by Laura Dobie
It’s National Libraries Day this Saturday, and events are being held up and down the country to celebrate libraries and their contribution to communities. When people think of libraries, it tends to be public libraries which spring to mind and rows of bookshelves. However, the library sector is diverse. Many librarians and information professionals work in different types of organisations, with different kinds of service users.
With libraries taking centre stage over the course of this weekend, we wanted to showcase our own specialist library service and the skills of our library staff.
Who we are
The Idox Information Service is a membership library service, which was established over thirty years ago under its earlier name of the Planning Exchange. At the outset the emphasis was on the provision of resources to support professionals working in planning and the built environment, but we’ve expanded our subject coverage over the years to cover the whole spectrum of public sector information.
Our members include policy makers and practitioners from organisations including local authorities, central government, universities, think tanks, consultancies and charities. They work in challenging environments and often need evidence to inform service delivery or decision-making.
Our research officers are all qualified librarians, and many are chartered members of CILIP. This picture shows the range of activities last year:
Grey literature is a particular strength of our collection. We spend a lot of time sourcing documents such as technical reports from government agencies, and research reports produced by think tanks, university departments, charities and consultancies which are often overlooked by other databases. Recent research has highlighted the value of grey literature for public policy and practice.
Although we may work in a specialist sector, many of our activities will be familiar from other libraries. We do our own abstracting and cataloguing, and current awareness services are a big part of what we do.
We also write our own research briefings for members on different topics, with more detailed analysis of research and policy developments, and including case studies and good practice. Some of these briefings are publicly available on our publications page.
The interest from members in using our Ask a Researcher service has been increasing, due to the time pressures and other challenges that people face in sourcing and reviewing information. A recent example looking at the links between employee wellbeing and productivity is on our website. Members regularly comment on the usefulness of the results, and it’s satisfying to be able to make a direct contribution to their work in this way.
Keeping it personal
While there has been an increasing trend towards self-service in libraries, and our online database allows our members to search for and access resources themselves, there is a strong personal element to our work.
Our members know that we’re always available at the end of the phone or via email to provide them with dedicated support when they need it. It’s important to us that we provide a quality service which keeps pace with the changing needs and expectations of a varied membership base.
Hopefully this article has provided some insight into a different kind of library, and library and information work, and the way in which we support professionals across a variety of fields. More information about the service can be found here.
Laura Dobie is a Research Officer at the Idox Information Service and a chartered librarian. She writes regular blog articles and research briefings for the service, and tweets for @IdoxInfoService