6 Jan 2018

SEDIC XIX Conference on Information Management #19JGI - Review

The latest SEDIC's, Spanish Information Managers Association, annual conference took place in National Library of Spain on 15th November 2017.

The topic of the event was: Back to the future. Visionaries of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Our profession has changed a lot in last decades. Apparently, the roles, processes and challenges of information management institutions have little to do with yesterday's. How has the work of the information management professional changed in last thirty-forty years? How did you imagine the future of the profession then, and to what extent have the steps taken built what we are today? What great innovations did the preceding generations (and not necessarily technological ones) deal with? In what ways have the concepts of user, utility and social relevance, collection management, user satisfaction and evaluation, access, citizen participation, services, etc. evolved, and to what extent has it impacted our roles, training and professional objectives? How do we imagine today that these concepts will evolve, and where do we understand that the steps we are taking on this path will take us?

Source: sedic.es

Inaugural Presentation

Ana Santos opened the conference by highlighting the collaboration between SEDIC and BNE, as well as the support of the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports.

Ana invited attendants and information managers to reflect on the transformation in which libraries are immersed. Even though needs have been changing, libraries mission remains essential for citizens. Today, society requires less traditional services while increasing the demand for new digital services.

Conferences allow the debate on the evolution of cultural institutions such as archives, libraries, etc. as well as analyzing citizens' needs and how they perceive them.

He ended his speech by thanking the visionaries who participated in the conference as speakers, and inviting them to continue dreaming and building the institutions of tomorrow's.

CONCHA VILARIÑO PERIÁÑEZ. Vice principal at Coordinación Bibliotecaria of Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports

Concha Vilariño outlined how much our profession has changed during last decades, the new forms of social communication and interaction with users, as well as the new knowledge and skills of the professionals, which require a constant update and a great capacity for adaptation.

There are many examples of pioneers in the history of cultural institutions, whose ideas and work have been a source of inspiration. These pioneers have highlighted the importance that the management of information and knowledge has had, has and is going to have in an increasingly complex society.

In Spain in the 1980s, a series of events led to the rapid development of Spanish libraries and the creation of large information management projects. These advances stem from learning by doing, which is how the future should be conceived. Teamwork and cooperation between professionals have been key factors to thrive these projects.

In order to make new ideas emerge, we must improve communication between professionals in the sector and other sectors related to our objectives.

Yolanda de la Iglesia insisted on the support of the BNE, the collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports and all the actors that have made possible the organization of this conference.

One of the aims of this event is recognising proffesionals' efforts and work that have mark the way to move forward, by providing innovative ideas and solutions to be applied to users, services, management of collections and with so many other aspects of our cultural institutions.

The conference program is aimed at eliciting discussion, debates, ways of thinking, criteria and experiences.

Inaugural Conference

Jose Antonio Pascual referred to how philologists make the most of digital libraries to work. Owing to the technological development on both libraries and archives and the librarians' and archivists change of mentality, philology as field has been able to thrive as never before.

Humanities can be collaboratively researched in a world laboratory with the collaboration between digital libraries and philologists. This cooperation allows different specialties to work together in network contributing to create knowledge without being physically at the same place.

He referred to certain manuscript whose digitization, web availability, and accessibility at any time and place allow researchers to make a linguistic traceability of words, by finding lexical relations and evolutions. In addition, being capable of studying several manuscripts and comparing their texts can result in other interests for philologists.

Finally, he stressed that we must be aware that we must collaborate by offering the means that each one possesses, such as access to the data and provide added value. Furthermore, young people have a lengthy career yet, so their passion for libraries and archives is determinant.

Professional conversations I: Users and services

The first debate dealt with the participatory role of users in the library environment, how they evolve and the new needs they have.

Esperanza Adrados indicated that users of libraries and archives have changed a lot in last 20 years. Institutions are becoming more accessible and opener to everyone, for which legislation has helped. Technologies have contributed to this openness to citizens, and, as a result, they are making digital services more requested. In addition, in order to give more visibility to archives, there is still a long way to go, and it would be advisable to do so from the first years of school.

We must take social networks into consideration, as they allow cultural institutions to appeal to non-users. However, it is difficult to provide such a broad service because each user always wants to be the best assisted and we lack the means to provide with an optimal service. In the end, according to Esperanza, the information professionals work as daily demands emerge. An exclusive team to draw the attention of new users is necessary. Anyway, events like exhibitions, concerts, etc. are taking place in libraries' and archives' spaces, which help their visibility to be increased. Besides, commemorations or specific dates are considered.

Arantza Mariscal stressed that the key change regarding users was that they could go personally to archives or libraries and make inquiries from the screen. In addition, he pointed out that although the institutions and their objectives has also evolved, it would be desirable for this change to be faster. Libraries must be proactive, by proposing experiences, contents and services that generate curiosity to new users because citizens increasingly have a desire to learn, create things and participate. For this, it is necessary for cultural institutions to be more flexible, know how to change at the same pace society changes.

As a public service, we must work for non-current users, reflect on what is happening and risk the proposals that are offered, and create a more educated, informed society.

Among the audience, it was stated whether today, with the digital platforms on the rise, the physical spaces of the institutions are so important. It was pointed out that spaces should not disappear, but they will be managed differently and, in addition, archives and libraries offer human tools and equipment that guide research and learning. Therefore, the professionals must evolve and adapt to digital society. In the future, the raw product will be made available to users in order that they decide what to do with it.

Professional conversations I: Professional profiles and training

In this session, professional profiles and training in the field of documentation for the future were discussed.

According to José López Yepes there are three aspects to consider in the documentary sector: the document concept itself, what the science of documentary information is, and what an information professional is. The teaching objective is not clear and there is a problem of terminology in the professional area of information.

The university does not only transmit knowledge but also allows research, intellectual forms and thinkers. The basic training of the professional should be given in the university so that well-trained professionals can really help users. A doctorate is more than a certificate, as it indicates that the person knows how to obtain new scientific knowledge. However new ideas can also be come up without being a doctor.

Javier Leiva considered that documentation professionals today need a broader range of skills, rather than so knowledge. Sometimes the curricula are a little outdated, as changes occur fast. So, university should look for faster updating mechanisms. Moreover, a continuous training of information professionals is necessary. Although it is important for information professionals to have studied humanities, we must consider how knowledge is acquired today. University should continue to offer basic knowledge, while coping with learning micro-needs. It would be necessary to introduce in the universities the concept of microcertifications as well as digital badges, which allow, through evidences of acquired knowledge, to broaden the focus and the way in which documentalists are included in the professional world.

For instance, MOOCs (Massive Open On-line Course) are starting to be offered by universities. These are more self-taught microformations. In addition, a constant update is required, and the development of competences more important than the content itself.

The audience asked how the documentalist can train as a researcher to give added value or quality to all the digital contents. It was pointed out that intellectual training is basic, and any career is useful to be taken into account as you can also specialize later in Librarianship and Information Sciences. Indeed, it is possible that in the future Spanish documentalists are graduates in other areas.

Professional conversations I: Technology and technical processes

RICARDO SANTOS MUÑOZ. Manager of Technical Processes at Biblioteca Nacional de España

This discussion focused on technology and technical processes, which have experienced the most technological change in libraries and archives.

According to Virginia Moreno, archivists are becoming ICT professionals, as they must decide how to deal with documents in order to design electronic documents that will be managed in digital archives. Therefore, archivists are fundamental in the records management process. However, it has been some difficulties in integrating them into the process due to their reluctance regarding technology.

As for regulations, what most effect has in records is what regulates interoperability and single electronic archives. In addition, although technology would be cutting-edge, it is only a means and it has to be adapted to what is being defined within institutions. Regulations also give more work because they generate pressure on meeting deadlines and defines guidelines without indicating exactly what to do.

Ricardo Santos pointed out that technology will determine how we will work in the future because it makes the most of the resources and provide with solutions to know how to create data. In this sense, the profound change for the information manager has been to change from being a provider of records to a provider of data and information to the public.

It was highlighted that both catalogs 2.0 and collaboration of users and researchers will help to enrich data. In addition, the future goes towards a semiautomatic cataloging, where catalogers will no longer be a transcriber, but a data generator that will catalog by thinking about how users and machines will read them. Libraries own enormous amounts of data that have not been studied yet.

In the audience, it was asked whether technology makes many library and archive standards unnecessary. The flexibility that technology gives makes standardization less rigorous and hence highlight the importance of semi-automatic cataloging. Anyway, standards are necessary for the reuse of data.

In conclusion, the work archives and libraries will do in the future regarding the challenge of electronic administration and generation and reuse of data was evidenced. In the end, technology is an essential means that helps to carry out organizational changes as well as ways of working, opening up information and citizen participation.

Professional conversations II: Public service and profitability

IGNASI LABASTIDA I JUAN. Director of Research and Innovation Department at Universidad de Barcelona Library

It was discussed how both public service and profitability can work together.

Cristina Alovisetti explained management of copyright from a commercial perspective, particularly within Museo del Prado, whose objective regarding digitization process is that the digital images have the highest level of quality as possible. Today there is more and more access and dissemination of images of the museum, and we also find an open universe of images on the Internet.

Management of rights is not against dissemination provided that the use is lawful. For instance, Museo del Prado does not charge for the use of images in doctoral theses. However, the Museum has used resources to generate high-quality images and maintain them, so if somebody want to use it is normal to request money to help finance the Museum and continue generating files.

However, according to Ignasi Labastida all public institutions should transmit their works, which are in the public domain, to the digital public domain. On Museo del Prado, everything that is digitalized is in the public domain, and standards that machines understand are used. Besides, the money that public institutions use to digitize is paid with public funds and should be returned to people. The most appropriate model is to put images in public domain, and if you want more quality, go to the institution to request and pay for it.

Moving to other point, it is very important to begin to positively perceive copyright, which can be managed in diverse ways depending on the different purposes for which images are used. For example, in our university the philosophy states that as doctoral theses are open, therefore images they contain should also be.

It is emphasized that some European museums have an open policy on rights and there is also a European letter that expressly states that the fact that an object of art is digitized, yet being in public domain, it does not alter its public domain nature.

Among the public the movement openGLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) was mentioned, considering that all cultural institutions are going to have to rethink legal obligations to open data. Although openGlam has a large budget, the financing for open access to data is also the responsibility of the government. Moreover, one thing is that the works are in public domain and another thing is that their images are. It is also very important to start making data more open and reusable among museums.

The audience also commented that the first reuse directive of the public sector does not put limits on the reuse of public information and is aimed at ensuring that public resources are used to the maximum to generate wealth. Nevertheless, after that, a correction was made with the idea of recovering the high costs of the digitalization processes. In short, it is a problem of the administration that does not devote to these issues the necessary resources society demands.

Professional conversations II: Relevance and social function

JOSÉ SÁNCHEZ SÁNCHEZ. Predecessor of Managing Director of Castilla-La Mancha Library
RIANSARES SERRANO MORALES. Former Guadalajara Senator and predecessor of Director of Archivo Histórico Provincial de Guadalajara

This conversation focused on the relevance and social function of the information centers, for which it would be convenient to know how to measure them.

Riansares Serrano believes that archives, libraries and museums are making a significant effort in information dissemination and social participation. The incorporation of new technologies, electronic archives, administrative transparency and an adequate management of information has multiplied how much archives are demanded. Professionals must participate actively in their local communities where they work.

In Castilla-La Mancha region, for example, it was possible to facilitate access to libraries thanks to library buses and local, public libraries. It is necessary to attract young people when they are at school as well as university to make citizens aware of the importance of the custody and conservation of bibliographic heritage.

Juan Sánchez highlighted how the percentage of Spanish public library users has increased regardless of the recession. Despite the availability of technology, many resources and professionals are still needed.

Owing to the ill-conceived administration of Spanish governmental regions, there are significant inequalities between them. Councils are in charge of libraries services, and if there are no funds, there are no resources to be provided. Everyone must be able to use library services, including local, small communities. However, it has not been achieved due to a lack of political will. Libraries should be on politicians' agenda, instead of being a timely goodwill. There must be political obligations and commitment.

Professional conversations II. Preservation and access to collections

MAR PÉREZ MORILLO. Manager of Legal deposit of online publications at Biblioteca Nacional de España

According to Lluis Anglada, the word preserve should be replaced by deferred access over time. Preservation is undeniable important, but it can be an obstacle to access. In addition, current legal deposit legislation is no longer valid, because there is more and more information in number, diversity, dispersion. Therefore, the future preservation will be collaborative, federated, selective and not easy at all.

Three ideas were proposed to make digital hole smaller in the future:
  1. Do a deep review of our professional practices, by making the most of the resources we have.
  2. Pay fees for associations and cooperative projects, since the financing will also be cooperative in the future.
  3. Determine what level of aggregation we are going to work.
Mar Pérez pointed out that preservation is destined to enable people to access records. Moreover, concepts and practise of acquisition and legal deposit of digital content seen as bibliographic heritage is complex. There are two types of legal deposit:
  • Content freely accessible on the web and that can be collected with a robot, which automatically tracks and saves the content of websites.
  • Content that is online, but have restricted access. It is also subject to legal deposit, but we cannot save it automatically, but we have to contact publishers and distributors to ask for permission and content.
New models of preservation are needed because the digital preservation policy used is designed for collections digitized in libraries thus in tangible support, not considering digital-born content itself. Other relevant aspects are supports, formats, applications, intellectual property, collaboration and resources.

In addition, exhaustivity is ruled out. In Spain, a massive search and collection of the .es domain is done once a year, while in other domains the search is done by selecting collections. These collections must be defined by web curators. Nowadays we hope that the black hole that will be seen in 50 years, which is called digital dark age, will be smaller thanks to libraries, archives, etc.

To sum up, conservation does not make sense if it is not considered as a long-term access. That is why we must collect, store and process information to make it recoverable and useful. So, we can also avoid that digital hole as far as possible. Given the volume of work that it involves, the best way to proceed will probably be by the federation of efforts and common funding.

Presentation 'Suzanne Briet'

LAURA GARCÍA. Librarianship and Information Science student at Universidad Complutense de Madrid
Laura García's speech was focused on Suzanne Briet, about who and their work, despite having been an outstanding documentalist, there is little information.

Born in 1894 in France, she was a librarian, historian, documentalist and informatologist. He began teaching English, but in the 1920s he started working for the French National Library being familiarized with Librarianship world. In the 30s, he began to oversee the catalogs room and bibliographies. After that, she was part of the French Union of Documentation Organizations and, finally, she was vice president of the International Documentation Federation.

She never left Documentation being always very active. In the 50s he devoted himself to traveling to understand how other cultures and countries understand libraries and documentation centers. In US, he discovered the truly access library rights of users. She returned to France and decided to put it into practice by promoting that any citizen had access to libraries collections.

In 1951 he wrote an important manifesto on Documentation, composed of three parts:
  1. Technique of intellectual work: to harvest information and interpret it to make work more comfortable. In addition, the documentalist must participate in that investigation.
  2. Documentary profession: must be integrated into their users' cultural contexts. It also involves the formation of users.
  3. Documentation as a necessity of our time and of the future: must be linked to technological advances as well as advancement of society.
Suzanne was and is little known. Many of his records have been lost. She retired at age of 60 and went on writing to die.

Finally, Laura García invited everyone to research into forgotten visionaries of yesterday's, like Suzanne, and help us visualize the tomorrow.

Roundtable: Visionaries and projects in organizations

MARGARITA TALADRIZ MAS. Predecessor of FESABID president
CARLOTA TORTOSA. Archives consultant at IECISA
EVA CEREZO LÓPEZ. Informatics Manager at Abana informática

Margarita Taladriz moderated the roundtable, whose debate focused on the role that companies have played in the management of information and documentation, and how it collaborates with LIS professionals.

Elisa García-Morales collaborated in the founding of one of the first Spanish companies of document management services. From then, libraries and archives have changed as much as technology. At the beginning, professionals were requested to give advice in the initial stages of automation. It was a time of innovation and constant change, in which fundamentals for large processes of information processing were laid. Today we are looking for quality control and being able to process enormous amounts of information.

Francisco José Valentín pointed out that society now demands access from any place at any time through digital devices. Some problems stem from these needs and must be resolved.

Although the technological incorporation occurred before in Anglo-Saxon institutions, most of Spanish ones have followed the same steps. In addition, as part of the technological path was already done, it was easier and faster.

According to Carlota Tortosa archives have changed a lot because files are now electronic. There has been a great evolution in technological and normative fields. Institutions need to increase their understanding of technological knowledge to be able to participate and get people involved.

One of the important points is the management of change within the institutions. It is necessary that all the people of the institution are involved and that they see their benefits. If there is a leader responsible for this change in the institution, it is much simpler. However, if there is no such person, workforce need to persevere, although the change may not occur. Anyway, when companied are requested, the need already exists.

Eva Cerezo has seen profound changes in services. Nowadays, more services and projects aimed at digital transformation are requested. Likewise, more and more technological competences are requested in professional profiles.

As for recession, a positive consequence has resulted, as it has helped to draw new lines of competence and services. Companies have had to make the most of technology to innovate. Companies must undoubtedly adapt to cultural institutions.

In the future, information management will provide with services, including software. Technical process and electronic archives will increasingly be managed by specialized companies. Public institutions will remain as service managers. Digital librarians will manage services and selects content. It will require an interdisciplinary professional with good training in digital skills and continuous learning.

The public was reminded that public-private collaboration is necessary. There are projects that would not have come forward without this collaboration. The private should not replace the public, but we must understand each other. The ability to evolve and adapt is the result of collaboration and customer needs.

Closing conference

The closing conference was given by Maria Alexandra Veríssimo. The association to which it belongs was created in 1973. It has about 1000 associates: people and institutions. However, the association is neither an union (you cannot discuss professional legislation nor have representation at social level) nor a school (it is not possible to contribute to the certification of professionals).

The area with more activity is higher education libraries. Libraries of central administration have almost disappeared because of decisions made during the recession.

The challenges that the association faces are many and diverse: formative, political, economic and social. In Portugal, the profession of librarians, archivists and documentalists is in constant change, and, lamentably, dire problems emerged: hiring of unskilled professionals, reduction of leading positions librarianship qualification, and non-differentiation.

As for regulations, there is a deficit legal framework, as there are no laws for libraries and that of archives is outdated. What is more, although a program was developped to create a library network, today it has no funding. Likewise, libraries have good infrastructures, but without continuity.

Given this situation, two aspects are prioritized:
  • The political, social intervention: making social mobilization to have a voice.
  • Projection and assessment: give visibility to professionals, who must have qualifications. It is necessary to recognized professionals' roles.
The projects include the qualification of information services, career support, qualified hiring, and performance with a code of ethics. To achieve this, systematic policies, guidelines and strategies are taken into account to know which direction to follow.

The BAD (bibliotecarios, archiveros and documentalistas) notebooks, training activities, the BAD News newspaper, translations of the regulations in the documentary area, events such as the BADjobs, etc. are organized since 1973. Now we are working on the creation of a directory in which all the professionals are divided into categories.

Currently there are two topics on which the focus is:
  • General Regulation of Data Protection by the European Union.
  • 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Many entities already support this initiative, and so archives and libraries can.
To become visible in the documentation and information sector, we must stop talking in closed communities and try to get others to talk about this sector.

The public wonders what makes Portuguese different to Spanish, what we look like and what we can do together. According to Alexandra, the fundamental difference is on the regulation, which creates the need for qualified professionals. As for what having in common, it is the training of professionals. As for what can be done in collaboration, it is to work together for common causes and objectives and to contribute to sustainable development for community's integration.

18 Dec 2017

CONUL Teaching and Learning Seminar - Report

Naomi Van Caillie has been a Library Assistant with DIT for the past 8 months. She is a 2016 MLIS graduate from UCD with previous work experience in the public library sector in Canada. 
This was a daylong seminar in which a variety of guest speakers presented on a multitude of topics relating to Teaching and Learning in relation to libraries, librarians and the demographics we as Librarians are trying to reach and assist.  My main reason for attending was that I feel even in my position as Library Assistant there are daily opportunities for teaching and learning interactions with the students. I want to better equip myself with knowledge that will assist me in more successful and rewarding interactions with our library visitors. I want to be able to deliver information and resources to meet their unique and individual needs effectively.  I want both the students and I to always have an opportunity to engage and learn from each other.  There was so much wonderful information shared from all of the speakers. I have chosen to comment on the four that impacted me the most. You can find the PowerPoint presentations for all presenters here.

David Streatfield, Global Libraries Initiative Consultant, started the morning off by sharing with us ‘How can you tell if it is working? Evaluating the impact of educational innovations’. From this I gathered that regardless of what innovation you are creating or using to interact with your demographic, it is crucial and beneficial to be able to evaluate the impact of your services, whether the results are positive or negative; intended or accidental. He argued that we need to be looking and analysing the change(s) as a result of what we are doing also known as impact evaluation.   He describes this method as a simple logic model providing both illuminative evaluation and impact evaluation which makes up a contribution model. To put things simply the common factors are that the theory of change creates a framework for focus. We must remember that our innovations, no matter the scale, should be plausible, doable, and testable.  From this I think I am approaching my work and daily interactions with our users from different vantage point so I am better able to reflect and analyse for continued growth and improvement. 

Another stand out for me was Barry Houlihan, Archivist at NUI and CONUL Teaching & Learning Award Winner of 2016. The more Barry spoke the more intrigued I was by NUI’s, his and Dr Paul Flynn’s, innovation and success. What I took from it was that at the core of their project was the creation of a tangible experience which came to life by building a teaching plan based on schools’ perspectives and experiences. In order to bring the experience back to self and make it personal the focus was directed to hands on learning and interacting with primary resources and the students being able to answer the questions: where did it come from?, how to it get here?, what is it?, and all the while being shown tips and tricks regarding what to look for when searching for the answers to these questions. Barry made a great point about how we perceive this current generation as digital natives because they are growing up linked to digital technology. However, he cautioned us to think that perhaps they are social media natives who can navigate Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other platforms. Their use of social media platforms doesn’t necessarily make their skills transferable to the level of being a digital native. By involving the students in activities that get them interacting with primary sources the hope is to teach them invaluable skills that will lead them towards being a better-rounded researcher and digital native. 

Brendan Devlin from DIT provided us with an overview of L2L and where they were at. This solidified the knowledge I had gained from a previous L2L day long workshop I had attended. Hearing Niamh Hammel from Dundalk Institute of Technology share her personal work experience, being involved with L2L, and how she is looking forward to how engagement with this framework will help those of us starting out in the library field continue to further our skills, remain relevant in the ever changing library landscapes, and plan for our professional growth. This really resonated with me as I want to continue to grow and evolve as a Librarian and further my career.

After lunch Dr Emma Coonan, FHEA, Academic Librarian (Information and Digital Literacies), Library, University of East Anglia presented us with a zoo full of identities as she talked about ‘New Tricks? Negotiating the librarian identity’.  How we are perceived by others and how we are perceived by ourselves can be showcased by a wide variety of characteristics. She discussed multiple ‘identities’ painting elaborate pictures of different animals.  Are you a labradoodle? The fetch dog who goes and gets what is asked of them?; or the Cheshire cat, who pops up when needed and is an agent to an individual to help meet their needs whatever they may be? Or maybe you’re the platypus, the off cuts of many other animals/identities, who is flexible and able to support a large group but doesn’t have enough time to specialize because he/she covers more areas than the days of the week?  Dr Coonan was very engaging and definitely got me to thinking about myself and my own perception of myself as a Librarian. I can’t say I know who my spirit animal is just yet because I feel,  like the profession and the field, I am having to continuously evolve. 

I am so grateful for the opportunity to participate in this day. It was great to see familiar faces as well meet some new library colleagues. The day’s presenters as well as those of us that sat and absorbed reflect very much the theme of the day in as much as we are a community who have to constantly create, deliver, evaluate, restructure and deliver again. We are so lucky to be part of a library ‘family’ that is willing to share and collaborate together so not all of us have to reinvent the wheel.

For more information on CONUL Teaching and Learning check out their website

12 Dec 2017

"Outreach is easier if you reach people through others” A summary of the Rare Books Group Annual Seminar 2017: Bringing New Audiences to Special Collections,

Michelle Breen is a librarian at the University of Limerick. Michelle manages the library’s communications, conducts a range of assessment activities and performs research linked to customer service and quality initiatives in an academic library. 
Michelle has presented widely on information management and assessment topics and has had her work published in peer reviewed journals, conference proceedings and LIS practitioner literature. 
Michelle is an active member of the LAI, advocating for CPD for library staff and she acts as a moderator and content creator for the Rudaí23 MOOC. 

Picture courtesy of Elaine Harrington

The Chair of the Rare Books Group David Meehan of DCU welcomed an enthusiastic group of librarians and archivists to the Chester Beatty library on November 24th. The delegates from all over Ireland’s museums, archives and libraries, (academic special and public) discussed how to bring new audiences to Special Collections.

I am a member of the LAI and treasurer of the Western Regional Section so I know first hand the value of the contributions of the various sections within the LAI but I must confess this was my first Rare Books Group event. It won’t be my last.

I am also a member of CONUL’s Communications & Outreach group and I am very interested in Outreach and how libraries can become better at it.

I won’t repeat here all of the topics and talk titles from the programme, you can view a summary on Twitter at #RBGseminar17 or view the speaker details on the programme. What I found most interesting on the day was the different successful approaches to outreach that are being practiced in Irish libraries and archives.

Outreach is defined as "an organization's involvement in the community," so libraries who provide services to their external audiences are ticking one particular type of outreach box. However, outreach to traditional audiences could be considered a declining business. The traditional scholarly or academic community is moving online because that is where they expect to find the material they want for their research. Inreach, (which is outreach inside your organisation) could therefore become a significant strand in your library’s activities, engaging your most loyal supporters, already key stakeholders, in your collections and what you are trying to achieve through them.

Perhaps you’ve lost the outreach opportunity to the family historian with the growing dominance of Ancestry. But there are new audiences out there; children, teenagers, and young people for whom there is a resurgent interest in the past. Is it the 1916 factor? The public has an insatiable demand for history at present. Giving teachers, learners, senior citizens, and occasional users a helping hand in our libraries is crucial for libraries. With community impact highlighted through funding agencies such as the Wellcome Trust it is smart to think about outreach to these new audiences.

Picture courtesy of Elaine Harrington

How do we ‘do’ Outreach?

Doing outreach is hard when there are physical barriers in the way of your collections. The very thing you want to show off is under lock and key, so consider your audiences as if they were going to be guests in your home. Send them an invitation, make the environment welcoming, provide a hot or cold drink, give them Wi-Fi and access to the bathrooms. They are your guests!

Run a lunchtime lecture, don’t be afraid that only 5 people will turn up, they WILL tell their friends, and you will get more people the next time. Consider carefully where you host your event, the hard to access parts of your campus or building or town might provide mystery and intrigue to your audiences and they might be thrilled to be there. Do good signage, promise them coffee and they will come. Plan your event carefully and you will naturally find the collaborators you need.

If you are in the glorious position of being able to design a seminar space, like the beautiful seminar room in Chester Beatty Library, then ask your audiences what they’d like to see in there. Make it clear what you can offer them, what they are getting when they come. If you are ever in need of advice about Outreach and how to do it well I recommend you tap in to the expertise of the Rare Books Group of the LAI. I am sure that their chairperson David Meehan can steer you in the right direction or you can ‘reach out’ to them through their Twitter account or their webpage.

Keep up the good work everyone at LAI RBG! Go raibh maith agaibh.

14 Nov 2017

Internet Librarian International: Conference Report

Guest post by Niall O'Brien. Niall currently works as a Library Assistant in the Client Services unit of UCD Library. He is a graduate of the UCD MLIS programme and a qualified teacher. He is interested in the teaching and learning practices of academic libraries

The Internet Librarian International Conference, took place in London 17th & 18th October 2017.

Through the very good fortune of being awarded the LIR bursary for 2017 and with the support of my employing institution, UCD Library, I was privileged to attend this year’s Internet Librarian International Conference in London.

This being the first international conference I’ve had the pleasure to attend, I felt very humbled by the depth of the work and research that this global range of speakers were engaged in. Kate Torney, CEO of the State Library of Victoria, opened the conference with a rousing keynote speech in which she encouraged librarians to be more assertive about the importance of their work and not to allow the public to take it for granted. This message resonated in other talks I attended that day. I was struck, for instance, by Marydee Ojala of ‘Online Searcher, USA’ who succinctly made the point that ‘the librarian of the future thinks in connections, not collections’. It emphasised to me that librarians are no longer the gatekeepers of information, controlling access for the few privileged enough to be allowed to interact with their resources. Rather, in a world of frenetic information exchange, it is our role to communicate the merit of our particular information resources to users effectively. Likewise, it is imperative for us to reflect on how users are actually engaging with these resources rather than how we think they should. This means listening to them as much as having them listen to us.

The reality that the more open information network of today has necessitated a great deal of change to the librarian’s work practices was a strong theme of the conference. Many of the talks that took place that first day fleshed out these new practices. There were three different tracks that delegates could choose to attend: ‘The New Library, The New Librarian’, ‘Users, UX and Usage’ and ‘Content Creativity’. I spent most of my time at the UX track and picked up some invaluable insights into how information professionals are endeavouring to make their services more responsive. Carl Barrow of the University of Hull explained that his own interventions stemmed from the frustration of ‘sending out surveys knowing exactly what kind of feedback I was likely to get’. He charted his experience of employing more creative means of capturing the student’s library experience, including cognitive mapping and interview transcripts. I found this approach to user engagement refreshing and daring, exactly the kind of approach needed in response to so much debate and uncertainty surrounding how to move library services forward. I was particularly taken with his idea of asking library users to submit ‘breakup letters’, detailing reasons why they would choose to end their relationship with the library. I’m sure these make for devastating reading - provoking many bitter tears from library staff - but they must surely capture a brutal honesty that a more formal survey simply can’t. Terence Huwe’s talk on the many opportunities available to librarians in the field of data analytics likewise made a strong impression on me that day. As information professionals, we get so tired of hearing what we’re not: We’re not quite academics, we’re not quite support staff, and we’re not quite administrative staff. It was heartening to listen to some concrete examples of the roles that we are well placed to occupy if we’re prepared to work hard.

A keynote from David White of the University of the Arts, UK opened day two of the conference. His talk delved very deeply into what he saw as a growing chasm emerging between libraries and information professionals on the one hand and their more tech savvy user base on the other. He argued that today’s users tend to gather information in terms of networks and relevance, whereas information professionals tend to organise information in hierarchies that users have difficulty navigating, understanding or even caring about. While I’m not sure I see the gap in such adverse terms as White, I think he is attuned to a growing problem in information services. There is certainly a worrying disconnect emerging between users and librarians, and it’s one that improved interfaces and reassessment of the user experience is only going to go so far in addressing. The encouraging message that White provided at the close of his speech was that the answer (he feels) lies in information professionals taking on a greater teaching role and deepening their interaction with users; not only to offer instruction for students on how to navigate our resources, but also for us to actively keep pace with their rapidly evolving needs. Again, it all comes back to connections!

This cerebral keynote set the tone quite well for what was a decidedly more tech focused second half. I was left a little in awe of the dynamism of my fellow Irish librarians in employing such enterprising means to market libraries and library services. Laura Rooney Ferris and Michael Ferris are behind the ‘Librarian’s Aloud!’ podcast which aims to communicate the work and achievements of Irish librarians to a wider audience. I was particularly interested in the mechanics of how each podcast was produced and how both Laura and Michael honed skills that they had developed outside the field of librarianship to make the podcast so cutting edge and of such high quality. Similarly, it was obvious that deeply held passions for both music and libraries drive Ronan Madden and Martin O’Connor to present their radio show ‘Shush: Sounds from UCC Library’ and to be so successful in growing and developing it. It is encouraging to see that for some innovative and dedicated librarians, the effort to market libraries can really be a labour of love rather than any kind of obligation.

The final talk I attended included a very measured and insightful presentation from Ruth Graham of the University of Worcester. She has succeeded in streamlining e-resources at Worcester by minimising the number of interfaces and personalising them to give the user a more pleasant experience. Through this initiative, e-resource usage has increased by 200%. ‘It is all about building trust with your users and creating a seamless experience that they actually enjoy’, she said. The second day of this conference demonstrated to me that it is the human effort at the heart of the technology we facilitate that is crucial to its enduring success.

Having listened over the course of the two full days to so many inspiring contributions from information professionals dedicated to positively developing library services and fostering deeper connections with their user base, I can only surmise that the information needs of today’s library users are in good hands.

7 Nov 2017

Critical Media Literacy: Who Needs It? - Conference Review

Guest post by Sarah-Anne Kennedy, Dublin Institute of Technology. Sarah-Anne holds a BA (Hons) from the National University of Ireland Maynooth (MU) in English and History and a Masters of Library and Information Science from University College Dublin (UCD). She has been with the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) since 2006 and is currently supporting the College of Business, the School of Media and the School of Law. Sarah is interested in engaging and supporting students through blended learning and looking at new ways of bringing the Library to the student. 

The Centre for Critical Media Literacy hosted their inaugural conference Critical Media Literacy: Who Needs It? On Friday 20th October and Saturday October 21st in DIT Aungier St., Dublin. The conference was supported by DIT School of Media and the School of Multidisciplinary Technologies as well as a dedicated team of volunteer students of journalism.

I was unable to attend the opening Keynote on Friday 20th October from Richard Barbrook from the University of Westminster discussing ‘Critical Media Literacy & Digital Democracy’ with responses from Niamh Sweeney (Facebook) and Martina Chapman (Media Literacy Consultant). You can listen to a recording of the keynote and other sessions from the day on the DIT School of Media Facebook page.

The majority of proceedings took place the following day and it was a jam packed schedule with a range of topics discussed from Media Literacy (ML) education to citizen journalism to surveillance and privacy.

David Buckingham (London University) opened the day’s proceedings by giving an outline of the Media Literacy landscape in the UK. By not aligning Media Literacy (ML) and Media Education (ME), UK government policy has missed the mark. Essentially, ML policy was not part of ME policy and so was not reaching those who needed to be educated on ML essentials.
He argued that there was a focus on ‘media use’ rather than ML and that there was a disconnect across the educational landscape. David argued that there had been a “strangulation” of Media Studies and that educators were battling against policy from the government. Curriculum in UK schools was moving towards a ‘knowledge-based’ curriculum which essentially means that media studies survives but in a reduced (and easier!) form.

What do we need to tackle this? David argued that we need policy documents that align ML and ME, resources (not just textbooks), teacher training on ML, professional development networks, partnerships, research and evaluation and ME and media reform. While I would not be an expert on the ML issue in primary and secondary education in Ireland I could recognise the issues that David raised.

You can find out more about David Buckingham’s work and research on his website

Next up was Sheena Horgan talking about her involvement with MediaWise. MediaWise is a new education resource to help teach primary school children about media, advertising and fake news. The resource was developed to help media literacy education move away from only focusing on media skills development to empowerment. Sheena argued that we all have a collective responsibility when it comes to educating children -parents, the media industry, the government and educators. Librarians were not mentioned however. Why?

The next talk came from Kate Shanahan (Head of Journalism, DIT) and Róisín Boyd (School of Media, DIT) and they showcased the excellent work being carried out by DIT journalism students in delivering CLiC News. CLiC News is a free student produced rolling news service set up through collaboration between the DIT School of Journalism, Access & Civic Engagement Office (ACE) and Students Learning with Communities (SLWC). It is essentially media literacy in practice.

Clare Scully (School of Media, DIT) presented on the idea of ML usually being taught within the context of a ‘one-size fits all’ module. She argued that this is not effective when it comes to teaching students studying a range of media subjects. A module needed to be developed for media students that uses the language of the discipline and is based on pedagogical aspiration and approach. Clare argued that there was a conflation between general literacy and ML literacy problems and that the one-size fits all model goes against the aspiration of an ML module. Her research shows that students rank soft skills of academic writing etc. over critical thinking and evaluation which is opposite to how academics rank them. Ongoing development is needed and one module for all box ticking does not work.

The first break out session I attended looked at Social Science Experts and the Media. Barry Finnegan was first up to discuss Critical Media Literacy (CML) and trade agreements. He focused on TTIP and CETA and showed that despite CETA being the trade agreement that Ireland operates under there was more news coverage for TTIP. News coverage was primarily in the finance section of newspapers and the balance was pro-TTIP. Barry questioned why was it presented primarily as a finance story despite being a public interest story?

Next up were DIT researchers Joseph K. Fitzgerald and Brendan O’Rourke who are looking at the prominence of economists in Irish public discourse. They outlined how, since 1910, economists have slowly been granted authority by the media. Their research shows that economists have moved away from only governments granting authority to the media now granting that authority. Essentially moving from an academic order to a political order and now on to a media order.

Leena Ripatti-Torniainen (University of Helsinki) presented her research on public pedagogy. Leena’s research looks at public pedagogy as an approach to teaching experts to act in the political public sphere. She argues that we need to support student autonomy and judgement and that we can promote the teaching and learning of ML through acting in the public sphere.

Following Leena we had Henry Silke (UL), Maria Rieder (UL) and Hernik Theine (WU Vienna) presenting on the representation of ‘celebrity economists’ in the media, focusing on Thomas Piketty. They showcased the alarming trend of economists going unquestioned with their opinions being presented as fact. Their study looks at news coverage in four countries and how there is little disagreement with Piketty. The study uses a Corpus Linguistics methodology and alarmingly, when economists are discussed in the media words like ‘star’, ‘celebrity’ and even ‘messiah’ appear quite frequently. Looking closer to home, there is generally large agreement with Piketty across the Irish press showcasing a lack of protest and theory presented as reality.

The next break out session I attended looked at Truth or Data -Accuracy, Privacy and Surveillance at which myself and my colleague Róisín Guilfoyle also presented. Sarah Kearney (BL) opened the session looking at recent data protection cases in Ireland such as Schrems v Data Protection Commissioner which looks at the transfer of data from the EU to the US. and Digital Rights Ireland v Minister for Communication & Ors which looks at data retention and IP tracking. Sarah also spoke about the Fennelly report (March 2017) and the new General Data Protection Regulation which will come into force 25th May 2018.

Next up was Dr. Eileen Culloty (DCU) who presented on why fake news succeeds and how to oppose it. Her research looks at the online reasoning abilities of 2nd year undergraduate journalism students. Eileen used two control groups in her study, secondary school students and also secondary school students from the Centre for Talented Youth (CTYI). Eileen’s findings show that the journalism students in her study are over-reliant on heuristic principles/thinking and therefore fail to identify fake or biased websites.

Myself and my colleague, Róisín Guilfoyle (DIT) were up next and we presented on the similarities between ML and IL and that our experience matches the findings of a lot of literature and also Dr. Culloty’s (DCU), in that the majority of students lack critical thinking and evaluation skills. We also presented on the premise that our academic peers do not know that Librarians teach IL, and in particular, we teach critical thinking and evaluation. We argued that librarians and academics need to collaborate in teaching Digital Literacy based on the JISC Seven Elements model (see image). This is a term that will resonate with future students as Digital Media Literacy is now a subject on the Junior Cycle at second level and is also a DIT graduate attribute.

Courtesy of Sarah-Anne Kennedy

Our suggestions were strengthened by the next presenter, Isabelle Courtney. Isabelle has just recently finished the MLIS in DBS. Her dissertation looked at the role of information literacy in journalism education in Ireland. Her findings suggested that again there are similarities between the literacies and that collaboration is required between academics and librarians. She argued that there is a lack of awareness among media academics of the ‘teaching librarian’.

The last to present in this session was Cliodhna Pierce (DIT) whose research looks at the comparison between models of surveillance in East Germany and Northern Ireland and examining their relevance to the securitisation of today’s society. It was fascinating to see the similarities between data collection and surveillance during the past and present. Cliodhna argued that the public seem to be more concerned with surveillance over personal privacy.

The closing session focused on Journalism, Technology and the Public Sphere. Jen Hauser (DIT) presented on her research looking at amateur journalism with a focus on the coverage of the Aleppo offensive. Jen showcased how collaboration between professional journalists and amateur news coverage or footage is now commonplace. There is a new role for professionals in managing this collaboration and managing impartiality and bias that may exist in citizen journalism.

Next up was Kathryn Hayes (UL) who presented on freelance journalism in the age of social media. Kathryn argued that freelance journalism is the largest growth area in journalism. The precarious nature of the role of freelance journalists was outlined. Her findings show that younger journalists are more engaged with social media and technology to source information. They show less distrust of the medium. Older journalists rely on the older methods of interviewing people face to face. Kathryn questioned whether reliance on freelance journalists was sustainable and what are the implications for journalism?

My overall take away from this conference was the need for partnership and collaboration between librarians and academics. We all have a collective responsibility to enable students with the relevant skills to be media literate in an ever-confusing and complicated media landscape. The majority of presenters throughout the day mentioned the need for critical thinking and evaluation skills to be taught to students. There seems however, to be a complete lack of awareness among our academic peers and others that Librarians teach just that. As a profession we need to take control of how we are perceived and communicate our skills and expertise to those with which we can collaborate. Rather than waiting to be invited we can invite ourselves and ask to be involved in developing modules, programmes and curricula that supports media literacy and information literacy. We need to promote ourselves as stakeholders in this area on a national level.

One such way is getting involved with the Irish Media Literacy Network through the Broadcasting Association of Ireland (BAI). http://www.bai.ie/en/bai-launches-media-literacy-policy/