30 Jul 2018


Highly Commended post in the Conul Training and Development Library Assistant Blog Award 2018. 
This post is by Sarah Graham, Maynooth University Library 

When I am asked what a book and paper conservator is, the usual response is ‘you must have a lot of patience’ or ‘you must be good at jigsaw puzzles’. In reality, neither is true. Instead a rich mixture of history, science, ethics and practical bench skills informs my practice in the studio and helps me in the protection of our cultural heritage. It is important to protect these individual, physical, bound items as they inform our understanding of how the information within was read and shared over the centuries. This is especially so when the text is rare or unique. There are a number of preventive measures used to mitigate future damage from use or environment but sometimes interventive treatment is necessary to consolidate deteriorating material. This blog will look at the first volume I conserved in Special Collections and Archives after joining the team last February, the manuscript written by Seán Clárach Mac Domhnaill in 1720.

Request for Digitisation: 
In early 2018 the Churchtown North Cork Heritage Group requested a number of pages from this manuscript as they wished to have the surrogate pages bound and displayed in their meeting house. It belongs to the collection of fifty Gaelic manuscripts from St Coleman’s College, Fermoy which was brought to Maynooth in 2013. Further information can be found in the MU Library Treasures blog by Yvettte Campbell. Volume 20 (Gaelic Ms. Vol. 20) contains multiple items. The first hundred pages are the manuscript followed by; a list of Subscribers, part of the Dublin Chronicle (6th October 1817) and Keating’s History of Ireland.

Figure 1:Tears and burns to text block.                                                                              Losses of paper and previous repairs.
©Maynooth University

Assessment of the condition: 
Digitisation requires significant handling and it is important to assess the risk to the original material beforehand. It was agreed that in its pre-treatment state, the volume was too fragile and there was risk of losing unique information. The first third of the volume had large tears and significant losses of paper (especially true for the first few pages) and the old repairs were both obscuring text and damaging the page substrate. The list of subscribers also has structural tears and areas of the page are detached.

Figure 2:List of subscribers before and after treatment
©Maynooth University

Treatment of the volume: 
This manuscript has a half-leather binding and the leather on the joints and corners was beginning to chemically deteriorate. A consolidant (a mixture of klucel G and isopropanol called Cellugel) was applied to improve the cohesive strength of the leather. As this was evaporating, the text block was cleaned with smoke sponges. Most of the dirt was already ingrained but this removed surface particles which could be abrasive to the paper.

Previous repairs had been adhered with a weak water sensitive adhesive. In many areas adhesion had already failed but removal was assisted with moisture from wheat starch paste where necessary. This was replaced with Tengujo paper (12gsm) as it is thin enough to read the text underneath but still strong enough to hold the repair together. Wheat starch paste was also used here, but as an adhesive this time. There were significant losses around the edges and a heavier weight Usumino paper (28gsm) was used as it was similar in weight and thickness to the pages of the manuscript. The infill was ‘cut’ out using a needle to ensure a fibrous edge and attached to the page on either side with Tengujo and wheat starch paste.

Figure 3: Infilling loss of paper; before, during and after treatment.
©Maynooth University

There were no structural problems with the binding. Both boards were firmly attached and the spine was intact. However, the leather had split at the head and tail of the left board joint and leather had been lost from the corners. The corners were originally made of leather but I chose to repair with a toned Japanese paper. It is a strong and quick repair and the tissue can easily be matched with the original leather. However, it is different enough in texture and depth to look like a contemporary intervention in the volume.

Figure 4: Front of binding before and after treatment
©Maynooth University

The privileged position I am in as a conservator means I have the time to become familiar with these beautiful volumes and see them in a temporary deconstructed state. It is so exciting that this often time-consuming and always delicate work has allowed more people to see the lovely handwriting within. The original may be in a four-flap enclosure on a secure self in the Russell Library but its digital surrogate is publicly available.

29 Jul 2018

National Library of Spain: my Experience as an Intern at Digital Library Service

Every year graduates in Librarianship and Information Science, History, Art History, Philology, Fine Arts, Journalism, Media and Communication Studies, Architecture and Culture Management have the opportunity to join National Library of Spain (BNE) as interns.

National Library of Spain, entrance. Source: www.bne.es
Marks obtained in bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, courses, previous work experience and specific knowledge are considered in order to choose those who are going to be interns. It is not easy to be taken on at all.

In this post, I will tell my experience as an intern at Digital Library Service of BNE, in which I have been working between october 2017 and july 2018.

Induction and Being Part of a Team

From the very first moment I felt that my colleagues were interested in knowing me in professional terms and making me feel comfortable at workplace.

They explained me the projects in which I was going to take part. What is more, personal taught me everything I needed to cope with a great amount of problems that emerge when managing digital collections and preservation.

BNE organised two guided visits for interns to the two headquarters, namely, Alcalá de Henares and Recoletos. Besides, I did as many courses for users as I could to learn to use the great range of different collections National Library of Spain has. I attended to two conferences regarding RDA and Digital Edition. Also, I took part in 2018 Open Doors Day as a volunteer.

It must be stressed that my high motivation stemmed from my learning process and having considered me as a member of the team by allowing me certain independence and suggesting improvements in work methods.

I strongly think that all I have learned have increased my knowledge and understanding of national libraries as well as the importance of digitization and preservation regarding bibliographic heritage.

Work and Projects

1. Digital Collections and Preservation

In order to explain what I exactly did at BNE, let's consider this graph:
Projects regarding Digital Collections and Preservation at BNE during an internship. Source: Eduardo Cruz-Palacios
Projects regarding Digital Collections and Preservation at BNE during an internship. Source: Eduardo Cruz-Palacios
Horizontal axis defines where digitized documents are destined: either software Libsafe for digital preservation or digital collections on the website of Biblioteca Digital Hispánica.

Vertical axis defines the role of personal of Digital Library Service of BNE. When outsources are in charge of digitization, BNE personal deal with quality assurance of what outsources have done. When it is BNE which is in charge of digitization, its personal cope with the creation of files, directories and their structure and naming, and metadata.

P1, P2, P3 and P4 refer to the projects in which I took part.

Therefore, the graph can be read as followed:
  • Massive Digitization: the outsourcer was in charge of the creation of the necessary files, directories and their structure and naming, and metadata. I ensured that they met quality requirements before uploading them on Biblioteca Digital Hispánica and Libsafe. I coped with manuscripts (letters, plays, etc.), maps and atlas, drawings, photographs, old and modern books (novels, essays, etc.), engravings and ephemera.
  • Spanish Civil War Photographs: similar to the previous one, but I did not revised digital preservation.
  • eBooks (made from manuscripts): I ensured that a set of ebooks created by an outsourcer had the quality required in terms of legibility and accordance with original manuscripts.
  • Copybook: there is a scanner at BNE that is used to digitize its collections day by day. After having obtaining digitized pages, I had to generate the necessary files, directories and their structure and naming, and metadata to make these collections available on the website of Biblioteca Digital Hispánica and ingest them into the software Libsafe for their digital preservation.
Other notes:
  • Software for managing the digital library: Pandora.
  • Files formats destined to Biblioteca Digital Hispánica: PDF and JPG.
  • Files format destined to Libsafe: TIF.
  • Metadata: MARCXML for Biblioteca Digital Hispánica (METS when multipart documents) and PREMIS for Digital Preservation.
  • Company that provides software Libsafe for Digital Preservation: Libnova.

2. User Formation

BNE offers seven courses for users that let them know what this library offers and teach them how to make the most of their collections. One of these courses concerns Biblioteca Digital Hispánica.

Biblioteca Digital Hispánica. Source: http://bdh.bne.es
After having offered to give the course of Biblioteca Digital Hispánica, the manager of Digital Library Service welcomed the idea and I was allowed to give all the sessions I could.

The course focuses on letting users know all functions of Biblioteca Digital Hispánica in terms of information provided (mission of digital collections, process of digitization and webpage of help), how to use advanced search, partnerships with Europeana and World Digital Library, interactive books of manuscripts of Leonardo da Vinci and Don Quixote, and use of digital collections (navigation, visualization, downloading and publishing).

I proposed to the team the creation of a digital presentation that showed in a visual way all taught in the course of users formation. The team thanked the idea and I created a presentation with the help of one of the assistant librarians. The presentation is now sent by email to the attendants to this course.

3. Records Management

Like any other organization, Digital Library Service of BNE have been generating records as a result of daily work. Recently, it was decided that Records Management System (RMS) Alfresco was going to be used by BNE in order to improve coordination between all departments, ensure the preservation of records and provide an unique system of classification.

I had to analyze the records of Digital Library Service of BNE, determine whether they must be preserved and classify them according to the classification scheme of National Library of Spain.

4. Intellectual Property Management

Some months ago, a call was gone out for research groups interested in collections of BNE that have not been digitized. As long as they are in Public Domain, BNE will digitize them.

What I had to do was to find out whether all proposals of the research groups could be digitized in terms of Intellectual Property according to Spanish law. It involved searching all the documents demanded and comparing dates of authors’ death so as to determine a document could be digitized. In the end, 545 documents out of few more than 1000 are going to be digitized for research groups.

Moreover, as I had to search many times in two catalogs, I proposed the development of a tool that allow the team to automatically extract data for catalogs. After an IT technician developed it, we have observed that what it took 30 hours of work before, it takes now 10 minutes.

5. Research into Digital Collections of National Libraries

In order to make improvements in Biblioteca Digital Hispánica in terms of web usability and the efficiency of some work methods, I conducted a research geared to find out how other national libraries were managing certain aspects of their digital collections.

The scope of the research included several national libraries all over the world:
  • Library of Congress (US).
  • National Library of Australia.
  • National Diet Library (Japan).
  • British Library.
  • National Library of France.
  • German National Library.
  • Austrian National Library.
  • Royal Library of Belgium.
  • National and University Library in Zagreb.
  • Royal Library (Denmark).
  • National Library of Scotland.
  • National and University Library of Slovenia.
  • National Library of Finland.
  • National Library of Wales.
  • National Library of Ireland.
  • National Library of Portugal.
  • National Library of the Czech Republic.
  • National Library of Russia.
  • National Library of Sweden.
Outcomes are currently being taken into consideration.

6. Search for Digital Collections to be integrated into Biblioteca Digital del Patrimonio Iberoamericano

Not only does Digital Library Service of BNE manages Biblioteca Digital Hispánica, but also Biblioteca Digital del Patrimonio Iberoamericano, which is a website aimed at providing access to the digital collections of national libraries of Ibero-America region.

It is being discussing whether to widen the scope of Biblioteca Digital del Patrimonio Iberoamericano, so that digital collections of other non-national libraries would be integrated, such as repositories of college libraries, art galleries, museums, archives, etc.

As the project would demand a great effort and resources, I had to search for possible participants. Aspects like OAI-PMH servers, cataloging formats and the amount of documents were considered.

7. Software Testing and Metadata Creation and Validation

Digital Preservation includes several aspects. BNE plan at this respect is aimed at meeting Levels of Digital Preservation established by National Digital Stewardship Alliance - Digital Library Federation.

My work placement involved the creation and quality assurance of metadata. Most of tasks are obviously automatized. Otherwise, it would be titanic struggle. Digital Library Service of BNE has a software called Cran that can generate and validate metadata as well as checking whether a set of metadata for digital preservation correspond to the files it is associated. This allows to ensure well-formed metadata, well-structured and well-named files and directories, the correspondence between digital documents and their bibliographic description and integrity of digital files.

Cran software was being updated in order to generate more metadata and increase the efficiency of work procedures for Digital Preservation. Therefore, I had to test the new version in order to ensure new software requirements had been implemented.

8. Work Procedures and Knowledge Management

As I said before, colleagues help me learn from the very first moment. Each member of the team had their notebook with knowledge they need. However, I realized that some work procedures and methods were not documented and available for all the team. Then, I proposed to create some documents to record how to use software (Adobe Acrobat X Pro, Excel, Cran, Pandora, Limb for digital edition of images, Fusion for the creation of METS, MarcEdit for the transformation of marc files into MARCXML, Symphony as the integrated library system of BNE, and Directory Lister) and the processes needed for Digital Preservation and Management of Digital Collections. The idea was welcomed by the managers of Digital Library Service of BNE, so I created several documents at this respect. It has showed to be especially useful for the autonomous learning of new personal.

Interdisciplinary Exchange of Knowledge

National Library of Spain has several departments. Each one is in charge of a specific type of collection: incunables, printed music, manuscripts, films, maps, drawings, engravings, atlas, books, personal records, etc. As a digital librarian, I had to understand the particularity of all these types of documents. It involves understanding what matters in terms of content and continent so that digital collections and preservation plan and management of bibliographic heritage are well-conceived and carried out. No few times I needed the expertise of other librarians specialized in those collections to do well my work. To my mind, as far as patrimonial libraries are concerned, if it were not for non-digital librarians, digital librarians could not work.

Owing to the varied fields in which interns are specialised, I had the opportunity to learn different points of view in terms of understanding what working in a library involves. Needless to say, there is no comparison with studying for years to gain a degree, but the point I am trying to put across has to do with the understanding of the difficulties different specialists had and how we could take advantage of our different knowledge and skills to improve the management of a library.

From the other interns, I could particularly learn from graduates in History, Art History, Philology, Fine Arts and Culture Management. Indeed, thanks to a colleague who was in the Museum of BNE and is specialized in Fine Arts and passionate about museums, I have been starting to be keen to them and learn how both libraries and museums can work collaboratively.

25 Jul 2018


Highly Commended post in the Conul Training and Development Library Assistant Blog Award 2018. 
This post is by Emma Boyce, Maynooth University Library 

@Imgflip Meme Generator
I remember pausing so many times before clicking the publish/post button, wondering if social media would ever be something that I would get comfortable doing?

In May 2017, I had been asked to be part of the newly formed Maynooth University Library. Digital Communications Team (DCT) by our Librarian Cathal McCauley. The team is responsible for our web page and all our social media platforms.

 Settling into the role had its challenges - could I bring down the Library website with one wrong click? Will my snap on Snapchat smack of a 40 something trying to be cool? These are the kind of things that pop into your head when you are in that ‘voice of the library’ moment. Little did I know my role with social media and the web was going to take a leap. In February of this year, I was appointed Senior Library Assistant. Part of the role included becoming Library Web Editor.

An Assistant Librarian manages the team overall. Due to the quickening pace of social media, escalating number of events taking place in the Library, and growing number of followers alongside our regular work, I have introduced a rota based system for the DCT. Each member is now scheduled to check social media and upload content on particular days each week. We are currently sourcing a call logging tool to help us manage and streamline those requests to further add and glean statistical and other information on social media usage.


The Library at Dusk. ©Maynooth University Library
Accuracy and quality are a must when communicating on all our platforms. These values are imperative when we are reaching out via our website. Keeping within the guidelines set out on the MU University website is always at the core. Visual communication plays an important role in the makeup of the Library website. With this in mind I am working on devising a bank of quality images which will be used on our website and across our other digital platforms. Photographs will include: the Library building, it’s interior, various collections, specific books and any displays/exhibitions. This initial outlay of time will actually save time in the long term, for the team, as we have found that sourcing images and resizing can be time consuming. Here is an example of a newly added photo to our carousel section of the MU Student and Staff Support Page.

Niall O'Brien, MU Library and student Rachel Spillane. Photo: Alan Monahan @Maynooth University Library
MU Library are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Flickr and since last year Snapchat. These platforms work well to communicate informally with our audience. Being mindful of increased activities in social media and the need for quick, consistent and quality postings, effective teamwork is essential.


Emma Boyce, MU Llibrary & Easter Competition winner
student Kathleen Goldsmith
©Maynooth University Library
It’s a known fact that there is more engagement with our audience when there is a reward at the end. From time to time we run competitions to engage with our existing followers and gather new ones.
Examples of this were ‘Add us on Snapchat’ competition to increase our followers, which was very successful and a ‘Surprise Easter Competition’ which we ran through the website and promoted on social media.

Other methods of engagement at Maynooth University Library include our Annual Student and Staff Art Exhibition. Click on the image below to view our YouTube video.

‘Tryron’ by Mariia Skyba. Photo: Emma Boyce ©Maynooth University Library

Here is another example from our Africa Day which was promoted on our Flickr social media account.

Using humour in our images and gifs has proved very popular with the student body as a recent twitter posting shows.

Africa Day 2016 at MU Library. Photo: Alan Monahan ©Maynooth University Library

The evidence of engagement and impact is clearly seen from our current followers:
Twitter – 3,927
Facebook – 5,155
Snapchat – 400
Instagram – 307

The following steps have helped us to engage more proactively with our audiences:

  • Establishing the rota which helps even out the workload and gives members of the team certainty regarding their schedule and creates a sense of ownership. 
  • Creating visual content with a bank of images which ensures currency, vibrancy and interest for the website and are easily available for use. 
  • Devising new ways of engaging our communities via the website. 
  • Sourcing a call logging tool to help streamline our system of work and that will inform our service via the website and social media 

I am settled into my new role now and really enjoying it!

Posted on Wednesday, July 25, 2018 | Categories:

23 Jul 2018


Highly Commended post in the Conul Training and Development Library Assistant Blog Award 2018. 
This post is by Maureen Finn, Maynooth University Library 

“A nap, anyone?” This is not a typical question one expects to hear asked in a busy academic library but that’s precisely what students at Maynooth University Library are asking these days following the recent installation of two EnergyPods on campus in the library.

This is a first for academic libraries in Ireland and was the brainchild of a first year undergraduate student at the University. The library Innovation Team ran a campaign during the 2016/2017 academic year called “If Students did libraries”, asking students to come up with novel or innovative ideas that could be incorporated into the library in order to improve service or enhance user experience. What people are better placed than students themselves to tell us how we could improve things in the library!

A social media and marketing campaign was launched in September 2016 with a ‘Dragons Den’ final in February 2017. Students submitted ideas, which were shortlisted by the Library Innovation Team, then they attended an in-house session run by the University’s Department of Design Innovation, which helped formulate their idea, work on their pitch and practice it.

Cathal McCauley, University Librarian, launching the Competition
© Maynooth University Library

In February 2017 the shortlisted entries pitched their idea to the panel of “Dragons” - Cathal McCauley, Maynooth University Librarian; Dr Alison Hood, Maynooth University Dean of Teaching & Learning; Dr Sandra Collins, Director of the National Library of Ireland; Lorna Dodd, Head of Academic Services at Maynooth University Library, and 2017 Maynooth Students’ Union President Dillon Grace.

Judging panel: L-R Lorna Dodd, Dillon Grace, Cathal McCauley, Dr. Alison Hood, Dr. Sandra Collins             
© Maynooth University library

After a rigorous pitch and judging, the winner was Brian Crinion, a first year undergraduate in Robotics & Intelligent Devices. Commenting on his win, Brian said:

      “I came up with the idea while I was trying to find a healthy way of balancing my long 
       commute to university, my classes and my extracurricular activities. I looked at 
       the benefits of short napping during the day, and researched ways of fitting 
       them into student life. The EnergyPods were the perfect solution.”

Cathal McCauley, University Librarian, presents winner Brian Crinion with a cheque
©Maynooth University library

His leading-edge proposal for the installation of EnergyPods in the library was seen as a clear winner and it has the added value of a nod (no pun intended) to the new Critical Skills element of the curriculum on offer to all undergrads here at Maynooth University. This enrichment of the undergraduate offering is intended to encourage creativity and entrepreneurship, while fostering critical thinking together with developing analytical and evaluation abilities, thereby better preparing students for the world of work and beyond. 

A view of the two EnergyPods in the library
Picture by Alan Monahan @Maynooth University Library

So how do the EnergyPods work? The work weary student reclines under a privacy visor in the Pod while listening to soothing music on the built in speaker system. An interface on the chair allows the time to be set to 20 minutes (the duration of a nap) and an alarm sounds when the time has elapsed.

Instructions on how to use the EnergyPod
Picture Alan Monahan @Maynooth University Library
The control panel on the Energypod chair
Picture Alan Monahan @Maynooth University Library

The location chosen for the Pods in the library is an important element - why?. They are situated close to a glazed atrium that spans three storeys, overlooking an internal planted area where graceful palms and peaceful lilies grow, which further enhances the zen-like ambiance. Added to this is the tranquil vista out towards the beautiful historic buildings and well-maintained gardens of St. Patrick’s College, while the clock on the adjacent Church tower chimes out the hours of a busy day as the sun tracks its’ path westward across the sky. Who could resist nodding off in such a calm setting?

Internal Atrium in the library planted with greenery
Picture courtesy of M. Finn

Getting back to the Pods… there was great excitement at the time of their installation with Press reporters, photographers and curious on-lookers all vying for a peek at these new-fangled machines. The Irish Times, the Irish Examiner, and RTE television, featured the event, garnering high-profile exposure for one of the many enhancements Maynooth University has made to its’ campus in recent times. Head of Academic Services at Maynooth University Library, Lorna Dodd, said:

                “The EnergyPods will be a wonderful addition to our library services. Brian 
                  really impressed the judging panel with his creative concept and 
                 excellent research to support his proposal. We are sure the EnergyPods 
                 will be of great benefit to our students.”

User reclining in an EnergyPod at MU library
Picture by Alan Monahan @Maynooth University Library

The Maynooth University Library Innovation Team, comprising of staff from across the library, won the inaugural Presidents prize for their work in making this cutting edge concept a reality and overseeing its’ incorporation into the library’s array of services and supports for students. Commenting on the awards, President of Maynooth University, Professor Philip Nolan said:

             “I am constantly impressed by the high calibre of work undertaken by 
              colleagues across this institution—whether it be strikingly original research; 
              innovation and commitment in University support services; or dedicated 
              and engaging teaching practice and development.” 

Can’t wait for next year’s competition! In the meantime, I think it’s time for a nap ….

16 Jul 2018


Highly Commended post in the Conul Training and Development Library Assistant Blog Award 2018. 
This post is by Edel King, Maynooth University Library 

Social media is an extremely effective way to connect. Maynooth University Library has always had a strong online and social media presence on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the MU Library Treasures blog. However, Snapchat was a new frontier.

Portrait of William Shakespeare from the ‘Fourth Folio’ on our blog ©Russell Library, Maynooth University

 What is Snapchat?

Snapchat logo ©Snapchat

Snapchat is a mobile messaging application used to share photos, videos and text (Webwise).
Its focus is the here and now. Posts are called Snaps. Alternatively, you can create Stories with multiple Snaps. Snaps are viewable for anything from three seconds to indefinitely and Stories for 24 hours.
Images and videos can be manipulated with filters ranging from geo-filters (location-specific) to dog-ears! Emojis, pictures and text can also be added.

Trying out a filter! © Edel King

My role with Snapchat 
I am a member of the Maynooth University Library Digital Communications Team (DCT). Last October I was given responsibility for Snapchat. Snapchat was new to me; I learned by doing. I spoke to a Transition Year work experience student about it but mainly I just figured it out myself through trial and error.
The Library uses Facebook to flag upcoming events and for photos after events; Twitter in a similar manner but also for immediate news such as a system downtime. Instagram is primarily for images of library activities. Where to position Snapchat in all of that?
(Below are some examples of what we send out from our social media accounts)

Commemorating 1916 on Twitter ©Maynooth University Library

Library Event Notification on Facebook ©Maynooth University Library

Advertising our Information Literacy classes on Instagram © Maynooth University

Our focus on Snapchat is on student life. I created short (the appeal of Snapchat is brevity) demo pictures and videos of all aspects of the library – such as how to access the Library or borrow books. I posted these on a phased basis over the first few weeks of semester 1. I was told that unusual angles are a feature of Snaps. Below is an example of such an image.

An instructional Snap ©Edel King

I began to look around for new content. Some days it was easy – perhaps there was an event happening in the Library. Often, questions were repeated e.g. “Where's the stapler?” so I would do a Snap answering the question (at the end of the information desk, just FYI!). News we wanted to impart to students, e.g. closures, also became Snaps.

Opening hours for a new Semester © Edel King

One issue I was concerned with was how often to post. It’s a fine line between being engaging and annoying. I discovered that with Snapchat continuous posting is key. On an uneventful day, I might only post once but often it’s more frequently.
A colleague came up with the idea to advertise our DVD collection with a feature called "Movie Monday". Every Monday we highlight a DVD from our collection. As a film fan, I am enjoying finding a suitable DVD and Snapping it with a fun caption.

Advertising Movie Monday ©20th Century Fox

I have run two successful campaigns on Snapchat. One was to attract more followers. Students added the library Snapchat account using a code and new followers were entered into a draw for €20 credit on their MyCard. The second competition was for existing followers, asking them to take a “shelfie” (a picture of their bookshelf), which they posted to Snapchat. The winner received a coffee shop voucher.

Limitations of Snapchat 
A limiting feature of Snapchat is that you cannot see engagement with the Snaps. Followers can’t “Like” or “Share”, and I can’t see if followers even look at a Snap. I send out Snaps, hoping that they reach their audience and are appreciated.

I have asked for feedback and have received a good reaction, with sample responses below.

They always post helpful tips, reminders, events and important info. I love when they share pictures of the different films they have available. 
Eimear, 2nd year 

It really helps me to know what events are going on in the library and helps me to find my way around. 
Ellen, Final year 

Since September of last year, followers have increased from 94 to 346 (as of 09/05). There is always a large spike in followers during a campaign but there is a steady stream at all other times.

The increase in our followers since September 2017

I have really enjoyed learning about Snapchat and I feel it is a useful social media tool for the Library.

Webwise. 2018. Explainer: What is Snapchat?. [Accessed 8 May 2018].

11 Jul 2018


Highly Commended post in the Conul Training and Development Library Assistant Blog Award 2018. 
This post is by Eilís Ní Raghallaigh of DCU Library

A series of serendipitous events resulted in one of the highlights of my working year – DCU Library’s delivery of poetry workshops to O’Connell’s Primary School. We had already established contact with this local school in October 2017 following a Facebook request by their school librarian for book donations.

O'Connell’s School Facebook post requesting book donations

The Director of Public Services and Outreach and I dropped a box of children’s books in to the secondary school and met with the Vice-Principal.

She reacted enthusiastically to our suggestion of a school visit to Cregan library in the near future. The library building is still only 3 years old and its combination of stained glass windows, colourful furniture and panoramic view of the city make it a popular draw for visitors

It just so happened that one of our new members of staff, Lucinda Jacob, had her book ‘Hopscotch in the Sky’ published by Little Island and Poetry Ireland that October. Lucinda is a children’s author and illustrator and this is her first book of children’s poetry. Little Island also released a free online poetry kit with her book aimed at teachers and facilitators who wish to teach poetry to children. Lucinda regularly runs creative writing workshops for children and the stars continued to align when she agreed to run two poetry workshops with pupils from O’Connell’s School.

Lucinda advised me that fourth class primary school groups would be the ideal audience and that workshops held between 11 am and 12 pm would be best. Armed with that information I contacted the Vice-Principal of the secondary school who put me in touch with the secretary of their primary school. We arranged dates for two fourth class workshops and in November the first group of pupils arrived at Cregan Library.

Lucinda Jacob poses with ‘Hopscotch in the sky’ and runs a poetry workshop with O'Connell’s School fourth class pupils

We led the group up through the library to the digital learning labs on the first floor. The pupils were wide-eyed as they passed by groups of busy students but Lucinda expertly put them at their ease. She welcomed them and introduced both of us as staff working in ‘this brilliant library.’ She added that we were looking forward to seeing them here in the future, studying subjects they love. I witnessed their self-consciousness melt away as she read funny, scary and surprising poems from her collection. She showed them how to structure a haiku, but advised them not to get too bogged down in design. If their poem didn’t fit with a certain form, they should keep going with their own sense of how their poem should flow.

Ensuring they were feeling relaxed and comfortable, she encouraged them to contribute to their own original class poem. She asked them to imagine themselves as an animal and to suggest an action to go along with that animal. “I am a dinosaur laughing with my friend,” was the first suggestion and I watched as Lucinda drew a contribution from each pupil. Some of the suggestions echoed previous lines but there were no wrong answers - a complete poem slowly formed on the page in front of us. The final suggestion, “I am a footballer scoring 28 goals,” didn’t strictly relate to the theme of the poem but Lucinda used it as a closing metaphor. She explained that the footballer embodied each animal and action suggested as he laughed with his teammates, evaded his opponents and scored goals – genius!

Poem created by O’Connell’s School fourth class pupils in a DCU Library workshop

The next class visit was just as successful and both groups hugely enjoyed the workshops. Lucinda has been busy working with the DCU Institute of Education over the last few months but we hope to run more workshops next year. I liked helping to de-mystify the library space for the pupils and getting them thinking about third level education as a distinct possibility, rather than just an abstract concept. It was amazing to see how Lucinda used poetry to draw the pupils out and unlock creativity in each one of them. I felt energised for weeks after the workshops and I was delighted to have played a small part in bringing them about.

(1) Menton, J. [John]. (2017, September 8) Hi all, I am the school librarian in O’Connell’s Secondary School... [Facebook status update]. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/groups/therickosheabookclub/permalink/1988107618069369/
(2) Jacob, L. (2017). Hopscotch in the sky. Dublin: Little Island Books and Poetry Ireland.
(3) Jacob, L. (2017). Hopscotch in the sky poetry kit. Dublin: Little Island Books. Available at: http://littleisland.ie/books/hopscotch-poetry-kit/ 
(4) Ní Raghallaigh, E. (2017). Lucinda Jacob poses with Hopscotch in the sky and runs a poetry workshop with O'Connell’s School fourth class pupils [Photograph].
(5) Ní Raghallaigh, E. (2017). Poem created by O’Connell’s School pupils in a DCU Library workshop

3 Jul 2018

Reflections on CONUL Conference 2018 (Report number Two)

Photo courtesy of Leanne Workman

Leanne Workman currently works at Royal Holloway, University of London as Acting Head of Academic Liaison and Information Consultant for Mathematics and Information Security. She has just started her 4th year of a distance-learning Masters at Aberystwyth University and is currently working on her dissertation.

Having recently moved to a new library at Royal Holloway, the CONUL Conference’s theme of “Transformative Experiences: Libraries Innovating and Changing” seemed particularly relevant and apt, so I was thrilled to be selected as the awardee for the CONUL student bursary. And upon seeing the packed conference agenda, I knew I was in for a treat! The breadth and diversity of talks, plenary sessions, lightening talks and posters on this theme over two days was truly incredible! It made it so difficult for me to decide which talks to attend, but one of the real perks of being a student bursary attendee at CONUL is that you get a conference mentor!

My conference mentor, Donna Ó Doibhlin from University College Cork, made sure I got around without a hitch, helped me pick the talks most relevant to my roles, ensured I thoroughly networked with lots of people and very importantly, always had a “refreshment” in hand at the networking event! Having a mentor to ease you into the full-on conference was such a lovely first for me. I did not know many librarians in Ireland, so having a mentor to ease me into things really set my mind at ease. Not that this should have caused any concern! Everyone was so welcoming and friendly; I truly have never been to a conference quite as warm, welcoming and inclusive as CONUL!

The content of CONUL conference was staggering from a series of talks on enhancing user engagement to lightening talks on measuring the impact and effectiveness of library services, the variety kept attendees engrossed across the two days (I ended up creating an entire Evernote Notebook to hold all my notes from CONUL!) The keynotes were particularly thought-provoking for me, particularly considering I am experiencing my first management and strategic planning role. The first keynote by Jim Neal from Colombia University really scoped the field of how libraries are evolving to meet the needs of their stakeholders. What I found particularly interesting was his thoughts on library strategy and how librarians can be guilty of never putting strategic thinking into action! The two messages I really took away from this talk were that we need to link libraries aims to institutional strategy and keep evolving library services and strategies to meet the demands of the sector.

The second keynote speaker, Vivian Lewis from McMaster University in Canada, kick-started the second day by talking about building a library workforce to support transformation. She argued that we need to transform ourselves to transform our libraries. The top three messages I took away from Vivian’s keynote were enlightening but practical:

  • We spend too much time in the library talking to each other; talk to our users more. 
  • Don’t be complacent in your role and professional development. 
  • Consider own staff’s development and create opportunities. 

The second day really seemed to focus on upskilling librarians to be able to enact the transformative experiences in our libraries and something that I am particularly passionate about. Mary Delaney continued on this theme of staff development and talked about aligning library staff’s continuing professional development to the National Professional Development Framework, which piqued my interest as a teaching academic librarian. Mary highlighted the need for librarians to be confident in delivering their teaching, continually upskilling and meeting the needs of their students. Tips like involving students in a steering group ensure that practice is matching what the student needs from the teaching is something I want to look into here at Royal Holloway! I particularly enjoyed Niamh Tumelty’s talk about how embedding a librarian in a research group at Cambridge University has not only aided the group’s research, but it has illustrated to the institution how useful our research skills are and provides another realm that librarians can tap into and show their worth.

As you can see from this short blog post, attendance at the CONUL conference in gloriously sunny Galway has really opened my eyes to what the library community are doing to transform experience and equipped me with ideas to implement in my own library at Royal Holloway. It has also given me a stronger connection to librarianship as a profession, something which can be really difficult to establish as a full-time working distance learner owing to lack of spare time.

I cannot emphasise enough how welcoming everyone was and I heartily encourage all students to apply for this bursary! Building connections, picking brains and generally opening your mind to a world beyond your own library experience is so useful and gives valuable insight not usually available to those at the beginning of their professional career. Take every opportunity, and as Vivian Lewis said in her keynote: transform yourself to be able to transform the library you are in.

Erasmus + Librarian Internship at Dublin Business School Library

Guest post by Susanne Patt-Bohlscheid, BRS University Library

When I was researching my Erasmus + internship, I looked for an institution of comparable size to my University, Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University (9000 students). I also felt that it would be advantageous to visit a partner institution. Consequently, I chose Dublin Business School Library where I had the opportunity to learn from the “Best Library Team in Ireland 2017“(National Education Awards).

During my internship, I participated fully in all aspects of College operations, including attending the weekly Academic Operations meeting and observing the Library tour component of a programmatic review conducted by Quality and Qualifications Ireland.

Within the Library, I gained practical experience on the circulation desk where I also observed impressive one-to-one consultations delivered by the Reader Services staff, Debora Zorzi and Robert Alfis. I also got an insight into the work of the Teaching Librarian, Trevor Haugh, in relation to the delivery of information literacy at DBS Library. A variety of Library classes are offered (stand-alone and programme embedded). The organization of IL classes is similar to IL delivery at BRS University. The workshops on referencing at DBS are particularly similar, despite the fact that DBS promotes use of Zotero and BRS uses Citavi. I was very interested in the work of the Postgraduate and Law Librarian, Joan Colvin, who has excellent knowledge of law-related referencing (OSCOLA style) and law-related literature, cases and sources. I was interested in the activities of Systems Librarian, David Hughes, who encouraged me to engage more with social media platforms for professional purposes.

Marie O’Neill, Head of Library Services, invited me to present at the DBS Library Annual Seminar 2018 (#dbslib2018). This was the highlight of my Erasmus experience. There was an impressive line-up of speakers. Of special interest to me were the keynote presentations; John Cox’s “Positioning the Academic Library within the Institution: Changes & Challenges” and Niamh Brennan’s “The Benefits of Open Scholarships for all Library Roles“. My presentation on the library at “University and District Library Bonn-Rhein-Sieg” (in German: Hochschul- und Kreisbibliothek Bonn-Rhein-Sieg) was well received as it resonated with some of the topics mentioned in the former presentations on positioning and also on citizen scholarship.

During the week, I had the opportunity to visit some of Dublin’s tourist attractions (The Chester Beatty Library, some museums, the Book of Kells and more). I also partook of some original Irish food and drinks. I was fortunate to conduct a tour of the Central Library of Dublin City Public Libraries in the ILAC Centre. On a Monday morning, the ILAC library was full of patrons. The widespread use of the Irish language in signage is wonderfully present in the ILAC Library and beyond.

The Erasmus + experience has given me an enormous boost to my professional self-confidence. I took away many ideas, big and small, for the BRS library, not least the encouragement to speak at conferences and to publish in journals, blogs and on social media.

Cox, John (2018) Positioning the Academic Library within the Institution: A Literature Review, New Review of Academic  Librarianship, DOI: 10.1080/13614533.2018.1466342

DBS Annual Library Seminar  presentations  https://esource.dbs.ie/handle/10788/3394