3 Mar 2014

LAI Academic & Special Libraries Annual Conference, Thursday 27th Feb 2014: Information Innovators.

The Academic & Special Libraries Annual Conference took place this year in the Radisson Blue Hotel Dublin. I was fortunate enough to attend both days of a very well organised conference full of interesting Keynote Speakers, thought provoking Break Out sessions, challenging [for other libraries] Case Studies and engaged delegates.

My fellow blogger @mishdalton has posted her thoughts on the Friday session at LAI Academic & Special Libraries Annual Conference, Friday 28th Feb 2014: Information Innovators. This post reports on the Thursday afternoon sessions.

The keynote speaker for Thursday afternoon was Fionnuala Croke, Director of Chester Beatty Library. She titled her paper When is a Library not a Library?  Fionnuala began this paper by giving a quick overview of the Chester Beatty, its history and its collections. In the second part of her presentation she looked at the issues which face the library and how to best fulfil their brief within this distressed economic climate - something everybody at the conference could relate to. She talked about the key role technology now plays in helping them to meet their aims and goals. She mentioned the Digitization programmes taking place within the library. Many of these programmes are done in collaboration with other libraries, museums or other interested parties. She talked about the strong need for training and the serious need to upskill existing staff due to the current embargo on hiring new staff.

The other papers on the Thursday afternoon were Break Out sessions.

The first parallel sessions were three Case Studies.

The session I attended was that hosted by James Molloy Susan Boyle of UCD Library. Their session was entitled 'Opportunity out of change; designing a new approach to student and teaching support at UCD Library'. In this session they looked at how the restructuring of UCD library which began in 2011 has opened up new opportunities for how they approach learning supports aimed at both students and teaching staff. With a reduced numbers of Liaison Librarians - was nineteen, now six - they needed to rethink, to innovate and to go about doing things in a substantially different way. They have scaled down the face to face and now use more online learning objects. They have a much improved and heavily utilised Supporting Your Learning section for students and a Supporting your Teaching section for academics. These contain over 60 tutorials. They mention that they are happy for other libraries to utilise these in their Information Literacy Programmes - acknowledgements appreciated of course.
They point out that we ignore the technical changes and advances at our peril. We need to be proactive in seeking out these new technologies and utilising them as we go about our daily work.

The sessions I unfortunately couldn't attend were Eoin McCarney and Mark Tynan of UCD Library Click Here to order this book: a case study of print and electronic patron Driven acquisition in UCD Library and Laura Connaughton of NUIM Library Gathering meaningful Statistics - Using KnowAll Enquire at NUIM Library'. From the feedback I got from other delegates and the live #asl2014 feed these sessions were informative and of great use and interest to those who attended them.

The second parallel sessions were of a Workshop nature.

The workshop I attended was hosted by Niamh Tumelty, Library of the University of Cambridge,  Design your own 23 Things Programme. This session was broken into two parts. Niamh first presented her experience of participating in a traditional 23 Things programme as well as her experience of developing one with a twist: 23 Things for Professional Development. This programme mixed the traditional social media elements of a 23 things programme with 'things' encouraging reflection on personal and professional development. This was a very successful programme and attracted over 1,000 participants worldwide.
For the second part of the session we broke up into small groups to discuss what sort of programme we would develop if asked to and what sort of 'things' would we be include in it. It was interesting to see the different angles that each group focused on. We all agreed that people should start with a Blog - as this allowed for reflection on the other 'things' as they progressed through the programme. Many of us agreed that Twitter was an essential part of any sort of professional development programme. It was also interesting to see that even this group of professional librarians had differing degrees of knowledge and interest and experience as regards social media and its uses and potential.

The other sessions were by Andrew Costello Trinity College Disability Service Making Documents Accessible and Siobhan DunnePeter Dudley and Paraic Elliot Dublin City University Information at Point of Need: Practical Tips to Augment your Library Service. Again the feedback from other delegates and the live twitter feed was that these sessions were informative and useful to those who attended.

All the Thursday, and Friday, papers examined in their own way how libraries are coping in an era, defined by that phrase beloved of all our Irish leaders since 2007, 'of doing more with less'. They all showed that we need to, must and can do so by being innovative in how we do our jobs. All showed the need to use the new and emerging technologies. All showed libraries doing things differently. They are, as we all, living and working in a disruptive age, an age where the old rules don't necessarily apply. The old way of doing things is not necessarily the best way of doing things today. They showed that to survive and still be relevant we need to take control and lead the way through this disruptive phase. They all showed that by being Information Innovators, by being librarians who evolve in the digital environment we can be as relevant, if not more relevant, than we always have been.

Update: 10.03.04
All presentations now available at:


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