On 10th June 2015 I had the honour of opening the The European Association for Health Information and Libraries (EAHIL) conference, held in Edinburgh in collaboration with the International Conference of Animal Health Information Specialists (ICAHIS) and the International Clinical Librarian Conference (ICLC). This event is one of a series of biennial workshops and other related events designed to support healthcare librarians and information professionals in their work.
As EAHIL President, and Chair of the conference’s International Programme Committee, Marshall Dozier gave the opening address. She outlined the main aim of the conference: to enhance delegates’ appreciation and understanding of research methods, with the longer term goal of supporting the improvement of library and information services provision for user communities.
In addition to this, the organisers hoped that the ideas and experiences shared at the event would help delegates identify new means of analysing their own services and practices in robust ways, and encourage them to conduct and publish good quality research. The expectation was that they would take their learning from the conference and apply this in practice on their return to the workplace.
As well as drawing inspiration from past EAHIL events, in particular the workshop in Stockholm in 2013, Marshall Dozier explained that her participation in the AHRC-funded Developing Research Excellence and Methods (DREaM) project in 2011/12 strongly influenced the theme and format on the 2015 EAHIL conference.
I was the Principal Investigator of the DREaM project and it was for this reason that the International Programme Committee for EAHIL 2015 had asked me to deliver the opening keynote speech at the conference. The conference organisers also recorded the impact of DREaM on the label attached to the wrapping of a beautiful book that they gave me as a thank you for giving my presentation.
Before I was invited to give my presentation, however, I had another duty to perform. Until quite recently a handbell was rung to alert readers of the closure of the Erskine Medical Library each evening. On 10th June I rang it as loud as I could to mark the official opening of EAHIL 2015.
Then it was time for me to deliver my slides. I started by reminding the delegates to use the conference hashtag to extend the reach of the conference, as we had done for all the DREaM project events. There were also Tunnocks teacakes distributed around the exhibition hall to prompt everyone who was tweeting to use the hashtag.
Then I welcomed the delegates to sunny (and it really was sunny) Edinburgh, albeit with a warning that the beautiful weather that day was unlikely to last. (Indeed it vanished into cold and grey the following Saturday, the day after the conference ended.) Next I highlighted the city of Edinburgh’s suitability to host the conference due to its long tradition of medical research and education (including that of my father, a graduate of the Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies).
In the main part of my presentation I provided an overview of the work of the UK Library and Information Science (LIS) Research Coalition from 2009 to 2102, and its ‘daughter’ projects DREaM and the two Research in Librarianship Impact Evaluation Studies (RiLIES 1 and 2). I argued that to maximise the relevance and impact of LIS research it was important for practitioners to engage in research-led practice. I then outlined a new project just launched within the Centre for Social Informatics at Edinburgh Napier University to examine the impact of DREaM three years since its official end.
I concluded my presentation by encouraging the delegates to enjoy the conference, and the beautiful city of Edinburgh.
I very much enjoyed making a contribution to the conference, and joining in the other events that the organisers laid on for delegates throughout the course of the week, especially the reception at the Playfair Library on the evening of Wednesday 10th June and the conference dinner on Thursday 11th. My only regret is that the beautiful weather that Marshall Dozier laid on for us at the start of the week disappeared along with the delegates on the evening of Friday 12th June!
Further resources from the conference include:
- The conference web site
- A conference Storify
- EAHIL+ICAHIS+ICLC presentations
- ICAHIS satellite conference presentations
- ICLC satellite conference presentations
- A Flickr album of photographs taken at the conference
Some others have also blogged their experiences in Edinburgh in June 2015:
- Emily Hurt: Conference survival guide
- Isla Kuhn: (1) #researchminded #eahil2015 other great workshops; (2) #researchminded #eahil2015 – sessions that blew my mind 1/2; (3) #researchminded #eahil2015 sessions that blew my mind 2/2
- Catherine Voutier: (1) ICLC15: Supporting & Conducting Research; (2) EAHIL2015: Create a Great Poster; (3) EAHIL2015: Improving Efficiency and Confidence in Systematic Literature Searching; (4) EAHIL2015: Introduction to Statistical Thinking