Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

MLA 2022


california; oregon


Background: Amidst shrinking staff and increased demand for services, a peer-learning program was developed to build literature search capacity and self-efficacy amongst staff at a large health system. A secondary objective of this program was to provide team-building opportunities for colleagues who may not work together directly. Participants included ten professional librarians and two library specialists working as part of a centralized department spread across seven western states with most staff working remotely or alone on site with few opportunities to meet in person. This project was first presented as a lightning talk at MLA ’22 and due to positive feedback from the audience is being presented here in greater depth with end of first year results.

Description: When a literature search showed no adequate search-self efficacy instruments, we designed a brief survey in REDCap to assess staff comfort with searching and with asking for colleagues’ help. This survey was administered before the project began and will be repeated when the project concludes in December 2022. Library staff are partnered and rotate monthly. Partners may be library specialists paired with librarians, or librarians paired with each other. At the beginning of this project, experience levels ranged from one to twenty-seven years, and the rotating pairs allowed early-career staff to learn from senior librarians. Each librarian chooses a recent clinical question or other search request received from a patron. Partners independently perform each other’s searches, then meet virtually to compare results and strategies. The debriefing sessions are unstructured, and the unique features and challenges of each search drive discussion. Partners may share thoughts on database functionality, best practices in search strategy, or approaches to the reference interview and other communication with the patron.

Conclusion: Our pre- and post-survey asks staff to rate their confidence in searching on a scale of 1-5. In the pre-survey, librarians (9) reported that they were very confident (2), confident (5), or somewhat confident (2). Library specialists (2) were somewhat confident (1) and a little confident (2). The survey also includes two open-ended questions about facilitators and barriers to requesting help. The most common barrier reported was concern about imposing on colleagues’ time or adding to their workload; as our staffing has further decreased over the course of this project, we expect this concern to appear again in the post-survey. However, we also hope that the opportunity to talk with colleagues regularly will have increased familiarity and eased anxiety.


Library Science