22 Dec 2015

Merry Christmas...

via Wikipedia Commons

On behalf of the Libfocus Team I would like to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a wonderful 2016.

Thanks to all of you who support us, who write guest blogs for us, who comment on our blogs, who share our blogs. Thanks to everyone of you for every bit of support.

2015  was a good year for Libfocus and I hope that 2016 will be even better. Reminder again that we LOVE guest posts - so if you have an idea that you think would make a good blog post - do get in touch, we would love to hear from you.

My library hope for 2016 is that you recent graduates seeking work find it. The end of 2015 saw a number of library posts being advertised - hopefully this continues apace and you passionate recent grads can enter our workforce

I also hope that the austerity drive that has shut down so many libraries, or reduced services significantly, particularly in the UK, does not continue in 2016. Here's hoping that the #saveourlibrary campaign(s) meet with more success in 2016.

And finally, to repeat, here's hoping you all have a lovely christmas and a wonderful new year...

Posted on Tuesday, December 22, 2015 | Categories:

15 Dec 2015

How to Become a Library Director

When I was just starting out in libraries, I took advantage of resume review workshops, attended career fairs at my library school, asked my professors to talk about the job market, and reached out to working librarians for career advice. A few years later, I've reviewed resumes at workshops, spoken at career fairs, devoted class time to job search strategies as a library school instructor, and been approached by young librarians looking for career advice.

Having now been on both sides of the job search education issue, I have realized that what would have been most useful to me when I was just starting out is if librarians were willing to spend time considering what job search strategies worked for them and then shared those strategies.

I'll start. Here's how I landed my dream job, broken down into five broad steps.

1. Read lots of job ads.

Job ads don't just tell you what positions are available, they also tell you what skills, experiences, and traits are needed in order to get the job. As soon as I realized I wanted to be a library director, but long before I was qualified to become one, I began spending time each week reading job ads, and I made of list of the qualifications I saw most often.

2. Build your resume.

Once I had a list of qualifications, I went about earning them. I could earn some items on my own outside of work – technology skills, for example. Other items could be practiced constantly, like being cool under pressure or being an excellent communicator. But the process to earn the biggest items – like facilities, budget, and staff management – was more prescribed: I had to start with tiny projects in order to earn small projects in order to earn medium projects in order to earn large projects. For example, a minor facilities project at one library – having a built-in bookshelf removed and the plaster behind it repaired – led to a larger facilities project at another: planning and overseeing the installation of new electrical and data ports in order to update an older building without a major renovation. This larger project helped convince my supervisors at that same library to let me take point when the roof sprung a leak.

This was a time-consuming and somewhat daunting process – the list of qualifications I had put together was long – but it was also a fun, or at least a satisfying, process. My enjoyment of the work and the time it took to earn these qualifications made me more confident that I wanted to be a library director, and that I would be a good one.

3. Have a specialty.

While gathering the qualifications I identified by looking at job ads, I also established a specialty that would both set me apart as a candidate and help me succeed as a director. I worked to become skilled at library assessment – gathering and interpreting data, both qualitative and quantitative, to identify where a library is doing well and where it has room to improve. I paired my assessment skills with my experience teaching to become someone who can not only gather and interpret data, but also explain it in a compelling way to a non-expert audience.

I enjoy assessment and I enjoy teaching, so it made sense for me to concentrate on these areas. To identify a specialty that might work for you, I recommend staying on top of our field: Read LibFocus, LibraryJournal, In the Library with the Lead Pipe, and INALJ. Follow librarians on Twitter. Join ALA Think Tank on Facebook. Subscribe to /r/libraries on Reddit. Identify libraries and librarians doing exciting things and keep an eye on them for inspiration. Go to conferences. Find something in libraries that you're interested in and become an expert.

4. Apply.

Don't wait until you've gathered all your qualifications and have become the perfect candidate before applying for your dream job. We're never finished building our resumes (how boring would that be?) and no candidate is perfect. So when you find a job you're interested in, apply for it. You might get it. But even if you don't get it, the application process is enormously helpful. Like anything else, applying takes practice. Tailoring your resume and cover letter to specific jobs, knowing what to wear, becoming confident in your skills, listening and speaking well during your interview – all of these are skills that you need in order to become a library director, just like facilities, budget, and staff management.

5. Ask for advice.

The most useful thing I did when I was about to apply for my first directorship was ask a director at another library to look over my resume and cover letter and give me feedback. I had met this director only once before – we traded cards at a conference – and I was a little nervous to ask her for help; we were essentially strangers. But librarians are a generous and helpful group, used to answering questions and giving advice. And the advice I received from my now-colleague was invaluable. When you are applying for your dream job, ask a librarian for help. And, when you are in a position to help someone else, do so.

If you'd like me to take a look at your resume or cover letter, connect with me on Twitter.

11 Dec 2015

Library Ireland Week: Job Swop to Newbridge Public Library

Guest post by Ciarán Quinn, Maynooth University Library

On Wednesday the 25th of November instead of my usual dash to work through the back roads of Kildare from Newbridge to Maynooth University Library, I had the pleasure of starting my working day with a stroll of a mile or so to Newbridge Public Library (and County Library) on the Athgarvan Road. The reason for my visit you ask? It was part of the Job Swop Scheme for Library Ireland Week.

To my shame (and also the cut backs in opening hours in these recessionary times) I'd never actually been inside the building so I was looking forward to having my curiosity satisfied. It is a landmark Art Deco building in the town and was built in 1936. This building now houses the "History and Family Research Centre" with the Library itself in a more modern adjoining building. The Library administration is housed in the Rivebank Arts Centre which is adjacent.

I was met by Suzanne Brosnan (my Swop partner) who had already spent one day on the job swop with me in Maynooth University and she gave me a tour of the Library. Later in the morning she continued my tour with an opportunity to see how the administrative side of things worked and to meet some of the Library staff. I was really impressed with the many services they provide. Earlier in the morning I also had a chance to see one of their excellent services in progress with the arrival of the local National School Children to return, renew and borrow books. I was really impressed by their enthusiasm and thought what a great job they are doing in passing on the pleasure of Libraries to a future generation. Thanks to the other Suzanne for looking after me.

After a nice lunch in the Riverbank Arts Centre I spent the afternoon with James Durney (Historical Researcher with the Kildare Heritage Company and Author) who works in the Kildare Local Studies Dept. and Karel Kiely Genealogist. She was closely involved in the development of the Kildare Online Database of Genealogical Records. Both were very generous with their time. I received a fascinating insight into the Archives in Kildare with James and the processes involved in developing a genealogical database and how to search for your family history in the most effective way with Karel. So overall a day well spent and an introduction to a great Library Service on my doorstep, I'll be back! Thanks Newbridge Library and thanks to the Library Ireland Week Jobs Swop scheme - a great initiative.
Posted on Friday, December 11, 2015 | Categories:

3 Dec 2015

IATUL – Hannover, Germany: July 2015

Guest post by Niamh Walker-Headon, Systems Librarian ITT Tallaght

This report details the IATUL Conference in Hannover, Germany in July, hosted by the TIB library. Any errors are my own.

The conference theme was: Strategic Partnerships for Access and Discovery

There was a very full programme, and presentation delivery was at times so fast that I could barely take photos of slides fast enough! 5 ½ days of events were provided for delegates, with amply time for social networking, and visiting exhibitor built into the programme. The first ½ day was for registration and welcome reception, where I succeeded in meeting the only other Irish delegate.
The 1st and 2nd day were structured with a general session addressed with keynote speakers and then subsequently parallel topic steams.

Day 1
Day 1’s keynote speakers both brought to the attention of the general assembly that there is a need for significant re-consideration and change to copyright and it’s associated laws, for several reasons. From the opportunity to allow for greater specificity in search results, to the needs of the planned single digital market in the EU, the argument was made for change. In parallel to this many speakers called for the mandating of open access publishing for research being undertaken using public funding / grants, or in publicly funded institutions. Issues around peer review and the green / gold open access publishing model were outlined and discussed.

The parallel session I attended dealt with managing change, covered diverse topics: from the implementation of beta ILS platforms to gathering consensus when selecting key performance indicators, and from transatlantic research into library staff’s expectations from their managers as leaders, to the proposing of the PRUB theoretical model to validate library strategy.

Day 2
Day 2’s keynote speakers spoke of open access publishing and the potential crisis facing library regarding the management an implications of big data.  Ms. Van Wezenbeek focused on the how and why of open access publishing, making the argument that everyone should have easy access to research, as science grows when you spread and use results. She called for the FAIR system for academic publications. Mr. Balke argued that libraries have a big data problem, and need to care more about the semantics in the metadata that they index, as the aim is to provide access to knowledge. The proposal was made that index retrieval interfaces are needed for every discipline, type of use and type of person… which differentiate at the level of detail provided in the result. For example: the results to match the question ‘What is the Higgs Boson particle?’ need to be different for users at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels of education. He also discussed the reliability of Science 2.0 and automatic data mining.

Ten posters about a variety of topics were presented in lightening talks.

The parallel session that I attended focused on library environments and included several sessions outlining library refurbishment projects, from financing, to the installation of green technologies, from architect’s involvement to the need to develop flexible spaces for both users and staff.  A very useful overview of trends on e-journal subscription models and discussion of ‘big deals’ was presented. This session closed with a presentation focusing on the integration of Research Information Management Systems and Institutional Repositories into academic libraries, as the library has the data management skills to make these projects successful.

Day 3
Day 3 was a study tour to the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbuttel, where the German national output for the 17th century is housed in 11 buildings around the centre of the town, and the Volkswagen visitor centre [Autostadt] where some fantastic displays were available for perusal.

Day 4
Day 4 saw a series of shorter talks many of which highlighted services provided by or being developed by libraries of the T9 Universities in Germany [The 9 Technological Universities]. These included:
• the EZB open URL linking service, which includes the Library of Congress amongst it’s customers
• a session on automatic harvesting, indexing and provision of multimedia open access objects using the infrastructure of wikimedia commons and wikidata
• detail about how the TIB AV Portal leveraged semantic technologies to deliver academic video content
• information about the introduction of video abstracting in the sciences
• An outline of the VIVO open source research management information system
• Blog provision / hosting as a service to academic communities
• App development for the exposure of visual collections
• 3d printing at the Radcliffe Library.

Day 5
Day 5 entailed a visit to the TIB library at the University of Leibnitz in Hannover. Attendees were treated to a presentation on the library, including details of its holdings, services, and co-operative projects, such as document delivery with Subito. This was followed by a tour of the physical library itself, which only has the last 5 years of materials and the prescribed course readings available on the open stacks, and uses off-site storage for other materials, which can be requested for consultation.

Full report is available at http://anleabharlannai.blogspot.ie
Photographs from the conference are available at: https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipNwgfDYYiEtV4UskBXoGehJXeAAm5d2vkfA7OPx
Conference presentations are available at:
Posted on Thursday, December 03, 2015 | Categories:

30 Nov 2015

Library Job Swop with Kildare Library and Arts Service, Local Studies Section, Newbridge

Guest post by Olive Morrin, Library Assistant, Maynooth University Library

On Friday 13th November 2015, as part of the Library Ireland Week Job Swop initiative,  I spent a very pleasant and interesting day with Kildare Library and Arts Services - Local Studies Section in Newbridge.  I was met by Mario Corrigan, the local studies librarian and later by James Durney Writer in Residence for 2015/16.  James’ book Foremost and ready: Kildare and the 1916 Rising was launched in Naas Town Hall on the 20th November 2015.  Mario invited me to view the Teresa Brayton Archive which was lent to Maynooth University in 2014 to mount an exhibition on local poet and nationalist Teresa Brayton.  Later in the morning pupils from the local school attended a talk by Mario on their topics for Leaving Cert history.  Mario and James advised them on the use of primary sources and also how to narrow the focus of their projects.  
After lunch we drove to Donnelly’s Hollow in the Curragh to commemorate the 200th year anniversary of the famous boxing match between George Cooper and Dan Donnelly which took place on the 13th November 1815.  A good crowd assembled around the stone memorial and  Mario laid a wreath.  Representatives of local history groups assembled  which also included some schoolgirls who read a short piece about Dan Donnelly and the fight.  Twenty thousand people packed themselves into this natural amphitheatre in 1815 which had a ring roped in the hollow for the fighters.  As bare knuckle fighting was illegal the fight was held at 8.00am and the crowd was somewhat shielded  from the view of the authorities.  These fights were brutal affairs with little adherence to any rules.  Fights could last up to fifty rounds and usually only ended when one of the opponents was so injured or exhausted they could no longer continue. Gambling was a significant feature of these events.

Dan Donnelly won the fight and walked back up to the rim of the hollow to a waiting carriage.  He had promised his family he would return immediately after the fight.  His fanatical followers carved out his footsteps and they have been maintained ever since.  Mario said a few words and then invited Patrick Myler to speak.  Patrick wrote a biography on Dan Donnelly in 1976 titled Dan Donnelly 1788-1820: pugilist, publican, playboy; this was updated in 2010.  Patrick took lots of questions and despite the inclement weather a lively discussion ensued.  Brian Byrne whose family owned the ‘Hideout’ in Kilcullen which for many years displayed Dan Donnelly’s arm over the fireplace also added significant pieces of information. Mario then invited the group back to the Library for some refreshments and a presentation on Dan Donnelly’s life.  A film producer also attended the event with the possibility of a film on Dan Donnelly at some future date.  Dan Donnelly had a reputation as a gambler, womanizer and a drunkard.  He was the proprietor of a succession of Dublin pubs all of which were unprofitable.  He died aged 32 in 1820.  Grave robbers stole his body for an eminent surgeon who was later prevailed upon to part with it.  He did so with the condition he could keep his right arm.  The Byrne family secured possession of the arm and it finally made its way back to the  ’ Hideout’ in Kilcullen in the 1950’s.

It was a privilege to be part of this event and although I grew up having an awareness of Dan Donnelly I learned so much more about him and why it was important for ordinary and poor people to have a hero to celebrate.  Local Studies in Newbridge work with local groups to mark events and people who have made a contribution to the fabric of Kildare life.  At the moment they are busy with the Decade of Commemorations in Kildare which is celebrating the efforts of Kildare people in the fight for Irish freedom.

The job swop was a very interesting and informative experience.
Posted on Monday, November 30, 2015 | Categories:

29 Nov 2015

Rethinking the Library Services Platform

Guest post by Ken Chad, Ken Chad Consulting
This was first published as the  editorial of UKSG eNews (ISSN 2048-7746) on 27th November 2015.

The recent decision by ProQuest to acquire ExLibris has again focussed attention on the future of library systems and the relationship between discovery, delivery technologies and content. Assuming the acquisition gets through the necessary regulatory processes we will see a large library services company with a diverse range of sometimes overlapping product offerings. We often think of library system companies like ExLibris, SirsiDynix and Innovative as large companies. While they would not be characterised as small and medium sized enterprises (SME), which are commonly defined as having up to 250 employees, they are not behemoths either. Companies like ESBCO and ProQuest are much larger. ProQuest was acquired in 2007 by Cambridge Information Group and its 2014 annual revenue of around $500m is roughly the same as Marshall Breeding’s estimate for the entire US library system market. ProQuest is roughly five times larger than ExLibris which is one of the largest library system vendors. And of course compared to the largest library company of them all – Google - they are minnows. Some while ago a librarian asked me what I thought would happen if a software giant like Microsoft developed a library system. I countered, only a little tongue-in-cheek, that the most popular electronic resource management (ERM) system in UK university libraries was in fact already produced by Microsoft. It is Excel.

Size matters. The University of Cambridge has annual revenues of over £1.5 billion. The relative upstart University of Hertfordshire‘s revenues are around £240 million. Higher Education is big business and libraries are becoming more integrated into their institutions. Librarians realise they must be seen to be much better aligned with institutional strategy and goals. One university librarian I know has a title of Director of Library Services & Employability. Another heads up the university press. Others are developing workflows and systems to manage article processing charges to support Gold Open Access. It has become commonplace, in the UK at least, for librarians to manage the institutional repository and more and more have roles in supporting research. In October the University of Bath advertised for a Senior Data Librarian. This person: “will deliver strategic direction and co-ordination of activities to ensure the continued development and delivery of the Library’s research data service.” We used to talk about ‘stand alone’ library systems. Now it’s a complex ecosystem. Moreover it’s an ecosystem where the divide between library and learning technologies is becoming increasingly blurred. Librarians rarely manage the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE -also known as the learning management system) but the VLE is often integrated with the reading list system which is managed by the library.

The conventional library management system/integrated library system (LMS/ILS) has only ever managed a part of the business of the library. So doesn’t it seem rather odd that a solution can only be deemed a library services platform (LSP) if it has features to manage the cataloguing, acquisition and circulation of print material? Perhaps we need to shift our point of view to that of the user. If they use the ProQuest Summon or EBSCO discovery services they will typically be able to find print materials and electronic resources integrated into the same user interface. If they find a print book they will check it out using a self service terminal provided by a vendor like Bibliotheca. Of course this oversimplifies the situation but it does suggest that the LMS/ILS tail still wags the library platform dog. Writing on LSPs in 2012 consultant Carl Grant explained that their development had been hampered because: “Existing ILS products, while containing limitations in serving today’s digital environment, represent hundreds of person-years of development, testing, and documentation. You simply can’t replicate all this functionality in new software architecture in a short period of time, even with agile development techniques.” But maybe that is the wrong way to look at it. Maybe we no longer need all that complexity. A new user focussed perspective on the LSP might help redefine and simplify the elements of print resource management. 

My point is not to get into a wearisome semantic debate about what defines a LSP. The issue is that the problems librarians are trying to solve have widened. I doubt if any single integrated solution will do it all. Maybe the most successful companies in the information space are ones that don't define themselves as content or software or tools-based; there are no boundaries. In this view the key for solution providers is a focus on improving the workflows of their customers.

These factors are not unique to libraries. Library systems have sometimes been equated with enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems like SAP and ORACLE. Gartner, an information technology market research and advisory firm, argues that as ERP products move to the cloud it encourages a process of deconstruction. The ERP doesn’t solve all the problems any more than the LMS/ILS does. The monolithic ERP is losing relevancy. Disillusioned users is one of the core drivers in this change to what Garter characterises as the ‘postmodern’ ERP. ORACLE is no longer a single product suite but sits in the cloud alongside interoperable applications from independent software vendors (ISVs). In summary their analysis is that the ERP suite is being deconstructed into postmodern ERP that will result in a more federated, loosely coupled ERP environment with much of the functionality sourced as cloud services or via business process outsourcers.

This analysis of the ERP market resonates with what is happening around library systems. It suggests that we should view both ProQuest and EBSCO as LSP vendors alongside OCLC. Indeed that would be the case even if ProQuest had not bought ExLibris. They will need to continue a process of integrating their existing products into a cloud based platform. Some rationalisation will inevitably take place: it makes little sense for ProQuest to maintain two knowledge bases and central indexes for discovery. However that will still leave gaps in the ecosystem that will be filled by solutions from ISVs. These cloud based third party solutions will be much more interoperable than solutions today. They will be part of what Gartner described above as: “a more federated, loosely coupled ERP environment.” That means that LSP providers will have to raise their game in terms of opening up their platforms to ISVs. The partner programmes, developer networks and services currently offered are relatively weak compared to what mainstream platform providers like Microsoft and ORACLE sustain. There is potential here too for the library community to use open source. Indeed as I discussed earlier I think there is a good case to be made for much simpler interoperable LMS/ILS components to be developed in this way. Sector bodies like Jisc and NISO could play a larger and more determined role. In 2013 the Jisc library system change project report noted: “The failure of the library community to better contribute to the development of modern web-centric library interoperability standards has hampered the evolution of an open ‘loosely coupled’ library systems environment.”

23 Nov 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

19 Nov 2015

The International Librarians Network: new round begins March 2016

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


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


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


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


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

Posted on Thursday, November 19, 2015 | Categories:

9 Nov 2015

Usability Versus Identification

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Nov 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Social Librarian - how to get involved and stay involved in your library community. Report

Guest post by Suzanne Lynch, who has done LIS work experience in RTE Archives and Trinity College Library among other places. Next step, strongly being considered is to undertake a MLIS.

On Saturday 17th October I got the opportunity to volunteer with New Professionals Day Ireland for their event The Social Librarian - how to get involved and stay involved in your library community. The event took place upstairs in the beautiful Rathmines library. For those of you who couldn’t attend, Shona Thoma has made a Storify of the event and slides of the talks are available

There was a great buzz in the room, a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. After everyone had registered and taken a supply of Shona’s emergency chocolate, Caroline Rowan welcomed everyone to the event. The points she raised would be emphasised again and again throughout the day: librarianship is a particularly social career - we’re always communicating with someone!, twitter is essential for networking, and events and committees are great for making connections and meeting people you wouldn’t otherwise get the chance to meet. She also encouraged us to get involved in library groups by reminding us that if we’re involved we can make sure the events on offer are what we want and need.

Ann O’Sullivan: Networking: linking, learning and laughing with your library colleagues

The first speaker was Ann O’Sullivan with her excellent talk ‘Networking: linking, learning and laughing with your library colleagues’. Ann started by saying that networking should be part and parcel of what we do as librarians. Information is our business after all, and networking is all about exchanging information. Her presentation addressed the questions why we should network, how we can network, and where we can network.

Picture by Marie Therese Carmody
Why we should network
We should network in order to build connections (you could be sitting beside your next boss or chatting to someone on your interview panel!), to share knowledge (communicating and sharing knowledge between different sectors is essential to push librarianship forward), and to gain visibility in Ireland’s library community (some 1,800 people). Networking is important at all stages of our career, but especially when we’re starting out for the first time, when we’re changing roles or when we’re moving between sectors. It allows us to question and learn from librarians and info pros already working in those roles and sectors.

How we can network
We can network virtually, using social media, or in person (face-to-face) at conferences and events. Twitter was emphasised as the most important networking site for information professionals. It makes it possible to follow conferences you are unable to attend, and to get involved in Twitter chats and discussions. Ann recommends using the lists tool to keep your Twitter feed organised. She also reassured us that networking at conferences need not be as scary as it seems - everyone at these events already has something in common, meaning there’s a common theme to talk about to get the conversation flowing. She also mentioned how many library groups (such as Academic & Special Libraries Section of the LAI) run informal networking events with a more relaxed atmosphere than traditional conferences.

Where we can network
Ann provided some examples of library groups that organise events and conferences:
• New Professionals Day Ireland (NPDI)
• The Career Development Group (LAI CDG)
• Health Sciences Library Group (HSLG)
• Library Camp (I attended this year’s Library Camp and I can confirm that it is a fantastic event!)
• Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP)

Martin O’Connor: ‘Why should I be a Social Librarian? What’s actually in it for me? - A personal narrative’

Next up was Martin O’Connor with his inspiring personal story of being a social librarian. Martin began by giving a piece of advice to us that he gives to all work experience students and new professionals: ‘Get on Twitter’!! Networking is necessary for librarians and info pros, but luckily social media makes networking much easier. Twitter was once again highlighted as the ‘ultimate information resource’, allowing librarians to easily share and learn with each other (‘Twitter and librarians were made for each other!’). There are things you learn from Twitter articles that aren’t covered in library school.

Picture by Marie Therese Carmody
Martin discussed the benefits and opportunities being a social librarian can lead to. He emphasised reflection as an important aspect of social networking - social networking encourages you to reflect on and really think about your work, which in turn leads to you being a better librarian. Martin regularly writes for libfocus, as doing so helps him reflect and look at things in a different way. Social networking sites like Twitter & the libfocus blog also provide exciting opportunities to collaborate with people in different libraries, outside the library sector, and in different parts of the world. Martin discussed how social media helped him find material for the Sir Henry's exhibition he worked on for UCC Library. The call for material was answered by thousands. As well as helping him curate an extremely successful exhibition, Martin’s involvement with social media has led to him being invited to join Libfocus and to speak at events like this.

Martin also discussed branding and self promotion. While we may not like promoting ourselves, it's still recommended that we do it. We can promote ourselves by writing blog posts, by commenting on them, by getting involved in conversations. He explained that your brand is what you're known for (his is 'the guy who did the Sir Henry’s exhibition'; he also mentioned Helen Fallon as ‘the person who encourages us to write’, and Jane Burns as ‘a that supportive librarian in the Irish library community’, and many others excellent librarians). On Twitter you can use your avatar and your bio to help create your brand. He ended by reminding us to enjoy social networking - it's invigorating and can help keep you excited about your work.

Maria O’Sullivan: ‘Beyond the Library Walls; let’s BEE social!’

Next Maria O'Sullivan discussed the fantastic work she's been doing with the Summer Reading Buzz Initiative (an initiative to keep children reading over the long summer holidays), and how social networking has contributed to its success. I was particularly interested in this talk as I had helped out with the Summer Reading Adventure during my work experience in my local library, and I was excited to hear how other libraries approached similar reading programmes.

Picture by Marie Therese Carmody
Maria began by explaining that public libraries need advocates and that public librarians can use social media as a way of extending themselves and their communities beyond the library walls. Maria discussed the importance of reaching children in particular, as children are the future of the library, and the difficulties involved in doing so. While adults are easy to reach via social networking sites like Twitter, children are much more difficult to reach as they don't have accounts. Maria emphasised that we need to reach the adults responsible for the children - their parents and teachers. She discussed how she used the Buzz the Bee Twitter account to engage with adults in a childlike manner, and the great success this approach had. As well as engaging with parents and teachers, it also allowed her to engage with politicians in a way not otherwise possible. She was able to use Twitter to be political with the hashtag #keepthekidsreading.

Maria discussed communicating and collaborating with teachers at Teachmeets and how many teachers have Twitter accounts for their classes. Many schools and education courses recommend their teachers follow Buzz. Thus it was possible to use the Buzz account to connect with classroom accounts and engage with children. She could offer book suggestions and the children could share what they were reading. It was great seeing some of the tweets between Buzz and the kids, and how excited the kids were to be reading and sharing with Buzz!

Two important points about social media and libraries were also raised - first, that the use of Twitter needs to be legitimised in libraries, and second, that librarians need to keep up to date with the next social media trends in order to reach younger audiences.

Niamh O’Donovan: ‘Follow Your Own Path - making social media work for you’

Finally, Niamh O'Donovan discussed how we can make social networking work for us and use it to carve our own path. We can use social networking to find and create opportunities we might not get in our day to day jobs, and build new skills. She commented that we’re lucky we’re in a profession where we can to some extent ‘create our own jobs’ or volunteer for new roles. If there’s a project or idea you really want to try, the internet is your oyster.

Picture by Marie Therese Carmody
Niamh saw the potential for the use of social media in libraries and took the 23 things course, which she described as being taken by the hand and walked through the world of social media and online tools. She discussed her personal experience of running the Rudai 23 course (the Irish equivalent of 23 things), and how it broke her out of her comfort zone and taught her things about her own management and communication style. She found social media useful in running the course, as she could draw on a range of skills and expertise from different people. Rudai 23 has been a great success, with over 180 participants, and has received a very positive response. Niamh calls it her ‘dragon slaying story’ (a term coined by Liz Ryan), and she encourages everyone to find their own dragon slaying story - it will impress people and give you something to talk about in interviews. Niamh warned we should be prepared to work hard and be prepared to fail (and to learn from that failure), and outlined three steps we can take to find our own story: first, join Twitter and exploit it; second, join a committee; third, identify a need and set about filling it!

Niamh discussed the benefits of joining committees (she herself is on WRSLAI committee), and how it can level the playing field between colleagues - on committees everyone is on the same level. Committees are also great for making connections (you never know, another member might just be interviewing you in the future) and you’ll be able to talk about the group’s projects and activities in interviews. She ended by urging us to ‘never stop learning, even if it’s only through Twitter’!
Niamh’s talk was the last of the day, and afterwards everyone gathered in nearby pub Toast for some well deserved drinks and a chat.

As someone new to the library world (and relatively inexperienced with networking), I found the day extremely useful. Networking is an important skill to have (not just for someone at the start of their journey, like me, but also for finding opportunities later on in your career) and it’s always good to be aware of the resources out there and pick up new tips. It was inspiring to hear the personal stories and the fantastic opportunities and successes being a social librarian had led to for the speakers and their libraries - and how much they had enjoyed the process! Thank you to NPDI for organising a fantastic event and thank you to Libfocus for the opportunity to write this post.

1 Nov 2015

Libfocus is 4!

A short post to mark the 4th birthday of Libfocus!

A big thank you to all of our regular bloggers, guest bloggers, and readers who make the blog what it is. I am continually struck by the quality of writing of LIS professionals in Ireland and beyond, but even more so, by the passion, dedication and commitment that radiates from every post on Libfocus.

Thanks also go to those who have supported and promoted Libfocus over the years - from the invitations to speak at events to the retweets - it is greatly appreciated!

I think we might need a cake for next year :)
Posted on Sunday, November 01, 2015 | Categories:

23 Oct 2015

CDG joint seminar/AGM 2015 – Abstract to Audience: a guide to conference presentations - Report

Guest post by Siobhan McGuinness, Library and Records Management Intern at the Heritage Council

As a new professional I have always found the Career Development Group within the LAI wonderful when it comes to events. The venue was great and gave everyone a chance to meet and network over the day.

Thank you to the National Library of Ireland and to all the speakers on the day, in addition a huge round of applause and well done to CDG Group on a great day.

For those of you who didn’t attend the day, check out the CDG outline, and for those on Twitter the Storify is here.

To begin our day, the keynote speaker is the lovely Dr Sandra Collins (Director of the National Library of Ireland)

Sandra began her presentation by asking “What sort of Librarian are you”. In answering this question many of you will find your voice as a librarian. This voice may develop from being involved in many different jobs and projects. The more diverse the better.

We as librarian’s need to always be looking at this ever changing world and when it comes to finding your voice, stop and question, How will I contribute to this world and what will my voice say? Really ask yourself, “What is important to me”?

One way to contribute is to look at the social and cultural impact that your profession has. For instance, schools and communities around Ireland, look at the role of the library service within these two areas, librarians have a huge impact. In addition, look to the New Ireland that is evolving, look closely at the role you have as a librarian and the impact you can have on these groups. More importantly find the groups in your community that interest you and where your voice can give this group opportunity and help.

As Librarians we can and need to ask these important questions, Sandra encourages us to speak and present on a topic that interests you. We as professionals can figure out the answers to the questions that interest us, and as awesome people we should not be afraid to stand up and say “I know this”. Sandra goes on to give more encouragement by adding “you should have opinions don’t apologise for having them, believe in what you are saying and keep going”.

A truly inspirational presentation, Sandra gave me great encouragement to sit down and ask the tough questions.

The next three speakers where, Niamh O’Sullivan, Laura Connaughton, & Peter Dudley.

Niamh showed how public speaking can be the hardest thing to do as a professional. However you need to realise that it is scary and it does take a lot to face your fears. The best part is the more you do it the easier and more comfortable you will be.
Tips & Tricks was Niamh’s key message, below I have outlined a few:

  • Have Good Slides!
  • Use presentations as a route to publications.
  • Think catchy titles, like quotes from a movie.
  • Keep your message clear and simple
  • Use the 10/80/10 rule; 10% Intro, 80% Main, 10% Summary & Conclusion
  • Answer all the “W” questions: What, Why, Where, and don’t forget the HOW!
  • Check out this free eBook, “Persuasive Presentations
  • Check out this book: The Naked Presenter by Garr Reynold’s

Next to the stage is Laura Connaughton, here Laura spoke about her winning poster for A&SL conference 2015, and it was a super poster!

The advice Laura focuses on is to make sure the topic for your poster and content can stand alone. Be aware that this is the difference between a poster and a presentation, the poster will do all the talking for you.

When designing the poster have a logical pathway. In addition know that your choice of colour is very important, and be consistent.

The main aim of a poster presentation is to always ask for opinions, you need to always look at the full poster and you may have looked at it for the zillionth time and be so disjointed from the content. It is super important to get an honest opinion, look for constructive feedback, and learn from this.

The second last speaker is Peter Dudley, and his message is “DO NOT USE BULLET POINTS” end of story, well not really.

Peter is all about ambition and his presentation really is outstanding. Be smart about doing a presentation, don’t look for PowerPoint templates, look for the blank slide and be creative in your presentation. He maintains that standard bullet points are, (a) Generic, (b) Lifeless, (c) Ineffective. This is very true, bullet points force us to read the text and read it in a linear way. Why can’t I move the text around and keep it engaging? The best news is, you can do whatever you want.

Make images your best friend. Be smart when using the image, think of what you are talking about and find an image that will convey your message in a smart, effective manner. You are there to present, so present your material in a confident and dynamic way.

Last on the panel is Michelle Dalton, I have heard Michelle speak numerous of times and every presentation is superb. Today we are treated to a workshop, so we all have to sit up and get engaging.
Two activities were planned, here I will focus on the first activity as it gave a lot of food for thought.
Our first activity is to take a look at the handout above and decide what it is we like and dislike:
Everyone had similar results:
Dislikes included:
  • the template from PowerPoint, 
  • images used in the third slide, 
  • bullet points, 
Likes included:
  • image in the first slide,
  • font and use of text in the first slide,
  • question in the last slide, and how the change in font highlights the main part of the question
Michelle suggested that we focus on one main aim that you are trying to convey when giving a presentation, and this is tell a story. First you need to ask “What story do I want to tell”, and second “How will I tell it”.

As we had previously heard, images are super important, however Michelle suggests the use of “white space” can be crafted very well, and is something we often miss.

The biggest piece of advice I came away with from today’s event is to look at the font, you don’t need it to be default New Times Roman, at 12p, and justify. You are not in college there are no rules. It is your content, your topic and your work so make it all yours. Be brave and download new fonts, make the font super big when conveying an important piece, and use 100 slides with one point per slide, all of this is perfectly fine and acceptable.

The information, advice, tips and tricks given at this event is very important to anyone who wishes to be brave and put themselves out there. I for one will be setting challenges for myself next year, and I hope that I will channel all this wonderful energy into making my topic and presentations super awesome.

Thank you to the Libfocus team for the opportunity to write this post.

Slides of the event are available here

The bad librarian

After reading Martin O’Connor’s recent post, the good librarian, I thought about the opposite: who or what is The Bad Librarian? What do they look like? What do they do? Who do they do it to? How bad do you have to be before you’re struck off by the LAI? So in the first of a series of loosely Halloween themed libfocus posts*, I sought to investigate.

The idea of a bad librarian conjures a simplistic vision of frumpy, unhelpful reference desk staff confusing users with in-house jargon. Basically a variation of the stereotype that real librarians roll their eyes at. I’ve been working in libraries for nine years now: surely I can articulate a clearer vision of this? So I used my research skills to look into this in a bit more detail:

And mostly what I found was either covers from vintage smutty books or a few videos attempting libraries + humour (very difficult to do). A few librarians have blogged about it, but they were just describing bad reference service again.

If we look at the historical record, we'll find that such questionable characters as Mao Zedong and J. Edgar Hoover were librarians but they lacked commitment to the profession and soon moved on, so they are of little help to us here.

Then I asked Twitter:

And I got a bit more detail here. The responses I got back (thanks to all concerned) would suggest that a bad librarian is :
  • apathetic
  • negative
  • is not user-focussed, or at least is only focussed on what users wanted twenty years ago

Which doesn't sound that bad: it just sounds like me having a bad day, to be honest. So I think there’s a bad librarian in all of us. It isn't an extreme, needs-to-be-sacked sociopath. It’s any of us when we forget about why we got into libraries in the first place or have gotten stuck in a rut and forgotten how to keep our jobs interesting. I would suggest that if you can read Martin’s article and you find you’re not ticking many of the boxes there then maybe you're losing your spark and your inner bad (but not evil bad) librarian may have taken over.

*probably not.  

Posted on Friday, October 23, 2015 | Categories:

16 Oct 2015

Cataloguing, e-books, student acquisition, creating young readers and folk music: Great projects and presentations from The National Acquisition Conference 2015.

I recently travelled to York for the National Acquisitions Group Conference (NAG) 2015. The theme of this year’s event was ‘Back to the Future,’ and it was a really interesting and inspiring couple of days, not least because there was so much variety in the presentations and workshops. With presentations from a range of public, academic and special libraries there was something for everyone and allowed us all the opportunity to see what’s happening outside our own domains.

Having a plan
First up was Sara Griffin from York Minster. Sara spoke about their Collection Management Framework which basically acts as their 5 year plan. She commented that the plan was used to prioritise projects and gave us some excellent examples of projects in the library. One example involved using Copac CCM tools to identify the uniqueness of the collections. Another was a digitisation project that worked with digitising the donor book and linking it to the catalogue. What really came across from Sara’s presentation was the importance of having the framework to ensure that time and resources are used wisely.

Advocacy and public libraries
The keynote address was delivered by Neil MacInnes, President Elect of the Society of Chief Librarians. Although based in the public libraries sphere Neil’s address was very inspiring for librarians in any sector and he used the forum to encourage us to advocate for the libraries and for the profession. Fitting very nicely into the theme of the conference he spoke about how many libraries have tried to be too many things for too many people and there is a certain sense in getting ‘back to basics’. This led to an insight into the work of the Leadership for Libraries Taskforce which lists its potential outcomes as to get libraries seen as community hubs and to get libraries valued by decision makers. His presentation highlighted the ‘universal’ offers that libraries should be prioritising, digital, reading, health, information and learning. Slides are available on the NAG website for members and there is a link available for non-member attendees. But I would like to share with you the sentiment in his final slide which went down very well with the audience. “A Library should not shush; it should roar” (Catherynne M Valente, The Girl who soared over fairyland and cut the moon in two.)
Credit www.theuntappedsource.com
Licence: CC BY 3.0

Cataloguing and e-books
The next couple of presentations focused on two very different projects libraries. Sara Pink, Guildhall Library, spoke about cataloguing the incunabula in the collection. Importantly, she was passionate about capturing and making accessible all the extra details, like marginalia, that can make these early printed books completely unique. From incunabula to e-books, Sarah Rayner and Des Coyle spoke to us about provision of e-books in University of Manchester in a presentation aptly titled ‘Books Right Here Right Now.’ This was a fascinating insight into what students want from their library and what they actually use. As university becomes more expensive students are less likely to want to spend money on recommended reading and therefore expect the library to provide for their needs. The project involved providing core texts as e-books for a certain cohort of students and tracking usage. There were interesting findings, for example, more students found print easier to read but access to the e-book encouraged them to read more. Also, e-books were found to be more accessible and more convenient, echoing studies that have pointed to the importance of offering resources at the point of need. For more information I would encourage you to have a look at the blog http://blog.brhrn.library.manchester.ac.uk/.

Musician in residence and Library Champions in HE
After lunch there was even more....starting with a song entitled ‘Practical Coal Mining’! Jennie Hillyard and Gareth Davies-Jones presented on The Seam Project, a wonderful musician in residence project that took place in The Mining Institute in Newcastle. This really is a fun and unique way of making collections accessible in a whole new way and I have to say I personally loved the music. Then another academic library project , The Library Champions Project in King’s College London. This project brought in students as Library Champions and gave them budgets, encouraging them to engage with their peers and acquire books for the library. As engaged students they could also be used to provide feedback on other services etc. I found this project very interesting, in that it gave students the opportunity to be active contributors to the development of the library collections and services. I would definitely encourage anyone considering a similar scheme to have a look at the slides and findings from this project.

Collections Review and Copyright scanning
Following these presentations we broke into groups for workshops. I’m slightly biased about the first workshop I attended as it was presented by my colleague Dorothy Fouracre about the project I’m currently working on. It allowed participants an opportunity to use the rubrics and get a bit more of an in-depth understanding of what we are doing and why. You can read more about it in a previous post I’ve written. The workshop I attended on the second day was about Copyright Scanning. This was fascinating as I realised this is something that universities may not be using to its highest potential. However, it obviously requires resources, both scanners and time, as well as a very good knowledge of copyright law and understanding and investment by academics. Certainly, it is worth taking the time to consider further.

Day two, also brought presentations about a survey of users in HE, an overview of public libraries in Wales, creating readers in public library, a fantastic initiative called the Hive which is an amalgamation of a public and HE library in Worcester and finally a study of students experiences of using e-books on mobile devices. Phew....I’m tired just typing all of that! And that’s not all, there was
also a student panel which was very thought-provoking.

Student panel
First up, the student panel. Now this was something new for me, but really really interesting as there was an undergrad and two post-grads. E-books, the undergraduate loved, he lived off campus and again the point of need was important. The post-grads wanted a better experience with e-books, the ability to download being very important. Although none of them were aware of extra features, such as highlighting. Perhaps more support in how to make the most of e-books should be available and this was echoed later in the day.

In relation to student-led acquisition they were all very engaged with their libraries and knew about various options including ILL. When asked about most valueable resources the post-grads mentioned integrated search platforms, Worldcat and Copac. Funnily, the post-grads wanted quiet, food-free space in which to study (wishing for a Libro-cop!) while the undergrad wanted to talk and bring in his food and coffee. Clearly it’s very difficult for libraries to be all things to all people but many are managing this very well by creating separate spaces on different floors and providing study or group collaboration rooms. Interestingly, these students couldn’t answer the one question we’d all like answered, how do we engage students who aren’t already using the library?

Users in HE
Owen Stephens presented the results of a survey which looked at where and how library users in HE accessed resources and what they wanted from the library experience. The report is available to download at the following address http://info.iii.com/survey-uk-academic-libraries. It is always good to have a better insight into what the users have to say.

Public libraries, collaborations and creating readers
Next up was Helen McNabb to talk about ‘Public Libraries – the Welsh Perspective.’ I really enjoyed this presentation as I know relatively little about public libraries. Helen spoke about Libraries Inspire the current strategy for libraries in Wales. The level of collaboration across the public library sector in Wales is amazing and allows the services to provide so much more for their patrons. It really is worth taking time to look at their model. As Helen put it “It is much better working together than working apart.” The reality of cuts formed part of the discussion, harking back to the importance of advocacy in our keynote.

Another public librarian, Jill Connolly, Lancashire County Council, was up next to talk about creating readers so that libraries are sustainable into the future. I found her sentiments about the library being a part of family life very heart-warming and it bought back very happy memories of visits to the library with my family as a child. I hate to think of children missing out on the excitement of new stories and adventures, and the thrill of having so many to choose from in the library. The Reading Trail was something I really loved, matching books with tourist attractions in the vicinity really creating something very exciting for their young readers. Also the Book of the Year, picked by teenagers themselves, giving them a sense of ownership and inspiring them. It was so encouraging to see someone so passionate about empowering children and young people to read.

That led very nicely into another initiative that has the amazing statistic of increasing teenage/young people’s borrowing by 572%. YES...572%!!! The Hive is collaboration between Worcester University and Worcester County Council. The collaboration provides so much for the students and the local community including events such as a Study Happy Programme which provides revision skills alongside Pilates and nutrition classes. Staff provide support to all users and there are even opportunities for students to gain work experience providing classes etc in the library to add to their CVs before they even leave university. Again it showcases the benefits of collaboration and I really wish them every success with it.

E-books again
The final presentation focused on student’s use of e-books. As we all know, the e-book thing is complicated, different licences, different platforms, different devices are just some of the things we have to try to understand. This project tried to get a better understanding of these aspects to better understand the user experience. Interestingly when examining downloads, the project showed the difficulties with software rather than anything the supplier controls. Further reading is available here http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/25379/. For me it really illuminated the amount of different things at play to actually download and use an e-book, no wonder that it can be difficult for students. Perhaps this is another reason for the current, much talked about decline of the e-book?

Glisser – audience involvement
Finally I quickly have to mention Glisser which was used at the conference. Glisser allows the slides to be made available on devices on the day and also allows interaction from the audience. Although it didn’t necessarily work as smoothly as hoped on the day, I can see how once the kinks are ironed out this will be a fantastic addition to conferences. It’s well worth a look!

That’s all folks.....

As you can imagine there was such a huge amount to take in and I left both inspired and exhausted! It’s always nice to look outside your own bubble and see what is going on elsewhere and I love seeing the enthusiasm people have for their jobs in libraries and how much looking after collections and providing a good service to users means to them. 
Posted on Friday, October 16, 2015 | Categories: