Chartership – Partnership Working August 2011

This is just a quick post about the importance of partnership working especially in the current climate, using one specific recent example.

I work for a primary care trust (PCT). For those unaware, successive governments have agreed to disband PCT’s, and whilst there are numerous papers, news stories and other pieces of work available about this – Transforming Community Services is a good a place as any to read up on it. This has resulted in a substantial amount of our users (both potential and actual) moving over to our neighbouring acute foundation trust. Now – not all health libraries operate the same, most primary care/public health libraries don’t, but there is a large difference between acute (hospital) and primary care library provision. The makeup of the users from the two is in my experience substantially different, a primary care library operating to a more remote user as they tend to be based throughout the community, where an acute tend to operate to those within the grounds and thusly gear services towards (not wholly though) those who physically use the library – an open door policy. I feel this could be a problem elsewhere – especially where, like us, the library has also not moved across.

Obviously the move of a large amount of community-based users to this different provision model isn’t compatible – they are not going to travel for the services and the library isn’t geared towards the new way of thinking. What to do?

We have a very good working relationship with our local acute library. In fact we have very good relationships with the majority of our partners. This being the NHS in 2011, there was no money to play with, and in the current transitional phase, library provision wasn’t the top of the agenda (shocking I know!). We did what we do best – we worked together. Despite these people having new badges or not being located ‘on-site’ they were still NHS staff, and the most important thing was that the users had access to the services they need. This was not a time to ’empire build’ or make demands on one another, rather work in partnership to provide the most complete library service possible. At this time it does not matter if a piece of evidence comes from their ‘home’ library or not – just that the user has the correct evidence and is able to use it to in such a way that informs best practice. Agreements both formally and informally can be developed (a joint operational policy is already in place and being updated). This is easier because of the strong network we have including inter-library book loan and document supply.

The relationship however is not perfect. There are clashes both professionally and personally and we have different ideas on how things should be done. This could be several blog posts in itself – but we do not let these, in the scheme of things, minor issues, affect the quality of service. This is the most important aspect and should never be forgotten.
Whether you are a Saturday assistant or a library manager – you need to remember that you serve your users – be they commissioners, or health visitors or academic students and academic staff or the general public. If you are not serving them – you are merely serving yourself.


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