21 Dec 2020

It’s not Personal: How to develop a resilient mindset when job searching

Guest post by Edel King, Maynooth University Library. Edel is an MLIS graduate currently working as a Library Assistant in MU Library. Her professional interests include Information Literacy, User Experience and Social MediaIntroduction

I graduated from University College Dublin (UCD) with a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Studies in 2015. Since then, I have been interviewed about 30 times for various posts and was successful on only five occasions. That’s not the best success rate. As a result, I have had to develop resilience in the face of all of that rejection. It has been so hard not to take it personally, to not be put off the next interview, to try again and try harder. In this blog, I will be giving some of the tips and resources that I have found useful, in developing my resilience.

What is resilience and Why is it important?

Resilience has been variously defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; the ability to “bounce back” and learn from experience; the ability to move on and not dwell on failures. Resilience is about having a growth mind-set. A growth mindset says that intelligence is to be developed. With a growth mind-set, you embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, see effort at the path to mastery, learn from criticism and find lessons and inspiration in the success of others.

Resilience while job seeking

Job seeking can be difficult as a lot of the time it may not go your way, and it can take longer to achieve your goal than you expected. This is where resilience comes in. Bouncing back from the latest rejection, learning from it and staying motivated to move on to the next application/interview are all skills that you can learn to help you on the journey. 

With that in mind, the following are some resources and tips that I have found helpful to me as I seek to advance in my career.

Some resources and tips to help build resilience


Don’t take it personally. It can be easy, when you get a rejection to think, oh I’m not good enough, they didn’t want me. But this is a direct road to losing motivation and stalling or stopping the job search. The interviewers have a position to fill, just one. They may have really liked you, thought you had great experience and the skills necessary for the job. But the successful applicant might just have an edge on you. It could be tiny but maybe it was enough to get them over the line. It’s not that you were bad. Use it as a reason to further develop your skills, get more varied experience and practice selling yourself better.

Ask for Feedback. When you come out of an interview and then again when you get a rejection, you could easily fixate on an answer you gave, where you could have done better. But you don’t really know why you didn’t get the job. The only people who do know are the ones who interviewed you. So approach them and ask for feedback. You need to do this through the appropriate channels. It may be via your Human Resources Department or directly from the chair of the interview panel.  Most interviewers will be happy to help you and pleased that you were interested enough to ask for feedback in the first place. Then the mystery is removed – you know why you didn’t get the job and what you need to improve on for the next interview.

Get Networking. Get out there and talk to others in the field you want to enter/advance in. Networking can be difficult; putting yourself out there and introducing yourself to strangers can be daunting but it can also be one of the best things you can do. You never know who you will end up talking to; what tips they will give, opportunities they know of or courses they have done that have helped them. 


I undertook a course on LinkedIn aimed at building resilience (What, Why and How to Become Resilient). Topics covered include “Build a resilience threshold”, “Face uncomfortable situations” and “Connect with your Advisory Board”. The course takes you through, step by step, manageable everyday ways of building resilience and being able to apply it to lots of different, work based, situations. 

American psychologist Carol Dweck’s TED talk on the concept of “Not Yet” is useful (Developing a Growth Mind Set). It’s aimed at school teachers but the ideas within can be applied anywhere. She posits that instead of telling somebody when they don’t do well in a test or challenge of some sort (or in my case, an interview) that they failed, you switch the perspective to “not yet” with notes on how to improve. Switching your mind set from, “I didn’t get that job because I am not good enough” to “I didn’t get that job because I wasn’t ready for it yet but I know what I need to improve on to get there” can really help develop a positive mind set.


Job searching can be very difficult. But there is plenty of support and advice out there to help you build resilience and develop a positive mind set. The one take away I learned from all of the resources that I consulted was not to struggle alone; to reach out, whether by taking a course or talking to someone you trust. 

Best of luck with it – you’ll get there!

15 Dec 2020

Reflections of a mid-career librarian: put your best foot ... sideways

Michaela Hollywood recently took up the post of Assistant Librarian – Engagement and Information Services at Maynooth University Library.

I recently took up a new job at Maynooth University Library. After 20 years working as a Systems Librarian at Dublin City University, I decided it was time for a change. 

I started my library career in 1996 as a Library Assistant at, what is now, The University of Roehampton London. I really loved this job, and it was a great introduction to working in an academic library. I was one of twelve people on a graduate trainee programme designed to provide graduates with work experience before going on to study for a Masters in Library and Information Studies.

In January 1998, my partner Paul and I left London to move to Dublin. Paul had got a job as an English Literature lecturer in Maynooth University (funny how things turn out!). We thought we’d come over and have a bit of an adventure in Ireland for a couple of years. In March of that year, having been in Ireland for only a couple of months, I took up a post as a Library Assistant at the issue desk in Dublin City University Library. 

I continued working part-time in DCU while I completed a masters in library and information Studies in University College Dublin. Quickly after qualifying I was fortunate to get a project post as an Assistant Librarian in the Systems department at DCU, and then very soon after I got a permanent position as Systems Librarian in DCU.

Roll on 20 years. My career had almost exclusively been in DCU. I started to think that it was time to change my job and time to change my employer. Sounds simple!    

Taking time to reflect

There are huge benefits from being in the same job for a long time, especially a technical job like a Systems Librarian. I knew I was very good at my job. I had that confidence that experience brings. A lot of my time was spent dealing with problems, and my experience taught me that there are very few problems that cannot be resolved in one way or another. There is, though, a flip side to being in the same job for a long time. It’s hard to imagine yourself doing anything different. It can be comfortable being in the same place, with the same people. And the thoughts of changing things, of leaving all that is comfortable, can simply make you freeze. 

I was in a situation where many of my work friends and colleagues were of a similar age. We all got permanent library jobs within a few years of each other. A lot of us raised children along the way, and our jobs allowed us combine raising a family and working. It suited very nicely. We had no reason to change things. Occasionally someone would get promoted to Sub-Librarian, but that didn’t happen very often. So what do you do, career wise, when you are a librarian with 20 years’ experience? Do you wait and hope that a Sub-Librarian’s job is advertised, a job that interests you in a place where you want to work? How long do you wait?  These were all questions I asked myself.

After mulling things over for some time, and discussing a few ideas with family, I came up with a two-year plan. But before doing anything I first asked myself a question: did I still want to be a librarian? I gave myself some time to think this over carefully. What else could I do? I did some research on doing a Data Analytics post-graduate course, but while the subject interested me, I knew I didn’t want to go back to studying, especially while working and caring for two teenagers. Also, I felt that this was too related to my role as a Systems Librarian. So, after a while I was happy to discover that the answer was yes, I did still want to be an academic librarian. First step taken.

Making a Move

The Irish academic library world is quite small and that makes it relatively easy to keep track of jobs being advertised. I started to do some research into academic libraries within commuting distance. I explored their websites and social media platforms to see what kind of services they provide. I looked at job websites, mailing lists, and social media to get an idea of what kinds of library jobs were out there. It was on Twitter that I saw my current post mentioned. 

In early 2020, an Assistant Librarian post was advertised – Engagement and Information Services Librarian in Maynooth University! I read the job description and I could feel this sense of excitement as I read and then re-read the details. I texted my sister in the UK to tell her about this great job that had come up, and how I thought that this was the job for me. The only problem was that it was at the same grade as I was on, it wouldn’t be a promotion. Would it look bad that I was moving sideways rather than up?  My sister simply said that sideways is good, and not to worry. It would give me new experiences and new skills. It was then that I came to the realization that a sideways step is ok. It’s more than ok, it’s brilliant!  But first, how did I get here?

I hadn’t been for a job interview for about 20 years, and in fact I hadn’t been to many job interviews prior to that. I do remember thinking that I had been quite good at them though. I needed to work on my confidence to bring it back up. If you haven’t been for an interview in 20 years you cannot imagine yourself in that situation. You cannot imagine yourself in a different job. I remember thinking that if a Systems Librarian job came up, I couldn’t possibly apply for it as I wouldn’t have the required technical skills, despite being very capable and very confident in my own Systems job!  Somehow you have to find the confidence to imagine yourself in a new job and taking that step to apply for it.  

I felt I hadn’t been as visible in the library world as I perhaps should have been. I wasn’t on any library-related committees outside the University and I realised that, although I had worked in DCU for over 20 years, I didn’t know many people in the Irish Library World and they didn’t know me. When my children were young, I decided that having a good work-life balance was a priority for me. I worked hard at doing my best in my job, but I didn’t put myself forward to be on any committees. I didn’t go to many conferences.  I avoided situations that made collecting my children from school awkward, and consequently didn’t really get to network with the larger library community. I needed to get myself out there, and so was delighted when I was able to represent DCU Library on the CONUL Conference organising committee. This was a great experience and a real opportunity to meet lots of people from academic libraries across the country, and for people to get to know me too!  

Updating my CV after such a long time seemed like a mammoth task and a little daunting, but once I sat down and focussed on what I had done and achieved over the years it wasn’t so difficult. Over the last few years I have managed a number of large projects in DCU Library and this was something I highlighted in my CV. Through the projects I was able to demonstrate that I had many skills, and also some experience of managing people. 

I applied for the post in Maynooth University Library in February 2020 and was invited to an interview in March. Unfortunately, the interview was postponed as we had to go into lockdown due to the COVID 19 pandemic. The interview took place in April via Zoom, which was definitely a new experience. I actually liked doing the interview via Zoom as it meant I was sitting in my own living room and I liked the little bit of distance that online gave me. It made me feel quite comfortable, so I was able to relax and answered all the questions with confidence. I put a lot of preparation into the interview. It felt like I was preparing for an exam.  At DCU Library I had the opportunity to do an online course on “Preparing for an Interview”. I studied the job specification and identified all of the required and desired competencies. I made sure that I had two examples of each so that I could pull on these easily in the interview. I identified the key topics that I thought would shape the questions that the panel would ask. I got my sister and my husband to conduct mock interviews. On reflection, I think that this thorough preparation was of huge benefit to me.


I am now two months in my new job and I love it. Everyone has been very welcoming. The role is very different to my old one, but also reassuringly familiar at the same time. Starting a new job during a pandemic is very strange, to say the least. At the moment I have a mix of working from home and being on site. Most of the other library staff are not on site which means that I haven’t met a lot of my new colleagues in person yet. I have moved from managing a small team of two people to managing a team of twenty plus. The job can be very challenging at times, but that’s good. I know that I have good people around me for support should I need it. Changing jobs after 20 years has, for me, been a great experience and I would strongly recommend it for anyone considering a similar move.

8 Dec 2020

Covid-19: its impact on academic library employees - kind request for assistance with a short survey

Ronan Cox (@ronancox2) - Business Librarian, Dublin City University


I am posting this piece to kindly ask for your assistance completing a short survey (about 7 minutes) as part of my MSc in Work and Organisational Behaviour. It has direct relevance to academic library employees and the impact Covid continues to have on how we approach our jobs.

In the wake of the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, organisations are feeling the pressure to adopt new technological developments while also managing their employees work experience. Against this backdrop, there has also been a shift in the relationship between organisation and employee. 

It can be argued the way we work has changed and more than ever, organisations need employees to be resilient, proactive, energetic and fully engaged in their work. The repercussions of Covid-19 on the workplace will be felt for years to come and faced with this new reality, employees must continually adapt to new contexts, interact with others differently, and use appropriate coping strategies to manage shifting job demands and instances of job change.

Research has concluded that individuals are predisposed to respond in certain ways when faced with change. As organisations and employees respond to the changing work environment, it can be argued that fostering a positive disposition toward change is critical to future individual and organisational success. 

Against the backdrop of Covid-19, the rationale for my research is to explore if academic library employees utilise adaptive coping skills to engage in behaviours designed to manage their changing job tasks better. And in doing so, does it result in increased person-job balance and positive work outcomes.

Benefits of this research will include:
1.    Insight into how academic library employees manage their jobs
2.    Insight into how academic library employees think and plan for personal development
3.    An understanding of how the impact of Covid is affecting academic library employees

Should you wish to participate, please find the survey here.

Also, if you think your colleagues (Ireland or International) might be interested, please feel free to share the survey link.

The intended research sample is any employee working in an academic library environment, regardless of position.

All responses are very gratefully received and I will post a summary of the results when analysed!



2 Dec 2020

My Seven Steps for Successfully Publishing your MLIS Thesis

Guest post by Saoirse De Paor, Maynooth University Library. Saoirse is currently working as a Teaching and Learning Librarian. She received her Masters in Library and Information Studies in 2018 from University College Dublin. Her professional interests include Information Literacy, Teaching & Learning/Pedagogical Study, Student/User Engagement, and Social Media. 

This blog draws on my experience of writing a peer-reviewed journal article from my MLIS thesis. I completed my MLIS at UCD in 2018 and my final piece of work included a 10,000-word thesis. My thesis centred on the popular topic of fake news and the importance of information literacy to counteract this. Two years later,  in 2020, I published my first journal article titled “Information Literacy and Fake News: How the Field of Librarianship can help combat the epidemic of Fake News, in Elsevier’s peer-reviewed Journal of Academic Librarianship My MLIS supervisor Dr Bahareh Heravi was second author. 

MLIS students are required to write a thesis, however very few go on to publish their work. 

The idea of publishing an article from a thesis may appear daunting, yet most of the hard work is completed before the thesis is submitted.  Having experienced this process first-hand, and as an early career librarian, I am eager to share my seven “successful” steps for publishing your thesis. I hope these steps will encourage students to publish their theses and share their research with the professional community! 


Photo sourced from Canva.com

Step 1: The Writing Process – Be selective and be strict! 

Writing and editing the article was ultimately the most time-consuming and challenging step in the publication process. Journals generally have a specific word count for articles. In this case it was 7,000 words, while my thesis had been 10,000. Luckily, I was not alone with this gruelling task of revising according to the journal stipulations!

While working with my supervisor Dr Heravi, it was vital that we recorded all changes made within the document for discussion before finalising and moving on. Whether working alone or with a colleague, I highly recommend using tools to track changes and edits within your live document. We used the “Comment tool” within Word to track changes, make observations or comments, and resolve any discrepancies throughout the writing process. 

Much of the writing process involved shortening sections of my literature review and removing lengthy paragraphs that covered broad themes or extensive research. This proved to be challenging at times since I believed everything needed to be included (it did not!). However, it soon became clear that the function of the paper was to clearly state and summarise the overall key themes and findings of the original literature review. For me, this meant being selective and being strict in my approach. Not all paragraphs and points will make the final cut, therefore you must ask yourself whether they are essential and whether they add to the overall purpose of your paper.  

Step 2: Writing Practices – Routine is key 

They say routine is key and I believe it is essential when writing any piece of work. 

During the writing process, I was working as a Teaching and Learning Librarian at Maynooth University Library. This meant that I had to schedule my writing outside of working hours and within my spare time, while also facilitating some downtime to recharge. I found it difficult to apply myself to writing after working for a full day, therefore most of my writing took place in the morning and on my days off. I had to manage this time well. I dedicated specific days of the week and specific hours of the day to work on the paper. This ensured that I never worked beyond my scheduled times.  

When writing, you need to be aware, engaged and focused at all times. Creating a routine and dedicating efficient time to work on your paper helps to maintain a high standard of writing and avoids “burnout” or becoming overwhelmed. 


Photo sourced from UnSplash.com 

Step 3: Writing with another author – Teamwork makes the dream work!

It is certainly possible to publish your thesis alone, especially since there are a multitude of supports available online and within the professional community. However, in my experience, working alongside a colleague or researcher with both the experience and knowledge of the publication process was hugely beneficial, in more ways than one! 

Dr Heravi was a fantastic mentor who explained everything and provided excellent advice when I encountered challenges or was uncertain of how to progress. This facilitated a supportive and encouraging environment, and ultimately increased my confidence. In my case, teamwork did in fact, make the dream work! 

Step 4: Selecting a Journal – It might not be your first preference, but that’s ok!

As I had little experience evaluating and selecting journals, Dr Heravi helped to narrow down the most appropriate journals that centred on the topic and theme of the paper. This included information literacy, journalism (fake news) and librarianship. It was also extremely important that the journal was peer reviewed and open access. 

We submitted the paper to two well-established journals before it was accepted by the Journal of Academic Librarianship. The reason for a paper being rejected can depend on various factors and this should never discourage you from trying again. Your paper may not be accepted the first time, but that’s ok. 

Journals have guidelines on the topics they cover, the approaches they favour, their citation style and other factors. It’s really important to read the journal guidelines before submitting. If unsuccessful, you can learn a lot from the submission process which may result in helpful feedback and an opportunity to strengthen and improve your paper all while moving closer to acceptance!

Photo sourced from Canva.com

Step 5: Set those deadlines! 

Setting deadlines allowed us to prioritise, organise and focus on the goal. 

Since I was working with Dr Heravi over a period of seven months, it was vital that we set deadlines every few weeks to ensure that we were making progress and prioritising the work. It can be easy to fall into those “back and forth” e-mail exchanges throughout the process, therefore setting deadlines helps to minimise those unnecessary encounters! 

After the paper was accepted to the Journal of Academic Librarianship we were met with another deadline which is discussed further in Step 6.  

Step 6: The Stages of Submission and the Moment of Truth

We were required to submit the anonymised manuscript (the completed paper), the abstract, keywords, the title page which included author names and affiliations, and the full version of the paper with authors’ tracked edits and comments. This isn’t always required, but for this journal the editors were keen to review our writing process. 

To demonstrate the submission process clearly, I’ve included a timeline which illustrates the various stages we encountered when submitting the paper; 

24th March: We submitted the paper to the Journal of Academic Librarianship in a PDF format which contained all necessary documentation listed in the Journal Guidelines. The submission was acknowledged by the journal via e-mail and we were informed that it would be sent out for peer review. When a paper is sent for peer review, the reviewers recommend one of the following: accept as is (this is very rare); accept with major revisions (this involves a rewrite); accept with minor revisions or reject.

27th May: The paper was accepted and returned to us with reviewers’ comments. Reviewers comments are observations or constructive critiques of the paper made by the reviewers assigned to the paper by the journal. Our feedback included minimal revisions, and we were given a new deadline and a month to resubmit. Three individual reviewers provided three separate sets of comments regarding our paper. 

18th June: We were given a month to respond to the reviewers’ comments and edit the paper where necessary. This involved minor editing and composing a response letter stating the changes we had made to the paper. On the 18th of June, we submitted the revised paper with tracked changes and our response letter. 

19th June: A day later, we received an e-mail stating that the reviewers had accepted our response letter and the changes made. We were then asked by the reviewers to accept all tracked changes made within the paper and resubmit the final version for publication. 

23rd of July: In late July, we finally received an e-mail from the journal to confirm that the paper was officially published and now accessible online as an open access peer reviewed article. Disclaimer: Dr Heravi sent me an e-mail to share the amazing news while I was out on a walk and I remember beaming with excitement and feeling a great sense of achievement! 

The timeline above illustrates how the submission process can be lengthy and can often require authors to make changes to the paper. However, the feedback from reviewers strengthened our paper and provided us with valuable recommendations. 

A successful submission means including all the necessary documentation required by the journal, making a commitment to work on additional changes if needed, and waiting patiently for the paper to be accepted. It can be a long road, but it is most certainly worth the time and effort.  


Photo sourced from Canva.com

Step 7: Publicising your Publication – Share, Share, and Share!

On receiving the excellent news that our paper had been published in a peer-reviewed journal, I set out to share my achievement with my family, friends, colleagues and of course, the professional community. 

I shared the article on as many platforms as possible. I tweeted about it. I pinned the link to my Twitter account. I shared it on my Instagram (a peer-review paper does not get half as many likes as your smiley dog, let me tell you!) and included it in my LinkedIn profile. Twitter was particularly important to me as many Librarians share their ideas, research, and conversations there. It was also where the article received the most traction. 

Publishing any piece of work is a fantastic achievement and I highly recommend that you share your newly published article on as many platforms as possible! Who knows who might end up reading it!   You might even be invited to talk on the topic at a seminar or conference.


My seven steps for successfully getting your MLIS thesis (or any thesis) to publication will hopefully give you an insight into the different stages of the publication process and show you how any student can do this with the right support and determination. While I knew very little about publishing papers at the beginning, I am now confident enough to sit at my PC and write a blog on that very topic! 

If I can do it, you can too. 

And finally, here’s a link to the article. Enjoy! 


Photo taken by Saoirse de Paor