22 Jun 2017

The CONUL Bursary winners reflect on #conulac17



For this year's CONUL Conference CONUL decided to award two bursaries to current LIS Students. Below are the reflections from the two winners, Louise Wasson and Sophie Lynch, on the application process and the conference itself. And a call to LIS students to apply for any bursary that comes up. A call that we at Libfocus wholeheartedly echo - when you see a Library Bursary, apply for it! Though it may take up some of your limited and precious time, the reward, if you are successful, more than makes up for the effort.


Sophie Lynch is currently an MLIS student at University College Dublin and holds a BMus (Hons) from the CIT Cork School of Music.

My name is Sophie Lynch, and I am currently a full-time Masters of Library and Information Studies student at University College Dublin. Prior to my MLIS, I completed my Bachelor of Music at the CIT Cork School of Music. While in Cork I had the pleasure of completing a summer internship at the CIT Cork School of Music Fleischmann Library and was also afforded the opportunity to visit the main CIT Bishopstown Library. These experiences were my first proper forays into the world of librarianship and gave me the confidence to pursue this career path. After I moved to Dublin to further my studies, I began working as a part-time student shelver for UCD Library working in both the James Joyce Library and the Health Sciences Library respectively.

I first heard about the CONUL Student Conference Bursary through Twitter. At the time, I was absolutely swamped with assignments and deadlines to meet and did not pursue it further because I felt that I did not have time to write an application. It was only when the deadline for applications was extended that I decided to apply. At this point, a few of my lecturers had encouraged my class to apply. One of the main reasons I decided to apply for the bursary was that as an MLIS student on the verge of graduating I wanted to learn first-hand about current developments and research in the profession. I also wanted the opportunity to research potential career paths by listening and speaking to established practitioners. Above all else, I was intrigued by the topics that would be covered under the conference theme “inspiring and supporting research.”

At the CONUL conference, I experienced what it was like to be part of a social media team for such a large event. I gained some insight into the inner workings of the conference while also having the opportunity to speak to delegates. This meant that I was constantly engaged and not simply passively listening. At each of the presentations I attended, I always felt that I learnt at least one interesting piece of information or discovered a new resource that I had never encountered. In addition to this, as I knew very few people at the conference, I was forced out of my comfort zone having to speak to more people. From carrying out tasks behind the scenes to speaking to people during breaks, there were many natural opportunities to network. As a result, I have had many stimulating conversations and have made new professional contacts.

I would highly encourage other LIS students to apply for the CONUL Conference Bursary. The application process was straightforward requiring only a one-page letter, and it did not take me as long as I expected to complete my application. I was initially a bit intimidated at the thought of applying for a bursary to attend one of the most prestigious library conferences in Ireland. However, I need not have worried as the CONUL Conference is one of the friendliest conferences I have encountered for newcomers and students.

Sometimes as an LIS student I become so immersed in my studies (particularly around deadlines) that I lose sight of what was going on around me. I find it difficult to keep up to date from afar on new research and exciting projects that are happening in the library and information profession. For this reason, I think that going to conferences and seminars encourages you to learn more about what is happening in your profession and can also help you stay abreast of new developments and trends. After the CONUL Conference, I felt inspired by the professionals I had listened and spoken to and was brimming with ideas for the future.

Attending conferences can be very expensive. As a student, without the help of the CONUL Conference Bursary and the support of my lecturer Jane Burns I would not have been able to attend this conference. My main piece of advice when it comes to applying for bursaries is to make time for your application, be brave and apply!



Louise Wasson currently works as a Library Assistant in the Queen’s University Belfast Medical & HSC Library.

Having now completed my PG Diploma in Library and Information Services Management by Distance Learning with the University of Sheffield iSchool, I was only too delighted to step away from my laptop and final assignments in order to make the journey down to Athlone for this year’s CONUL conference on the theme of Inspiring and Supporting Research.

Having already undertaken an MA and PhD in Medieval Literature, research support is an area which I have a vested interest in, and so this was an invaluable opportunity to meet established and experienced information professionals and learn from their ‘on the ground’ perspectives.  I certainly was not disappointed.

Like many LISM students, I completed my library qualification while working full-time.  Despite the numerous challenges associated with this method of study, the main drawback to distance learning was always the lack of face-to-face interaction which could at times be quite isolating.  Therefore, the opportunity to meet other bursary winners and LIS professionals was incredibly appealing and a great incentive to apply for the CONUL conference bursary.

Over the course of the conference I spent an enjoyable two days chatting and engaging with librarians at all levels and stages of their career, and from a range of different professional perspectives.  For example, the opportunity to engage with publisher representatives was particularly useful and insightful as my current role as library assistant does not require or allow for this sort of networking.  Therefore, the combination of formal and informal networking opportunities provided by the conference was an ideal way to ease into what could otherwise have been a potentially daunting situation.  Nevertheless, the friendly, welcoming atmosphere and hospitality from the CONUL social media team, organizers and delegates was evident from the outset and throughout.

As one of two lucky bursary winners I was delighted (and pleasantly surprised!) to be given some immediate responsibility for live tweeting the conference sessions from the official @CONULconf account (as well as my own personal account), and also for recording Periscope videos and short sponsor videos.  The opportunity to ‘learn on our feet’ so to speak was one that I really appreciated and would highly recommend.

The freedom to choose parallel sessions of interest was another bonus as this ensured that while all sessions were covered, each person could choose sessions of specific professional interest.  Particular highlights were the innovative Day 1 ‘Show & Tell’ presentations, Day 2 Keynote from Danny Kingsley, ‘Presentation Skills for Researchers’ and closing Open Access Panel Discussion.

Having attended previous conferences outside of the LISM field, energy and enthusiasm often tends to wane on Day 2.  This was not the case at CONUL 2017.  Lively and engaging discussions and ideas characterized the entire conference and provided the opportunity to take away new ideas and perspectives about ongoing challenges facing the profession.

Although it might be overwhelming to add bursary applications to the long list of administrative activities already undertaken by those working full time and completing their library degree, I could not recommend the experience enough.  Professional posts will involve significant competitive funding applications, report writing etc., and so any practice in producing this sort of documentation will be invaluable in your future career.  While it might be tempting to presume that conference bursaries will be oversubscribed and too difficult to obtain, I would strongly encourage LISM students and early-career professionals to apply and make the most of all available opportunities, as the exposure to different practices in different institutions may well be one of the best and most useful CPD opportunities you will encounter.

Overall, the experience was thoroughly enjoyable and insightful from start to finish with a rich programme of speakers and a wide range of expertise across a spectrum of relevant, timely and challenging issues.

A fantastic conference with an impressive online following and presence, I look forward to returning in the coming years and remaining a part of lively and important discussions.






21 Jun 2017

Reflections on CONUL 2017 (Athlone)

Guest post by Jesse Waters,  Library Assistant, John Stearne Medical Library, Trinity College Dublin

I recently attended the CONUL Conference at the Hodson Bay Hotel in Athlone. I highly recommend attending the conference to anyone in the profession. There was a wide variety of library staff present, from directors and senior management to those who have graduated in recent years. As a library assistant, it was very beneficial to get a higher perspective on the issues and dangers currently looming over libraries. Discussions focussed on the potential for these issues to swallow the profession whole in the future, and the solutions that could be put in place to prevent this from occurring. It was also an opportunity to gain a better understanding of current topics such as Open Access and Research Data Management. Furthermore, it provided a platform to meet friends and past-colleagues from other libraries that I have not seen for a while, and to meet some very interesting librarians for the first time. With that in mind I would like to comment on some of the presentations which struck a chord with me, the majority of which were focused on the theme of change and adaptation.

Dr. Danny Kingsley, Head of Scholarly Communication at the University of Cambridge, delivered the keynote address, or warning, ‘Emerging from the chrysalis – transforming libraries for the future’ on the second day of the conference using a children’s story- Tadpole`s Promise, to great effect. She bounced back and forth between the story and her slides to deliver a compelling and entertaining analogy on the evolving relationship between libraries and publishers. A relationship which evolved in symbiosis until a certain point, after which libraries were overtaken. The narrative depicted a once smitten, but now disgruntled caterpillar, unhappy with its partner because they were transforming from a tadpole into a frog. One day, the caterpillar had enough and left the tadpole, only to evolve itself and return later. Alas, at this stage it was too late and the now-frog simply ate the butterfly. The caterpillar represented the library, the tadpole was the publisher. Clearly, there is a need for libraries to catch up to the fast-changing landscape caused by publishing companies, who are already migrating into other research support services outside making available and providing access to content. She questioned the role- “are librarians support staff or research partners?”, and advised that we should be collaborating more within the research communities that we currently provide for.

In the presentation “The network reshapes the research library collection”, Lorcan Dempsey of OCLC spoke about modern academic libraries and how they have changed. Historically, libraries were defined by their collections. Nowadays, the physical and digital collection has transitioned from the core of what libraries do to a service that they offer. As such, academic libraries are no longer the only “information space”, but have become a part of a much greater and easily-accessible information space. He spoke about the concept of the “inside-out library”, collective collections, and how libraries have begun to market their unique individual identities by highlighting special collections in their possession, citing “Label This” a wine label transcription project at the UC Davis Library in California. Interestingly, this is something which has already risen to prominence in Irish university libraries such as Trinity College with the long-established Book of Kells exhibition, University of Limerick with its recent investments into the Kate O`Brien letters, and UCD renovating their special collections space last year.

Simon Bains, Head of Research Services and Deputy Librarian at the University of Manchester University Library, delivered a poignant reflection on a project undertaken titled ‘A journey of discovery: investigating student publishing at the University of Manchester’. He described how the Library set out to collaborate with, whilst providing for, their student community more effectively as part of a University initiative to develop its pedagogy. The initial aim of the project was to establish a publishing platform for taught students of the university, responding to the University’s commitment that taught students should develop research skills as part of their experience at Manchester. However, their research revealed that demand was unconvincing and sustainability was a concern given the costs and the transitional nature of student editorial teams. They recognised an opportunity (or necessity) to adapt, and opted to invest in publishing training materials which would benefit more students and be less resource intensive to manage. It was inspiring to hear how the library changed the scope of the project in such a radical fashion in response to its findings. It was interesting to hear how this was set within the context of an organisational structure which has moved entirely away from subject librarians to a “functional librarians” model in the wider areas of research services, teaching and learning, and academic engagement. This meant that these new publishing materials slotted neatly into an existing set of services encompassing bibliometrics, management of research data, and Open Access scholarly communications. The online modules produced by the project can be found here.

The presentations delivered by Kingsley and Bains highlighted the severe need for a radical change in academic libraries, whilst Dempsey articulated external changes that have already occurred. The adaptation they advocated needs to occur in regards to staffing, the relationship of libraries and their wider institutions and publishers, and the role that librarians occupy in the research process. I think this is most definitely the case as students and researchers have become self-sufficient, and there is a need to market our resourcefulness and to upskill into new avenues. The depth and breadth of presentations at the conference highlighted that library staff can most-definitely help our communities to maximise their research through our existing services and training sessions, or in the case of functional librarians described by Simon Bains by modifying the services we offer to meet the changing needs of our users.

As I was reflecting on the conference whilst travelling back to Dublin on the train, a passage from a Rage Against the Machine track from their self-titled debut popped into my head that I think summarised the overall theme of CONUL 2017:
“The rage is relentless
We need a movement with a quickness
You are the witness of change
And to counteract
We gotta take the power back

1 Jun 2017

Review of the Librarians’ Information Literacy Annual Conference (LILAC), 10-12 April 2017




Guest post by CaitrĂ­ona Honohan (MSc ILM MA BMus ALAI ) is a Subject Librarian at Trinity College Dublin and Secretary of the Academic & Special Libraries Section (A&SL) of the Library Association of Ireland (LAI). Her email address is: caitriona.honohan@tcd.ie

I attended LILAC for the first time this year at Swansea University Bay Campus in its beautiful setting right beside the beach. When I submitted a proposal for the Call for Papers back in October, it seemed like a distant possibility. I had recently received a Bursary from the Cataloguing & Metadata Group (CMG) of the (LAI) to disseminate the research from my Dissertation The Information-Seeking Behaviour of Advisers to Policy-Makers for Homelessness in Ireland and so I was delighted when the proposal was accepted for a Short Paper, details of which can be found here. The Bursary and the support of the Library of Trinity College Dublin enabled me to attend and present at this great conference, and I’d like to acknowledge both for this opportunity.

The conference was very well-attended, with over 270 delegates from all over the world. In each Parallel Session slot there were six choices, so some quite difficult decisions had to be made. After a plane, bus, two trains and a taxi, we arrived at the venue. The food was excellent, and the Conference Team couldn’t have been more friendly and approachable, easy to spot in their Conference T-shirts. And so to the content - below is a brief snapshot of the key points which I took away from the sessions I attended. For a more comprehensive overview, I recommend the video recordings of the Keynote Speakers and the slides from all presentations, which can be found here.

Josie Fraser is a Social and Educational Technologist, and her Keynote The library is open:  librarians and information professionals as open practitioners presented a brief history of Open Educational Resources, a term adopted by UNESCO in 2002, the same year as the first Creative Commons licenses were released. 2017 is the Year of Open. She discussed the concepts of Free versus Open, and outlined the definition of Open Educational Resources: free learning resources that have been openly licensed or are in the public domain and can be used or reused for free. OER formats can include text (print or digital), audio, video or multimedia. The key is that resources should be as open as possible. She gave the example that all TED Talks have CC BY licenses so that they can be freely used as long as credit is given. She encouraged us to investigate the website of Right Copyright, a recent campaign calling for “freedom to teach without breaking the law” and calling for “a law that recognises museums, libraries and NGOs as having an educational function”.

Barbara Allan is an Independent Consultant and her Keynote Making an impact beyond the library and information service encouraged us as librarians to think beyond the usual networks and expand our circles beyond the library. She discussed decision making in universities, highlighting that different universities have different power structures and different groups have different priorities, so the more we think beyond our own department the more effective we can be. She encouraged librarians to make an impact in these ways: Link our work to strategy; Enhance our skills and techniques; Join boards and volunteer to chair committees; Make an impact on small scale projects working with range of stakeholders; Publicise projects internally and externally and Apply for external funding and national awards.

Alan Carbery is Associate Library Director at Champlain College, Vermont, and his Keynote was entitled Authentic information literacy in a post-truth era. At Champlain College, there is embedded information literacy instruction reaching every student seven times throughout their undergraduate studies. This programme of instruction relies on fifteen unique separate information literacy classes. Alan encouraged us to think about how we can introduce authentic information literacy to our own students, considering the real-world context of information today for students’ lifelong learning. He illustrated examples of showing historical documents to students to highlight ideas of power in gender and issues of social justice as expressed through information. He referenced Eli Pariser's TED Talk on Filter Bubbles, and said that 2017 is the year the filter bubble chicken came home to roost! He recommended IFLA's Guide to Spotting Fake News, and encouraged us to encourage students to ask more questions to enable them to become more informed global citizens.

Jess Haigh’s Parallel Session Embedding interventions for better critical writing and reading described her research with Jane Mullen on the difficulties some undergraduate students have in reading and thinking critically. She highlighted the "vocational" backgrounds of some university students, and the fact that some students have very little experience of academic sources. She described how these issues often become apparent with final year students, and so they have created interventions placed into the second year curriculum at the University of Huddersfield. She described various technologies that she has investigated, eg Kahoot!, Videoscribe for creating whiteboard-style animation videos and the interactive presentation software Mentimeter. She demonstrated the interactive classroom tool Nearpod for an exercise on finding resources using keywords, synonyms and related terms, focussing on enabling students to think about language in context. She stressed the importance of using subject specific examples that students can relate to.

Lorna Dawes’ Parallel Session Dissecting informed learning: a birds-eye vew of information literacy in first year college courses outlined her research investigating how faculty members experience the teaching of information literacy. Her interviews included asking faculty members to think of key concepts or big ideas that they think their students struggle to understand, and to describe their approach to teaching and how they evaluate their teaching. She believes that we as librarians need to facilitate students to make the connection that authors write in different formats e.g. in journals and also in blogs, explaining that her research showed that faculty members are generally more interested in content than format. She also found that faculty members evaluate information literacy teaching by assessing how the students demonstrate what they’ve learned in their papers.

Assessing first-year medical students’ information-seeking behaviors: implications for instruction was presented by Sa’ad Laws. He and his colleagues Ross MacDonald and Liam Ferneyhough are based at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, and teach Evidence Based Medicine (EBM) Instruction on the Medicine, Patients and Society course for first-year medical students. Their recent research has focussed on the types of resources that students are using for Background Questions, enquiring if they use online resources that are aimed at patients/consumers, at medical students or at medical professionals. They also investigated the quality of resources as measured by Information Literacy standards and by clinical standards, and discussed how the two correlate. Preliminary findings have shown that 57% of their students are using Medical Consumer resources, 24% are using Medical Professional resources and only 19% are using Medical Educational resources.

Charity Dove’s workshop The instrumental instrument was completely different from all the others that I attended as we were on our feet for most of the session, practicing vocal exercises and moving around. There was a lot of laughter, and I think everybody enjoyed it as much as I did! Having had singing lessons in the past I was familiar with most of the vocal techniques as practiced for singing purposes, but using them to maintain the speaking voice as a teaching librarian was a very interesting concept to me and I learned a lot from the session.

Melody Chin’s Parallel Session Do faculty and librarians see information literacy in the same way? A study of alignment described her research in the Singapore Management University in a collaborative project with Daniel Walker at Bond University, Australia. 63 Faculty and 22 Librarians with a teaching role took part in the study investigating how faculty and librarians perceive the concept of Information Literacy. Their survey was structured around the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, and the results showed that faculty members placed Research as Inquiry as the most important Frame, while librarians placed Searching as Strategic Exploration on top. Authority is Constructed and Contextual was ranked as being least important by both groups. When asked about the ways that Information Literacy training has impacted on student performance, academics responded that improved references, more thorough research and better quality assignments have been noted. Librarians have noted better reference questions.

Pip Divall’s Writing for Publication: using training and blogs to promote publishing in a hospital trust discussed a Writing Club at the University Hospice in North Wales, set up by Pip Divall some years ago and revived recently. The Writing Club consists of sessions on a number of topics, e.g. Writing up Case Reports, Statistics, Systematic Reviews and How to make best use of Social Media. There are also informal peer review sessions for people to share experiences about their writing. She holds two-hour workshops on Writing for Publication, sharing tips such as having friends/colleagues write an abstract for your paper, to ensure clarity. The recent Write Case Reports sessions were aimed at junior doctors but were actually attended by more senior researchers also, e.g. clinical chemists, pharmacists and biochemists.

Lorna Dodd’s Parallel Session Embedding information literacy through critical skills and a new curriculum focussed on the new undergraduate curriculum at Maynooth University and how the library has been instrumental in embedding Information Literacy within it. She described the process of how the library designed three critical skills modules for the new curriculum and explained that librarians not only deliver sessions themselves but also train the other tutors who deliver the sessions, working closely with the Critical Skills Co-ordinator Dr Brian McKenzie. The curriculum thus has a key focus on critical skills to prepare students for work, life and citizenship, including problem solving, critical thinking, analysis, reflection, communication skills, understanding academic standards and ethical responsibility. Information Literacy has become the centre of the critical skills modules and thus has become truly embedded in the curriculum.

Syrian New Scots information literacy wayfinding practices: phase 1 research findings was presented by Konstantina Martzoukou. Her research with Simon Burnett has investigated the information needs of "Syrian New Scots" (the preferred name for refugees in Scotland), their information literacy practices and the barriers and drivers they encounter. The research included holding focus groups and focussed on the Information Literacy dimensions in Health, Employability and Welfare Rights, Education, Communities and Social Connections and Housing. Preliminary results have shown that concepts of a shared rhetoric / common communication space are very important and that interpersonal encounters are generally preferred over technology-based information. Konstantina facilitated a discussion on how public libraries can help, and directed us to the report Ambition and Opportunity : A Strategy for Public Libraries in Scotland.

The final Parallel Session I attended was Russell Hall’s “The real world”: information in the workplace versus information in college. His research focussed on workplace information literacy, specifically how recent graduates use information in their daily work lives. He conducted interviews with 35 alumni of Penn State Erie, The Behrend College (PSB) and investigated the information techniques/mindsets that they brought with them from their undergraduate studies to the workplace. His research showed that people-based information is more important than text-based information in the workplaces of the participants. Several of his interviewees also reported that peer-reviewed research is often not available in the workplace because of the high cost of access, a point that also came across in my own Dissertation research.

After the three days, I returned home with my head buzzing with ideas, and it wasn’t until I came to prepare this review that I had the time to fully reflect on the learning, from memory and my combination of typed and handwritten notes. I also followed the Twitter feed at various points during and after the conference. All in all it was a very positive experience, many thanks to the Conference Team and I definitely hope to attend LILAC 2018 in Liverpool!


Posted on Thursday, June 01, 2017 | Categories:

25 May 2017

Universities, Research and Public Engagement



Guest post by Dr. Richard Scriven. Richard is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Geography, UCC, researching pilgrimage in Ireland.

In his post he uses an exhibition he curated as a platform to examine the idea that public engagement is fundamental to both research and universities


My exhibition, Journeys of Belief and Belonging: Modern Irish Pilgrimage in the UCC Library, explores the pilgrimage tradition and how it is manifest in contemporary Ireland. It illustrates how pilgrimage is a vibrant cultural phenomenon that inspires millions of people annually to leave home, go on a journey, and try to connect with the more meaningful aspects of life. An evocative account of the activity is presented through quotations from research participants and images from some of Ireland’s main sites Lough Derg, Co Donegal; Croagh Patrick, Co. Mayo; Knock, Co. Mayo; and, a holy wells in Munster. I am also running public seminars on the topic to encourage public discussion and further conversations about the role of pilgrimage. The project is funded by the Irish Research Council and UCC Library.

The exhibition is a form of ‘public engagement’. This is the idea that researchers need to communicate their work not only to others in their field – usually through peer-reviewed journal articles and conference presentations - but also to a broader range of audiences. My public engagement programme aims to inform and educate the public about the role of pilgrimage, while also highlighting the importance of socially and culturally relevant research. It uses several platforms to present fieldwork images and the experiences of pilgrims, with context and commentary added to prompt new considerations.

The idea of public engagement is fundamental to both research and universities. As Moseley (2010, p.109) points out ‘although producing knowledge for its own sake is good, many commentators would argue that information should also be produced for the betterment of the human condition’. This speaks to the role of research more generally as a means of contributing to society. Comparably, universities, as public educational and knowledge-based institutions, have underlying purposes to communicate ideas and to add to civic discourses. Indeed, UCC’s motto of ‘Where Finbarr Taught, let Munster Learn’ captures this sentiment, referring to the people of the region as a whole. Within my field, this approach is sometimes called ‘public geographies’ which is ‘about bringing a disciplinary perspective into a broader conversation with the public’ (Moseley 2010, p.109). It highlights the importance of good research which studies relevant and significant issues, and then ensuring that the findings enter public discussions, and where applicable lead to policy and societal change.

There is, however, a gap between these ideals and the realities of research and university life. Furco (2010, p.375) contends that ‘community-focused public engagement activities are not typically found at the forefront of the academy’s work’. The combined pressures of the research and university environment, which prioritise peer-reviewed publications and quantifiable impacts tend to down-grade the role of public engagement.  Instead, institutions and funders need to ensure that civic engagement projects are recognised as valuable activities in funding and job applications. We need to strive toward more active approaches in which ‘community engagement is integrated into the research, teaching and service mission of higher education institutions’ (Furco 2010, p.387). It is only from such a position that findings and discussions will reach general audiences and flow towards societal change.

Fortunately, my emphasis on public geographies was seen as being an important component of my work by the Irish Research Council and UCC. I included a strong public engagement programme as part of my funding application for my fellowship. UCC prioritises external engagement as one of its strategic goals.  In addition, the UCC Library were extremely enthusiastic about my idea for an exhibition, which is being run as part of their regular exhibitions for the general public. This type of institutional support is essential to nurture an environment that prompts and furthers community engagement practices.

Consideration has to be given to how researchers communicate with the public. It is not just a matter of agree on the value of civic engagement, it is also about the form and effectiveness of these programmes (Stilgoe, Lock & Wilsdon 2014). Academics are used to writing and talking in certain ways, drawing on concepts and acronyms which are unfamiliar to those outside their fields. The challenge is to learn to ‘to focus on presenting, or "framing," their messages in ways that connect with diverse audiences’ (Nisbet & Scheufele 2007, p.39). In effect, we must ‘translate’ our work, using everyday language to ensure to reaches a broad range of people. For example, the UCC Postgraduate Showcase is an annual event that encourages researcher students to ‘develop innovative ways to communicate their research to non-specialists, and to present a compelling story around their thesis topic’. As part of this process, we must be conscious of our target audiences and how best to effectively make an impact (Stilgoe, Lock & Wilsdon 2014).

Public engagement will continue to become an important part of the research and university landscape. Institutionally, it requires support, while researchers need to meet this challenge to communicate to public as well as their peers. For me, the exhibition and public seminar are an integrated part of my postdoctoral fellowship. They are one of the main pillars on which I centre and assess my work. Hopefully, this will encourage others to reflect on how they can communicate their research to broader audiences to help improve society.

Furco, A., 2010. The Engaged Campus: Toward a Comprehensive Approach to Public Engagement. British Journal of Educational Studies 58, 375–390.

Moseley, W., 2010. Engaging the Public Imagination: geographers in the op-ed pages. Geographical Review 100, 109–121.

Nisbet, M., Scheufele, D., 2007. The Future of Public Engagement, The Scientist 21, 38–44.

Stilgoe, J., Lock, S.J., Wilsdon, J., 2014. Why should we promote public engagement with science? Public Understanding of Science 23, 4–15.

The exhibition Journeys of Belief and Belonging: Modern Irish Pilgrimage is running until the 24 June 2017