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: