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Library Value Toolkit: Critical Value Incident

Task Force Recommendations

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What do we think you should keep in mind?


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Figure with Checkmark: Image courtesy of [Master isolated images] /

Figure with box of values: Image courtesy of [Stuart Miles] /

What is this?


This section is a little bit different (text-heavy!) and is dedicated to some specific times health Librarians of all sorts have seen their value in practice:


What's a Critical Value Incident (CVI)?

We've modified this from the idea of a Critical Incident Technique, a research method that very simply focuses on a particular moment.  The Critical Value Incident focuses on a specific instance where  Libraries, their staff and/or services were integral for solving a problem or adding to the overall value of their organization. 

Though it may seem like a CVI  is similar to a Value Quip. for this resource, we've defined it differently.  It's:  "this is how we DID add value" (CVI) versus "this is how we ATTEMPT to add value" (Value Quip).  We've defeined it to be a story of a particular moment or tie when the Library, its staff and/or services added value to the organization.

We've asked the members of the Health Science Information Consortium of Toronto to send us some examples we could use and share with others, which you can find under our Example, or More Examples, sections.

Give Me and Example!

Michelle Kraft (Krafty Librarian) wrote a very good blog post called The Business of Hospital Libraries where she mentions a post made on the MedLib Listserve.  Both are worth a read, but her example in the listserve posting is a great example of what a CVI might be: 

...if a hospital wanted to get its length of stay down for a particular condition, how did the library help make an impact on achieving that goal?  Or now with healthcare reform and readmission penalties, how many librarians involved in patient education can say that their patient education efforts affected readmissions.

... A librarian could select a specific type of patient (heart failure for example) and provide patient education materials to those types of patients before discharge.  Then the librarian would compare the rate of readmission for those she saw and provided material with to those she didn't see (with the same condition). 

... we need to start doing our own mini research studies to clearly show our OWN library's impact on our OWN institution.  It is nice to show the Marshal studies and other ones, but administration wants to know what we are doing in more concrete terms not what somebody else is doing as proof of our worth.

In this example, these results would show how that Library DID add value, not just how they MIGHT or COULD.  Having these sorts of concrete examples or numbers , tying the Library, or Library staff into what YOUR organization values is a key piece of the pie!

Give Me More Examples!

From one of our members at Rouge Valley Health System in Scarborough Ontario:

In 2013, the Health Sciences Library at Rouge Valley Health System (RVHS) launched the Information on Prescription Service (InfoRx) to assist physicians and nurses in providing patients with the information about their conditions, treatments, and medications.  Throughout an extensive promotional campaign, the library has found the way of incorporating the InfoRx service into the Care After the Care in Hospital (CATCH) program, a new program implemented at the RVHS to help reduce readmission rates for patients discharged from the hospital. By supporting the educational component of the CATCH program, the InfoRx service helps save clinicians’ time in educating patients about their conditions and prescribed medications. Furthermore, the implementation of the InfoRx service has expanded the hospital’s focus on customer service, health promotion and education, as well as increased the library’s visibility and perceived value within the organization

Another great example from  one of our members at Peel Public Health located in Mississauga Ontario:

In 2009, our organization created a 10 year strategic plan that included an infrastructure priority to become a leader in evidence-informed decision making.  An integral part of creating the organizational culture for that priority was a full library reference service.  When public health practitioners make a program decision, one of the key steps in that decision is a Rapid review of the literature.  Literature searches are completed by the librarians for every Rapid Review.   Any decision made can affect the expenditure of thousands of taxpayer dollars.  The decisions affect many facets of everyday life from the water you drink to the roads and sidewalks to the air you breathe.   Two recent examples of programming changes  include the provision of an evidence-informed physical activity program for a local school board and the implementation of a region-wide outdoor smoking bylaw outlawing smoking within a nine-meter radius of playgrounds, outdoor recreational facilities and entrances and exits to municipal buildings.  In a recent 5 year check in of the strategic plan, staff were quoted as saying “I can’t imagine making a recommendation about a program now without looking at the research evidence”.  The next five years of the strategic plan includes an evolving role for the librarians including honing the skills that allow us to become more involved with the decision makers, such as helping teams formulate their original problem statement and critically appraising the literature.