22 Sep 2016

Aspects of User Experience (UX) – Inaugural UCC Library Seminar – 15 November 2016

Guest post by Rose Buttimer, Electronic Resources Librarian & Chair of the UCC Library Seminar Team; advocate of Albert Einstein’s “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new”

I am delighted to announce that UCC Library is hosting a UX seminar on 15 November 2016.  This seminar will delve into some UX topics with knowledgeable speakers, who will contribute both depth of experience and humour to the proceedings. 

DonnaLanclos will open our seminar by exploring what engagement is for libraries and how we reach people.  This will be followed by Jean Ricken who will reflect on connecting with users through “invisible” services and giving a flavour of some UX successes.  Matt Borg will restart the afternoon session by deliberating on how users experience library services, along with looking at some UX fails.  Fiona Greig will complete the programme with a thought-provoking outlook on future library staff roles, from the ground level upwards.

This event is free and bookings can be made from here.  For any queries, please contact LibrarySeminar@ucc.ie

We look forward to welcoming you to UCC Library.

Registration and refreshments
Colette McKenna, Director of Library Services, University College Cork
Welcome and Introduction
Donna Lanclos, Associate Professor for Anthropological Research, Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte
Working title:  How to engage with the “invisible” user
Jean Ricken, Institute Librarian, Cork Institute of Technology
Title:  Consciously Connecting: a snapshot of CIT Library initiatives enriching the User Experience
Lunch, with an opportunity for networking
Matt Borg, Senior Librarian & Solution Expert, ExLibris, Sheffield
Title:  A Matter of Perspective
Fiona Greig, Head of eStrategy & Resources, Library, University of Surrey
Title:  What does a future oriented library look like in terms of staff roles, flexibility and adaptability?
Colette McKenna, Director of Library Services, University College Cork
Closing remarks

Posted on Thursday, September 22, 2016 | Categories: ,

12 Sep 2016

Irish Librarians making an impact in Ireland and beyond.

Guest post by Israel Chidavaenzi. Israel is the Business Librarian at DIT Aungier Street. He is originally from Zimbabwe but has been working in DIT for 15 years

Librarians are a caring lot and oftentimes, their caring extends beyond call of duty. Yes, a caring lot is the best way to describe Librarians and I can say this with a lot of gusto because as a librarian who has been in the field for more than 20 years, I have seen and experienced the joys and tribulations of the profession. As librarians, our primary role is to quench the informational needs of those who use our services; this is largely dictated by why the library was ever established. It is no surprise that more often than not, expectations of those who use our services go beyond the scope of the many job descriptions that informs what you as library profession does every other day. Often times, there is now this natural expectation that is organically growing and its now almost a given than most librarians are now venturing beyond their comfort zone, all in the hope of satisfying what they perceive as achievable - including networking and collaboration.

Networking and collaboration, herein used in the most generic sense isn’t a bad thing after all - for thus how we all get to know what others are doing hence this influences how we thrive to better our own practices. The quest to know what is happening in elsewhere is probably why you are reading LibFocus, which is a home grown platform where Irish librarians share their professional tit bits. It was through LibFocus that DIT and UCC recently collaborated on a project that will benefit students in an educational establishment situated more than 8,000km from Ireland.

Give what you have
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 – 1882) is widely credited with promoting the idea of passing on to others, objects whose usefulness is no longer relevant to current owners. This well-known saying is attributed to him:

“Give what you have. To someone, it may be better than you dare to think.”
Giving is sharing and sharing is caring, true to the last word – a good example of this is how Irish academic librarians recently cared beyond satisfying the immediate needs of Irish students but also that of students in Malawi. This was made possible through LibFocus which earlier in the year had featured an article about how fire had destroyed the Mzuzu university library in Malawi, resulting in the loss of more than 45,000 books. Librarians in DIT (Aungier Street) together with Martin O’Connor from UCC partnered a UCC Governor, Dr Rosarii Griffin in to putting together and dispatching a consignment of 22 boxes with more than 600 titles. DIT got books from its decommissioned collection, donations from well-wishers and from lecturers who often receive unsolicited donations from publishers.

Caring beyond the call of duty?
Well, in this instance “caring beyond the call of duty” is true because none of the librarians involved with this collaborative effort has any direct link with Malawi. This lack of direct link did not stop us from caring about the lack of library books to more than 4000 students at Mzuzu University. If librarians put their heads together something good comes out of their effort, thus collaboration makes things happen. It is a known fact that libraries in the developing world are the least funded and in some cases they operate with zero budgets so receiving a collection such as the one we dispatched from Ireland is for many, probably the only way to get new books in to the library. It is for this reason that, we the Irish librarians should blow our own trumpets for our help is going beyond the borders – we care for the educational wellbeing of people we will never meet.

It just didn’t start with the Malawi project
Prior to sending books to Malawi, books from DIT have been going to Zimbabwe where they were being received with the highest appreciation one could ever imagined. For years, Zimbabwean libraries were solely relying on donations from well-wishers because they just didn’t have money. Any budget allocations were wiped out within hours due to super - hyperinflation.  A quick layman’s check on the internet shows that at one point, the inflation rate was predicted to reach 1.5 million per cent. I am going to be bold here; I will not cite the source of the above figure as this record breaking inflation rate was at the time, common knowledge. So in such an environment, Libraries were left with no money so books from DIT went a long way in supporting the Zimbabwean education system during its darkest days. More than 20,000 books were shipped to Zimbabwe over a 10 year period. This was largely a solo project from me, I did everything from sourcing the books to arranging the shipping logistics and financing the shipping cost though occasionally I would receive help from others, for example one year DIT students’ Union paid the shipping cost and occasionally DIT lecturers would contribute towards the shipping cost.

The Challenge
Shipping books isn’t cheap and it’s not easy. Although I did it on my own for more than 10 years, the experience has shown that this approach is just not sustainable – collaboration is the way to go, just like what UCC and DIT did with books to Malawi. From personal experience, I got great satisfaction from doing this and I would challenge other librarians to extend their caring attitude beyond their immediate traditional users and one way is to help those in need from far afield. Every year, libraries decommission books that still have a life so instead of dumping that book in a skip think about how that book could potentially make some life changing contributions to the education of others. If you are to coordinate book donations for overseas institutions, you ought to be selective on what you dispatch to them – do not use your beneficiaries as a dumping ground, if you do so then certainly it will not be a cheap way of getting rid of your books.
I have done it, DIT and UCC have collaborated on it and many of you have also done it for years so let us continue the good work for our efforts are making an impact in Ireland and beyond. Remember, “Give what you have. To someone, it may be better than you dare to think” and what you give might be all there is to that someone.


21 Aug 2016

Maynooth Students Union and Maynooth University Library supporting students during exam time

Guest post by Maureen Finn, Maynooth University Library

The library at Maynooth University is a hive of activity at any time but no more so than during exam time. With upwards of 3,500 patrons passing through the turnstiles on any given day during the busy examinations period, the needs of the students are many and varied. As many of them have travelled considerable distances to study in the library, they end up spending several hours here at a time in order to make their visit worthwhile.

As a means of better meeting their needs in a holistic way, and having reflected on what could help students by smoothing out the stress factor, Maynooth Students’ Union decided on a three-pronged approach. Firstly, they provided snacks and refreshments for students free of charge in the foyer of the library. A few times throughout the day during exam time, members of the Students’ Union set up tables in the open-plan library foyer and served up snacks such as pancakes, fruit, muffins, yoghurts and soft drinks. Needless to say, these were snapped up and are very much appreciated by the students.

Síona Cahill, Vice-President Welfare and Equality, Maynooth Students’ Union 2015/2016 & SU members distributing free breakfasts in the Library foyer
A second support implemented by the Students’ Union was the provision of small hampers of personal care and hygiene items such as deodorant, tissues, hand cream and so on, which were placed in the rest rooms during exam time. These were well received and much appreciated. A third strand to this initiative was the placing of posters at strategic locations in the library highlighting the helplines, supports and services available to students throughout the busy exam period as well as at other times.

Support posters displayed in the Library by MSU
When speaking with Siona, Vice-President for Welfare and Equality, Maynooth Students’ Union, regarding this student centred initiative, she had this to say:
“Our MSU #MayTheForceBeWithYou initiative was a collaborative partnership with Maynooth University to support students during a very stressful exam time. As student reps, we thought about what we would really have loved to have during that time, and we wanted to provide that to our students! It's all about creating a study environment that encourages looking after both your mind and body, by maintaining a positive attitude, supporting your friends and knowing what supports are available if you need help or are having any difficulties.”
#MaytheForceBeWithMU promotional poster on Twitter
Maynooth Students’ Union won the overall National Education Campaign of the year award at the Student Achievement Awards with the Union of Students’ in Ireland (USI) with their campaign entitled #MayTheForceBeWithMU from Christmas 2015 exam time. The awards ceremony took place in collaboration with the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) on May 26th 2016.

This significant achievement was made possible by the synergy and sense of co-operation that exists between the Students’ Union and the library at Maynooth University.
“I want to extend our genuine thanks on behalf of Maynooth SU for your co-operation with our work in the Library over the exam period at Christmas.We were judged by the head of the National Centre for Teaching & Learning, who praised the partnership with the library in particular, the focus on student welfare in our messaging, the supports being promoted, the ability to use Library spaces for both postering, tables for fruit/free items/info, as well as the use of the library bathrooms and doors for materials.”
Síona Cahill, Vice-President Welfare and Equality, Maynooth Students’ Union 2015/2016

19 Aug 2016

Soldat Heinrich. A German soldier’s past in digital form

Recently, I undertook a small-scale digitisation project, which converted a German World War II Wehrpass (military passport) and related official documentation into digital form. They belong to a 19-year old private and his sister, Gertrud Wolters. All materials originate from a larger collection
of original historical manuscripts and photographs. They were sourced from various family members in Germany who participated in WWII.

This project focuses on Heinrich Jakob Wilhelm Wolters, who was killed in action in the Kamyanets-Podilsky region, Western Ukraine, in 1944. Heinz died at nineteen years of age and was the only son of Anton Wolters and Maria Kouker.

Almost nothing is known about Soldat Heinrich’s brief life. All immediate and personally knowledgeable relatives are deceased. The selected source materials represent an attempt to create a digital snapshot of his life as a Gefreiter (private) in the Wehrmacht. Accompanying descriptive information was sourced either from related documents or directly taken from the materials.

The following equipment was used and as best as possible calibrated as part of all pre-scanning preparation activities. This also included the running of test scans to confirm appropriate image file structures.
  • Desktop PC: Dell PC OptiPlex 7020 Desktop / Windows 7 Enterprise
  • Monitor Model: Dell LCD Monitor 43cm(17-inch), Model number: E178WFPc / Monitor-inbuilt calibration options for image and colour display adjustment
  • Scanner spec: low-end Epson Stylus SX125 (printer/scanner box) / Epson Creativity Suite / Scan Assistant
    • Scanner type: Flatbed colour
    • Photoelectric device: CIS
    • Effective pixels: 5,100 × 7,020 pixels at 600 dpi. Scanning area may be restricted if resolution setting is large.
    • Document size: 216 × 297 mm (8.5 × 11.7 inches) A4 or US letter size
    • Scanning resolution: 600 dpi (main scan) 1200 dpi (sub scan)
    • Output resolution: 50 to 4800, 7200, and 9600 dpi (50 to 4800 dpi in 1 dpi increments)
    • Image data: 16 bits per pixel per color internal 8 bits per pixel per color external (maximum)
    • Light source: LED
  • Adobe Photoshop CS5: Photo editing software for post digitisation image processing.
    • Brightness/contrast
    • Levels (Histogram adjustment)
    • Curves Presets (tone correction)
    • Exposure, Offset, Gamma Correction
    • Modification of raw digital files (TIFF) was kept to a minimum and explicitly used to more accurately represent the source materials physical state.
Online Exhibition System
The Omeka open source web-publishing platform was chosen as a suitable online exhibition space for this project.

The project lives at soldatheinrich.omeka.net