference between a literature review / systematic review. In this way the user felt that I prepared the training in advanced (true!) and trusted my advice. During the training I performed a search on a database and she was amazed by the fact that by using a proper strategy I was able to retrieve high-quality articles for her research.

This is the feedback I received: “The training was very comprehensive. The trainer explained each stage of the process to aid my understanding. It didn’t just concentrate on the practical side of completing the literature search but included the wider skills needed for reviewing the articles and writing up”

Who me? I would say well done to myself. If I only think that a year ago I was completely new to concepts like literature search, PICO, hierarchy of evidence, systematic review, meta-analysis, RCT etc…welcome to the health information sector!

So this is my information skills training checklist:

Before the info skills training

  1. Preliminary questions in person or via phone:
    • Are they conducting a Literature Review or a Systematic Review?
    • Is this for personal/professional development or a requirement for a project within the trust?
    • What level are they working towards? E.g. Is this for vocational/academic use or will it be peer-reviewed/published?

One hour before the session

  1. Conduct a brief literature search on the topic using the databases available and retrieve a good article.
  2. Print: the article to be used as example; Systematic Review/Literature Review Comparison Chart; PICO Form.
  3. Create a note document that will be used during the training. This should include:
    • The main question
    • The stages of the literature review (Refine question; PICO; Databases available; Access full-text available)
    • References
  4. Bring relevant books along to the session that the reader may borrow (e.g. books on conducting a literature review).
  5. Make sure the PC is working and it is connected on internet

During the session

  1. Conduct a “reference interview” using questioning, listening, paraphrasing skills so you are sure you understand their needs.
  2. Edit or add on the note document any particular topic/service the user would like to explore more

After the session

  1. Ask user to fill the evaluation form
  2. Save any relevant documents created/found during the sessions in the library shared drive
  3. Email the user any relevant documentation (including the note document used during the session).
  4. Work-out any questions the user asked.

What do you think? I find it extremely useful – Happy to share it.


Stuart Chalmers – Checklist

Second study school

AberystwythMy attendance at the second study school is finished.

It was nice being sorrounded by people in my same situations. Time costraints, study/work balance, lack of confidence are really common problems.

What do I take back home? I feel re-energised and I have more confidence. There is still a study year in front of me but I am determined to finish this course.

Notes? I’ve noticed that compared to my colleagues I have matured experience in specific activities, like cataloguing and classification. I was one of few people in the classroom knowing how to catalogue using AACR2 or assign a class mark using Dewey. This made me think about how it is important to experience some activities rather than just study them.

In my pragmatic view a certification is important but I really think that gaining experience is certainly more important.

I found people that are simply postponing any attempt to progress in their career AFTER the degree.  It’s like delegating a special power to a degree title. Is it the truth? I am not sure… But this is my vision. Maybe it’s because I met so many talented professionals that are genuinely good in their professions regardless their study titles.

Anyway, happy to have spent time in Averystwyth, the weather was fabolous!

Supervise: a new journey

Just a couple of weeks ago I accepted to embrace a new challenge. I am responsible for the cataloguing activities of the new collections officer that joined our team a month ago. Briefly, I am now supervising!

In the specific I am asked to teach how to amend the imported cataloguing records for DVDs, according to our cataloguing policy. Despite the task could appear limited it actual requires me a lot of planning in order to deliver it properly. I have to prepare a defined training program that does not contain neither too much information (overload) not poor explanation. Not so easy.

Before moving to the practical part (amending cataloguing records) I have to make sure that the officer understands the cataloguing activity process and the basic principles of AACR2, MARC21 that govern it.

I therefore decided to plan the first session and cover the following topics, in this way:
• Brief overview of MARC21 and AACR2
• Understanding the DVD as a specific item
• Introduction/meaning of specific MARC fields using the Cataloguing module on SirsiDynix
o 1XX/7XX [Author/Added entry]
o 245 [Title]
o 246 [Varian title]
o 260 [Publication info]
o 300 [Physical description]

Desirable outcomes of our first session:

• Awareness of the 1XX/7XX, 245, 246, 260 and 300 marc fields
• Amending imported record [practical exercise]

After the session I monitored her cataloguing work and I have to admit that I was impressed by the result. I felt extremely exhausted, teaching how to catalogue it’s really demanding. It is not only about teaching how to follow specific rules but above all developing the so called cataloguer’s judgment by understand the author’s intention and when a rule should not be followed. It definitely requires patience and hard work, but I am confident that I will transfer this skill naturally with time.

At the end, the officer was satisfied by my explanation of the whole process and I am actively motivating her to be curious and I welcome her bombarding with questions. The next session is planned the next week. Wish me luck!