16 Jul 2018


Highly Commended post in the Conul Training and Development Library Assistant Blog Award 2018. 
This post is by Edel King, Maynooth University Library 

Social media is an extremely effective way to connect. Maynooth University Library has always had a strong online and social media presence on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the MU Library Treasures blog. However, Snapchat was a new frontier.

Portrait of William Shakespeare from the ‘Fourth Folio’ on our blog ©Russell Library, Maynooth University

 What is Snapchat?

Snapchat logo ©Snapchat

Snapchat is a mobile messaging application used to share photos, videos and text (Webwise).
Its focus is the here and now. Posts are called Snaps. Alternatively, you can create Stories with multiple Snaps. Snaps are viewable for anything from three seconds to indefinitely and Stories for 24 hours.
Images and videos can be manipulated with filters ranging from geo-filters (location-specific) to dog-ears! Emojis, pictures and text can also be added.

Trying out a filter! © Edel King

My role with Snapchat 
I am a member of the Maynooth University Library Digital Communications Team (DCT). Last October I was given responsibility for Snapchat. Snapchat was new to me; I learned by doing. I spoke to a Transition Year work experience student about it but mainly I just figured it out myself through trial and error.
The Library uses Facebook to flag upcoming events and for photos after events; Twitter in a similar manner but also for immediate news such as a system downtime. Instagram is primarily for images of library activities. Where to position Snapchat in all of that?
(Below are some examples of what we send out from our social media accounts)

Commemorating 1916 on Twitter ©Maynooth University Library

Library Event Notification on Facebook ©Maynooth University Library

Advertising our Information Literacy classes on Instagram © Maynooth University

Our focus on Snapchat is on student life. I created short (the appeal of Snapchat is brevity) demo pictures and videos of all aspects of the library – such as how to access the Library or borrow books. I posted these on a phased basis over the first few weeks of semester 1. I was told that unusual angles are a feature of Snaps. Below is an example of such an image.

An instructional Snap ©Edel King

I began to look around for new content. Some days it was easy – perhaps there was an event happening in the Library. Often, questions were repeated e.g. “Where's the stapler?” so I would do a Snap answering the question (at the end of the information desk, just FYI!). News we wanted to impart to students, e.g. closures, also became Snaps.

Opening hours for a new Semester © Edel King

One issue I was concerned with was how often to post. It’s a fine line between being engaging and annoying. I discovered that with Snapchat continuous posting is key. On an uneventful day, I might only post once but often it’s more frequently.
A colleague came up with the idea to advertise our DVD collection with a feature called "Movie Monday". Every Monday we highlight a DVD from our collection. As a film fan, I am enjoying finding a suitable DVD and Snapping it with a fun caption.

Advertising Movie Monday ©20th Century Fox

I have run two successful campaigns on Snapchat. One was to attract more followers. Students added the library Snapchat account using a code and new followers were entered into a draw for €20 credit on their MyCard. The second competition was for existing followers, asking them to take a “shelfie” (a picture of their bookshelf), which they posted to Snapchat. The winner received a coffee shop voucher.

Limitations of Snapchat 
A limiting feature of Snapchat is that you cannot see engagement with the Snaps. Followers can’t “Like” or “Share”, and I can’t see if followers even look at a Snap. I send out Snaps, hoping that they reach their audience and are appreciated.

I have asked for feedback and have received a good reaction, with sample responses below.

They always post helpful tips, reminders, events and important info. I love when they share pictures of the different films they have available. 
Eimear, 2nd year 

It really helps me to know what events are going on in the library and helps me to find my way around. 
Ellen, Final year 

Since September of last year, followers have increased from 94 to 346 (as of 09/05). There is always a large spike in followers during a campaign but there is a steady stream at all other times.

The increase in our followers since September 2017

I have really enjoyed learning about Snapchat and I feel it is a useful social media tool for the Library.

Webwise. 2018. Explainer: What is Snapchat?. [Accessed 8 May 2018].

11 Jul 2018


Highly Commended post in the Conul Training and Development Library Assistant Blog Award 2018. 
This post is by Eilís Ní Raghallaigh of DCU Library

A series of serendipitous events resulted in one of the highlights of my working year – DCU Library’s delivery of poetry workshops to O’Connell’s Primary School. We had already established contact with this local school in October 2017 following a Facebook request by their school librarian for book donations.

O'Connell’s School Facebook post requesting book donations

The Director of Public Services and Outreach and I dropped a box of children’s books in to the secondary school and met with the Vice-Principal.

She reacted enthusiastically to our suggestion of a school visit to Cregan library in the near future. The library building is still only 3 years old and its combination of stained glass windows, colourful furniture and panoramic view of the city make it a popular draw for visitors

It just so happened that one of our new members of staff, Lucinda Jacob, had her book ‘Hopscotch in the Sky’ published by Little Island and Poetry Ireland that October. Lucinda is a children’s author and illustrator and this is her first book of children’s poetry. Little Island also released a free online poetry kit with her book aimed at teachers and facilitators who wish to teach poetry to children. Lucinda regularly runs creative writing workshops for children and the stars continued to align when she agreed to run two poetry workshops with pupils from O’Connell’s School.

Lucinda advised me that fourth class primary school groups would be the ideal audience and that workshops held between 11 am and 12 pm would be best. Armed with that information I contacted the Vice-Principal of the secondary school who put me in touch with the secretary of their primary school. We arranged dates for two fourth class workshops and in November the first group of pupils arrived at Cregan Library.

Lucinda Jacob poses with ‘Hopscotch in the sky’ and runs a poetry workshop with O'Connell’s School fourth class pupils

We led the group up through the library to the digital learning labs on the first floor. The pupils were wide-eyed as they passed by groups of busy students but Lucinda expertly put them at their ease. She welcomed them and introduced both of us as staff working in ‘this brilliant library.’ She added that we were looking forward to seeing them here in the future, studying subjects they love. I witnessed their self-consciousness melt away as she read funny, scary and surprising poems from her collection. She showed them how to structure a haiku, but advised them not to get too bogged down in design. If their poem didn’t fit with a certain form, they should keep going with their own sense of how their poem should flow.

Ensuring they were feeling relaxed and comfortable, she encouraged them to contribute to their own original class poem. She asked them to imagine themselves as an animal and to suggest an action to go along with that animal. “I am a dinosaur laughing with my friend,” was the first suggestion and I watched as Lucinda drew a contribution from each pupil. Some of the suggestions echoed previous lines but there were no wrong answers - a complete poem slowly formed on the page in front of us. The final suggestion, “I am a footballer scoring 28 goals,” didn’t strictly relate to the theme of the poem but Lucinda used it as a closing metaphor. She explained that the footballer embodied each animal and action suggested as he laughed with his teammates, evaded his opponents and scored goals – genius!

Poem created by O’Connell’s School fourth class pupils in a DCU Library workshop

The next class visit was just as successful and both groups hugely enjoyed the workshops. Lucinda has been busy working with the DCU Institute of Education over the last few months but we hope to run more workshops next year. I liked helping to de-mystify the library space for the pupils and getting them thinking about third level education as a distinct possibility, rather than just an abstract concept. It was amazing to see how Lucinda used poetry to draw the pupils out and unlock creativity in each one of them. I felt energised for weeks after the workshops and I was delighted to have played a small part in bringing them about.

(1) Menton, J. [John]. (2017, September 8) Hi all, I am the school librarian in O’Connell’s Secondary School... [Facebook status update]. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/groups/therickosheabookclub/permalink/1988107618069369/
(2) Jacob, L. (2017). Hopscotch in the sky. Dublin: Little Island Books and Poetry Ireland.
(3) Jacob, L. (2017). Hopscotch in the sky poetry kit. Dublin: Little Island Books. Available at: http://littleisland.ie/books/hopscotch-poetry-kit/ 
(4) Ní Raghallaigh, E. (2017). Lucinda Jacob poses with Hopscotch in the sky and runs a poetry workshop with O'Connell’s School fourth class pupils [Photograph].
(5) Ní Raghallaigh, E. (2017). Poem created by O’Connell’s School pupils in a DCU Library workshop

3 Jul 2018

Reflections on CONUL Conference 2018 (Report number Two)

Photo courtesy of Leanne Workman

Leanne Workman currently works at Royal Holloway, University of London as Acting Head of Academic Liaison and Information Consultant for Mathematics and Information Security. She has just started her 4th year of a distance-learning Masters at Aberystwyth University and is currently working on her dissertation.

Having recently moved to a new library at Royal Holloway, the CONUL Conference’s theme of “Transformative Experiences: Libraries Innovating and Changing” seemed particularly relevant and apt, so I was thrilled to be selected as the awardee for the CONUL student bursary. And upon seeing the packed conference agenda, I knew I was in for a treat! The breadth and diversity of talks, plenary sessions, lightening talks and posters on this theme over two days was truly incredible! It made it so difficult for me to decide which talks to attend, but one of the real perks of being a student bursary attendee at CONUL is that you get a conference mentor!

My conference mentor, Donna Ó Doibhlin from University College Cork, made sure I got around without a hitch, helped me pick the talks most relevant to my roles, ensured I thoroughly networked with lots of people and very importantly, always had a “refreshment” in hand at the networking event! Having a mentor to ease you into the full-on conference was such a lovely first for me. I did not know many librarians in Ireland, so having a mentor to ease me into things really set my mind at ease. Not that this should have caused any concern! Everyone was so welcoming and friendly; I truly have never been to a conference quite as warm, welcoming and inclusive as CONUL!

The content of CONUL conference was staggering from a series of talks on enhancing user engagement to lightening talks on measuring the impact and effectiveness of library services, the variety kept attendees engrossed across the two days (I ended up creating an entire Evernote Notebook to hold all my notes from CONUL!) The keynotes were particularly thought-provoking for me, particularly considering I am experiencing my first management and strategic planning role. The first keynote by Jim Neal from Colombia University really scoped the field of how libraries are evolving to meet the needs of their stakeholders. What I found particularly interesting was his thoughts on library strategy and how librarians can be guilty of never putting strategic thinking into action! The two messages I really took away from this talk were that we need to link libraries aims to institutional strategy and keep evolving library services and strategies to meet the demands of the sector.

The second keynote speaker, Vivian Lewis from McMaster University in Canada, kick-started the second day by talking about building a library workforce to support transformation. She argued that we need to transform ourselves to transform our libraries. The top three messages I took away from Vivian’s keynote were enlightening but practical:

  • We spend too much time in the library talking to each other; talk to our users more. 
  • Don’t be complacent in your role and professional development. 
  • Consider own staff’s development and create opportunities. 

The second day really seemed to focus on upskilling librarians to be able to enact the transformative experiences in our libraries and something that I am particularly passionate about. Mary Delaney continued on this theme of staff development and talked about aligning library staff’s continuing professional development to the National Professional Development Framework, which piqued my interest as a teaching academic librarian. Mary highlighted the need for librarians to be confident in delivering their teaching, continually upskilling and meeting the needs of their students. Tips like involving students in a steering group ensure that practice is matching what the student needs from the teaching is something I want to look into here at Royal Holloway! I particularly enjoyed Niamh Tumelty’s talk about how embedding a librarian in a research group at Cambridge University has not only aided the group’s research, but it has illustrated to the institution how useful our research skills are and provides another realm that librarians can tap into and show their worth.

As you can see from this short blog post, attendance at the CONUL conference in gloriously sunny Galway has really opened my eyes to what the library community are doing to transform experience and equipped me with ideas to implement in my own library at Royal Holloway. It has also given me a stronger connection to librarianship as a profession, something which can be really difficult to establish as a full-time working distance learner owing to lack of spare time.

I cannot emphasise enough how welcoming everyone was and I heartily encourage all students to apply for this bursary! Building connections, picking brains and generally opening your mind to a world beyond your own library experience is so useful and gives valuable insight not usually available to those at the beginning of their professional career. Take every opportunity, and as Vivian Lewis said in her keynote: transform yourself to be able to transform the library you are in.

Erasmus + Librarian Internship at Dublin Business School Library

Guest post by Susanne Patt-Bohlscheid, BRS University Library

When I was researching my Erasmus + internship, I looked for an institution of comparable size to my University, Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University (9000 students). I also felt that it would be advantageous to visit a partner institution. Consequently, I chose Dublin Business School Library where I had the opportunity to learn from the “Best Library Team in Ireland 2017“(National Education Awards).

During my internship, I participated fully in all aspects of College operations, including attending the weekly Academic Operations meeting and observing the Library tour component of a programmatic review conducted by Quality and Qualifications Ireland.

Within the Library, I gained practical experience on the circulation desk where I also observed impressive one-to-one consultations delivered by the Reader Services staff, Debora Zorzi and Robert Alfis. I also got an insight into the work of the Teaching Librarian, Trevor Haugh, in relation to the delivery of information literacy at DBS Library. A variety of Library classes are offered (stand-alone and programme embedded). The organization of IL classes is similar to IL delivery at BRS University. The workshops on referencing at DBS are particularly similar, despite the fact that DBS promotes use of Zotero and BRS uses Citavi. I was very interested in the work of the Postgraduate and Law Librarian, Joan Colvin, who has excellent knowledge of law-related referencing (OSCOLA style) and law-related literature, cases and sources. I was interested in the activities of Systems Librarian, David Hughes, who encouraged me to engage more with social media platforms for professional purposes.

Marie O’Neill, Head of Library Services, invited me to present at the DBS Library Annual Seminar 2018 (#dbslib2018). This was the highlight of my Erasmus experience. There was an impressive line-up of speakers. Of special interest to me were the keynote presentations; John Cox’s “Positioning the Academic Library within the Institution: Changes & Challenges” and Niamh Brennan’s “The Benefits of Open Scholarships for all Library Roles“. My presentation on the library at “University and District Library Bonn-Rhein-Sieg” (in German: Hochschul- und Kreisbibliothek Bonn-Rhein-Sieg) was well received as it resonated with some of the topics mentioned in the former presentations on positioning and also on citizen scholarship.

During the week, I had the opportunity to visit some of Dublin’s tourist attractions (The Chester Beatty Library, some museums, the Book of Kells and more). I also partook of some original Irish food and drinks. I was fortunate to conduct a tour of the Central Library of Dublin City Public Libraries in the ILAC Centre. On a Monday morning, the ILAC library was full of patrons. The widespread use of the Irish language in signage is wonderfully present in the ILAC Library and beyond.

The Erasmus + experience has given me an enormous boost to my professional self-confidence. I took away many ideas, big and small, for the BRS library, not least the encouragement to speak at conferences and to publish in journals, blogs and on social media.

Cox, John (2018) Positioning the Academic Library within the Institution: A Literature Review, New Review of Academic  Librarianship, DOI: 10.1080/13614533.2018.1466342

DBS Annual Library Seminar  presentations  https://esource.dbs.ie/handle/10788/3394

29 Jun 2018

Reflections on CONUL Conference 2018 (Report number One)

Robert Alfis is a Library Assistant at Dublin Business School Library He was the winner of the CONUL Graduate Bursary to attend the 2018 CONUL Conference. These are his reflections on the conference.

I had the great privilege of receiving the graduate bursary to attend this year’s CONUL conference held on the 30th and 31st May in the Galway Bay Hotel, the theme of which was Transformative Experiences. This theme is particularly pertinent to the changes that the field of academic librarianship is undergoing especially surrounding new and evolving technologies, metrics for measuring library impact, and means of improving user experience. The many aspects of this theme were reflected in the variety of speakers, lightning talks and poster presentations. The full programme of events can be found online as well as the slides and video recordings of the presentations. With such a full and fantastic line-up, it is just not feasible to give a detailed account of every session I attended and so this report will provide an overview of some of the conference highlights.

The first of the keynote speakers, Jim Neal, served as the perfect start to the conference, wonderfully encapsulating all aspects of the theme, discussing a range of areas from the importance of preserving born digital content to the new and changing roles of the library such as the aggregated, publisher, consumer, educator and advocate.  He ended his talk by stating that libraries are perhaps undergoing a phyletic extinction; they are not disappearing but rather are evolving into something new.

There was a natural flow to the plenary presentations. Gobnait O’Riordan stated that even though many libraries are developing collaborative learning spaces, the demand for traditional study areas is huge. She ended her talk by saying that in designing libraries, you must align yourself with the goals of your institution. This segued into John Cox’s presentation, “Have Academic Libraries Transformed Their Position in the Institution?”, in which he discussed the misalignment of libraries’ strategic plans with those of their institution. He suggested that libraries are perhaps not doing enough to demonstrate their value, focusing more on service provision rather than on activities; as the second keynote speaker, Vivian Lewis, later said “We provide service but are not servile”.

The lightning talks, show-and-tell sessions, and parallel papers really highlighted the innovative nature of the speakers. Niamh Tumelty discussed embedding a librarian in a research project which provided more examples of new and changing roles. Danielle Cooper and Siobhán Dunne spoke on their evidence-based approach to a user centred library. Eliška Komárková really highlighted the need for specialised training for special collections librarians in Ireland.

Vivian Lewis, gave a fantastic talk titled “Building on strength: preparing the academic library workforce to support transformation” in which she advocated for library leaders to develop their own staff over hiring new members,  to support staff when developing new skills and going into new roles, and to celebrate staff success. She spoke from her own experience in developing new roles for new times in her own institution. She finished her talk on an inspiring note, calling for the audience to be confident, courageous and audacious.

The panel discussion “Disruptive Changes: Transforming to Meet New Opportunities” served as the perfect end to the conference. The panelists looked to the future, discussing various and potential threats and opportunities facing the profession. Leo Appleton called for library staff to develop a deeper rather than a broader skillset. Lucy Byrne was a great addition to the panel as a non-librarian. She discussed the need for open research and open data and the role the library can play in providing necessary information skills. Jim Neal rather amusingly named 2018 the “period of polygamy” in which libraries are looking to every possible partner.

The conference highlighted how the CONUL libraries position Ireland as a centre for scholarly activity, as well as contributing to pivotal developments on an international level. Listening to the talks over the two days really illustrated the role the library plays in both scholarly output and brand.