Embedded Librarian Service

Embedded Librarian Service (ELS)

What is an Embedded Librarian?

This is a Librarian who embeds into a clinical or corporate team. The purpose of this is to attend in-service meetings or team meetings to identify any evidence gaps and then to carry out detailed evidence searches, disseminate those findings to the team and enhance evidence-based practice.

An Embedded Librarian may also help to support journal clubs and other events which help to capture, organise and share knowledge.

Our mission is to ensure that staff at WSFT have the right evidence, at the right time and in the right place.

If you would like more information about having an Embedded Librarian in your team, please contact Laura Wilkes at library@wsh.nhs.uk 

Here’s what some of our colleagues have to say about the ELS:

Over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Library service has consolidated its position as exemplars of knowledge mobilisation and this had a positive impact on key teams during a very challenging period.
An example is the daily briefing for the Core Resilience Team which, at the start of the pandemic, the Library provided multiple times per day, such was the volume of information being published daily by Public Health England and the Department of Health and Social Care. The digest of information and the simple format in which it was presented allowed key personnel to carry out operational decisions which impacted across the organisation and community.

The Clinical Ethics Advisory Group was established at the beginning of the pandemic to make recommendations to the Executive Group on complex and challenging ethical issues. The Library service played a full part in this group and frequently provided evidence summaries which helped to inform their recommendations, which in turn informed our decisions as a Board.

The Library service not only supports teaching, learning and research across the organisation, it exemplifies the need to consult the evidence base before clinical and management decisions are made, and it mobilises knowledge by capturing, sharing and reflecting on organisational knowledge and information. A clear example of this was their facilitation of several of the workshops in the What Matters To You project in 2020.

The Library also serves staff wellbeing by providing evidence summaries for various wellbeing groups, including Staff Psychological Support, and the LGBT+, BAME and Disability Networks. The Library is an active member of the Staff Wellbeing Group and, of course, the physical space provides a calm, quiet respite where staff can browse a varied collection of books away from the pressures of the day job.
Staff have appreciated that the Library remained open and staffed, albeit at times virtually, during the height of the pandemic.

Professor Steve Dunn
Chief Executive Officer
West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust
26th May 2021

The Library is an integral part of the Workforce team and is instrumental and pro-active in supporting knowledge mobilisation across the organisation.
Two examples of this are the knowledge briefings for the Core Resilience Team during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the workshop facilitation for our largest ever organisational listening exercise, ‘What Matters To You’ in the summer of 2020.

The Library service promotes the capture, sharing and dissemination of organisational knowledge in the various workstreams in which they participate, and these include the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Steering Group, The Continuing Professional Development Group, The Wellbeing Group and as allies of the LGBT+, Disability and BAME Networks.

As well as contributing to the work which informed the West Suffolk Foundation Trust People Plan, they continue to contribute by participating in ongoing workstreams, such as the development of a significant training and development offer for line managers.

At each stage of their involvement, the Library service reminds the organisation of the necessity of using the evidence base to inform decisions, and reinforces this by providing evidence summaries to inform various work streams.
The qualitative statements provided by Library users in annual impact surveys demonstrate just how valued and appreciated the service is across the organisation.

Jeremy Over

Director of Workforce, HR and Communications

I am very proud that at WSFT, our library, housed in a purpose-built structure separate to the main hospital, provides an oasis for reflection and study. Yet more than a building, it is the professional team which have, either by short interventions or sustained guidance, facilitated many students to achieve success in their chosen endeavour.

Having an embedded team is crucial to providing in-meeting and post meeting evidence updates and summarised evidence searches for clinicians and managers. This expertise is extended to the support given to journal clubs and to teams and individuals producing conference posters and writing for publication.

Having had a long-established range of resources dedicated to equality, diversity and inclusion issues, the library has demonstrated its trailblazing qualities. The image of an oasis is recreated within the library as staff wellbeing is supported through the provision of mental health and fiction books and the relaxing café-style area.

Specifically to my medical colleagues, I am grateful that the library hosts inductions for medical students and newly- appointed consultants as well as providing on-going support with resources and evidence searches for all medical staff.
There is access to traditional paper-based resources as well as electronic access to OpenAthens e-Learning Resources, BMJ Best Practice, BMJ Case Reports, ClinicalSkills.net, Anatomy TV and an ever increasing range of e-journals/e-Books.

This year the significance of the need for professional knowledge management specialists came to the fore during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Having a librarian on our COVID-19 core resilience team was an inspired decision. Helen was able to sift through the large number of documents that were being produced and often providing summaries and/or highlighting the key information which was required to make urgent decisions. Her filtering helped us to direct important information to relevant specialties/areas of operation so plans and processes could be developed.

Laura, our chief librarian brought a wealth of expertise, experience and insight to the Clinical Ethics Committee which I established, in March 2020, to advise the COVID-19 Strategic Group. She did what excellent librarians do best which is to get us to finely hone our request by framing the right questions which helped her to identify the most appropriate sources. Laura was then able to critically appraise the plethora of information, distil and summarise it to facilitate decision making.

Dr NIck Jenkins

Former Medical Director

Laura and the library team have been pivotal to the establishment and ongoing development of the Trust LGB&T+ network, which supports patients and staff who identify as LGB&T+. Right from the inception of the network, Jessi was a key ally and member of the network. Laura also attends the meetings as an ally and contributes significantly to the work of the network.

The library team has embraced the Rainbow NHS Badge project which the LGB&T+ network launched in June 2019. The badge is worn by staff who have signed a pledge, to signal that patients and families can be open about their gender and sexual orientation and that they will not be judged, but will be supported. The library stocks the badges and offers staff the opportunity to sign a pledge to wear a badge. This has made staff and patients feel more welcome and we have had positive feedback from staff and patients about the impact of the badges.

Laura leads a focus on diversity and inclusion within the library that pre-dates the formation of the LGB&T+ network and now complements and supports it. For example, the library launched a “Books Beyond Borders” reading challenge, encouraging staff to select books from their Equalities Collection. The aim of the challenge is that people learn about lived experiences outside their own, to tackle prejudices and gain greater understanding of diverse perspectives. This includes books representing the LGB&T+ community and therefore supports the aims of the LGB&T+ network by raising awareness and challenging discrimination.

Laura arranges pop up library events to celebrate LGBT History Month, raising awareness of the often hidden history of LGB&T+ people. Recently, Laura took part in a stall the LGB&T+ network ran jointly with Suffolk Archives, to celebrate LGBT History Month and as part of the Pride in Suffolk’s Past project. This involved talking to staff, patients and visitors about the project and also encouraging staff to sign a pledge and get a Rainbow NHS Badge. This involved challenging preconceptions and celebrating the diversity of the Suffolk population. Laura leads from the front on these issues. This enables staff and patients to learn more about the LGB&T+ community, and makes it easier for staff and patients to be open about who they are. To have this support from the librarian is invaluable- it is emotionally draining for LGB&T+ people to constantly challenge and to speak up, our allies strengthen our voices.

Nicky Cottington

Former Associate Director for Operations

I would say Laura has been a really wonderful advocate for the multifaceted role of health librarian – she is proactive, professional and hugely knowledgeable. She has helped us to understand how knowledge never stops underpinning the work we do, in so many guises. The innovation in this is the embedded librarian role and the way she has brought the library service out into the front row.

Rosie Finch, Professional Lead Physiotherapy


From a small seed of a discussion about embedding librarians in a car park to the fantastic project that is Embedded Librarians!! Laura has tirelessly driven this project from the small pilot of SALT to where we are now – she has made the library accessible to my staff, she (ably assisted by Helen and Beverley) has led and taught by example – our journal club has been transformed and our in-service now more coordinated – the article searching service is great and also staff feel more empowered to be independent in their searches and critical appraisal.

Laura has been extremely supportive in a time of change and a listening ear – she and the team have helped us with various events working towards integration – knowledge café – away day, and always sharing new ideas and her passion for all things library shines through.

Liza Asti, Professional Lead Speech and Language Therapy                                             


The Library provided us with an evidence summary and a synthesis about the benefits of swimming for disabled children. We were asked for the evidence by the special school that we work in, as a group of parents is fund raising for an accessible pool to be built at the new school site. We passed on the information to the group so that they could use it as evidence to support funding applications and more generally to spread the word about the benefits of swimming. Having the information enabled us to work collaboratively with the school and the parents and share information. The search highlighted some public health benefits, such as the propensity for disabled children to be overweight, which was not something which we had thought about, but which will give added weight to the group’s case.

Hilary Whitwell, Children’s Physiotherapist West Suffolk Community Services


The knowledge café had a huge impact on the staff that attended – they report gaining a wealth of knowledge and experience from other colleagues.  It also had positive reinforcement of the clinical reasoning they do on a day to day basis boosting confidence in their roles.

Lucy Whent, Clinical Specialist Occupational Therapist (2018)