A day in the life of an Assistant Librarian

Image alt text

Catherine Wardle

Assistant Librarian, Whittington Health Library, Highgate.


I’m at my desk by 8.30am ploughing through emails and having a much needed cup of tea at my desk.  East London to North London commuting can be tough!


On a typical day

I deal with enquiries about literature searches, organise my schedule for training sessions. Then I read research papers for critical appraisal training or for a journal club. Marketing the library service is a huge part  of my role and I develop ways in which the library can further integrate its service into the needs of NHS staff and the local population. Scour reading lists for our medical students and new book releases that I think might enrich the collection

The best thing about my role is…

Knowing that I am positively contributing to the most magnificent and equalising institution in the world! The NHS!

Also, working on a shoestring. NHS Libraries have very little resource money to support the work that they do and I think that this brings out the best of my creativity. When you have zero to work with, you have to think creatively about what you can do. It’s a challenge, but a good one!


I could be prepping for one of the many training sessions we provide for our NHS staff at Whittington Health, Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust or Islington CCG.  Or perhaps ‘head down’ in an in-depth literature search for one of our library members. I’m currently working on a search about mood management of service users who have cerebral palsy and executive dysfunction

I’ve been in my current role…

4 years

My proudest achievement is…

Establishing a Reflective Reading Club for revalidating nurses at Whittington Health. Nurses are by far the hardest group to reach once qualified and the fact that this club is fully booked every month makes me very happy. It’s utterly rewarding to bring Nurses from different services together for 90 minutes and facilitate their reflection over an article. So much learning and sharing is done and we see from the feedback how reflection can really revitalise individual Nursing practice.

What changes have you helped work on to improve the service for patients, staff, students?

Developing a free and unlimited literature searching service for all our NHS staff available at the point of need. It is a VERY busy service that we have made streamlined, timely and effective


A quick walk in glorious Waterlow Park in Highgate and a sandwich at my desk


I’m often heard saying…

Who wants a cup of tea?

It’s essential Librarian banter!

What inspires me is…

Building confidence in our practitioners to locate and appraise the evidence they have found. Our training sessions are always booked out and we receive an enormous amount of positive feedback from attendees, months later. Equipping staff and students with this skills base goes towards ensuring that patient care is evidence-based, safe and current

The hardest part of my job is…

Fitting everything in now that I am part-time

The best part of my job is…

My thoroughly excellent colleagues! Richard, Harriet, Graeme and Fiona

What qualifications or experience do you need to do your role?

An MA in Information Services Management and experience working in a health library


My afternoon work is book buying for our collection. We aim to ensure that the collection is current, evidence-based and relevant to our user groups. I’m often seen dashing to St. Pancras Hospital for a C&I Journal Club meet-up


What’s the best thing you’ve learned in your role on the job?

Time management is KEY!  And lists, lots of lists to ensure you complete everything

What does bite sized learning mean to you?

Learning in small chunks

What tips do you have for anyone wanting to join your profession?

Get some experience and be willing to work for free to get it

How are you compassionate to yourself or colleagues?

I give myself fashion! I love clothes and I make sure I give myself something every month. I work hard, it gives me utter pleasure and I deserve it!

I like to think I have good relationships with my colleagues, I value them all immensely and always get them involved in everything I do, so that we work and contribute as a team. I’m always buying them biscuits too

Before I leave work

I’ll make sure I have anything I need, as I pick my baby son up from nursery after work.  Then I handover work to my colleagues and turn on the ‘out of office reply’ on my email as I work Monday – Wednesday


After work

Get home, feed the baby and put him down to sleep and then potter around my garden for an hour.  This is the first time in my adult life that I’ve ever had a proper garden and I LOVE IT!  The beans and tomatoes are coming home!

Quote Catherine

If you could travel back in time what work tip would you give to your younger self?

None – I’ve worked hard all my life and made decisions and choices that were right for me at that time. But at a push… maybe to have a little more courage and create opportunities for myself

A day in the life…
Interview with Fiona Cameron @cameron_fiona
Digital Communications Manager, My Care Academy.

Read more of Fiona’s blogs on this site here

Designed and developed by The MTM Agency