“Made academic practices more consistent and easier to fit into the
week. My particular work really benefits from keeping informed of the
resources available and of the kind of work that others are doing. We
also forward these links to others in our team who are based at the
University of Melbourne and with other public health services so St.
Vincent's is seen as an academic leader and a service that is striving
Evaluation of the Mental Health
Specialist Librarian role
Helen Wilding, Research Librarian, St Vincent’s Hospital (Melbourne)
Jeremy Taylor, Chief Librarian, St Vincent’s Hospital (Melbourne)
The mental health specialist role was introduced by St Vincent’s Hospital
Library Service in November 2012. It aimed to raise awareness and uptake of
the library’s specialist research services and to improve interdisciplinary and
The incumbent was Helen Wilding, a research librarian with specialist
knowledge in the mental health area. As part of the role Helen was invited to
join the Research & Academic Group of St Vincent’s Mental Health,
supported and collaborated with mental health staff at all levels on a variety
of research projects, and distributed a regular current awareness bulletin,
Mental Health Update, to approximately 400 staff. In addition, Helen and
other library staff continued to offer the library’s usual research support
services hospital wide.
Results from library statistical comparisons
Statistical comparisons indicate that the specialist role had the following
impact on service use by mental health staff:
Inter library loans increased from 59 to 250 (331%)
Literature search requests increased from 27 to 79 (193%)
Database tutorials increased from 7 to 28 (300%)
Other extended consultations increased from 2 to 54 (2600%)
Support with systematic reviews increased from 4 to 6 (50%)
Library orientations increased from 0 to 24
Total participants in education increased from 9 to 119 (1222%)
Downloads of psychiatry articles increased from 3882 to 7422 (91%)
The proportion of psychiatry article downloads compared to total site
wide downloads increased from 6.97% in 2012 to 10.23% in 2013.
The Library Service has collected detailed
statistics of service use by approximately
30 hospital departments, including Mental
Health, since 2006.
To measure the impact of the specialist
role statistics relating to mental health
staff only were retrieved, collated and
compared for the 12 months before and
after the role was introduced. Comparison
periods for service use were Nov 2011 to
Oct 2012 and Nov 2012 to Oct 2013.
Access to online journals was compared
for 2012 and 2013.
Additionally, in October 2013, eleven months after the role was implemented,
an online survey evaluating its impact was distributed to 380 recipients of
Mental Health Update. 80 responses were received over a two week period
from a wide variety of professional disciplines (Figure 1).
Results from survey
80 responses were received to the online survey. Responses supported
library statistics about increased use of library services (Figure 2) and also
indicated other ways that the specialist role positively impacted on the jobs
of mental health staff (Figure 3). Other responses indicated that:
98.7% read the current awareness bulletin, Mental Health Update
63.8% went on to read 1-5 articles, 15% read 5-10 articles, 5% read 10+
93.8% would recommend Mental Health Update.
92.4% found the role highly useful or essential.
96.3% would recommend others to contact the specialist librarian.
48 extended free text comments also reflected on the value of the role.
The implementation of the mental health specialist librarian role has been
very successful in engaging mental health staff in research and applying
research to clinical care. Details of the project have been shared with the
wider health library community through a conference presentation (Wilding,
2013) and journal publication (Wilding, 2014).
If staffing levels allowed, it is apparent that this model of library support has
the potential to enhance research skills, publication output and enthusiasm
across many areas of the health service.
WILDING, H. 2013. Implementation of the Mental Health Subject Specialist Librarian role at St
Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne. 10th Health Libraries Inc Conference. Melbourne.
WILDING, H. 2014. Implementing the mental health specialist librarian role at St V incent's Hospital
Melbourne. Health Inform, 23, 18-22.
We would like to thank David Castle, Gaye Moore and the mental health staff from St Vincent’s
Hospital (Melbourne). Without their support this collaboration would not have been possible. We would
also like to acknowledge the rest of the library staff , as the impact of the role was shared across every
part of the library service. Many thanks to Anna Lovang, Angela Morais, Danila Durante, Ann
Drummond and Andy Jackson. June 2014
Contacts Helen.Wilding@svha.org.au; Jeremy.Taylor@svha.org.au
“The staff at the St Vincent's library were extremely helpful in providing
a detailed one-on-one tutorial for carrying out a systematic review that I
was required to conduct as a part of my research role. This work was
fundamental to writing the research paper, which resulted in a
publication. Subsequently I have recommended this service the library
provides to 4 work colleagues, who have also had similar success.”
“We have been supported by the Mental Health Librarian to initiate
enquiry into an aspect of patient care that is not looked at by many
mental health services. This has enabled us to take a lead in the field
nationally and internationally, with published papers in specialist
medical journals and presented at international conferences ...”
“Fabulous service by expert staff. Greater research productivity due to
involvement and working as a team. Great collaboration and sharing of
ideas. Keep up the amazing work.”