Motorways to boreens: the story of the Irish Health Sciences Libraries Group virtual journal club

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Mary Dunne
Linda Halton
Breeda Herlihy
Anne Madden
Niamh O'Sullivan


Boreens (from the Gaelic bóthairín meaning little road) are the narrow roads that twist through the Irish countryside. Travel is slower than the busy major roads that cut straight through, but these routes enable the traveller to easily change course as options arise and to discover hidden opportunities for exploration. It is in this context that we share how we moved from the idea of a journal club for health librarians to the reality of an active knowledge sharing group. Through the story of the governing committee and our first three presenters, we explain what is required to drive this kind of club. At the beginning there were so many options and decisions it felt like moving quickly along a busy motorway, often changing lanes to avoid snarl-ups, and watching out for tolls. However, as we settled in for the long haul, we decided to take our own quieter but ultimately more interesting route. We found that if you are clear about your destination, ensure you have sufficient resources, plan carefully but are flexible about how you get there, then you may just enjoy the journey.

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Author Biographies

Mary Dunne, Health Research Board

Mary is a Chartered Information Specialist, working in the HRB National Drugs Library, Dublin. She is Vice Chair and Research Officer of the Health Sciences Libraries Group of the Library Association of Ireland. Mary is a Chartered Member of CILIP, Associate Member of the LAI, and holds an MSc Psych and MILS (Distinction).

Linda Halton, Our Lady’s Hospital Navan

Linda is a health sciences librarian with the HSE National Health Library & Knowledge Service. She is Communications Officer of the Health Sciences Libraries Group of the Library Association of Ireland. She is currently studying for a MSc in digital health transformation.

Breeda Herlihy, Mercy University Hospital and University College Cork

Breeda is the librarian at the Mercy University Hospital, Cork. She is a member of the Library Association of Ireland and has a BSc (Biol) and DLIS.

Anne Madden, St. Vincent’s University Hospital

Anne is Assistant Librarian at St. Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin. She has a BA (Languages), BSc (Mgt), Dip Mgt Law, DLIS, and is an Associate Member of the LAI.

Niamh O'Sullivan, Irish Blood Transfusion Service

Niamh is the Research Officer/Librarian for the Irish Blood Transfusion Service. She has been a committee member of both the Health Sciences Libraries Group and the Academic & Special Section of the Library Association of Ireland. Niamh is a member of the LAI, and holds a Masters in English and a DipLIS.