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 CiarĂ¡n 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: