13 Sept 2017


Erasmus delegates, Dublin City University Library

In June of 2017 a number of CONUL Dublin Libraries got together to organise an exchange week for a group of visiting European Librarians. We recently posted a post on the exchange from the perspective of one of the organisers Allison Kavanagh. This post tells us the story from the perspective of one of the participants.

Guest post by Maria Svenningsson, Linköping University Library, Sweden

We were 17 library staff from 10 different European countries, only me from Sweden, Lithuania, Finland, Spain, Italy, United Kingdom, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria and Germany. Many of us had different expertise and background. Working places were academic libraries in subjects such as technical, health sciences and law. The size of libraries varied from one to a hundred of employees.
During our week, we visited libraries in the Dublin area but also Maynooth, an hour by train from Dublin. We visited:

When visiting the libraries, we got to listen to presentations by library staff in the organizing institutions but also presentations from participants in six different themes:
  •  Information and digital literacies
  •  Space & storage in libraries
  •  Cultural heritage including unique & distinct collections and archives
  •  Enabling Research
  •  Customer Service/User Experience (UX)
  •  Libraries & Change
We also got to see the libraries (guided tours), working places and talk to many of the employees.
The presentations by the staff were about organization changes, future libraries and other engaging subjects. Below I will give you some insights from the visited places and finally some experiences from the Erasmus Programme and why I believe it is a fantastic opportunity to participate in. 4

DAY 1 - Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and National Library of Ireland (NLI)

© Maria Svenningsson

The organizing team did a very good job helping us to find our way everywhere!

This exclusive program was organized for the first time in Ireland, by libraries in cooperation with CONUL (Consortium of National & University Libraries) and ANLTC (Academic and National Library Training Co-operative).

The first day we went to Dublin Institute of Technology. We were welcomed by Dr Philip Cohen, Head of Library Services, who is also engaged with CONUL in Ireland. The Mission Statement of the library is:

“We aim to support the learning, teaching, research and engagement activity of the Institute by providing the resources, facilities and services in a form, place and time that is most appropriate to the diverse and evolving needs of our users.” The DIT libraries are facing a lot of changes in the future, for example a new library which will be built by 2020. There are not only one campus or library at DIT:

Dublin Institute of Technology

At libraries in Ireland and United Kingdom it is common to offer special rooms for post graduate students.

Dublin Institute of Technology, Aungier Street Library

Next stop was the beautiful National Library of Ireland (NLI). We got a presentation from Sandra Collins, the Director of the National Library of Ireland. She presented the strategy 2016-2021 which include: COLLECT; PROTECT; CONNECT; INNOVATE; COLLABORATE.

The Library is doing a lot of outreach and activities for the public and they are active on social media:

Brochure by National Library of Ireland

For the moment, they offered an exhibition about William Butler Yeats: The Life & Works of William Yeats which we got to see with a very professional guide.

Erasmus delegates, National Library of Ireland

The second last stop for the day was Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), which has a totally new library, not open to the students until July 3. The guided tour in the new library spaces was interesting. They had been inspired by Karolinska University Library and had a lot of opportunities for students to find a peaceful place to study. I loved the light and spacious building. They did some mistakes; bought some furniture they had to return after they tried them out. That was some kind of FatBoy (beanbag) but when trying to sit down it was like a slide instead of a seat. By all the computers there were signs with the phone number to the IT Helpdesk and the AV Helpdesk which I found very nice.

Huts inspired by Karolinska at RCSI

 A lot of computers at new library – RCSI Information Point at RCSI (the i-sign is going to changes

      Many different places to study...at RCSI

The new library has many group study rooms where presentations can be held, for real or for practice. They had whiteboards in the study rooms. The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland has their own fitness area with place for playing tennis, a gym and a separate Female Gym & Fitness Studio.

Open offices at RCSI

The Erasmus group again - at RCSI

We were finishing the day with snacks and drinks at the National Library of Ireland.

DAY 2 - University College Dublin (UCD)

On Tuesday morning, we were invited to University College Dublin and James Joyce Library. UCD is the largest university in Dublin and it´s 160 years old. James Joyce was one of the graduates.

This day we listened to “Library change experience – Challenges and Success” by the Head of Client Services Peter Hickey, “E-learning and Supporting the globalized University” by James Molloy and “The impact of Information Literary, how to demonstrate evidence” by Marta Bustillo (Erasmus delegate). In the afternoon, we listened to Ursula Byrne; “The Past, the Present, the Plans” which was really interesting. Ursula is Head of Development and Strategic Initiatives at James Joyce Library. Ursula showed how developments have been done over time, step by step and little by little.

We also started with Theme 1; Information & Digital Literacies and in the afternoon Theme 2; Space and Storage. Eight participants lectured this day.

University College Dublin has worked a lot with eLearning. They´ve made 16 instructional videos, 15 interactive tutorials, 79 LibGuides and 27 guides/presentations. These guides are not only for the students, but also for people outside the community. UCD has a campus in Beijing where the online support helps. In February 2017 people from UCD Library went to Beijing to meet students and find out how the resources were working overseas.

Marta Bustillo continued talking about The Impact of Information Literacy - How to Demonstrate Evidence. At UCD they are using three main tools for measuring impact. They had a Feedback tool, Information Skills Training Record (in Google Form) and UniShare. Every action was written down in the system, queries received by the Library on various topics.

From the presentation by Marta Bustillo

Marta talked about the Butterfly Effect and they just started to join a new course with 150 students. The information skills were embedded in the module syllabus in the VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) which was used.

DAY 3 - University of Dublin, Trinity College (TCD)

Now Trinity College, the most prestigious university in Ireland, founded 1592. There are 6 libraries at Trinity but the Berkeley Library is the most important new building in Ireland. It was designed by the Austrian-born British architect Paul Koralek and is now celebrating 50 years #berkeley50. Read more about the concrete, brutal building:

Berkeley Library, Trinity College

Berkeley Library, Trinity College, 50 years

We visited the Old Library with wonderful Long Room and The Book of Kells which has 900 000 visitors every year.

Many visitors at the Long Room, Trinity College

The theme this Wednesday was Culture Heritage and Unique & Distinct Collections and Enabling Research. Regina W. Richardson, new at TCD, formerly Maynooth University, presented “Orcids and Orangeries: Gaspar Fagel and the new exotics from the Dutch colonies in 17th century Europe”.

Arlene Healy gave us a presentation about the IReL, a national consortium with databases, e-book collections, single titles etc. which has been in work since 2000s. Value for money is important in Ireland as it is elsewhere.

TCD and IReL

Greg Sheaf, subject librarian, then showed us, very enthusiastically, the Berkeley, Lecky and Ussher Libraries with a lot of concrete...

Concrete desk at Berkeley Library, Trinity College 

In the evening, we went to a social event organized by the committee. Dinner at the 1592 Restaurant at Trinity College Dublin. That was an excellent evening!

Dinner at 1592 Restaurant, Trinity College 

DAY 4 - Maynooth University

Maynooth University

This day we had to travel an hour by train or bus to the west of Dublin, to Maynooth University (MU). The university was founded in 1997 and it´s Ireland´s youngest university. The theme today was Customer service/User Experience. We listened to Lorna Dodd who talked about how they use UX methods at the library with “Understanding our Users”. They have tried Happy or Not-buttons, Diaries, Focus Groups and Touchstone Tours. MU is using LibQUAL which many libraries in UK are. Lorna said that: “Students don´t think they are using the library but they are in different ways!” 

UX at MU Library

The John Paul II library at Maynooth University, which was built 2012 was both green, light and had a lot of different study places. MU Library arranges many LIST lectures (Library & Information Skills Tutorials). It is 30 minutes lectures often led by the library. When showing us the working places they told us about the changes the library has gone through. They organized an art workshop with the staff where they could paint their feeling on a wall.

A nice initiative!

Exhibition and café close to the entrance, Paul II Library, MU Information desk at Paul II Library, MU

Group Study Room, Paul II Library, MU

Sleeping Pods at the John Paul II Library, MU

Students at Maynooth University asked for somewhere to take a quick nap between studies. The Library bought some sleeping pods...

Open Offices at Paul II Library, MU

A lot of changes at MU Library. From an Art workshop with colleagues 

In Maynooth, we visited the old Russell Library, with collections from St Patrick´s College and the College Chapel.

I also met Helen Fallon in Maynooth. Helen is the editor of the journal where me and my former colleague Sassa Person published an article 2016. Helen Fallon did Erasmus in Sweden in June 2017 where she visited Linköping University. Finally, before going back to Dublin, Helen organized a special tour of the castle in Maynooth which everybody appreciated.

Maria Svenningsson and Helen Fallon in the chapel, Maynooth University 

DAY 5 - Dublin City University

The last day of Erasmus Library Staff Mobility! The theme was Change and Future Skills which was a theme that everybody was used to because all libraries has changed and are changing a lot all the time. Orla Nic Aodha at Public Services and Outreach talked about the library at Glasnevin Campus. DCU is the fastest growing university in Ireland. There was a huge amount of change last years, some universities came together and four libraries are merging (and the websites of course). New structures at the library:

New structures at DCU

Ellen Breen from the Research & Teaching Team described the focus on building and managing relationships/partnerships and the need of strategic, focused and proactive engagement, both formal and informal. We must promote the work we do, increase our visibility and work as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Research & Teaching Team at DCU

In January 2017, they did a faculty survey with the goal to identify priorities for faculties. There was a three part online questionnaire with 7 questions. They had 182 respondents. The outcomes were that they are starting with LibGuides, having online support for graduate students and researchers, creating more sessions, working with flipped classroom….

Research priorities at DCU Library

Just before lunch we got our diplomas and people said goodbye and some were heading to the airport and some went back to town.


It was a wonderful experience and it will enrich my work at Linköping University Library. Meeting so many European library staff and talking about similarities and differences in libraries was a fantastic opportunity. We talked a lot about changes in libraries and how we conduct our daily work. We met directors, librarians, library assistants and different kind of employees. I really enjoyed the great schedule. We got time for a lot of discussions but the time went too fast. It was very easy to get to know each other. We are still in touch by What´s App, e-mail and we´re talking about a potential cooperation project. I have got insights in my new friends working places in their countries.

Special thanks to the organizing committee (ANLTC, CONUL and all the libraries with staff) which helped us a lot and gave us a fantastic week! Everything was well-organized and the participating people and staff were so nice and helpful. Also thanks to International Office and Lotta Kåvemark at Linköping University.
I recommend my colleagues to look at the opportunities for staff mobility in this database:

If you would like to know more please check out #ERASMUSDub17 at Twitter or you can check out the full programme for our week here

5 Sept 2017

Boole Library Green Energy Campaign #LoveOurLibrary

Guest post by Ann Byrne, Liaison Librarian, Library Services and Environment, University College Cork Library

University College Cork as part of its Sustainability Strategy is committed to monitoring the impact of the University on the environment. The Office of Building and Estates plays a key role and responsibility in managing the University’s environmental impact. In September 2016 the library was approached by UCC Building & Estates Energy & Utilities manager Pat Mehigan. Pat put forward a case with regard to the energy consumption in the Library and asked if we would be willing to join with him and his colleagues to reduce the energy bill for the Boole Library. Colette McKenna, Director of Library Services was very supportive of the idea and asked that I liaise with Pat to see how we could achieve this. It was a bit of a leap in the dark for me (forgive the pun) as I had no previous experience in this area but always have had an awareness of environmental issues so was very willing to give it a go. Pat was very enthusiastic and easy to work with and we started out on a journey to save the planet!!!

The first step the library took was to sign up to accepting an annual budget for electricity, which if exceeded would incur a charge for us and if under spent would mean money back to use on energy saving projects.  The Boole Library spend on electricity for 2015/16 was €263,000 which accounted for 10% of the University budget on electricity - definitely worth taking a look at from both an environmental and a cost issue. We were allocated this sum for 2016/17 and we then set out to see how we could make reductions.

A small team was formed within the library with representation from every physical area and across grades. It is a large building with a lot of different environments with a wide range of purposes. Each member of the team worked closely with Pat to discuss the different issues which they had and looked to see how these could best be solved. Working with Pat over the year a number of issues were worked on and resolved:

  • Air conditioning and heating was improved to office areas which resulted in the turning off of individual heaters at staff desks and a happy staff!!
  • Changes were made to the lighting in the old part of the building in the summer of 2016. Light bulbs were changed to energy saving LED ones. Throughout this summer lights were turned off in the main reading rooms and students used overhead desk bulbs and daylight to study. This along with changes to timing of lighting saved a whopping €15,000. 
  • A major problem with cold air on the ground floor has been resolved by the removing the old air curtain and putting in its place an air barrier. The air barrier prevents cold air coming in to the library and keeps in the heated air. A by-product of this is that it also keeps out the leaves!! The air barrier cost €25,000 to install. A grant of 30% was received from SEAI and savings made on the lighting went towards the cost. The air barrier will save €8,000 a year in running costs. 

New projects to do with expensive air cooling systems in Special Collections and Archives are being investigated. This is an area of the library where there are requirements for very specific temperatures for the handling and storing of manuscripts, fragile material and archival collections. The new system being investigated will be more energy efficient and cheaper to run.

We will be looking out for more ways to conserve energy into the future and will be engaging with staff to keep the momentum going.

While all of this time was being spent on looking at how environmentally friendly our library was, we became acutely aware of the amount of waste which the library was generating. There were 167 bins spread across the Library using up to 10,000 plastic bags a year. These bags were heavily contaminated and there was virtually no recycling during semesters. We looked at lots of options and decided that we would have to do something dramatic to make a difference. So from the 4th September 2017 we are introducing the Love Our Library campaign. The scope of the campaign is to improve energy consumption, waste consumption and water consumption.

Our plan will involve:

  • Binless offices - staff will be required  to bring their waste and recycling to the nearest waste & recycling station
  • Binless library – students will be required to bring all their waste and recycling to the ground floor.
  • Proper recycling stations on the ground floor of the library will make it easier to do the right thing. These stations will have 4 bins – waste, plastic, paper and batteries.
  • All drinks to be in reusable cups and bottles. Paper cups for tea & coffee will no longer be allowed in the library. Staff and students will be expected to use re-usable containers. 

We are looking forward to a cleaner greener library with sustainability at its centre

. The Library is now a key partner and driver of sustainable change and activity within the UCC campus.

“The Sustainability Strategy can only be effectively implemented with the support and efforts of staff, students, contractors and other stakeholders, who will be kept informed of sustainability matters and initiatives and encouraged to engage in active involvement at all levels.” https://www.ucc.ie/en/greencampus/about/