28 Apr 2016

A three-week internship at Boole Library, University College Cork

Guest post by Judith Lanzl. Following her training as a bookseller she started as a student of Library & Information Services, at  University of Applied Sciences for Administration and Legal Affairs in Munich  After six semesters she will finish her studies this autumn.

 Within the scope of my library and information services studies at the University of Applied Sciences for Administration and Legal Affairs in Bavaria I am offered the opportunity of going abroad for three weeks. The university degree takes three years and contains two work placements, one semester each. Having gained work experience at different German libraries (for example W├╝rzburg University Library or Regional State Library of Regensburg), I was very curious about the differences and similarities to the Irish library system and therefore I was looking forward to my time at Boole Library. In early March 2016 the time had finally come.

 Having found the lovely UCC Campus and Boole Library on the first day of my internship, I stood in front of the first but fortunately last (well, maybe except for the English language) obstacle: a closed entrance barrier. But the very friendly security operative “took me by the hand” and pointed me the way. So my work experience could begin - three weeks, three different departments, well-known but also lots of new and interesting information.

 After a tour through the library, my first stop was the Special Collections & Archives department. I learned things about the material there and its appropriate handling, which is, I think, less restrictive than in Germany, as far as I can tell from my other internships. I also got the chance to have a look at a book from the 17th century and a manuscript and to find out all the individual characteristics.
 As a little project, I combined the different stock lists of the map collection to one single list and tried to figure out and add more bibliographic details.

 Another highlight, and an absolutely new experience for me, was using the 3D-printer. After an introduction, I was permitted to print out what I wanted: it was a small elephant which can move its legs – fascinating! I am very curious about the further development regarding the 3D-printer and its fields of application in libraries.

 Getting an impression of the daily work of an archivist was another new experience for me. It was impressive to see all the big boxes with lots of different and unsorted documents and material, all collected by one person, which have to be recorded and arranged in the correct order. By picking out the books, which were intended to be set up separately, I might have been able to make a very, very small contribution to this huge amount of work.

 In addition to introducing me to their fields of work, the colleagues at Boole Library let me take part in their coffee breaks. These were sometimes, or to be honest most of the time, a little bit confusing. Due to my rather limited experience with Irish English, it was very hard to follow the conversation. As soon as I had figured out what they were talking about, they had already moved on to another topic. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed spending the breaks together.

 The first week went by too quickly, but a new department was waiting for me: Collection Services – Content & Access. First of all, I got an introduction to the recently reorganized structure of Boole Library. Then the colleagues showed me how to order books and explained the further work steps to me. Unlike in many German libraries, acquisition and cataloguing are separate subdivisions.

 The topic of one day was the repository CORA, open access and research data management. Another day we talked about the handling of electronic resources.

 In addition to physical work (sorting books), I was also given the opportunity to visit the Library store. A, let me say, very interesting experience.

 Another informative, and because of St. Patrick’s Day short, week ended and my last days at Boole Library approached and there was one last department to visit: Student & Academic Engagement. Inquiries, new external readers, holdings and interlibrary loan – lots of well-known stuff, but with a slightly different handling. To be honest, I was a little bit surprised by the charges external readers have to pay and their limited user rights. I liked the idea of short term loans for four hours when it comes to highly demanded books. The questions patrons ask at the information desk seem to be very similar in different countries, I noticed.

 One afternoon, I got the chance to visit Brookfield Library and to see the workflow of a branch library.

 My three weeks at Boole Library definitely went by too fast. I am very glad about my decision to go abroad for my internship, and especially to go to Ireland and Cork. Very enthusiastic staff who made so much time for me turned my placement into a very instructive and diverse experience. I had a great time at Boole Library. 
Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2016 | Categories: ,

27 Apr 2016

The Critical Curator: A Library Book Review Blog

Guest post by Mark Ward, Library Assistant at South Dublin Libraries and founder of BALLYROAN READS

I was reading a post from last year equating DJs and Librarians in which Martin O’Connor makes the important point that

“We really need curated content. We need curators. And this is where DJs like our John Peels’ Dave Fannings’ and Dave Couses’ come into play. They listen to the music. They decide what they like. They play it. We listen. And hopefully learn and branch out and educate ourselves from there.”

This struck a chord with me (no pun intended) as at the start of March, I launched a collaborative blog called BALLYROAN READS which features book reviews written by library staff, as well as posts about new and forthcoming books, and entries highlighting individual books with categories such as #brilliantbooktitles. Blogs, as Thomsett-Scott (2014) states “are one of the most established social tools on the web and are still incredibly valuable for marketing and outreach” (p.12). It is in this vein that each book reviewed or mentioned is linked back, where possible, to our library catalogue so that if the post has caught the reader’s attention, they can reserve a copy with ease.

Since starting it, I’ve received a lot of feedback from patrons, delighted that such a thing exists. I’ve also gotten a lot of posts from different countries, most notably the US, which is great in terms of expanding our library’s reach. As such, I’ve received a lot of comments, and have interacted with every single one, where possible starting (and maintaining) a conversation directly with our patrons and providing a reference/recommendation service to those outside of our catchment area, building on Rossman & Young’s assertion that social media offers “the opportunity to listen to users, to engage at point-of-need, and to build community” (2015, p. 541).

What’s important, and marketable, is the notion of library staff as curator. We already fulfil such a role – we decide which books to buy, to put on display, to shelve in closed stacks, or to wear out, however, we can make this more visible to our patrons by undertaking another role as curator; the critic. Library staff are always asked their opinions on books (“Have you read it? What kind of books do you read? Can you recommend me something to bring with me on holiday?) so this is a good way to put this knowledge and expertise into a concrete format. Importantly, the blog stems from the notion that we are reviewing books we actually read, no matter what they are, leading to a great variety of reviews, from cookbooks to history books to film books to poetry collections, from romance novels to graphic novels to literary fiction. Staff have also enjoyed letting their creative (and critical) side out with some happily stating that it encourages them to read more.

The blog, however, was designed with staff’s busy workload in mind. As such, each staff member, of whom eight contribute, writes a 250 word review per month, which for comparison in this post was about halfway through the fourth paragraph, with myself manning the other posts and the feedback. What strikes me is how easily replicable this format would be, and how beneficial that would be to both patrons, who are always looking for something good to read, and library staff, who are also always looking for new ways to market their stock.

Rossman, D. & Young, S. W. H. (2015). Social media optimization: Making library content shareable and engaging. Library Hi Tech, 33, 526-544.
Thomsett-Scott, B. C. (2014). Marketing with social media: A LITA guide. London, England: Facet Publishing.

25 Apr 2016

Practical Tips for Facilitating Research - Moira J. Bent (Review)

The title of this book emanates directly from Facet Publishing's new Practical Tips series, and in this case the content certainly backs up that claim. Throughout Practical Tips for Facilitating Research Moira J. Bent’s ‘wisdom of crowds’ approach offers insights and experiences that are very much based on real world examples and exemplars, both her own and those of colleagues working in other institutions. As a result, there is not only a real richness and breadth to the advice presented, but an underlying authenticity and credibility to it as well.

During the opening section on landscapes and models, Bent discusses how to understand who your researchers are, their needs, motivations, and workflows - an aspect that is fundamental to helping us facilitate research more effectively. Those who are relatively new to working in the academic environment may find this section particularly helpful to orient themselves in their new role and as a means of getting to grips with the perspective of a typical researcher. However, the recurring and useful “to think about” prompts also provide food for thought and reflection for even the most experienced readers. The references to theory are plentiful and well-researched, and give ‘just enough’ without dwelling on too much detail – it is, after all, a book very much focused on practice.

A similar pattern continues throughout the rest of the text, which covers a range of areas including collections and information literacy, as well as unpacking specific interventions where libraries can actively position themselves, such as RDM and systematic reviews. Suggestions are notably pragmatic, and very much cognisant of the practical realities of many resource-stretched libraries. For instance, in relation to the potential for libraries to become more involved in supplying data for research proposals, Bent suggests: "Before venturing down this route, consider whether you have sufficient resources to continue if the idea takes root. Treating the contribution as a pilot or experiment will ensure that you are able to draw back or even investigate if a percentage of the subsequent grant might devolve to the library in recognition of the work" (2016, p.131). Currency is crucial in a rapidly-changing area such as scholarly communications, and the text is very much up to date with reference to a number of recent developments such as the Leiden Manifesto.

Those who are exploring how to support research more strategically may find the chapter on organisational structures particularly useful. Again using examples from different institutions, Bent showcases some of the varied and different approaches that can all work well, depending on the specific context and objectives, for instance having a specialised research services function versus offering research support through subject or liaison librarians. I was particularly glad to see a section encouraging librarians to become researchers and writers themselves, as this is something that has personally given me a much greater understanding of the research process, and the needs and workflows of researchers.

What is very much apparent throughout the book is Bent’s awareness that a one size fits all approach does not typically work. Underpinned by a flexible rather than prescriptive format, the book prompts readers to consider the options that might work best for researchers in their own organisations, rather than suggesting that they try to transplant or replicate a successful service, model or programme verbatim from another institution. Unlike many books, the structure is deliberately designed to allow readers to dip into specific sections as needed, rather than necessarily having to read it from cover to cover – a real advantage for those time-poor librarians looking for a quick burst of inspiration or advice. Above all however, it’s a book that offers a variety of approaches, insight, and real-world examples that work – exactly what you need whether you are searching for a simple solution to quickly improve services, or ideas to help inform and shape a more fundamental or strategic change.

Practical Tips for Facilitating Research is published by Facet Publishing, March 2016, 299pp, £49.95.

21 Apr 2016

Western Regional Section of the LAI -- 'Literacy for Life' Seminar

Guest post by the WRSLAI committee

The Western Regional Section of the LAI is holding its annual seminar on Monday, 27th June 2016, 9.30am-4.30pm. Venue in Galway TBC. The seminar theme is ‘Literacy for Life’. This seminar is an annual training day, attended by library professionals from all disciplines. Details of previous seminars can be found on our blog wrslai.wordpress.com/2015/11/05/wrslai-seminar-2015-slides-and-presentations/

Proposals should keep the theme of literacy for life in mind and we are also interested in any connections to 1916, given the Centenary celebrations.
Possible areas of interest are:
*Literacy- children’s books, adult education, literacy innovations & associations
*Online literacy and the library
*1916- Easter widows, library involvement, local memories, what was happening in the west? Examples of 1916 library exhibitions are encouraged.
*Library environment and its impact
*Library services

We are open to varied proposals, but those with a strong link to the theme will be given first choice.

Seminar Ad 2016
Presentations can be between 10-25 minutes. We welcome presenters from all library sectors. WRSLAI each year manage to successfully merge public and academic presentations, making it an unmissable event for all to attend.

Please email a short proposal of no more than 300 words to westernlibraries[at]gmail.com. All proposals must be submitted by 30th April 2016. Successful candidates will be notified by 16th May 2016.