MAP Toolkit began as a small group of like-minded librarians in the UK, who, through mutual enthusiasm and a desire to collaborate, created an online resource to enable health libraries to demonstrate value and impact. As we developed the toolkit, we shared learning, expertise, ideas and knowledge. Working collaboratively on the project has not only created a resource for other librarians, but has cultivated a community of practice for those of us developing the project.
A community of practice is defined as ‘a group of people who share a concern or passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly’ (Wenger, 1998). For the MAP Toolkit project team, the learning that we’ve experienced as professionals has been unexpected and unintentional; a bi-product of working together in pursuit of a shared goal.
After struggling for a few years as a small, regional group, the project team expanded in 2013 and invited involvement from other librarians across the country. Ten ‘Content Editors’ were recruited who brought with them additional expertise and differing perspectives. Since then, the group has only met once face-to-face, with the majority of communication taking place via email discussion list and teleconference. Often our teleconferences digress into discussions about other issues currently facing health libraries in the UK today, which really benefits our understanding of the challenges that library staff face in demonstrating value and impact.
Personally, I’ve developed professionally in many ways since working on the project. I’ve broadened my understanding of strategic drivers in the NHS, which as a relatively new library manager has been invaluable to my development. I’ve incorporated elements of the project planning template into my local promotional activities, so that they are aligned with local and national drivers. I’ve used the case study template to write articles and case studies that we’ve used locally to demonstrate our impact on the wider organisation. My team have written case studies for the toolkit and contributed to the KM Stories section of the site. Being part of this project has been really exciting. Working alongside librarians from across the UK is a brilliant experience and it really does feel like we’re part of something cutting edge in libraries. As a whole, my involvement in the project has contributed to my own development, as well as that of my team, and has led directly to improvements in the service that we deliver locally.
We are currently looking for additional Content Editors who feel that they have a couple of hours a month to spare to work on this national project. If you’re a health librarian in the UK who’s interested in joining our small but perfectly formed project team, please get in touch!
Tagged: Community of Practice