23 Nov 2015

Rudaí 23 (23 Things) - an online CPD course for those studying or working in the information profession

Guest post by Saoirse Reynolds, Library Assistant, Maynooth University Library

The Rudaí 23 course started on the 7th of July 2015 and ran until Monday 12th October 2015 when the last Thing came out. The course was run by the Western Regional Section of the Library Association of Ireland (WRSLAI). It was open to anyone studying or working in the information profession and we were encouraged by the promise of a LAI CPD certificate on completion. It was a great opportunity to learn about using social media and web based tools and to enhance my continuing professional development. We were eased into the course with Thing 1: Blogging. It showed how to set up your account on Blogger, Wordpress and Tumblr and promised that the next Thing would involve writing. Luckily the topic for Thing 2 was easy as you were asked to write about why you became a librarian. I thought it was a great topic as it was reflective and it was interesting to read other peoples experiences. One of the best pieces of advice within this blog post was to write for fifteen minutes and after that time if you wanted to keep writing you could or else you could leave it for another day. It made it a lot less daunting.

The facilitators from the WRSLAI were great, they helped turn us into a little online community all working together. Everyone was assigned a mentor who kept track of what the mentee was writing and commented occasionally. This helped motivate me as I knew at least one person was reading my posts. It turned out that more than just the mentor read them though which was great, and I enjoyed reading others posts to get their perspective on the different Things.

I thought the more practical Things were very good. This included trying out a new web based tool and demonstrating how to use it. For example in Thing 9: Video, we got to use Screencast ‘o’ Matic. It was great to have practice with this and other tools and I’m likely to use them in the future. We each had to write a blog post about using the new tool and this reinforced learning. For each of the 23 Things we wrote a blog post. Sometimes this was a little arduous: one or two new Things came out every week and if you missed a week you they could pile up pretty quickly. There were 23 Things in all but four of the Things that I found particularly useful were Thing 3, Thing 4, Thing 12 and Thing 19.

Thing 3: Your Professional Brand, covered LinkedIn, something that takes a lot of work and time and it gave great guidelines in how to use it effectively. It is very important to be aware of your professional brand online and this really gets the message across.

Thing 4: looked at the features of Google. Although I have used Google and Gmail for a long time and was aware of some of the features like Google Docs and Drive, this Thing highlighted a few more features of it for me and made me aware of how it could be used in a work context such as using use Hangouts On Air which allows you to give online training and record it.

Thing 12: Attending Conferences was also a very useful one especially for those starting out in the library profession and nervous about attending conferences. It gave an overview of what happens at conferences and why they are good to attend.

Thing 19: The Legal Side of Things was interesting as it gave a bit more detail I found this Thing particularly useful as I was not overly confident about copyright and the legal side of things. I thought that this Thing gave me more insight into what exactly intellectual property is and where it comes from.

The Course ran for fifteen weeks. Some weeks we had two Things a week and other weeks we only had one Thing. This may have been because some of them were more time consuming than others. I found that I actually got through them quicker when we had two Things as I work better under pressure. However, that is just me; others on the course may have felt it was too much to do and may have fallen behind. Luckily you can apply for an extension and we got a few catch up weeks as well. There was a Twitter chat and hangouts chat that I missed as they were held on a Sunday, and I didn’t have access to the internet that day. Although they gave lots of alternatives to different apps some people who don’t have compatible smartphones or iPhones may have found it difficult to use the apps and therefore get the full benefit.

All in all I think it was a very worthwhile course and I feel I have learned a lot and got a lot out of it. I would recommend those starting out in the profession to consider doing it if it is run again.

Find out more about the course at http://rudai23.blogspot.ie/ and my Rudaí 23 blog

19 Nov 2015

The International Librarians Network: new round begins March 2016

Want to build your professional network and learn about librarianship around the world? Love the idea of professional travel but just don’t have the budget? The International Librarians Network (ILN) is for you. We are pleased to announce the next round of this popular program will commence in early March 2016.


The ILN peer mentoring program is a facilitated program aimed at helping librarians develop international networks. Participating in the ILN brings wider professional awareness, an international perspective to your work, new ideas, and increased professional confidence. We know this because many of our participants tell us – and we’ve had over 3500 librarians from 120+ countries take part so far.


Applications for the next round of partnerships will open in mid January and close at midnight on Monday 15th February 2016. Numbers are limited, so apply early to ensure you don’t miss out.


The ILN is open to anyone working (or studying) in the library and information industry around the world. The program is free and the only requirements to participate are an internet connection, fluent English skills, an hour each week and a desire to build professional connections and learn from colleagues.


Get involved now! Find out more about the way the programme works, or apply online

Posted on Thursday, November 19, 2015 | Categories:

9 Nov 2015

Usability Versus Identification

We've made some changes at my library since I became Director in February:

  • We now have a single loan rule – everything in the library, whether it's a book, a DVD, or a ukulele, circulates for two weeks, can be renewed twice, and accrues fines at a rate of 10 cents per day, with a maximum overdue fine of $5.
  • Having a single loan rule means that we no longer have a non-circulating reference collection. The reference collection is now integrated in our normal non-fiction collection and circulates just like everything else in the building.
  • We now buy multiple copies of most items, and many copies of our most popular items. This reduces the time patrons have to wait before they are able to borrow the item they want and also helps to keep the shelves stocked with in-demand materials.
  • We plan our events a full year in advance, allowing us to print and hand out a paper schedule and notify patrons well in advance of events that might interest them.
  • We're moving from desktop computers to laptop computers, so patrons can use a computer wherever they want to in the library, whether that's at a table out in the open, in a private study room, with peers in a group study area, or in one of our big comfy chairs to watch movies.
  • We're about to launch a new website that is better organized and easier to use and matches the minimalist aesthetic of our physical space.

These changes have been successful – our numbers are up and feedback has been uniformly positive, from staff and public alike. I think the reason these changes have gone over so well is because they make the library easier to use. That's one of my constant priorities – ease of use. I think about usability whenever I consider a new project.

However, I did make a change at the library, even though I knew it would make the library a little harder to use. We now require patrons to present their library card if they want to borrow materials. We won't look patrons up and we won't let patrons check out without a card even if we know them by name. We're doing this to protect patron privacy, to prevent the misuse of cards, to ensure equal service for all, to prevent mistakes, and to comply with network regulations.

These are good reasons, good enough that I went forward with this policy change even though I knew that it would the library a little harder to use. But usability is a priority, so we took steps to mitigate the difficulty of this policy change:

  • We no longer charge for replacement cards, so if a patron has lost their card, we'll give them a new one for free.
  • We let patrons check out with their driver's license or state ID.
  • We let patrons check out using a free card management app like CardStar.
  • We started advertising the policy change two months before the policy went into effect.

Even with these steps, on a handful of occasions, we've had to turn people away because they didn't have any form of ID with them. This kind of situation leaves everyone involved unhappy. After this happened a few times, we changed our policy slightly. Now, the first time someone forgets their card, we look them up, let them check out, and add a note to their account saying “forgot card on <DATE>”. We tell them about the policy, show them the app, and let them know that if they forget their card again, we won't be able to check them out.

Whether or not this adjustment is the perfect solution, this situation is an example of tension between ideals (usability) and practice (the need for identification). This theory/practice tension shows up in libraries frequently. For example, a group of patrons might want to work together (and, in doing so, make some noise) in an area where other patrons want to work quietly. As a librarian, you want to accommodate both needs, but can't.

It seems like, by their very nature, these types of situations demand ad hoc solutions. We do our best and when our best isn't perfect, all we can do is explain where we're coming from, ask for feedback from the patrons, and adjust. Have you run into a situation like this where your goals are in conflict? Do you have any suggestions?

2 Nov 2015

IFLA WLIC 2015 Cape Town Peer support from around the world -- IFLA first timer’s view

Guest post by Asta Ojala Information service assistant Häme University of Applied Sciences (HAMK) Hämeenlinna, Finland asta.ojala[at]hamk.fi

IFLA 2015 Cape Town. My first time in IFLA congress and my first time in Africa. Needless to say, I was excited! I’m a new professional from Finland, my name is Asta and I work at Häme University of Applied Sciences as an information service assistant. I graduated in library and information services a bit over a year ago but have been working in different libraries for a few years already. Somehow I’ve never attended IFLA congress before, and now with a full time job as an information service assistant and some allocated funding for international affairs from my institution I was finally able to go. And to what a destination, to the beautiful Cape Town! I couldn’t have been happier.

The conference theme this year was “Dynamic Libraries: Access, Development and Transformation”. All the conference presentations were linked to this theme and it was particularly thanked to be a top choice for a congress held in Africa. I agree.

As an IFLA first timer I didn’t know anybody at the congress beforehand and was excited to go and see what IFLA WLIC would be like and who I’d meet. The congress was warm and welcoming from the beginning. At the newcomers session that started my congress we were told about the congress outline and program and what to do and expect from the congress. We were told we’d be welcome to all the sessions, even to the business meetings as long as we’d be kind enough to ask and introduce ourselves! The most valuable part of the session was the mingling at the end where we could meet other newcomers and share our newcomers’ excitement. It was nice to see I wasn’t the only one coming to the congress on my own, it looked like most of the newcomers were there by themselves.

If possible, I felt even more welcome after the congress opening session. At the opening session we were welcomed back to where we all come from: To Africa, to the mother land, to the mother city. I was overwhelmed! I also enjoyed the music, especially when the choir performed us the Circle of Life by Elton John! Cape Town is a true melting pot of all cultures and among all the welcoming words we were advised to be considerate about the two ends of characteristics of Cape Town, the western one and the developing one.

In Finland, even in remote areas libraries and library services are known to people and are more or less highly used. Finnish kids learn to read and write at school, but for example in South Africa, not everybody does. I think this was one of the biggest outcomes of my Cape Town IFLA that we really need to make use of our privilege to read, write and learn!

Another personal outcome for me was meeting the lovely people of New Professionals Special Interest Group! A group of other new library professionals, what a perfect match for me. From the group I’m looking forward to peer support as a new professional even though we all work in such different areas in libraries in our countries. It’s interesting for me to learn to know what it’s like for new professionals in other countries to apply for jobs, if there are jobs and what do employers think of new professionals, for example.

To point out one of the conference sessions I’d like to mention the “Role of Library and Information workers in a Time of Crisis” where I learned to know about IFLA’s contribution to rebuilding libraries in crises areas, for example after a natural disaster. I also learned about the Ideas Boxes from Libraries Without Borders, which are boxes that transform into bookshelves and furniture. The boxes are packed with books and other material and a group of librarians will build up a pop up library for example to an area affected by humanitarian crisis.

There were so many interesting sessions at IFLA WLIC 2015 that one couldn’t possibly attend all the ones he or she would have liked, at least I couldn’t. Many of the congress guests told me they found the workshops and poster sessions to be the most interesting and rewarding. This was because of the possibility to discuss about the specific issue you’re interested in directly with the speaker or the specialist of the subject. This is why my next IFLA will look a bit different to this first one: I will attend all the NPSIG meetings from the beginning, this time I only learned to know about the group. I will join one of the workshops, which I didn’t get to do this time, and I will go and see some of the presentations by my Finnish colleagues, I can’t believe I missed them this time!

What I remember most about IFLA is the good atmosphere of action and cooperation.