18 Jan 2017

Ordinary Hangzhou Exhibition at UCC Library

UCC Library is currently hosting the Ordinary Hangzhou exhibition. The exhibition comprises photographs, taken by the 'ordinary' people of Hangzhou of the 'Ordinary life' of Hangzhou and its peoples.

The exhibition is the latest embodiment of the relationship and partnership between UCC Library and Hangzhou Public Library. An article about this partnership can be found here.

This exhibition has literally travelled the world, hanging in different partner libraries of Hangzhou Library and it is now hanging on the 2nd Floor of  O'Rahilly Building UCC, and is open to the public to visit.

The exhibition will hang until the end of February 2017. The exhibition hang dates are significant as they incorporate the Chinese New Year celebrations that run from January 27 until February 2, a very significant celebration in the Chinese Calendar.

So, if you want to celebrate the Chinese New Year with a bit of culture, please feel free to drop along and look at the almost fifty photographs of Hangzhou, a number of which are presented here.

13 Jan 2017

Call for Papers: CONUL Annual Conference, May 30th & 31st 2017, Athlone, Ireland

Call for Papers: CONUL Annual Conference, May 30th & 31st 2017, Athlone, Ireland.

Theme: Inspiring and Supporting Research

The 2017 CONUL (Consortium of National and University Libraries, Ireland) Annual Conference will focus on research and how libraries inspire and support research activities locally, nationally and internationally. The conference will also provide an opportunity for delegates to network, learn, discuss and share their expertise and best practice.

The conference committee welcomes proposals for presentations, lightning talks, posters and a workshop style format called Show & Tell.

Possible topics under the theme of Inspiring and Supporting Research may include (but are not limited to):
  • Research and unique and distinctive collections
  • Inspiring research through strategic collection development and management
  • Marketing and promoting research services and resources
  • The Library as publisher
  • Open Access
  • Horizon 2020
  • Skills for researchers
  • Library staffing for research support
  • Partnerships in support of research within and across institutions
  • Role of Libraries in Research funding
  • Digital scholarship
  • Linking research and teaching
  • Research Data Management (RDM)
  • New models of scholarly communication

The Abstract Submission System will be open until Tuesday 31 January 2017.

Full details about the CONUL Annual Conference 2017 are available at http://conference.conul.ie/ and proposals can be submitted at http://conference.conul.ie/call-for-submissions/.
Posted on Friday, January 13, 2017 | Categories:

10 Jan 2017

Trading Places

Guest post by Tamsin Reilly, Library Assistant, Queen's University Belfast Library

Queen’s University Belfast (@LibraryatQUB and @QUBMedicalLib) library assistants Tamsin Reilly and Faith Blair take a trip to County Kildare to spend the day with their counterparts in Maynooth University.

Faith and I are both library assistants in Queen’s libraries, but we work in different branches; I work in the Biomedical Library, a relatively small library off the main site, and Faith is part of the Borrower Services team in the main branch, the McClay Library. We both jumped at the chance to put ourselves forward for a job swap with our Maynooth colleagues, and were lucky enough to have our names drawn. In preparation we organised dates, made travel arrangements and chatted via email with our soon to be hosts Bernie and Trish. Faith and I were to head down to Maynooth first, and host Bernie and Trish back in Belfast the following week.

The morning of the 1st of December was an early one for Faith and I; after emailing back and forth over a couple of weeks, we were finally on our way to meet Bernie and Trish and to see the library in which they work. They were extremely helpful in giving us travel tips and Bernie made sure to send us a handy weather report for the morning of our trip. It was a bracing winter’s day that greeted us in Dublin and Maynooth and we were attired accordingly. Thanks Bernie!

Bernie and Trish met us off the train and we walked the short distance to the university campus, which features a stunning mix of old and new architecture and includes buildings belonging to St Patrick’s College, the National Seminary for Ireland. Our ultimate destination was the library and by the time we reached it we were all firm friends and gasping for a cup of coffee. We certainly weren’t at a loss for anything to say; if anything we had to cut short a lot of chatting in order to stick to the schedule. But, by the time we had finished our coffee we had got each other up to speed on our respective roles in Queen’s and Maynooth, and Faith and I were eager to experience what being a Library Assistant in Maynooth was all about.

The library building is extremely impressive, very modern with lots of light and a great deal of space being used in myriad ways. It was interesting to see how the library had organised its entrance and reception: there is a lot of space dedicated to leisure and computer use, as well as a display space between the building entrance and the security gates for entry into the library proper. I thought it was very effective to have a place where students could mill about and create a bit of a hubbub without worrying about disturbing those who wanted to do some quiet study. We got further insight into how interlibrary loans are done in Maynooth, with Bernie taking us through the processes and procedures she undertakes every day. It was particularly gratifying as until our visit, Maynooth was just another university on the long list of institutions putting through requests for material to Queen’s. Now, however, when any correspondence comes through from Maynooth we immediately think of Bernie and Trish, their hard work and their peerless hospitality!

It was fantastic to see how they do things in Maynooth, and to notice the similarities and differences between the two libraries. One key difference was how the Borrower Services desk is organised: they have short shifts that are covered by staff who work on both the Admissions desk and the Borrower Services desk, whereas in McClay library staff are on a rota for an hour at a time to cover Reception (our version of Admissions) and the BS Desk, with main duties, in areas such as interlibrary loans and inter-branch requests, being undertaken in the back office. Many of the issues facing library staff were the same, such as how to engage students more actively with the library and the need to continually assess and revise procedures and services to ensure we are providing the best and most appropriate library service possible.

We were given a wonderful tour of the Russell Library, a reference and research library that holds Maynooth’s pre-1850 materials. The reading room, designed by Augustus Welby Pugin, is absolutely magnificent and steeped in a fascinating history that our tour guide Susan imparted to us with great flair and passion. She piqued our interest and obliged us by answering our many questions.
One of the most rewarding aspects of the trip was the chance to speak with Trish and Bernie at length and to get an insight into their roles and their approach to working in the library environment, and to consider it all in the context of our own workplace. It was wonderful to be able to share experiences, thoughts and ideas with colleagues, and ultimately to make new and valued friends in the wider library world.
Posted on Tuesday, January 10, 2017 | Categories:

22 Dec 2016

Changing roles in changing times: the academic liaison librarian in flux

This post was initially published on The invisible Librarian blog.

I ventured out to Maynooth University Library two weeks ago for a full-day seminar, which explored the changing role of the subject librarian. The day was structured around two keynotes – the first one by Stephen Pinfield, Professor of Information Services Management, University of Sheffield; the second one by Rosie Jones, Director of Library Services, Open University – and, very interestingly, several practice synopses by representatives of various Irish academic libraries, as well as that of the OU Library.

Participants’ overall consensus on the day was that there is no consensus, whether here in Ireland or indeed the UK, over what constitutes “best practice” in the realm of library organisational structure and, crucially, the status of subject/liaison librarianship.

Given the fast-moving changes in today’s information environment, libraries are expected to stay ahead through re-envisioning  organisational structures and cultures and, arguably, moving away from static management of print and digital collections towards providing user-focused services.

Hoodless and Pinfield investigated this idea by trying to find out about the actual state of library organisational structures and management practices. They did this by means of conducting eleven semi-structured interviews with senior library managers from a range of different UK based higher education institutions. Their maximum variation sampling approach aimed to cover as broad a spectrum of perspectives and practices as possible.

Before highlighting the results of Hoodless’s and Pinfield’s study, it makes sense to identify the typical responsibilities of the traditional academic liaison librarian. They include, among other things, development, management and delivery of information literacy training for their constituent library users. Linking up with appropriate staff and students to maintain awareness of new research and teaching in their subject areas, as well as developing and fulfilling potential information needs. Liaison librarians also tend to manage information resources budgets pertaining to their allocated subject fields. 

Debbie Morrow contends that effective embeddedness is the key ingredient to successful liaison librarianship: “My responsibility became to explore and nurture relationships within my liaison departments, and per chance to become what Olivia Olivares has aptly described as “sufficiently embedded.”

An example of a classic, subject-based liaison support structure is UCC Library
Source: http://booleweb.ucc.ie/index.php?pageID=184
On the other hand, an example of radical change to the above approach is the University of Manchester Library. Manchester switched over from a previously subject-based support structure (Arts, Social Sciences, Business & Management, Engineering & Physical Sciences, Medical, Human & Life Sciences) to a functional support structure (Research Services, Teaching & Learning, Academic Engagement). Academic Engagement is now faculty based: Faculty of Science and Engineering, Faculty of Humanities, Faculty of Medicine, Biology and Health).

My workplace is wired up in a purely functional fashion.

Hoodless and Pinfield learnt through their inquiries that, increasingly, libraries are replacing subject-based teams for functional teams. However, views on this were divided along the lines of actual current or anticipated practice: libraries that will/have adopt(ed) the functional approach see this very much as the way forward; libraries that maintain, and intend to maintain into the future, the subject-based model were unconvinced of the efficacy of functional teams.

Essentially, the following opposing drivers for both, functional and subject-based, library structures were identified (see Hoodless and Pinfield, 2016, p.12):
Source: Hoodless and Pinfield, 2016, p.12
The day concluded with a lively discussion around different institutional organisational and cultural library practices.

Further reading on this subject: