23 Jun 2016

CONUL ANLTC Library Assistant Award 2016: Summer Time…Something Different!

*Highly commended entries 2016*

Summer Time…Something Different!

by Helen O’Connor, Maynooth University

Working in a very busy academic library brings many job opportunities. Each summer, Library Assistants are invited to work on different projects – we apply for the roles and attend an interview, that in itself is a new experience!  During the summer months of 2014 and 2015 I was delighted to get the opportunity to work in our Digital Electronic Collections (DEC) department.  This is a big change for me - as I mainly work in Library Information Services (LIS). I am part of a team of nine who work on desk services at the ‘coalface’ dealing with up to 45,000 queries in an academic year…luckily I work with some great colleagues to answer that volume of questions!  We answer a variety of questions including circulation enquiries, help finding material, assistance with sourcing material for assignments as well as those strange and wonderful queries you can get when working with the public!  (‘Could you please close the windows we are freezing?’......’Can you please ask the people who are talking on level 1 to be quiet?’.......’Do I really owe all those fines?’........)  

The experience in DEC was a great way to see and experience the work done in another department.    

Maynooth University ePrints and eTheses Archive

My first experience in DEC in 2014, involved working on a “Theses Digitisation” summer project. We drew up a list of nearly 300 of the most highly borrowed theses, I checked the list for the year and qualifications then I retrieved the theses from the shelves. These were then boxed and sent away to be digitised. Each thesis was copied and saved in PDF format which was sent back via Dropbox. Each thesis was then uploaded to eTheses - full-text electronic copies of theses produced by research postgraduates from the University. The bibliographic records were adjusted accordingly and all theses reshelved.

I really enjoyed working on this project.  It was something I could work at on my own and I could see how every stage of the project was progressing.  I found it a very worthwhile project as it gives our patrons immediate access to a selection of our theses and it gave me experience of working on our ePrints repository. It also gave me a much greater knowledge for the coming academic years when students or academic staff have queries about electronic theses. 

Copyright:  http://deevy.nuim.ie/  

In 2015 I had the opportunity to work on the Teresa Deevy Archive. 

Teresa Deevy was born in 1894, and was a deaf Irish dramatist, short story writer and also a writer for radio. Many of her papers have been digitised including scripts, published versions of Deevy writings, theatre programmes and other memorabilia from theatrical productions, details of broadcast productions, correspondence and newspapers clippings. 

This project involved editing some of the collections, including copyright newspaper articles, performances and broadcasts.  I did this using one of our library based repositories, Omeka, which is a free, open source content management system for online digital collections. I had never used Omeka before so this was an excellent learning experience for me.

A programme from the Abbey Theatre 
Image and content Copyright: NUI Maynooth 

I also catalogued a collection of letters including the transcription of these letters.  Interestingly, this gave me a small insight into the type of person Teresa Deevy was.  My work on the archive continued and I developed a spreadsheet with a list of actors and contributors and added links to Deevy archive, the Abbey Theatre archive and Wikipedia.  

I used links to Irish playography, a comprehensive database of new Irish plays produced professionally since 1904, while searching for actors of the Abbey Theatre.  I really enjoyed this particularly as I would have gone to a lot of theatre in the Abbey and I recognised a lot of the actors and this in turn evoked some really wonderful memories. 

I also worked on the Irish Newspaper Archive.This archive was very interesting as it was great to look back at the old newspapers at times. I found myself reading some of the old advertisements, that reminded me of times gone by!

Working on both of these projects enabled me to learn a lot about our collections and how we set up the archives and catalogue all the items.  Both summers involved very varied work and I always grab the opportunity to work with colleagues in other departments, but as always I love to return to working in LIS on desk services as a new term commences. 


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