21 Mar 2017

Library Directors.org

Guest post by Alex Lent, Director of Milis, Massachusetts Public Library

Alex Lent contacted me and asked would it be possible to bring to the attention of Library Directors everywhere a group called The Library Directors Group. With that in mind could you please RT this post, share with those you think it might interest. And even copy and paste and share on any LIS mailing lists you think might be interested. The resource looks invaluable, and, I would argue, not just of use to current library directors, but those who would like to be in that position down the line.

Hi Everyone,

Last year, I started the Library Directors Group, which exists to facilitate communication, collaboration, and continuing education for library directors, especially for those library directors who are in their first five years on the job.

This group is the resource I wish I had had on my first day as a library director and it has been a huge help over the past year. I'm writing to tell you about the group because I think it could be useful to you as well.

We have a website, which has a list of resources other library directors have found useful, a blog which will soon be posting a steady stream of original content from a number of authors, and a link to a list of library director job postings. We're also on Facebook (facebook.com/librarydirectors) and Twitter (twitter.com/libdirectors). One of the projects we're working on right now is gathering as many state-produced manuals for library directors as we can. We've reached out to COSLA to help with this and the manuals have started to trickle in. Ultimately, we hope to have as complete a list as possible of these sorts of manuals.

We are also working to have a presence at as many library conferences as possible, hosting round tables for directors (and anyone who is interested in library administration) to discuss the challenges they face, share their experiences, and build a network of other directors who they can rely on for advice. I've been leading most of these round tables, and I'm hoping to convince other people around the world to lead round tables in the same format at their local conferences (although, if you want to fly me to Ireland to lead round tables or workshops, or give conference presentations, I would LOVE that).

But our most active platform is our listserv, which you can sign up for at librarydirectors.org. We have over 300 members from all over the United States and Canada and are looking to expand overseas. We've had questions on Friends groups, contracts, fundraising, mentoring, and a wide variety of other topics. Librarians are a question-friendly bunch and this listserv has proven quite useful.

If any of this sounds interesting to you, please sign up at librarydirectors.org. If you have any questions, you can email me at at alex@alexlent.org.


Alex Lent

10 Mar 2017

Connecting The Dots: From Study to Practice: A collaborative Review of #slip2017

At the recent SLIP Conference one bit of advice given to early career librarians was to write, to publish. Libfocus was mentioned as a good place to start. In the spirit of that sentiment we present three reviews of the event, all presenting a personal perspective of a different author.

James Gracey is a Library Assistant at St Mary's, Belfast. He studies LIM at UU.

The recent SLIP conference in Dublin was dedicated to the provision of advice and information for recent graduates, and for those new (and indeed not so new) to the profession who might wish to advance their career. Proceedings kicked off with a discussion between representatives from several institutions offering LIM courses. Professor Kalpana Shankar (UCD), Marie O’Neill (Dublin Business School) and Dr. Jessica Bates (UU) reflected on various changes in the sector and how these have influenced certain changes and modifications to the LIS courses they each offer.

After this discussion, various ‘lightning presentations’ were delivered by current students and recent graduates, all of whom shared personal experiences, offered practical advice and presented with efficiency and passion. The current, frankly Orwellian climate of fake news, political propaganda, misinformation and ‘alternative facts’ was addressed by Professor Kalpana Shankar in her quick-fire talk Why Information Professionals are Needed More than Ever. Kalpana detailed, with some urgency, the vital work carried out by ‘renegade’ information professionals, such as data rescue, the promotion of information literacy and guerrilla archiving, in an ongoing attempt to keep federal climate and environmental data accessible and untainted by those who wish to alter it or wipe it from existence. 

Recent graduate and Trinity College librarian Jesse Waters discussed his endeavours to find a permanent position in My First Year Out of Library School. Offering practical advice and sharing anecdotes of working 40 hour weeks in various positions to further his experience, Jesse talked about the importance of determination, commitment to professional development and a positive mental attitude in navigating the uncertainty and knock-backs of post-graduate life. Current PhD students Anne Marie McInerney and Jayne Finlay discussed their current research into prison libraries and the importance of literacy in rehabilitation. Jayne also reflected on the importance of embracing change and the unexpected, the wide range of roles within the LIS profession and how they can interconnect and complement each other, ensuring the honing of transferable skills. Other speakers explored the importance of presentation and stepping outside of comfort zones, the librarian’s role in promoting literacies, the importance of critical thinking while networking (which can often just perpetuate positive reinforcement), balancing the need for qualifications with acquiring experience, the interdependence of theory and practice, the utilisation of transferable skills, and the importance of continuous professional development, which was reiterated throughout the day.

The closing discussion was a personal highlight because of the practical advice offered by the panel - Jane Burns (RCSI), Meadhbh Murphy (UCD Archives), Katherine McSharry (National Library of Ireland) and Helena Byrne (British Library) - and because of their candidness and camaraderie. Amongst a deceptively wide range of subjects they discussed increasing digitisation, how to further experience, wielding a positive attitude, dealing with confrontation, improving your CV, networking, mentoring, and preparing for interviews.

The rapid delivery of the presentations throughout the day ensured a lively pace and the opportunity to informally approach speakers ensured an engaging atmosphere. Ultimately, Connecting the Dots: From Study to Practice provided a very positive and encouraging experience for attendees.

Stephanie Chen is a recent MSc Information and Library Management graduate, volunteer at the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland and blog manager for SAH Journal Blog.

The 2nd Annual SLIP Conference took place on Saturday, February 25th at Pearse Street Library. The theme of the conference this year was “Connecting the Dots: From Study to Practice” and featured two expert panels as well as lightning presentations and posters from current students and recent graduates.

As a recent graduate from the MSc Informatiom & Library Management program at DBS, I’ve highlighted a selection of points that resonated with me below.

The conference opened with a Library School Panel Discussion with Professor Kalpana Shankar from UCD, Marie O’Neill from DBS, and Dr. Jessica Bates from Ulster University. Key remarks included Dr. Jessica Bates and Professor Kalpana Shankar stressing the importance of theory and having a strong foundation to inform practice and Marie O’Neill offering practical advice of publishing, joining associations (such as the LAI), and, of course, networking. But, what I found most important, was the commitment they all had towards supporting and advocating for students and graduates. I got the sense the panel was keenly aware those in library school are the next generation of leaders. As such, the three library schools recognize they have a responsibility to equip students with the necessary knowledge and skill sets to succeed. It was reassuring to know all three library schools were involved in the formation of the Information Professionals’ Network, which will be hosting its first Careers Expo on May 19th. Not only will this Expo highlight the numerous skill sets we as students and graduates have, but it will also create opportunities for more non-traditional librarian roles. 

In his lightning presentation, recent graduate Jesse Waters offered attendees great advice: be flexible and be involved. I was impressed with his ability to recognize gaps in his skill set and commit to constantly upskilling. Case in point – he wrote a blog post and made a poster because they were things he’d never done before. His willingness to step outside his comfort zones to close these gaps is something I feel we all should strive to emulate.

Speaking on behalf of the Library Association of Ireland (who sponsored the event), Dr. Philip Cohen highlighted the various ways in which the LAI supports the library and information profession – through accreditation, awards, formal and informal networking events, and much, much more. Most relevant to the attendees was the fact that student membership in the LAI is free for 2 years.
Professor Shankar, speaking on behalf of the event’s other sponsor, UCD School of Information and Communication Studies, also gave a short talk on the value of and need for information professionals. The passion Professor Shankar showed in her talk was inspiring and highlighted the fact that the profession is relevant now more than ever. We are the ones who come equipped with skills to “rescue” data, combat “alternative facts,” and manage the high volume, velocity, and veracity of information.

In her lightning presentation, Jayne Finlay, a first-year PhD student at Ulster University, traced her career path and demonstrated how it has not always been straightforward, a fact I feel many of us can relate to. Through her experiences as a student and assistant librarian, she realized her strengths and interests were in doing research. By drawing from her own personal experiences, Jayne demonstrated the importance of critical self-reflection as it can reveal how one can best contribute to the profession. Lastly, Jayne closed her presentation by asking attendees to be open to new paths and, most importantly, to say yes to things that scare you (like writing a blog post!).

The conference closed with a Practitioners Panel Discussion with Jane Burns, Meadhbh Murphy, Katherine McSharry, and Helena Byrne, who all offered fantastic advice. They stressed the importance of highlighting all transferable skills, doing all you can to demonstrate your competency, and being resilient.

One key theme throughout the day was the importance of getting involved and engaging with the profession. While library school can equip us students and recent graduates with a tremendous array of skills and a strong foundation, at the end of the day, the onus is on us to use these skills and upskill. We are the next generation of leaders so we should be making our voices heard by joining groups, publishing, and presenting.

Emma Doran is a 2016 graduate of the MLIS at University College Dublin with a background in History and Classics form Maynooth University Emma has previously worked abroad as an English Teacher in Japan and currently works with Kildare County Council as a Library assistant in the Maynooth branch. Doran

On Saturday the 25th of February 2017 SLIP Ireland held their Second Annual Student Conference. SLIP or Students, Librarians & Information Professionals Ireland is a relatively new organization to the world of library and information and champions the need for more discussion in the field of Library science in both practical and theoretical terms for students, librarians and other information professionals.

The Theme of this years conference was “Connecting The Dots: From Study to Practice”. As a newly qualified Librarian myself, I felt attending this conference was a huge benefit to me personally and gave me more awareness about the steps I need to take as a budding librarian to help my career flourish. Not only were the presentations and panels highly interesting and teaming with information but I found them to also be quite reassuring. I don’t know about you, but oftentimes when I speak to fellow graduates about the struggle to establish oneself as a librarian or information professional and to pin down that sometimes elusive dream librarian position. I find I am not alone in being disheartened occasionally. This conference helped me to meet other graduates in the same boat as myself professionally and helped to thoroughly re-energize my motivation and my ambition to succeed, while providing me with useful and career changing advice.

The day began with an opening Library School Panel hosted by Clare Murnane and featuring key representatives from UCD, DBS and Ulster University. They spoke to us about the changes happening currently in the schools and the possibility of introducing further avenues of career professional development for graduates and professionals. Afterwards we were treated to some wonderful lightning presentations by:
Jesse Waters on Work, Job Applications, and Professional Development: My First Year Out of Library School.  He gave some great advice for recent graduates. “ Be as flexible as you can and apply for jobs that you think you may not get.”

Next Anne Marie McInerney opened our eyes to an outlet of Library and information needs I was not very aware of in her talk on Prison Libraries and Prisoners’ Information Needs. 

After Ann Marie the SLIP Platinum Sponsor Presentation was given by the then President of The Library Association of Ireland, Dr. Philip Cohen on the Lai and what membership can do for you. He summed it up very nicely in one word by saying “In one word what do we do? We support, we support you through your career.”

Following Dr. Cohen was, Dr. Kalpana Shakar (UCD) who spoke to us about the key roles for librarians in their field and of the “scope of information 3V’s volume, velocity and veracity.” (Jane Burns)

A short break was taken and afterwards we were treated with some more presentations by Jayne Finlay, Gary LaCumbre, Michael Arnold and Rachel Hludzinski.  Jayne spoke to us about how her library experiences shaped her research and advised us to “say yes to things that scare you and don’t be discourages. Network, do CPD and follow your interests and they will lead you where you need to be.” Gary spoke to us about Networking as Critical Disengagement: Crisis in the Information Profession and how to be mindful of when and where we network. Michael spoke to us about the importance of presenting and reminded us “ sometimes what you don’t see as your main strength may actually be very unique to you.” Rachel taught us all a little about digital literacies. I felt I learned some valuable new things from her presentation.

Posters were also presented at the conference. This year featured a poster by Sarah Connaghan on Three Phases of Understanding: The Job of a Librarian. √Čanna O’ Keefe, Enda Kehoe, and Stephanie Chen also presented a poster From Cupboard to Cloud: How a Small Organization Carries Out a Large Scale Digitization Project. Both of which have inspired to try my hand at a poster of my own this year.

And finally the day ended with a hugely beneficial closing panel of: Jane Burns (RCs), Meabh Murphy (UCD Archives), Katherine Mc Sharry (NLI) and Helena Byrne (The British Library). I found this panel to be extremely helpful; they gave guidance on how to further your career, how to future-proof yourself and how to be resilient and to value yourself even in the face of rejection. I felt the conference was a huge success and I personally cannot wait for next year!
For any nuggets of advice or inspiring and motivating quotes

From the day please feel free to head over to my twitter account @tumbling_tomes. Finally I will leave you with this wonderful piece of advice from Jane Burns “ You’re more than your work experience, you’re more than your education.”

I hope it inspires you as much as it inspired me.

Conference Review: The Sociable Librarian: Connecting & Creating Communities

Academic & Special Libraries Conference, 16th and 17th February 2017 Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Dublin 8

*Guest post by joint A&SL conference bursary winner 2017 Joanne Carroll*

The A&SL Conference this year was all about building communities and being sociable. Attending as a sometimes anti-social archivist, I was worried I may be out of my depth. But the speakers and delegates soothed any worries I had; the friendly and positive atmosphere was clear from the very first cup of tea (the first of many!).

The opening session, by keynote speaker Dr Brenda O’Connell of the University of Limerick, set the positive tone of the conference by illustrating the virtues of her field of expertise: positive psychology. Her paper encouraged us to focus on other people in our working life, to improve our happiness and success in the workplace; setting the collaborative, cheerful and friendly atmosphere which continued for the rest of the conference. Her paper provided us with interesting resources and left us all thinking about how we could be happier in our working lives.


The fascinating and inspiring keynote speaker also encouraged delegates to converse with our neighbours and shout out answers, breaking the ice for many in the first session. Similarly the keynote speaker on day two, Scott Bonner from Ferguson Municipal Public Library, asked the attentive audience for feedback; particularly whether we would open the library during a riot! The positive vibes continued with this very inspirational paper and it was clear how impressed the room was with the work of Bonner and his staff; how they succeeded against the odds to provide services for their patrons, above and beyond what many believed possible during a time of civil unrest.

This enthusiasm continued for the rest of the conference as posters, workshops and various speakers explained the different ways they aim to improve libraries, library services and user experiences. Papers covered the many social aspects of being a librarian and information professional; building and maintaining communities through social media, traditional media, events, UX, user guides, surveys and collaboration. The speakers described the main ways in which communities were created and nurtured; to ensure the voice of the library was heard, while also listening to the voice of its users.

As always in library and information professional conferences, the Twitter machine was buzzing, maybe more so this year to highlight the theme of the sociable librarian. Some of the hashtags to look out for and follow include: #ASL2017 #whatlibrariesdo #schoolforpeace #weirdandwonderful. If you missed out on the conference, or any of the speakers, recordings can be found here: http://www.aslibraries.com/asl2017-watch-live and https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLixsH7gTZuo0z3AzKuIeU_gJrhB8Nm4FP

Similar to previous years, the facilities, food and staff of the Radisson Blu in Dublin’s Golden Lane were fantastic; however a change of scene next year may breathe new life into the conference.

It was an honour to have received the bursary to attend the A&SL Conference this year. I would like to thank the organising committee for awarding it to me and congratulate them on all their hard work. One of the most important lessons I took away from this fantastic conference was to not be shy about the important work we do in libraries, archives and information management. The inspirational speakers and friendly delegates have encouraged me to collaborate, create and nurture communities and be a (more) sociable archivist.

Slide from Scott Bonner’s keynote paper; image courtesy of Diarmuid Stokes:

Joanne Carroll is the Archivist for the Liam O’Leary Archive; a collaborative project between the National Library of Ireland and the Irish Film Institute, Irish Film Archive.
Twitter: @jomograd
Email: jcarroll@nli.ie

For more information on the bursary, please visit: http://www.aslibraries.com/asl2016-sponsored-bursary-

For more reflection on the 2017 conference, see also Emma Barthes' review at http://www.libfocus.com/2017/03/review-academic-special-libraries.html
Posted on Friday, March 10, 2017 | Categories:

6 Mar 2017

Review: Academic & Special Libraries Annual Conference, The sociable Librarian: connecting and creating communities

Guest post by Emma Barthes, student Masters of Library and Information Studies,UCD. Previously: Bachelor of Arts in English language and literature and classical archaeology in the University of Geneva.

I was fortunate enough to attend both days of the Academic and Special Libraries (A&SL) 2017 conference as a student conference assistant.  Not only was I able to see behind the scenes, I also got the opportunity to attend most of the talks. From the warmth and excitement of the people attending, it is fair to say that the A&SL conference is a much anticipated event in the library community.

This short article will focus on the second day of the conference, Friday 17th of February 2017.

The conference took place in the Radisson Blue hotel in Dublin. As I entered the main conference hall, I was struck by the spacious room, and how professional it all looked. Cameras and audio were also being prepared while power points were being tested. The atmosphere was full of anticipation as the second day of this year’s conference – focusing on the Sociable Librarian: connecting and creating communities – was about to start. 

The excited atmosphere soon changed to being very attentive and emotional for our keynote speaker of the day: Scott Bonner , Director of the Ferguson Municipal Public Library. He travelled from the United States to share his experience about his response to Ferguson’s dramatic events last August. Scott depicted how he and his staff reacted during the time of the incident in August as well as the weeks following the announcement of the Grand Jury in November. His presentation touched upon points involving safety and the decisions that needed to be taken in such a short time and the issues that could arise. I have to say that, at the end of Scott’s very personal and honest segment, everybody in the conference room seemed really moved. Having talked to some of the people who attended Scott’s talk, many told me that they admired Scott for what he did and even teared up at the end of his presentation.  

Following Scott’s Bonner’s poignant presentation, the conference continued with two lightening talks. The first one was given by Frank Brady – faculty librarian for science and engineering and also faculty librarian for theology - and Pauline Murray – faculty librarian for arts, Celtic studies and philosophy - both from the University of Maynooth. The talks focused on how to improve libraries for users and students in particular. Solutions like a pop-up library were addressed in order to raise the profile of subject librarians and their resources. The second lightening talk was given by Simon Perry – systems librarian for computing and science at the institute of Carlow – and Sue Ramsbottom – member of the Irish Defence Forces and Defence Forces librarian in Co Kildare. They introduced us to their project on online tutorials to enhance the information literacy needs of students of the Defence Forces through IT Carlow.

Maria Ryan – web archivist with National Library of Ireland - was up next and gave us an introduction about building and promoting the Irish web archive. Maria highlighted the various positive aspects and the novelty of web archiving as well as the services it can provide for all Irish people living in Ireland and abroad. Maria encouraged us to think about web archives by reflecting on questions such as: “Where do all the deleted tweets, posts or webpages go?”

After this very interesting presentation, people had to choose between three different parallel sessions. I listened to Lorna Dodd  – senior librarian at Maynooth University - who talked about the important role of a librarian in the development of a critical skills community of practice at Maynooth University. Issues such as understanding ethical responsibility in regards to plagiarism are essential for students and one of the many skills that a new “community of practice” would be able to develop and support.  

After a delicious lunch - which surely put everybody in a receptive mood – the second and last part of the parallel sessions took place. I attended Mark Ward’s - from South Dublin Libraries – presentation on Coderdojo and the pros of implementing this club in your library. It was really informative as he went on to describe his own experience of starting this program and highlighting the issues to avoid. The main takeaway of Mark’s talk is that libraries are the ideal setting for running a program such as Coderdojo.

People then gathered again in the main conference room for two lightning talks. The first one focused on how using an online tool can inform students about the location of the library. It was presented by Sarah-Anne Kennedy – subject librarian for media and law at the Dublin Institute of Technology. Sarah told us about the benefits for both students and staff that the “library learning” project has had. It consists of sending 10 mailouts to the students during the academic year which helps the library to have a bigger reach to students. The second lightening talk was given by Laura Rooney-Ferris – information and library manager of the Irish Hospice Foundation - and Michael Ferris – library assistant at the Bar Council of Ireland law libraries - on their personal experience of creating podcasts. The aim of their “Librarians aloud” podcasts lies in expanding the reach of information professionals with interviews that are released on Soundcloud which provides a worldwide outreach and helps amplify librarian voices.

The last talk was given by Liam Wylie – curator at RTE Archivespresenting his ways of engaging with a wide audience through social media. Twitter has to be one of the greatest ways that Liam managed to do so by creating daily posts (#WeirdandWonderful) in which he published three new stories about Ireland and its people found and retrieved from the RTE archives, demonstrating that social media can be a great way to reach people.

Since most of the conference was recorded, I can only recommend that you go to the recordings on the Academic and Special Libraries website if you did not get the chance to attend this year’s conference or did and just want to listen to it again! Lastly, I would like to mention the A&SL committee, they not only did an amazing job at organising these two very informative and very pleasant days but keep libraries - and their great variety of professions – very much alive! From my own perspective as a student, I must say that the A&SL conference was really eye opening on how various the professions in libraries are.

Assisting the A&SL conference for the first time, I must say that it was a fantastic experience and opportunity. From the setting and the food – delicious – to the quality of the speakers, A&SL is an outstanding event and is already worth putting in next year’s diary!