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Teaching & Learning

Developing a Library

Are libraries still needed in GP practices?

Before the year 2000, the internet was just about growing.    Physical books, journals and other printed material were the main source of information.  They were a necessity.   And as a result, every GP training practice had a library full of physical books and journals.

But the question is whether one is needed now.  We are 20 years on – the 2020s!   The internet is king!   Everyone looks up things on the net because it is easier, quicker and often more accurate (if you know where to look).   And things can be updated in a matter of minutes rather than 6 months as is the case with printed books!

So, is a practice library needed?

Personally, I don’t think so.  I think it is more important to have readily available computers and printers in a number of places with a good internet connection.    Recently, in my practice, we’ve done a massive trimming down exercise and removed about 80% of books (many of which were written well over 20 years ago).  

There are some books that are worth keeping on the shelves.   These, I have listed on the right.  But for other stuff – it can all be retrieved over the internet. 

In my practice, we had a specific room called the library.   There was a whole two walls full off books and shelves from ceiling to ground.  But even then it was rarely used!  A handful of books were used and the rest were in as good newish condition as the day they were bought when we chucked them out 20 years later.

Now, we no longer have a library.  Instead we have a study room, with several computers and a sofa, flip chart and projector.  And there is a small bookshelf with 3 levels, each of which has only about 5 books and plenty of space to put down that cup of tea.

PS This is my personal opinion and not of any Deanery or HEE GP School.  What are your thoughts?  Leave some comments below. 

Physical Books in Our Practice Library

  • Books on the Consultation
      • The Inner Consultation by Roger Neighbour  (3 copies)
      • The Naked Consultation by Liz Moulton (3 copies)
      • Skills for Communicating with Patients by Silvermann  (3 copies)
      • I don’t know what it is but I dont thing it’s serious by Tim Crossley
      • What are You Feeling Doctor by John Salinsky
      • The Doctor, his Patient and the Illness by Michael Balint 
      • Doctor, the Patient and the Group: Balint Revisited by Enid Balint
  • CSA books – all these three are excellent to help you practice
      • Get through MRCGP Clinical Skills Assessment by Bruno Rushforth
      • CSA cases workbook for the MRCGP by Welch 
      • The Complete CSA Casebook by Blount & Moulton
  • Clinical Books
      • Symptom Sorter by Keith Hopcroft
      • The 10-minute Clinical Assessment by Schroeder
      • Clinical Medicine by Kumar and Clark
      • A Colour Atlas of Dermatology by Rocken
      • Differential Diagnosis in Dermatology by Ashton
  • Thought provoking books
      • Limits to Medicine by Ivan illich
      • Suburban Shaman by Cecil Helman
      • Culture, health & Ilness by Cecil Helman
      • An amazing murmur of the heart by Cecil Helman
      • Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
  • A number of narrative books
      • Brick Lane  (experiences of a Bangladeshi woman in Britain)
      • Before I say Goodbye by Ruth Picardie
      • The Prophet by Khalil Gibran
      • We have many more, but these are the ones I can think of from the top of my head.

Do we need to redefine the concept of a library rather than seeing it as a place packed with books?  Have a look at these videos.  What do you think?

Please leave a comment if you have a tip, spot an error, spot something missing or have a suggestion for a web resource.
And of course, if you have developed a resource of your own, please email it to me to share with others.

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