19 Dec 2014

The Library Association of Ireland - Why bother with Membership?

Guest post by Jane Burns, Research Officer, Royal College of Surgeons, and Occasional Lecturer, SILS, UCD.

The Library Association of Ireland  - Why bother with Membership?

For me the holiday season is always a mad time of year, trying to be organised for Christmas, wrap things up at work and then try to put some time away to reflect on the past year to plan for the one quickly approaching. From a professional perspective, this is when I think about what I have learned, what have I achieved and what do I want to achieve. My membership of the Library Association of Ireland (LAI) is always the scaffold that I use to construct my plans.

However, the decision on membership of the LAI is one that we should all question. Why should we bother? What is the benefit to us individually and collectively? If you are not a member what negative impact does it have it on your career and your personal development? Is the cost of membership either paid by yourself or your organisation worth what you get in return? These are questions we all need to ponder. My personal opinion is examined in this blog post.

Throughout most of my librarian career I have primarily worked as a solo librarian within an organisation or in non-traditional librarian roles, such as Research, Taxation and Digital Imagery. So for me being involved with the Irish Professional Body of Librarians has been a way to stay involved in my chosen profession, to network with colleagues and to be active in its development.

If you think about it there are two ways to develop your career in librarianship, these are within your organisation and within your professional body. For many librarians there was a career trajectory within their organisations, starting at one level, developing skills and then being able to move up the ladder so to speak as opportunities arose. Now with the changing roles available for librarians and the challenging economic environment these opportunities are few and far between. However, the ability to develop your career within our profession still remains strong. This is available through the Associateship (ALAI) and Fellowship (FLAI) levels of membership

Some of the many benefits are the opportunities for CPD development. Many of the groups and sections offer discount prices for attending events to LAI members. The range of CPD topics developed by colleagues is targeted, relevant and fantastic value. When you attend these events you know that you are not going to have some generic or non-industry based information delivered but rather information that is within the scope of our range of our requirements. The issuing of CPD certificates adds to your professional development and to your portfolio for applications to become Associates (ALAI) and Fellows (FLAI) of the LAI. The development of the Mentoring scheme for these membership schemes is currently underway which will provide more opportunities for development.

The degree courses that we participate in, The School of Information Studies, UCD and Dublin Business School are both accredited by the LAI. So for many of us even from our first point of entry to the profession we are directly involved with the LAI.

My membership of the Academic & Special Libraries section in particular has really instilled in me such a positive perspective about the benefits of LAI membership. I was very fortunate to be a committee member for a number of years and the skills I learned working in that environment certainly helped me develop my confidence, my networking and my event planning skills. It also gave me a forum to meet with, collaborate with, so many different types of librarians that I would have otherwise not have had contact with. My current role on the Executive Council  has further enhanced these skills and opportunities.

Membership of LAI demonstrates to your colleagues and employers that you are serious about your profession and your CPD. Involvement means that you personally have opportunities to contribute to the development of the profession, to the development of professional standards and be involved in the development of a national base of knowledge and experience.

There are in place reciprocal recognitions with other Library Associations such as the American Library Association (ALA) which can be beneficial if you want to work abroad. Membership of the LAI also provides access to the international library and information community through links with the European Bureau of Library Information and Documentation (EBLIDA) and the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA).

All members are entitled to a Countdown Card which I have found to be great for a range of discounts, ranging from dry cleaning to travel vouchers.

An Leabharlann is the peer reviewed journal of the LAI.  This is a fantastic benefit of membership of the LAI. The journal has Irish focused articles about research, practices, seminars/conferences and book reviews. In November of this year An Leabharlann became Open Access (OA), members however, have the privilege of access to the most recent issue, while access via OA is not available until the next issue is published.

One of the key messages I teach my students in SILS at UCD  is that the one of the best things to do in developing as a professional is to network. Membership of the LAI is a fantastic way to develop and engage in a professional network. This is done via committee work, seminars and conferences and informally. Librarians in Ireland are fantastic at networking. I think this stems from our altruistic nature, our desire to collaborate and be supportive and accepting that being a librarian means continuing to learn new skills for the rest of your life, and we learn best from other people and shared experiences.

Membership and renewal of membership takes place in January and is for one calendar year. There is information on the LAI Website (for Renewal of membership - click on the renew button, and if you are joining for the first time see here) .

So if you are interested then do give yourself a New Year’s Present and be a part of the LAI. The LAI is an organisation fully staffed and developed by volunteers, all LIS professionals with many demands on their personal and professional lives. All members are welcome to participate to help develop our professional body and to develop themselves in the process.

So in answer to my initial question- Why bother joining? I would say Why not? As LIS professionals we need to demonstrate that we value our Professional Body, that we value our Profession and most importantly that we value ourselves working in a field that is changing and evolving very quickly, because after all if we don’t demonstrate that we appreciate the value how can we expect anyone else to?

All good wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Posted on Friday, December 19, 2014 | Categories:

17 Dec 2014

Launching a digital marketing strategy to increase user engagement in an academic library

Guest post by Colin O Keeffe, Information Skills Librarian

Colin recently put together a generic digital-marketing-strategy proposal for the academic library context and kindly agreed to share his work (see below).

Effective digital marketing strategies empower library staff in their efforts to engage with, and maintain, an increasingly virtual library-user constituency.

IATUL recently covered the same issue at its June conference under the heading “Coming Out: Making the Virtual Library visible in today’s world”

This is the age of the virtual customer. A silent virtual revolution has led to tumultuous and disruptive changes in environmental, financial, educational, and information environments. As the Library becomes increasingly virtual, it is becoming virtually invisible -- as are library customers. Libraries are redefining their roles, managing their migration from the print past to an online future in a time of spiralling costs and declining incomes, redefining their products and services and refocusing on their customers, many of whom they rarely if ever see. How do we position the Library in the marketplace? What is the message to be conveyed to a new generation of customers? What are the information needs to be met? What are the Library's products and services? What is the story to be told? How are the Library's products and services most effectively marketed? What communication strategies should be used to bridge the virtual and the real worlds? The paper explores ways in which the Library and its message can be "flipped". The promotion of goods and services that simplify client experiences is one direction. Less can be more. Ways of rebuilding relationships and establishing rapport with clients are presented. Possible approaches to the development of meaningful engaging content for particular audiences are outlined. Strategies in use by leading edge libraries are identified. Uses of social media in marketing and improving website content are obvious strategies. Designing product and promotional means for mobile devices is an essential component. Collaborating with others and using "influencers" and recommender services will enhance capacity. Ways of making the virtual library visible and telling the story effectively in a largely invisible domain are outlined and transformative strategies explored.

Saw, G. g., & Schmidt, J. j. (2014). COMING OUT: MAKING THE VIRTUAL LIBRARY VISIBLE IN TODAY'S WORLD. IATUL Annual Conference Proceedings, (35), 1-9.

15 Dec 2014

Semesterisation - observations from the Library

Last week the national press  reported on sit in protests at UCC Library. This protest was organised by UCC Student Union over what students saw as the less than adequate opening hours of the main Library building in the wake of the recent semesterisation of the academic year at UCC.

Though these protests attracted the attention of students and media they are, for me as a librarian, the least interesting and least surprising aspect of the switch to a semester based model.

UCC Library has always been very much used as a study space by students. Particularly at peak times of the academic year.  Our students flock to the library when they have deadlines. The more deadlines they have the more flocking they do. With semesterisation students have more deadlines and the time between deadlines is reduced. Ergo, more flocking. Therefore no surprise.

But there are other aspects of this change that could be of more interest to other librarians whose institutions might be moving over to a semester based model. A number of these are probably obvious but as the sit in protests show - not all of us think of the obvious things all of the time.

The number of information / reference queries being handled from undergraduates has significantly increased this year.
Students are under more pressure. Both time and resource pressure. As there are more students doing more assignments at the same time there is greater demand on our hard copy resources. Core texts are being checked out quicker, earlier and more often. There are also more holds / requests being placed on these checked out items.
This has provided an opportunity for us library staff.
Students are needing, and actually seeking assistance, from frontline library staff at an earlier stage of the year. They need to find material as their recommended reading material is more often not available. This puts us in a position of influence - they need us to show them how to maximise their use of our resources to find equally relevant material. It allows us to introduce them earlier to our e-resources. This has the added value of increasing the use of our e-resources.
A happy side product, hopefully, is that we instill good research practice in undergrads from the very start of their academic career.

The amount of items being shelved has increased. The increase in students using the library as an information resource, as opposed to a study space, has led to increased usage of our hard copy resources. 
In recent years we had found that the number of items needing to be shelved had reduced significantly, year on year, This slide has been halted. And gone swiftly the opposite direction. The number of items being circulated and requiring re shelving has shot back up. Obviously this means that Library Staff and Student Help are all busier as regards shelving.
Shelving is taking up more library man hours.

We are requesting more items from the store.
Every summer we relegate items to the store. This relegation is based on usage. When an item has not been checked out for a number of years we tend to relegate. This year we find that more of these relegated books are being requested as students seek alternatives to the items on their reading lists.

There is more browsing of the shelves by students. 
As students cannot find the actual book they are looking for they browse the Dewey area more. Thus leading to different materials being borrowed. I imagine that lecturers will be marking papers with plenty of 'unusual' / different items / material being referenced.

Many books with historically low circulation stats are now being circulated.

Undergraduate student help are finding it harder to stick to rosters due to assignments.
We in UCC Library hire a number of student assistants every year. They work twelve hours a week and most of them spend their shifts helping with stock management. To put it more plainly - they shelve books and tidy the shelves.
This year we find that undergraduate students are finding it difficult to commit to rostered times due to the amount of assignments they are working on at any one time. This means that it requires a flexibility on our side to work around their schedule. We have had to work on a weekly, sometimes daily, basis to ensure that the student help can work on their assignments and work their required hours. A number of students have had to give up their hours or pull back on their hours due to their study commitments

In conclusion, as  I see it, Semesterisation has been a good thing for UCC library.
The physical building is much busier.  Students are using the library more and earlier in the year.
Our information sources - both physical and virtual are being utilised more.

4 Dec 2014

Raising your professional profile – through your professional Library Association

Guest post by Aoife Lawton, Laura Connaughton and Grace Toland

Overview of awards – Aoife Lawton, Systems Librarian, Health Service Executive Dublin.

Laura, Grace and I bring you reflections on the process, benefits and experience of the Library Association of Ireland awards based on our joint presentation at the recent “Developing as a Professional: Attaining a Library Association of Ireland (LAI) Award” organised by the LAI CPD Committee on 20th November this year. For those of you who attended, it was a certified event. The cert will count towards achieving Associateship.

Most Library Associations around the world offer their members the opportunity to raise their profile and demonstrate professionalism by applying for various awards or levels of registration which they offer. In the UK, CILIP has a range of awards including Certification, Chartership and Fellowship. Branches and specialities within librarianship offer additional certification, such as the MLA’s Academy of Health Information Professionals and ALIA’s Certified Professional (Health).

The information industry is growing and we are all working in a competitive space. There is competition for quality and reliability of information provision. Librarians have long occupied the information world but our world is increasingly being rattled by big and bold (and better?) competitors. For example, no OPAC or discovery tool can compete with Amazon. Some libraries have done away with the former. (Kortekaas & Kramer 2014). Google Scholar (GS) is the search engine of choice for many students and professionals alike. Students prefer the usability of GS over library databases (Chen, Shih-chuan, 2014). After 10 years of existence the precision of GS is increasing (Gehanno et. al, 2013). Is this bad news for librarians? No. Why? Because these competitors exclude the human element and the tacit and explicit knowledge of the human. This is where the thinking librarian has a key role. But if nobody knows that you exist or that you are qualified then readers will turn to online resources which are free and easy to use as the alternative. The challenge is for librarians to stand up and be counted. Make sure that people see you and value you as a professional. One small way to do this is through your professional library association.

Awards from the Library Association of Ireland (LAI) include Associateship and Fellowship. According to the Memorandum and Articles of Association, the LAI aims to promote “high standards of library services and the profession of librarianship”. The LAI has a responsibility to establish and monitor professional standards in the profession of librarianship and one way it achieves this is through these awards. These awards have been available to members since 1989.

The Process

To apply for Associateship there are 3 criteria to be filled:

1. Membership – you need to be an LAI member for at least 1 year and at the time of application

2. Qualification – you need to hold a qualification that is recognised and approved by the LAI

3. Practical experience – you need to have a minimum of 2 years post-qualification experience of working in the library and information sector. The LAI will take part-time and temporary work into account.

In addition to this, there is a once-off €100 application fee. An application form available from the LAI website requires the following:

· A professional development report (500 words)

· Your CV with 2 recent references

· Evidence to demonstrate your continuing professional development.

Compiling the professional development report & evidence is really a piece of CPD in action. The process gives you the opportunity to give your CV an overhaul.

The Benefits:

What’s in it for you?

On a practical level, you get to put ALAI after your name. Presumably nobody outside of the LIS sector will have a clue what this refers to, but there will be an acknowledgement that it is something professional. A certificate is presented to you by the President of the LAI and at least in my case, there was a ceremonious, celebratory feel to the presentation, with complimentary tweets received from peers. On a personal level, this gave me a welcomed boost. I’ve added ALAI to my email signature and LinkedIn profile. I had plans to frame the certificate and put it next to my desk in the library, but these have not reached fruition yet.

What’s in it for your employer?

The fact that the librarian has gone through the process of applying for Associateship or Fellowship demonstrates a personal commitment to the professional of librarianship and shows that they are dedicated and have a professional approach. In many cases, the fee is paid for by the employee which equally shows a certain level of belief and respect for librarianship.

What’s in it for the profession?

I believe that Associateship and Fellowship is a type of lifelong learning and commitment to the profession as a whole. Those of us who are privileged to work as library and information professionals have the opportunity to advance our professional status through these awards. As I mentioned in my presentation we should flaunt it. If you walk into any GP practice, Vet or Dentist in the country you will see an array of framed qualifications and awards on the wall. As a client, this instils a sense of trust in the provider. Even restaurants display awards and ratings from TripAdvisor and others as an indicator of quality. Are you more likely to go into that restaurant? Librarians should do the same. Frame qualifications and awards and display them in your library or office. It will give readers a sense of being in a place of quality where people are invested in and believe in their profession.

Insights on my experience of the ALAI process, by Laura Connaughton, Assistant Librarian Library Information Services & Subject Librarian for English, Celtic Studies and Media Studies, Maynooth University.

One of the main requirements of the application for ALAI is the Personal Statement. I found this incredible challenging as it cannot be more than 500 words. I have had four years library experience, which is relatively short, however I still found it a challenge to put my personal experiences into 500 words. I did find the personal statement an excellent way to reflect on my career to date and made me think about how I’ve contributed to the library profession. I included information on any conferences I’ve presented at, seminars I’ve attended, committee membership and my professional memberships. It also afforded me the opportunity to talk about the development of my personal, management and leadership skills. The personal statement is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate my passion and enjoyment of my chosen profession.

Another main requirement for the application is a record of your CPD activity. I would suggest, if you haven’t already, keep a record of every CPD activity you do such as all training, courses, seminars attended, any blog posts, articles, speaking at conferences, committee membership activities etc. I use a Word document on my desktop and keep it up to date. LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com) is a super tool to keep a record of CPD activity also. LinkedIn manages your professional identity and also allows you to build and engage with your professional network. Your Continuing Professional Development enhances your CV and strengthens your application.

I enjoyed compiling my application for Associateship of the Library Association of Ireland – it allowed me to reflect on my career to date as well as looking towards the future and the direction that I am headed in my career.

Perspectives from Grace Toland, Librarian Irish Traditional Music Archive

Personally, applying for the ALAI created an artificial reflection point in my career, where I listed positions, skills, training, and experience in a methodical way. It pointed out strengths and weaknesses, and a career pattern which I would not have recognised without taking this bird’s-eye view. It also made me reflect on all the advantages I have gained in being involved with LAI Committees, both professionally and personally, and how this opened doors to unforeseen opportunities.

Across many professions, the awarding of Associate or Fellowship status is a recognised mechanism to endorse professionalism. The LAI offers a process for those of us working within Irish librarianship to demonstrate the value and contribution we make as information professionals. These awards can have significance and be advantageous if we seriously engage with the process, and if a critical mass of recipients are awarded or indeed rejected by the process.

As I await my ALAI fate, I urge anyone to begin the process. Start the list, find a mentor, and take the time to value your own career and the place you play in Irish librarianship.

What are you waiting for? Apply today!

Posted on Thursday, December 04, 2014 | Categories:

28 Nov 2014

A Bibliometric Study of Articles Published in Twelve Humanities Journals

Guest post by Daniel Price. Daniel lives in Israel, has an MA in Library and Information Science from Bar Ilan University, and works as a librarian at Shalem College in Jerusalem.

The majority of bibliometric research has focused on the parameters of scientific and social scientific papers while the humanities have been somewhat neglected.

In a paper that can be accessed at here, I did a study of original research papers published in three journals in each of three subjects in the humanities: ethics, history and theoretical linguistics. I looked at the correlation between the number of authors, the length of the title and the paper, the number of references quoted, and how all these impact the article's impact factor.

Based on a paper written by two Iranian scholars from Tehran, I also sought to verify if there is a connection between the type of title of the papers and the number of times they are cited. The results are compared and contrasted to those found in previous research, and the extensive bibliography has plenty of suggestions for further reading.
Posted on Friday, November 28, 2014 | Categories:

25 Nov 2014

Six useful librarian webinars in December

I just realised that 2014’s coming to an end already and thought it would be a reassuring gesture on my part to provide you with yet another - final - collection of cherry-picked librarian webinars. The below choicex6 considers the following topics:

Tools for Naming and Framing Public Issues
Wednesday, 3rd December, 9pm – 10pm GMT
True progress happens when communities come together to talk in a productive, civil and interesting way. Help lead these discussions by “naming and framing” controversial issues in a different light. This webinar will provide a roadmap to facilitating civil dialogue and leading change.

This session will help attendees:
• Learn the steps and processes for leading a “naming and framing” effort
• Apply tools to develop issue maps that help people weigh options for moving forward together.

Presenters will include Kranich; Chris McCauley, executive director of the David Mathews Center; Cristin Foster, program director of the David Mathews Center; Robert Turner, assistant program director of the David Mathews Center; Carolyn Caywood, retired librarian from the Virginia Beach Public Library and fellow at the Hampton Roads Center for Civic Engagement; and Patty Dineen, contributing editor of the National Issues Forums Institute.

Session 1: "Beyond Deadlock: A Better Way to Talk about Difficult Issues" took place Oct. 14. Watch the archived recording. This session explored how to help people work together to talk about public issues and make choices, and how to uncover the deeper concerns of communities.
Session 3: A third session (date TBD) will give participants a chance to share their progress, successes and challenges in a webinar or conference call.

Monday, 8th December, 4.30pm – 6pm GMT
Attend this webinar to learn how to contribute to Wikipedia, the world's largest encyclopaedia that anyone can edit.

Presenters will share their processes for adding links to collections and other content to Wikipedia. Presentations will include both lessons learned and successes.  

Tune in to learn from your colleagues, get answers to your questions, share your own ideas, and become inspired! 

Speakers include  Mary Elings, UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library; Andra Darlington, Getty; Daniel Reboussin, University of Florida; Mairelys Lemus-Rojas, University of Miami; Liz McCarthy, Oxford University, Bodleian Library; and Merrilee Proffitt, OCLC Research.
Provided by OCLC

Thursday, 11th December, 7pm – 8pm GMT
There's a huge demand for full-text, credible research that's easy to find, unbiased and not hiding behind a paywall. In-depth information on issues like product research, health issues, hobbies, career advice and personal finance is within library users' reach. But do you know how to help them find it? In the next American Libraries Live we'll discuss how discovery services can work for you and your library.
Provided by the American Library Association

Friday, 12th December, 4pm – 5pm GMT
Natalie Burclaff & Catherine Johnson from the University of Baltimore will join us for this week's Gale Geek on developing a social media strategy. Call in to learn how you can rekindle the social media flames in your library awareness and usage campaigns.
Provided by Gale Cengage

Wednesday, 17th December, 7pm – 8pm GMT
This webinar will help librarians who are thinking about hosting a Preservation Week event plan for choosing a topic and finding a speaker, and will offer guidance on resources to answer preservation questions that may come up after the event.

This webinar features a live Question and Answer session. Participants should come to the webinar having watched the previously recorded "How to Host a Preservation Week Event" presentation. The "How to Host a Preservation Week" webinar was presented through ALCTS in February of 2014.

Questions can be submitted ahead of time through this web form, or raised during the live session. Please have your questions in by December 10th, 2014. 
Provided by the Association for Library Collections & Technical Services

Friday, 19th December, 16pm – 17pm GMT
Library leadership can come from the bottom, middle, and top. 

Join JP Porcaro, ALA Presidential candidate for 2016-17 and founder of the ALA Think Tank, in this fun and engaging webinar on bringing a Make It Happen attitude to our patrons, co-workers, and personal circles.
Provided by Gale Cengage
Posted on Tuesday, November 25, 2014 | Categories:

10 Nov 2014

Developing an Academic Writing Blog

By Helen Fallon, Deputy University Librarian, NUI Maynooth

Writing is a really good way of sharing knowledge, experience and research. I find the process of writing helps me clarify thoughts and experiences and often gives me new ideas. It’s also a very good way to make connections with people who share common concerns but who perhaps operate in different contexts; for example writing for AISHE-J offers librarians an opportunity to share their experiences of information literacy and other library-related topics with academics internationally.I’ve been writing since 1991, the year I returned from working at the University of Sierra Leone. Initially, I focused on writing about my experiences overseas only later realising that my everyday work in Ireland could be crafted into interesting articles.

Academic Writing Workshops
In 2007, I ran my first academic writing workshop. A year later I surveyed the participants and found that 40% of them had published or had had articles accepted for publication; the evidence demonstrated the value of the workshop. Now it is an annual event and I have presented similar programmes in the U.K. and Malaysia.

Setting up my Academic Writing Blog
The inspiration to set up an academic writing blog came from one of my workshops. Initially, I saw the blog as a way for librarians to dialogue around writing. However, it transpired there was little communication of that nature, so I decided to focus on developing the blog as a resource for librarians who wished to write for publication.

Structure of Academic Writing Librarian

Most of the posts are details of publishing and presenting opportunities. This includes calls for papers, book chapters, book reviewers, and conference and seminar presentations. Initially, I posted quite a lot of detail, then I realised that short posts, with a link to the publisher’s more detailed information, work better for the reader and are more time efficient for me. I also post information about awards and bursaries. These are frequently for conference attendance. After publishing a post, I tweet the post and it appears simultaneously on my Facebook page. Sometimes, I post information telling about the publishing success of past workshop participants. Hopefully this will motivate people to keep writing, even when it is challenging.

Resources Section
The section of the blog with the most hits is the Academic Writing Resources page. This page links to articles on academic writing I’ve written and PowerPoint presentations I’ve delivered. I’ve deliberately restricted this to my own work or work I co-authored; the range of articles/resources for academic writing is so vast that it would be too time consuming to try to include much of this. In any case, given the audience, they should have no difficulty finding more resources.

In the resources section, I have also included a bibliography of books, articles and some websites on writing for publication. This is not restricted to librarianship. General titles on academic writing such as Murray’s “Writing for Academic Journals” and Kitchin and Fuller’s “The Academic’s Guide to Publishing” are really useful regardless across the disciplines.

In addition to being useful to those aspiring to write, the bibliography is useful for collection
development. I’ve had positive feedback and suggestions from outside the library world.

Top Tips Sections
Through working with librarians as academic writers for a number of years, I’ve received lots of informal feedback on what works for them in terms of writing. I developed two new sections for the blog in 2013; Top Tips from Published Authors and Top Tips from Journal Editors.The published authors are primarily people who have attended the workshop and gone on to publish. In approximately 250 words, they give tips ranging from time management to dealing with the peer review process. I approached a number of library journal editors and asked them to write a piece of a similar length, from the editor’s perspective. These tips frequently reinforce the journal guidelines and also offer additional insights. The presence of a photograph of the editor can convey a sense of the editor as a real person who can be approached with suggestions. There is a nice variety in the tips from the editors; this gives an insight into why it is so important to write with a particular journal in
mind, rather than writing a piece then trying to place it.

Currently, Academic Writing Librarian has about 5,000 hits per month. While the blog is international in its scope it has an Irish flavour. In the same way, I’ve noticed that Cory Seeman’s blog A Library Writer’s Blog has a strong US flavour.

Writing a blog has been a really good experience for me. I’ve learned a lot about blogs and
other social media through the process. I don’t post every day and I mostly use the blog as a way of alerting people to publishing/presenting opportunities and providing links to academic writing resources. The blog has never been a substitute for the face-to-face workshops I run. Hopefully it compliments them.

Anyone wishing to post a call for articles, chapters etc. to Academic Writing Librarian should e-mail me at helen.b.fallon[at]nuim.ie. If you want to write a short piece for either “Top Tips from Published Authors” or “Top Tips from Journal Editors” please e-mail me.

Kitchin, R. & Fuller, D. (2005). The Academic’s Guide to Publishing. London: Sage. Murray, R. (2013). Writing for Academic Journals. 3rd Press/ McGraw-Hill Education.
Posted on Monday, November 10, 2014 | Categories: ,

31 Oct 2014

PlumX – EBSCO roadshow, UCD, 30th Oct. 2014

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending an EBSCO roadshow event, which covered their recently acquired Plum Analytics service (thanks to Michael Ladisch for the invitation).

Plum Analytics launched back in 2012 on the back of Jason Priem’s rationale around Altmetrics (see the manifesto for more), the idea being that traditional filters of scholarly communication (peer-review, citation counting, JIF) are simply not sufficient (and transparent) enough to account for what’s actually happening out there on the Web, which forms part and parcel of modern scholarly communications.

EBSCO jumped right into the mix here and now aims to offer a comprehensive metrics service through the aggregation of traditional metrics and alternative metrics in a side-by-side view context (they call this ALLmetrics).

The following metrics are considered:
1. USAGE (clicks, downloads, views, library holdings, video plays)
2. CAPTURES (bookmarks, code forks, favourites, readers (e.g. Mendeley), watchers)
3. MENTIONS (blog posts, comments, reviews, Wikipedia links)
4. SOCIAL MEDIA (+1s, likes, shares, tweets)
5. CITATIONS (PubMed Central, Scopus, patents)

Example sources include the likes of Amazon, Bit.ly, CrossRef, Delicious, Dryad (for data sets), dSpace, ePrints, Github, USPTO, Scopus, Stack Overflow and more… This list is added to with new sources as they bubble to the surface and establish themselves.

In a nutshell, EBSCO’s Allmetrics goes beyond traditional citation metrics and aims to offer a more holistic view of how researchers’ outputs are communicated and ‘used’. It does so by considering a multitude of popular digital environments where scholarly outputs feature.

The University of Pittsburgh was the first institution that adopted this service – PlumX/Pitt.
Below is a screenshot of one of their academics and his scholarly footprint.

EBSCO’s full presentation is available here. See https://plu.mx for more on PlumX.

At this point in time, no higher education institution in Ireland has adopted this service.
It will be interesting to see who will take the leap first.

As part of the wider discussion around Altmetrics, you also might want to consider Featherstone, R. f. (2014). Scholarly Tweets: Measuring Research Impact via Altmetrics. Journal Of The Canadian Health Libraries Association (JCHLA), 32(2), 60-63.

27 Oct 2014

The Russell Library World War I Exhibition - Library Ireland Week Event

Guest post by Barbara McCormack, Librarian, Russell Library and Special Collections, Maynooth University (barbara.mccormack@nuim.ie)

We are currently hosting a very interesting exhibition in the Russell Library to mark the anniversary of World War I. ‘Maynooth College 1914-1918’ was developed to commemorate the role of Irish Catholic army chaplains in the First World War while also documenting the history of Maynooth College during this period.  On Tuesday 18th November, there will be an event specifically for librarians and archivists as part of Library Ireland Week.

The full programme and booking details are available here.

Image supplied by Barbara McCormack, Maynooth University Library
 The exhibition is a collaborative endeavor between St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth and Maynooth University, with a grant from Kildare County Council towards costs.
Exhibition Goals
-    To commemorate the centenary of the First World War.
-    To focus on local history during the period 1914-1918.
-    To assess the impact of the War on the day-to-day running of the College.
-    To commemorate the work of Irish Catholic army chaplains during the conflict.
-    To explore the relationship between the Irish and English Catholic administration at this time.
-    To explore the impact of the War on teaching staff.
-    To explore attitudes towards the threat of conscription in 1918.
-    To create opportunities for community engagement, specifically with regards to adult learners.
-    To encourage learning, reflection and dialogue in relation to Ireland and the First World War.
-    To encourage further research in the area of conflict resolution and military history.

The exhibition and accompanying events focused on local history during World War I through an analysis of the following themes:

-    Daily life in Maynooth College during the First World War.
-    Meeting the need for Irish Catholic army chaplains at the front.
-    The threat of conscription in Ireland.
-    Irish nationalism during World War I.
-    A German professor at Maynooth College.

I look forward to welcoming you to the Russell Library on 18th November, to mark Library Ireland Week.
Students, 1916. Image supplied by Barbara McCormack, Maynooth University Library

21 Oct 2014

Celebrating Open Access Week – An Leabharlann opens its pages!

Guest post by Jane Burns, (@JMBurns99), Research Officer, Royal College of Surgeons, and Occasional Lecturer, SILS, UCD.

An Leabharlann is the professional journal of the Library Association of Ireland. It has for a significant number of years been the voice of the Irish library community. The journal is peer reviewed and is published twice a year. An Leabharlann is fully electronic and is available to read and download from the Library Association of Ireland’s website here.

The journal provides opportunities to read articles by fellow librarians and to keep up to date with our professional developments. It is uniquely Irish and it is our own. The Editorial team of An Leabharlann is made up of volunteers involved in all parts of the reviewing, research and publication process. Marjory Sliney is at the helm of the Editorial team, she is a now retired librarian who has a lifetime of experience and expertise in our profession. (editor@libraryassociation.ie).

All members of the profession including students are encouraged to submit articles, book reviews or news using the submission guidelines found in the front cover of the publication. Over the years I have been lucky to be involved in this publication as the Business Manager and have been delighted to see the content develop from strength to strength. It is fantastic to see the interest in the publication with global subscribers and LIS professionals all over Ireland.  

With the growing trend and support by librarians to provide, where possible, open access to articles and research, An Leabharlann has now followed suit.  This decision was taken recently by the Executive Council of the LAI.  Now all issues are OA with the exception the most recent issue - this is one of the many benefits of LAI membership as only members can view the most recent issue.
An Leabharlann provides us all with an opportunity to publish and research articles in an Irish environment. With the move to OA contributors to An Leabharlann will now have a much larger potential global audience. Collectively and individually it provides us with opportunities to demonstrate to this audience the fantastic, innovative and professional work that we do here, to network on a global scale and to identify collaborative research endeavors.

There are two other significant events taking place in Dublin this week to mark Open Access week 2014: the RIAN research meeting taking place on Thurs October23, 2014 and a TeachMeet organised by Repository Network Ireland on Friday, October 25, 2014.  The keynote speaker for the Repository Network Ireland event “Open Access in a Changing World” will be given by Dr. John B. Howard, University Librarian, UCD (@John_B_Howard).

Anyone attending either or both of these events might want to consider writing an article about the state of play of OA in Ireland for the next issue of An Leabharlann. Details of both events are below.
I am looking forward to more and more colleagues becoming involved in writing and publishing about the work that they do. Keep an eye out for the fantastic writing tips and courses that Helen Fallon (@helenfallon) from Maynooth University promotes via her blog; many participants in these courses go on to publish in An Leabharlann.

RIAN Event:
RIAN is the national open access portal for Irish research publications. There will be a RIAN open meeting on Thursday 23rd October in Dublin. Anyone with an interest in repositories and contributing to RIAN is welcome to attend. Please RSVP to doreen.odonovan@ucc.ie as spaces
are limited.

Repository Network Ireland Invites You to a TeachMeet
North Training Room, Berkeley Library, TCD, Dublin
Friday, 24th October 2-5pm
The Keynote on Open Access in a changing world will be given by Dr. John B. Howard, University Librarian and Adjunct Professor, UCD School of Computer Science and Informatics, UCD James Joyce Library, University College Dublin. There will also be presentations on e-Deposit Ireland, Open Access – the European Dimension, the results of the Lenus Survey and a Researcher's Perspective on Finding health information.

This event is free, but please reply to this email to repositorynetworkireland@gmail.com to register. Find out more about RNI at http://rni.wikispaces.com or follow on Twitter @RNIreland.

20 Oct 2014

SHINE: Showcase a your Information Expertise - Report

This is a guest post by Kristopher Meen, MLIS, Volunteer at NUIG Libraries.

The information field’s newest members had the opportunity to share their skills and experience with fellow professionals at NPD Ireland’s annual autumn event, held in Dublin on 11 October 2014. Billed as ‘SHINE: SHowcase your INformation Expertise’, the programme highlighted the variety of exciting work in which today’s new information professionals are engaged. As a recent transplant to Ireland from Canada (with a 2010 MLIS from Western University), I found this an ideal venue for learning more about what’s happening both nationally and locally in Irish libraries, for meeting other new professionals, and for sharing details about a volunteer project that I’ve been working on at the James Hardiman Library in NUI Galway.

Participants had two opportunities to get involved with SHINE: either by delivering a 10-15 minute oral presentation or by preparing a poster. Registered attendees were then able to vote for what they felt was the single strongest presentation and poster, with prizes awarded in each category courtesy of the LAI A&SL section, UCD SILS, and Jane Burns & Associates.

Three of the event’s four oral presentations focused on the presenter’s use of a particular project or tool and discussed the skills developed by the presenter as a result. Caroline Rowan provided a holistic look—‘from both sides of the interview desk’--at Competency-Based Interviews (CBIs), which are becoming increasingly common in our field. A key advantage of CBIs is that they encourage interviewees to draw on personal examples, using their accounts of past experiences to make determinations about how well a candidate has mastered a particular skill. As Caroline provided a number of tips for interviewees, her talk was a goldmine for job-seekers who may well need to navigate this style of interview in the near future.

Penelope Dunn, who contributed both an oral and a poster presentation, came bearing an antidote for the tedious slog of job applications: the continuing professional development diary (CPD). A method of continually keeping track of skills gained on the job, the CPD can be an enormous help when you’re trying to write what is often the most difficult part of a job application, the supporting statement. Keeping a CPD allows applicants to more easily align their skills with those listed in a job description, while simultaneously ensuring that no previous accomplishment is lost to memory.
My own presentation was an account of a project I’ve been working on as a volunteer in the special collections of NUI Galway’s Hardiman Library, an online exhibition of an archival object called the Memorial Atlas of Ireland (1901) that I’ve put together using the open-source software Exhibit. I gave a quick demo of the exhibition’s features, including how it integrates a view from Google maps. I also discussed how learning to use this software has meant updating and improving my skills in html and css web design.

The winning presentation was delivered by Jenny O’Neill and Catherine Ryan, both of the Digital Repository of Ireland. Jenny and Catherine gave us a fascinating glimpse into some of the projects on which they have worked—projects that have utilised such cutting-edge methods and tools as social media archiving and linked data—as well as into the skills that information professionals need to succeed in such an environment. Jenny and Catherine drew attention to the importance of communication skills, including writing skills, in the information field, as well as the value of collaboration. Technical skills are a must, of course, for today’s new information professional; however, as Jenny nicely emphasised, keeping up with what might seem like a dizzying array of ever-changing technologies is really about the core skills of being willing to learn and flexible enough to do so quickly on the job.

Joining Penelope Dunn’s poster on CPD were two further entrants. Sarah Kennedy and Kate McCarthy’s poster summarised their ambitious MLIS Capstone project about the information-seeking behaviour of healthcare professionals in Ireland. After interviewing 222 GPs, they found that 65% had not used a library service in the previous year and that the vast majority were not using open access resources available to them, either. The poster concluded with a series of recommendations on how librarians might offer better outreach to health professionals.

The winning poster by Mick O’Dwyer and Tom Maher focused on The Forgotten Zine Archive. This growing archive of zines (creator-managed, non-professional, small-circulation magazines) has grown to 2000 items since its inception in 2004. O’Dwyer and Maher’s poster detailed how they have gone about preserving, classifying and cataloguing this unusual collection. Their poster made a cogent case for why librarians ought to concern themselves with these kinds of archives—and why zines and other documents from the margins remain significant in the digital information age.
Overall, SHINE was a convincing reminder of the important and innovative work taking place in the information field today, as well as a salient example of how this field continues to attract ambitious entrants seeking a challenging and stimulating career path.

10 Oct 2014

"I'm absolutely terrified, There is so much to learn!!" (Welcome to the Library!)

Last week I observed three students wandering amongst our stacks on our second floor. Walking through the classifications - one hundreds, two hundreds, three hundreds. Up, down and up they went. I asked did they need any help. They did.  They were looking for Accountancy books. Not only were they lost in the wrong row. They were lost on the wrong floor. They, without knowing it, should have been on our first floor. And they then informed me they had walked the length of every shelf on our third floor. If I had not encountered them I imagine they would probably have found their books. In another few hours after they had walked all the stacks. On all our floors.

They really had no idea how the library works.

I asked if they had attended our undergraduate workshops. They informed me that they had attended all four sessions. Yet still they could not find their way around the Boole and find what they were looking for. They did not even know that you start by looking at the Catalogue. This got me thinking and I asked myself:

Are abstracted generic, classroom / lecture based, induction programmes on their own the best way to introduce incoming undergraduates to the library space? In trying to craft information literate students from day one are we trying to teach them to run before they can actually walk? Or should we also be providing a walk round, show and tell, induction tour for first year undergraduates?

I think back to when I was a student and to the library tour I and my peers received day one. We received a fifty minute walk around the building tour. This was given by a number of library staff. We got  basic catalogue instruction. We saw the layout of the building. We were brought to a subject floor and physically shown how to access material. We were shown how to use the copiers. We learned all the basics in a concrete way.

When I myself started working in that very same library I was one of the staff members involved in this library induction. We still did the tours the same way as when I was a student. It was a system that worked. What was hidden to me, as a student, was the amount of man hours that went into introducing thousands of students to the library in a one week period. Every staff member, from Head Librarian to Shelving Assistant, was involved in the library induction for that week. Our other work, the day to day stuff, was put on hold - introducing students to the library and more importantly its resources took precedence.

Over the years we have moved away from this personal,  concrete, hands on approach to a specifically digital / screen abstract induction. We provide workshops. Students attend. And learn, we hope, about the library through watching and listening to our presentations. They get an in depth overview of the library holdings and resources. But is this what they need? Do they need so much detailed information at the start of their academic career? Or do we, in a manner of speaking, need to take them by the hand and gently walk them through the building, explaining our classification system, showing them how Dewey, or whatever classification, works in principle. Do we show them where the books are, how to locate them. Do we show them how to use the microfilm in Special Collections. How to print. How to photocopy. Short would we, in short, give them a grounding in the library before we introduce them to databases, Discovery Tools and e-resources?

Or should we, making much more work for the library staff, do a sort of blended induction? Provide all students with a show and tell physical walk round tour as well as providing detailed workshops explaining how to use our vital e-resources?

My personal belief is that first year undergraduate students should be introduced gently to the library, taken around and shown how things work. We often forget, as LIS workers, how intimidating, scary and confusing a big library can be. Especially for those who have never ever used a library - increasingly the case with the students now coming through our doors. We forget that classification systems are not instinctive or intuitive for those not using them every day.
And at some stage after this physical walk round, and only then, do we move onto the next step of introducing the vast treasure trove that are our E-Resources.

And if I find myself veering towards favouring the abstract, classroom based induction I will remind myself of a comment from a first year. A comment I read on a feedback form for our E-Resources workshop -  "...such a great workshop, the library has so many great resources, there's so much to learn - I'm absolutely terrified."

(I have been working on this post for the last few days and coincidentally I had an exchange on Twitter yesterday with Claire Sewell, Clare Aitken and Elaine Harrington  on the topic of library induction. Thanks for the discussion and the much needed incentive, push if you will, to get this post finished)

3 Oct 2014

Improving wayfinding signage through combined digital/analogue signposting

A year ago I wrote about library-signage redesign efforts at CSI Library, which has led to improved wayfinding for students and increased circulating-book transactions.

CSI’s challenge was to better bridge the retrieval gap between virtual OPAC identifier and physical shelf location. The same challenge applies to our context here at DBS Library.

Over the summer we looked at how a similar feat could be accomplished in our library. As opposed to CSI Library (three-floor building) our setup is somewhat more straight forward as the main lending and reference collections reside on one floor; the bays are also for the most part sequentially aligned.

We sat down and first of all looked at how physical signage could be improved. This involved enlarging fonts and a clearer layout of subject descriptors, as well as splitting double-sided bays into separate logical units and class number ranges: A (front) and B (back).

To make orientation for students easier, we also added alphanumerical perpendicular(ish) signs, which were attached above the main bay labels.

This covered the physical layout aspect.

Catalogue records were also adjusted to account for digital signposting at item level. We originally suggested to recruit two MARC fields for this purpose:

Data element
SQL column
Shelving location code
Coded value, matching the authorized value list 'LOC'
To account for the alphanumerical bay label
Uniform Resource Identifier
A URL or URN, which provides electronic access data in a standard syntax.
To account for a digital location map (e.g. hosted on the cloud)

The SQL table ‘Items’ was adjusted to include the shelving location code 952$c.

Item Record in local Koha instance
There were two options looked at regarding the inclusion of links to maps in the OPAC. The first was to include 952$u in the catalogue records. The problem with this was twofold. One catalogue record might relate to different physical locations, which in our context are: Aungier Street Main Lending, Aungier Street Reference and Dame Street Main Lending. Second, it is not possible to do batch catalogue record modifications at present in Koha. However, there is a workaround using MarcEdit for batch bibliographic record modification, but the problem with multiple item locations within one catalogue record is still not addressed – which map would you link to?

The second option was to add the link to the map to the item records. This could be done by batch item modification but the issue here is that while you can add a URL to the item record you cannot add a note to describe it. So the library user would only see the standard message as below “Link to resource”.

Catalogue Record in local Koha instance / Holdings
We are considering to include a global digital map (one for each site) with relevant bay-sign markers. The maps would then be placed prominently on the OPAC homepage.

As an aside, the consequence of adding a shelf location code is that library staff must take note when shelving not to shift books from one bay to another (or one side of a bay to another) without updating the relevant item records.

Below is a sample screenshot of a catalogue record with a bay location identifier at item level (example: AS Bay 3A).

Essentially, the library user has now information about the physical location of the shelf in addition to the call number. In this example, Violence : six sideways reflections with the call number 179.7 ZIZ lives on shelf 3A. This additional piece of information reduces the burden on the user to identify the correct shelf. Within our context, all the user has to do now is look down the aisle and keep an eye out for the perpendicular(ish) sign 3A.

The term has just started and I took the liberty of asking some students in situ (at the OPAC station) what they thought of the additional location descriptor (i.e. digital with analogue linkup). Their responses were uniformly positive. The idea, ultimately, is to empower students and reduce wayfinding queries at the reference desk, as well as reducing library anxiety.

Credit goes to my colleagues Trevor Haugh, Marie O’Dwyer and Colin O’Keeffe. This project would not have been realised without their expertise, enthusiasm and active support.

It’d be great to hear from other folks out there who have tried to improve wayfinding in their library context through a combination of digital/analogue signposting via Koha (or any other LMS).

Amy F. Stempler, (2013) Navigating circular library stacks: a case study on signage. Reference Services Review, 41(3), 503 – 513.
Wilson, A. (2012) QR Codes in the Library: Are They Worth the Effort? Journal Of Access Services, 9(3), 101-110.
Hahn, J., & Zitron, L. (2011). How First-Year Students Navigate the Stacks: Implications for Improving Wayfinding. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 51(1), 28-35.