29 Sept 2022

The coming together of librarians post Covid - WLIC 2022



Guest post by Aisling Smith. Aisling recently graduated with an MLIS in UCD and is currently working at TU Dublin Tallaght Campus 

When New Zealand found they were unable to hold the 87th World Library and Information Congress (WLIC) in 2020 due to their venue, the New Zealand International Convention Centre in Auckland, being destroyed by fire, Ireland seized its’ opportunity and stepped in to save the day by offering to hold it in the Convention centre in Dublin. As a result of the pandemic, it was delayed until July 2022 and the subsequent return to in-person meetings and networking after an absence of two years, probably made 2022 the best Congress ever and cemented Ireland's place in world librarianship.

Being a volunteer team lead ensured I was kept busy during the Congress, but I endeavored to attend the session entitled “News Literacy: Fighting Mis/Disinformation at your library” in full.  Fake news and misinformation really came to the forefront with the rise of Trumpism and continued to be a major issue during the pandemic with increased dependency on digital resources for communication, information, and learning. Liffey Hall 2 was packed for the session and the presentations and Q&A session was most enlightening. We appear to be in a post-truth society, where beliefs are influenced by emotions and opinions rather than reason. Freedom of information gives freedom to create and disseminate fake news but fake news is a threat when aimed at those who are in a vulnerable situation or unable to think objectively.

We were advised that Nigeria might even have more problems than most due to the proliferation online of dangerous remedies even before Covid-19 such as salt for Ebola and that fake news can spread panic, tension, and fear in populations. In our post-truth era, young people are predominately dependent on social media and other online sources for information so especially vulnerable to fake news and misinformation. Fulton and McGuinness (Ireland) related how they developed a course for training librarians in media literacy to enable them promote media literacy in the community. Rajic from Serbia reminded us that librarians had to be conscious of the sensitivities of users when promoting media literacy, to anticipate anger and upset when serving “as the patrons’ shield” against fake news. Nguyen Thi Kim (Vietnam) reported on research that indicated that the dissemination of fake news or misinformation was reliant on poor digital and media literacy and this view was postulated by all presenters. The ensuing Q&A session included a discussion on tools to teach critical thinking. I learned that the CRAAP test is now deemed only fit for general literacy as opposed to media literacy and might even have a negative impact on students and leave them worse off. The SIFT method introduced by Michael Caulfield was proposed as being most effective especially regarding digital literacy. The importance of agile project management in libraries was highlighted as librarians have had to adapt and use strategies from other professions ever more frequently in recent years especially since Covid.

The importance of informal interactions at such an event cannot be overlooked. IFLA’s mission ( 2019-2024) is to “inspire, enable, engage, connect” and the Congress gave participants a chance to reconnect with others and share experiences and ideas. The poster sessions were an excellent way of promoting one's work and ideas, and one would be hard put to find so many librarians interesting and passionate people in such a small space.  Covid-19 highlighted the importance of libraries to governments and the general public. IFLA's WLIC 2022 gave librarians from all around the world the opportunity to reconnect by discussing important issues, networking and dancing to YMCA at the disco in the Lexicon public library in Dun Laoghaire. Volunteering at WLIC 2022 presented the opportunity to experience the friendliest conference one could attend. To belong to the tribe of librarians means one is consistently in the company of empathetic, altruistic, opportunistic, and optimistic colleagues, this is what made WLIC 2022 such a success and explains why the future is bright for libraries!

20 Sept 2022

Review of Seminar on Academic Libraries at WLIC 2022.


Guest post by Naomi Faris, from Cork. Naomi has recently completed her MLIS at UCD) 

As an MLIS student with little practical experience in the library world, I volunteered for the WLIC IFLA that was held in Dublin at the end of July this year. Never having attended an event like this before I was unsure of what to expect but I found the experience to be interesting and enjoyable. Meeting volunteers from around the world and hearing their experiences of working in the library world was inspiring as was being able to sit in on various sessions. One session that was particularly memorable was given by three Irish librarians working in academic libraries. The topic was innovations in academic libraries during the pandemic. 

Aoife Lawton, a national health services librarian from the HSE library in Dublin, spoke about the problems associated with staff wellness during this difficult and unprecedented time and the steps that the library took to combat them such as energy pods for frontline staff. Innovation and creativity were key concepts and could be seen in other areas such as the LAMA bot (Library Ask Me Anything), a design thinking workshop and a maker lab. Aoife also exhorted the library as a third space and the importance of leveraging A1 technology, an up-and-coming area in libraries of the future. 

These ideas were also seen in the piece by Michela Hollywood, librarian at Maynooth University. Michela spoke about the library as a flexible space and the environment was the theme underpinning many of the ideas that Maynooth embraced during the pandemic. This involved a celebration of World Africa Day and the redesign of the reception area with light and plants to create a welcoming, eco-friendly space. Michela also mentioned the energy pods which were installed in 2018 and were the first for a library in Ireland. Other creative ideas presented were a short story dispenser and wellness days for staff. In terms of covid measures Maynooth library incorporated a click and collect service as well as staff training and development. 

Martin O’Connor of UCC library in Cork spoke about ‘Shush! Sounds from UCC Library’ on UCC 98.3FM, an innovative radio show featuring library news, shows stories and some of the DJ’s favourite sounds in the mix. This show is broadcast for 1hr on campus radio and is used as a promotional tool to promote the library to students who may not be aware of all the library has to offer. The show also features interviews on all things library related such as advice for new librarians and issues affecting librarianship in general. This appears to be the first dedicated library radio show in Ireland. 

What stood out most was the innovation that each librarian showed as well as how libraries rose to the challenge of a difficult set of circumstances that occurred in 2020. As a newly qualified librarian it was interesting too to note the commitment to wellness, the possibilities for AI in libraries and how problems can be solved with creativity and innovation. 


13 Sept 2022

LIR - Show & Tell Competition



The LIR HEAnet User Group for Libraries is currently inviting current LIS students and recent graduates to share their work in a pre-recorded PechaKucha presentation (20 slides with 20 seconds of commentary per slide; total presentation length of 6 minutes, 40 seconds). PechaKucha tips, resources, and examples can be found here. Some examples of a Pecha Kucha: Pecha Kucha on presenting a Pecha Kucha, The Art of Revolution in the Public Library!, Accessibility on Academic Library Webpages and Information Professionals in Non-Traditional Library Settings. 

This competition is limited to current LIS students and graduates from the past two years from Dublin Business School, University College Dublin, or Ulster University. 

This is an opportunity for students and recent graduates to develop their presentation, communication, and impact skills by sharing their research with LIR and the wider community. Research has shown Pecha Kucha presentations can “promote visual design literacy while building oral communication skills” (Beyer et al, 2013) and can help in creating engaging presentations and increasing confidence in giving presentations (Christianson and Payne, 2011). 

Submission topics can be anything relating to library and information studies (such as a Master’s dissertation, capstone project, coursework, groupwork, general topic overview or any other research). 

Prizes will be given to the top 3 submissions (One4All vouchers - €150 for first, €100 for second, €50 for third) and participants can win a LIR branded hoodie. A selection of videos will be showcased on the LIR Group website. 

For more information, visit https://lirgroup.heanet.ie/index.php/show-and-tell-competition-for-lis-student.  

Submit your video recording online at https://www.cognitoforms.com/LIRLibraryGroup/LIRGroupStudentShowandTellSubmissions

Deadline for submissions: Friday, September 30th 

References

Beyer, A. A., Gaze, C. and Lazicki, J. (2013) “Comparing students’ evaluations and recall for Student Pecha Kucha and PowerPoint Presentations”, Journal of Teaching and Learning with Technology, 1(2), pp. 26–42. Available at: https://scholarworks.iu.edu/journals/index.php/jotlt/article/view/3109 (Accessed: 31 August 2022).

Christianson, M., & Payne, S. (2011). Using the 20x20 format for presentation training. Language Research Bulletin, 26, 1-15.

About LIR: 

LIR HEAnet User Group for Libraries provides a forum for discussion on the use of electronic resources and networks by HEI libraries and assists in development and training for their effective use.

LIR encourages communication and co-operation between member libraries in accessing electronic resources.  LIR aims to help academic libraries explore and develop their digital capacity by providing seminars and workshops for members, as well as other such events which bring this community of practice together. 

Follow LIR on Twitter @LIRHEAnet 

Posted on Tuesday, September 13, 2022 | Categories: , ,

12 Sept 2022

Webinar - New Horizons in Open Access publishing October 25th 10.00-13.00


Open Access publishing is well established in our research landscape, and the advantages of OA are clear but unfortunately the mechanism and metrics are still tangled with for profit publishers meaning at some point someone must pay. 

Diamond Open Access refers to Open Access journals and platforms that are free to both authors and readers. Science Europe, cOAlition S, OPERAS, and the French National Research Agency (ANR) recently presented an action plan on Diamond OA and the landmark Open Access Diamond Journals Study found that Diamond OA contributes 45% of OA publishing globally. This coincides with the finalising of the Agreement on Reforming Research Assessment which aims to move us away from publish or perish metric to an ecosystem that recognises the diverse outputs, practices and activities that maximise the quality and impact of research. 

In this webinar we will hear from Dr Samuel Moore about the potential that could be unlocked with a move towards Diamond OA and from Prof. Toma Susi on how the reform of research metrics and assessment could enable this move. UCC Library Scholarly Comms Librarian Donna Ó Doibhlin will outline the options for OA publishing in UCC and we will hear more about CORA UCC institutional repository. We will also hear from the editors of some of our homegrown Diamond OA journals Boolean and Scenario on their journey and the support that UCC Library has provided along the way.

To register for this event please click on this link

Keep reading for speaker information and abstracts.............


Samuel Moore      

 Dr. Samuel A. Moore is a scholarly communication specialist at Cambridge University Library and a research associate at Homerton College. His research in library and information studies explores the ethics and politics of scholarly communication. He has a Ph.D in Digital Humanities from King’s College London and over a decade’s experience as a publisher, educator and researcher specialising in open access and academic publishing. He is also one of the organisers of the Radical Open Access Collective.     

https://www.samuelmoore.org/

'Scaling small', or why there are no BIG solutions to the problem of ethical open access

As Plan S gains steam in Europe and the US mandates public access to all research published from 2026, subscription publishing seems likely to be an increasingly unviable business model in the near future. We are rapidly moving to a time in which all academic research articles – and increasing amounts of books – will be available to access and share without payment. Yet although open access has won the day, it is worth considering why this victory also feels like something of a defeat. Publishing is still largely controlled by a handful of profiteering companies who are rapidly expanding into areas beyond research articles, such as research data, user data and other elements in the knowledge production workflow. At the same time, many researchers remain unengaged and motivated by regressive research cultures that promote competition over collaboration, seeing open access as an imposition or something to be ignored entirely. But what is to be done here, and why are there no easy or big solutions? This talk will argue that the all-encompassing solutions promised by open access mandates, funder platforms and transformative agreements are part of the problem. Instead, open access practitioners need to consider the necessity of ‘smallness’ and local solutions in nurturing a diverse and ethical diamond open access publishing ecosystem.

Toma Susi 

Toma Susi is an Associate Professor of Physics at the University of Vienna in Austria. In his research career, he has worked on materials synthesis, spectroscopy, electron microscopy and modeling, authoring over 80 peer-reviewed articles and reviews, and contributed open data and code as well as an open grant application. He coordinated science policy as the Vice-Chair of the Young Academy of Europe, recently chaired an open science task force at the Initiative for Science in Europe, and was a member of the core drafting group of the European agreement on reforming research assessment. He currently serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of Open Research Europe and on the Editorial Board of Scientific Data.  

https://www.mostlyphysics.net

Twitter @mostlyphysics

Reform research assessment to unlock the potential of diamond OA

Processes of research evaluation and rewards are coming under increasing scrutiny, with critics convincingly arguing that they have adverse effects on research quality and support a research culture of competition to the detriment of collaboration. Accordingly, many have called for a wide-ranging reform of research assessment. The overarching aim would be to enable a positive change in research culture that not only helps improve the transparency, reproducibility and reliability of research, but by rewarding excellent science on its own merits, also de-emphasize those forms of evaluation that contribute to toxic competition. These long-overdue efforts to reform research assessment are finally underway. 

A prerequisite for a successful reform is to increase the involvement of researchers themselves in designing reward and evaluation systems. However, it has become clear that although there is increasing recognition of the need and desire to move away from flawed prestige-based metrics, there is little consensus on what should replace them. Considering the increasingly strong drive from policy-makers, it is now vital that different research communities both urgently and concretely consider how they wish evaluation systems to be adapted in each of their individual circumstances.

At the same time, the efforts to achieve immediate availability of publicly funded research outputs accelerated by cOAlition S and now the US Federal Government seems set to flip the entire academic to open access publishing. There is a valid concern that this may further entrench existing commercial players and lead to ever-inflating article processing fees, shifting access barriers from reading to publishing. However, this may also make researchers finally aware of the exorbitant price we pay for publishing – and should we succeed in the assessment reforms, this may be a perfect opportunity to unlock the potential of scholarly-led diamond OA.

Donna Ó Doibhlin

  Donna Ó Doibhlin is the Scholarly Communications Librarian in UCC Library and CORA manager. Her role involves promotion and support for OA publishing across the university and she provides regular outreach, training and skills development sessions in OA.  

https://libguides.ucc.ie/OAatucc

https://cora.ucc.ie/

Twitter @CORA_UCC

The Library Research Services enabling OA publishing in UCC 

Research Services and the CORA Team in UCC promotes Open Access publishing throughout the University by encouraging staff and researchers to publish their research findings openly through our OA repository CORA.  

Recent funder OA mandates have strengthened the requirement to publish research openly and this has highlighted the value of institutional repositories to share this research.  The team also manage the current IReL-funded transformative agreements with publishers.  While this offers a level of support to our researchers it brings its own challenges.  This talk will highlight some of these challenges and identify potential solutions.

The Boolean: Showcasing UCC’s doctoral students 

The Boolean is a student led publication that gives doctoral students in the University a platform to communicate their research in a non-academic, accessible way. Students submit articles about their work written to be intelligible to a general audience. These articles are peer reviewed by staff and students from a different discipline to ensure intelligibility. The goal is to train students in both, non-academic writing, as well as get them familiar with the submission and peer review process. Thanks to the library the Boolean runs on the Open Journal System, OJS, this year. This means it has a fully integrated submission platform which helped in gathering over 30 articles publication this year.





9 Sept 2022

The DCU Staff Book Club

Figure 1: DCU staff promote the launch of this year's DCU Staff Book Club (DCU, 2022)

Guest post by Grace O'Connor, who is a member of the Public Services and Outreach team in DCU Library. 

The DCU Staff Book Club is an initiative of the DCU Cultural Arts Office in partnership with DCU HR and DCU Library. A new book is read each month, with monthly competitions for signed copies. A virtual meeting is held at the end of each month, with a live Q&A with the author and specially chosen moderators.

To date we have focused on Irish authors, and our speakers have included such luminaries as Colm Tóibín, Anne Enright, and Kevin Barry.

It has proven hugely popular amongst staff, with one member stating “The DCU book club has rekindled my interest in modern Irish literature and connected me with other readers across the DCU community. It is wonderful to hear directly from such well-known authors and also to be introduced to emerging new writers. Thank you so much to the DCU Cultural Arts Office and DCU Library for this terrific initiative.” 

Figure 2: Well-known authors who have featured in the DCU Staff Book Club
(see image sources below)

The DCU Staff Book Club began back in January 2021 as a way to bring the DCU community together through the love of reading. DCU’s Cultural Arts Officer, Marcella Bannon, was always eager to have a staff book club. When Covid-19 hit and DCU staff began working from home, DCU’s Human Resources Department wanted to support staff wellbeing and were hugely open to the idea.

It was crucial for the Library to be involved in the Book Club from the beginning. Meetings between the Library and the Cultural Arts officer began in January 2021, discussing all aspects of how to run a book club for DCU staff entirely online. The Library also wanted to get involved with the new Ireland Reads initiative, and the first ever Book Club meeting coincided with this in February 2021.

Registration for the book club is free, the only requirement is that you are a current DCU staff member. Club members then get monthly emails containing details about the featured book for that month. The emails include information about how to obtain a copy of the book as well as a link to the virtual meetup session.

Figure 3: A signed copy of Nora by
Nuala O'Connor (DCU Library, 2022)

University Librarian, John McDonagh, was very supportive from the beginning of the initiative. He allocated a budget to buy copies of the books for the Library collection that staff could then borrow, as well as copies that could be signed by the author and given away as prizes in the monthly competition.

To date it's been difficult to purchase copies of the books using library systems as supply can be slow. One way to combat this issue would be knowing well in advance which books will be featured, which is something we aim to improve on.

The Library has a dedicated webpage containing all the information about the book club, as well as the details for the current competition. Library staff check that the competition answers are correct and that the entrants are eligible to take part before picking four winners at random. We try to get the signed copies to competition winners before the book club meeting, but this proves difficult due to the aforementioned delays in order times.

The Library’s Research and Teaching directorate provided articles and research on the benefits of reading for the website.

A Facebook group was set up for the club via the Library Facebook page, as a space for members to engage in discussions about the book. We had hoped this would be more popular than it is, but it's difficult to motivate members to engage via this platform.

A decision was taken early on not to record the online sessions, as we wanted staff to be able to relax and enjoy the experience. The exception to this was Pat McCabe whose book ‘Poguemahone’ was featured in May 2021. He was happy for a recording of the session to be made and this was then shared with DCU students undertaking the MA in Creative Writing.

Marcella Bannon, Orla Nic Aodha (Associate Director of Public Services and Outreach), Theresa OFarrell, (DCU President’s Office) the moderator and the author meet online 15-20 minutes before the book club begins, to make sure everything is working well.

Online sessions usually begin with an introduction, a reading from the author and then a Q&A session facilitated by the moderator.

Initially members spoke out at the book club nights but increasingly started to engage via the chat function. It very much depends on the author however, sometimes the chat with the moderator is so good there isn't much time for member contributions!

On average 30 members of DCU staff join the online sessions, but there was a marked drop off in the last sessions as they coincided with exam corrections. Therefore, closer attention will be paid to the academic calendar when planning the new sessions for this season.

This September marks the first in-person Book Club session, beginning with Breaking Point by Edel Coffey, followed by Donal Ryan's The Queen of Dirt Island in October and Ruth & Pen by Emilie Pine in December. This is something all our members are very much looking forward to, and will show how something that was conceived as a solely online event can transition to real life.

Figure 4: Titles featuring in this year's book club
(DCU Library, 2022)


Image attribution

Figure 1:

DCU (2022) DCU staff promote the launch of this year's DCU Staff Book Club [Photograph]. Dublin: DCU

Figure 2: 

(a) Colmtoibin.com (2022) Author image of Colm Toibin and cover image of The Magician. Available at http://www.colmtoibin.com/ (Accessed 9 September 2022).

(b) RCW Literary Agency (2022) Author image of Anne Enright and cover image of Actress. Available at https://www.rcwlitagency.com/authors/enright-anne/ (Accessed 9 September 2022).

(c) O'Mahony, Conor (2022) Author image of Kevin Barry. Available at https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/authors/143091/kevin-barry/ (Accessed 9 September 2022).

(d) PenguinRandomHouse (2022) Cover image of That Old Country Music. Available at https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/authors/143091/kevin-barry/ (Accessed 9 September 2022).

Figure 3:

DCU Library (2022)  Signed copy of Nora by Nuala O'Connor [Photograph]. Dublin: DCU Library

Figure 4:

DCU Library (2022) Titles featuring in this year's book club [Photograph]. Dublin: DCU Library




Posted on Friday, September 09, 2022 | Categories:

7 Sept 2022

Year in Review at Maynooth University Library




 Guest post by Kate Hawkins, Library Assistant, Engagement and Information Services, Maynooth University Library

Introduction 

The Maynooth University (MU) Library Year in Review takes place twice a year: before Christmas and at the end of the academic year. It brings together colleagues from different MU Library departments to showcase their work, which can be internal or external projects, events attended or day-to-day work practice to name but a few topics. Examples of what library staff spoke about at the most recent Year in Review are: the MU Makerspace, the new model for the Digital Communications Team (DCT) and a report from a colleague who completed a certificate in Adult and Community Education at MU. There is time for questions from attendees once all the presentations have been completed. 


Background/Context

Each participant is invited to speak for a total of seven minutes about their chosen topic. The presenter may use PowerPoint if they wish but are restricted to seven slides.   Prior to the pandemic, the Year in Review was a face-to-face event.  Since the advent of the Pandemic, it is online via Microsoft Teams. If using a PowerPoint presentation participants must share their screen. This allows the Year in Review experience to be more engaging. All staff are invited to attend the event.  The most recent Year in Review had almost thirty attendees.


My Experience

For my first Year in Review, I presented with a colleague, and we spoke about our transition from being members of the Facilities and Events (F&E) Team to being members of the Engagement and Information Services (EIS) team. We alternated every second slide on our PowerPoint presentation. I began the presentation by introducing myself and my role in MU Library and my colleague followed suit. The topics I spoke about were our transition from the F&E team to the EIS team, EIS team updates and my aspirations within MU Library.

For my second time participating in the Year in Review I spoke about the work I had done in relation to the University of Sanctuary (UoS) at MU. Before beginning the PowerPoint presentation, I made a list of all the noteworthy UoS events and updates that had occurred over the past few months. I ensured the PowerPoint Presentation was colourful and eye-catching. I made sure to include the UoS logo in the PowerPoint presentation as well as the relevant links to our UoS social media: Twitter and Instagram. When it was my turn to present, I introduced myself and my presentation very briefly and I provided a summary of the UoS and MU as a UoS. My presentation was divided into five sections: the background to the UoS, social media, writing, the MU UoS coffee morning and further information. My favourite UoS things to speak about was the coffee morning because it gave staff and students a chance to get to know one another and it was an enjoyable event to be a part of.


The Preparation Process

I prepared for each Year in Review slightly differently. For the 2021 Year in Review my colleague and I had some team meetings to prepare. We discussed what we wanted to speak about and what angle we were taking, would it be one or two different ones? Would we have two separate PowerPoint presentations, or would we just have one? We created a shared document in Microsoft Teams where we could brainstorm ideas.  We provided each other with feedback on our contributions to the PowerPoint presentation.

For the 2022 Year in Review, I was presenting solo, so my preparation activities looked slightly different. The presentation topic was also different. This time I presented on the MU UoS’s engagements and the role I played in it. I liaised with the Deputy University Librarian who is on the UoS committee at MU for advice about the presentation and confirmation about up-to-date information.

For both presentations I made sure I had allocated sufficient time to work on the presentations. This included planning what I would speak about, creating the PowerPoint, editing the PowerPoint and rehearsing the presentation. When I was rehearsing, I practised with colleagues or at home. I always used the timer on my phone to ensure my presentation did not exceed the allocated time. From participating in the Year in Review I learned to keep my points clear and concise during presentations and equally when preparing the PowerPoint presentation slides to, I learned to avoid making them too text heavy and to include some photos or pictures where possible. 


Conclusion 

The MU Library Year in Review gives colleagues the opportunity to interact with one another and learn about the broad range of activities in the different areas of the Library. It also gives staff an opportunity to speak to a group in an environment that may be less daunting than speaking at a seminar or conference.  It was particularly beneficial during the Covid 19 lockdown as it really boosted morale among colleagues. I was particularly grateful for the chance to be a part of the Year in Review because I got to know a lot of my colleagues that I had yet to meet in person due to Covid restrictions and the blended working scheme. I feel a great sense of community at MU Library, and it makes me look forward to what will come next.


Posted on Wednesday, September 07, 2022 | Categories:

15 Aug 2022

Integrating into the library community of Ireland: my journey to IFLA WLIC 2022

Image courtesy of Nadina Yedid

Guest post by Nadina YedidNadina works as Assistant Librarian at the Heritage Centre of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland. She has a Master's Degree in Libraries and Digital Information Services from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (Spain) and a bachelor's degree in Library Science from the Universidad de Buenos Aires (Argentina). She is the editor of the SLA-Europe newsletter and is part of the LAI-CDG and LAI-ASL groups.


Last month, like many other librarians, I had the most amazing one week professional journey as a volunteer at the IFLA WLIC 2022. But my journey had begun much before that. On the 21st of June 2021, I took a flight from Buenos Aires (Argentina) to Dublin, looking for a better future for me and my family. I knew nothing about Irish libraries, but I had been working in libraries for 13 years and I was certain I wanted to continue my professional development in this vibrant city. My case might be a bit extreme, but if you are looking to start a career in the Irish libraries you might as well stay and read some of my tips to integrate into the library community of Ireland.

Getting started

Library worlds tend to be small worlds. I found out that that statement was true both for Buenos Aires and for Dublin. I changed from being in a place where I knew everybody and everybody knew me, to not knowing anyone at all. I had so many questions to ask but, where could I start? Who could I contact? I decided to start with the people I had close to me, and believe it or not, it worked! Not long after arriving in Dublin, a former colleague of mine wrote me an email saying she knew an Argentinian librarian who was working in The Hague, had worked for several years at IFLA and had a lot of international connections. The email also said she had already contacted her, and she was waiting for my call. And here comes my first tip: TIP 1 - Tell it to everyone. If you are looking for a change in your career or you want to start a career in libraries, just tell to everybody (if you can). You never know whom the help might come from. Embrace any help you can get, even if it looks like a long shot. After all, it’s worth trying, don’t you think?

The Argentinian librarian living in The Hague didn’t know much about Irish libraries, but she handed me the tip of a cord to pull. She said her first advice for me would be to join an association. She of course didn’t know any Irish associations, but she knew a member of the European charter of the SLA (Special Libraries Association), a librarian from the British Library, whom she could put me in contact with. At the time I didn’t fully understand the implications of joining an international association, but I do now, and I would like to replicate her advice. So, this is my second tip for you: TIP 2 - Join an international association. Joining an association will allow you not only to avail of the benefits for the members, like attending webinars and other kinds of events but also to obtain a different perspective of the library field. If you can, explore the possibilities of joining a committee. The options to work within an association are vast, and they are always a very good way of acquiring experience and skills much requested for open vacancies. Plus, it will look great on your CV! 


The wheels in motion

The librarian from the British Library was, of course, delighted to have another person on board and she offered me to join one of their committees. She said she even knew some librarians here in Dublin she could introduce me to. And that was when all the magic began.

She took the time to write a personal email to each of these librarians, telling them my story and asking if they could help me in any way. Not long after, I got answers from all of them. With some of them I met for coffee, with others I had a video call, and with others I exchanged emails. But all of them offered me a great deal of help.

I want to be clear about this: I got help from four different Irish librarians, who didn’t know me at all, who at the time were introduced to me by a British librarian, who didn’t know me either, and who I had met thanks to the contact of an Argentinian librarian living abroad who, again, didn’t know me from before. All this chain of beautiful people, they helped me just because. They didn’t need to do it nor had any reason to do it, but the will of doing something nice for someone else. And with this comes my third tip: TIP 3 - Don’t be afraid to reach out. The librarians’ community is probably one of the most cooperative and solidary communities you might find. If you have a teacher, a colleague or an acquaintance to whom you would like to ask something, don’t be scared to do it. I’m sure they will be happy to help you in any way they can.


First steps

Chatting with these librarians meant a pivot point for me. They gave me tips on what kind of positions I should aim for, what kind of libraries, how to put together my CV, and they stressed two pieces of advice I followed, and now I would like to share with you too. So these are my fourth and fifth tips. 

TIP 4 - Get a Twitter account. There is a huge library twitter community, and a lot of what’s happening in the library world is reflected there. Vacancies in libraries, webinars, workshops, in-person events, and what other libraries/librarians are doing, most of those things get published on Twitter. If you don’t know who to follow, start with the easiest one: follow @LAIonline. The LAI (Library Association of Ireland) posts much interesting news for the library world. They also retweet interesting posts from other libraries/librarians. So once you are following them, you can start following the other people they are retweeting, and so on and so forth. The Twitter algorithm will take care of the rest. It will show you other users to follow based on your interests until you get your own personal connections in the library world. It’s not hard, give it a try!

TIP 5 - Join the LAI, and if you can join one of their many committees, so much the better! You don’t need to be already working in a library to join the LAI. Joining is very easy and it’s not expensive at all! They have around 16 groups you can join according to your interests and you can join as many as you want (or your time allows you). This is an excellent way to get involved with the library community. It will give you the opportunity of networking with other librarians, and to participate in the planning of many professional-related activities. At the time I joined the LAI-CDG group I wasn’t working in a library and I was sceptic about how I could help the group in any way. But I found out there are lots of different ways in which one can help, and for sure you will find your way to be helpful to the group. Taking part in a group will not take much of your time and you can have a lot of fun too! 


IFLA WLIC 2022

In February 2022 I saw in a LAI newsletter (and again, on Twitter) that a call for volunteers for the IFLA WLIC 2022 was taking place. By that time I was already working in a library but I thought that it could be the best opportunity for me to attend and collaborate with a conference I had never even dreamed about going to. The last time an IFLA conference took place in Latin America was in 2004, and I hadn’t even finished my undergraduate studies back then! But now, a conference was taking place in the city where I was living, and I didn’t want to lose my chance to be a part of it. I talked to my manager who immediately agreed to it, and on Sunday 24th of July, I joined a group of approximately 200 volunteers from around the world. That’s when I got a true sense of what IFLA WLIC was.

The congress is as thrilling as it is exhausting. The days start very early in the morning and end very late in the evening. Volunteering implies that you have to do some “work” during the conference, but you also get some free time to enjoy the sessions. There are plenty of different tasks you might be given, like collaborating with the social media coverage, taking care of the VIP delegates, help out with the registration or badge control, among many others. In my case, my assignments involved assisting in one of the rooms where the sessions were taking place, so even when “on duty” I was able to attend some talks! The duties of a Room Assistant are quite simple: check that there are clean glasses and bottles of water for the speakers before every session; play a loop-presentation on the screens in between sessions; keep the room tidy; and eventually help the speakers to start their presentation (if they need it). Not a lot to ask, right?

During my time as a Room Assistant I got to listen to very interesting talks. I learned, for instance, about programs to identify Open Access journals; I became aware of innovative ideas taking place in health and academic libraries; I got to know IREL, the Irish e-Resources Consortium, and the fascinating work they are doing; and I listen about publishing in Irish academic libraries, among many other interesting topics. Needless to say, I also got the best out of my free time at the conference, learning about digital skills, conservation, marketing for libraries, and so much more.

But for me, the most invaluable asset I got out of the IFLA WLIC was the personal connection with other librarians. The Irish caucus, the cultural evening, the breaks, the lunches, all of them opportunities to get to know new people, and to finally meet face to face with those colleagues I had been interacting with over Zoom, Twitter or email. Putting a face to that Twitter account that always has interesting information, knowing how tall a person you had only seen sitting on the other side of a camera actually is, or how the voice of someone you’d only “talked” over email sounds. Humans are social animals, and all of our institutions and organisations are constructed on the grounds of the people who are part of it. The same happens with all the activities we do, for pleasure or work (or for both, if you are lucky enough). It all comes down to the people walking the path with us.

And with this comes my sixth and seven tips. TIP 6 - Get involved. If you see an opportunity to volunteer at any event, or if you can take part in it in any way, don’t lose your chance! Get involved, participate, join the community. Many events are taking place now, some of them in person and some of them online, but all of them equally worthy. Many of these events are for free, but for many others there are ways to join even if you can’t afford the admission fee, like applying for a bursary or, as I did, volunteering to help.

I’ve left my seventh tip almost for the very end of this post, but I think all the tips I’ve given you so far are in a way related to it. And if I had to choose only one tip to give you, it would be this one: TIP 7- Network. For any person that wants to make a start in any professional field, this would be my first advice. Knowing people already working in the industry probably won’t get you a position, but it will help you understand how the industry works. They can give you advice, they can help you understand what a position involves, and they can even shout out when they see a vacancy that might be good for you. I’m sure you already know many people you can talk to, but the biggest the circle, the better.

Moving forward

Last but not least, I wouldn’t like to finish this post without mentioning two extra tips for the time you are already enjoying your beloved library position. Here they are: 

TIP 8 - Be grateful. Getting your longed-for position is probably a combination of different factors. You were probably born in a home where you were supported to study, you had choices, you put lots of effort and perhaps, there was a bit of luck involved as well. Be grateful for that. And above all, if along the way you met people who helped you reach the place you wanted to be, thank them. You might not be able to repay them, but let them know that their actions had a positive impact on your life. So if you allow me, I would like to follow my own advice, and take this opportunity to thank the four Irish librarians who first introduced me to the Library world in Ireland: Marie O’Neill, Fiona Lacey, Ann O’Sullivan and Lara Musto; to Martin O’Connor and Helen Fallon for their support and inspiration to write this blog post; and very especially to the person who believed in me and offer me my first Assistant Librarian position in Ireland, Harriet Wheelock. To all of you, THANK YOU!

TIP 9 - Keep the chain. If someone helped you along the way, as I’m sure someone has, keep the chain of kindness. Help someone else to achieve their goals, as you have achieved yours. And again, as I like to follow my own advice, I’m writing this blog post hoping that someone might find it useful to start their own journey to integrate into the library community of Ireland. And if I can, from my humble place, help you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact me. Look me up on Twitter @nadinayedid, or send me an email to nadyed@gmail.com.

Thank you for reading!

9 Aug 2022

CONUL Conference 2022: three short reports...

Below we have three short reports from the recent CONUL Conference held in Limerick. These reports are written by the CONUL Conference Bursary Winners for this year., Catherine Gallagher, Eilish McLaughlin, and Niamh O'Brien.


Photo courtesy of Catherine Gallagher

Report one is from Catherine Gallagher, Senior Library Assistant, Reader Services, TUS Midlands 

Reflections on Library Futures: My experience of CONUL 2022.


When I received the news that I had been selected as the awardee for one of the CONUL Conference’s bursaries, I was absolutely delighted! At the time I was working in the Library at Carlow College, St Patrick’s, and put simply, the bursary was the difference in being able to attend the conference or not. Little did I, nor anybody else know, the global crisis that was just around the corner that would change not only how libraries would have to rapidly transform their services to meet the needs of their stakeholders, but indeed the world at large. As the world began to shut down and ‘remote learning’ for all students became the new business of the day, it became apparent fairly soon that the conference wouldn’t happen. I would be omitting a truth if I didn’t say that for a few moments I had the small, it’s-all-about-me thought: typical this would have to happen when I win a bursary to go to CONUL….

Fast forward to 2022 and the e-mail from Nicola Smith that I still had the bursary from 2019, well there may have been a silent whipeeeee at my work desk!  Much had changed, including my role, as I had moved from Carlow College to what is now a thriving and expanding University, TUS: Midlands Midwest. 

Where to begin? This was my first library conference and I have nothing but good things to say! It was tough to decide which talks to go to and in terms of planning which talks to go to and where, I found the CONUL app very useful for organising this. Many of the talks focused on the rapid pivot libraries had to make due to COVID-19 in terms of rolling out supports and services from largely on-site to online and libraries demonstrated their ‘capacity for agility’ as Emma Goode from NUIG aptly described it. I also found interesting her comment that libraries are like the ‘wall paper of institutions’; we are often not noticed but badly missed if we weren’t around. COVID-19 certainly had the effect of demonstrating to students and all stakeholders alike, the important role libraries play in providing not only spaces for student learning, but providing students with the skills and access to quality scholarly information. We are all now only too familiar with the concept of ‘fake news’ and as Ciara McCaffrey from UL and Emma Goode from NUIG noted in their talks, it has become just as important to teach students how to deal with all information, not just scholarly information.

Open and equitable scholarship was another key theme present in many of the talks. Keynote speaker Chris Bourg from MIT highlighted this in her talk where she discussed MIT Libraries’ urgent mission statement in response to the pandemic. Top of the list on Chris’s ‘urgency principles’ was the concept of ‘Digital First’ and where digital is certainly not new, the accelerated pace at which libraries have had to provide digital resources and equip students with digital literacy skills is. Ciara McCaffrey in her talk likewise posed interesting questions around the future of print collections and the impact of eBooks on libraries.

As my passion is for Teaching & Learning, I thoroughly enjoyed Michelle Breen’s talk on digital literacy for students. I came away with some great tips that are worth sharing:

  1. Teach what students want to learn
  2. Use succinct messaging on relevant channels, e.g. Social media
  3. Tweak, refine, adjust and have another go
  4. Make academics your advocates
  5. Use multiple formats

On the topic of using multiple formats, Kathryn Briggs from ATU gave a great talk on applying the principles of UDL to information and digital literacy. The key message I took from this to apply to my own teaching role is to minimise barriers for student learning and offer them flexibility. This is essential, and it was inspiring to see how other libraries are incorporating the UDL principles into library instruction.

I could go on and on, I really could. I found Martha Bustillo’s from UCD’s talk particularly inspiring. In her discussion on her role as the Digital Learning Librarian, she provided some excellent tips on how librarians can develop successful intra-campus social interoperability and it reminded me of Emma Goode’s comment I mentioned earlier on how the library can often be like the wallpaper of institutions, often not noticed but badly missed if it wasn’t there. They were all excellent but the 3 main takeaways that resonated or me were:

  • Speak their language.
  • Timing is essential.
  • Be confident in your value.

The conference was rounded up with lively panel discussion on day 2, and I found it particularly heartening to hear Dr. Patrick Ryan from UL’s words of praise and commendation for the stalwart role academic libraries have played in not only keeping the show on the road, so to speak, during COVID-19, but indeed to reflect on and transform library services and supports to meet the needs of our ever diversifying and expanding student population. I was reminded of one of Michelle Breen’s tips referred to earlier, and of two more of Martha Bustillo takeaways: make academics your advocates, secure buy in, and know your audience. If we are to take Dr. Patrick’s sentiments as a guide, we are clearly on the right track. 

So if in doubt, apply for the bursary!! Like me, you may not think you’ll get it, but you might, and if you do you are in for a fantastic experience! Lots to learn and lots of people to meet!


Report two is from Eilish McLaughlin

My name is Eilish McLaughlin and when I won the student bursary in 2020, I worked as a cataloguing library assistant at Queens University Belfast and acted as the students and new professionals officer for CILIP Ireland. I have also previously worked as a graduate trainee in the library at the University of Bradford and at Shrewsbury International school’s library in Bangkok. I have just recently completed my Master's Degree in Library and Information Management with the University of Ulster. Since winning the bursary, much has changed (to say the least!) I’ve moved from Belfast to Portsmouth, began a new post as a Sales and Marketing Consultant for PTFS Europe, and finished my studies. 

I had seen the bursary advertised on Twitter and thought it’d be a great way to engage with other students and new professionals in attendance and gain insight into the sector and its future outlook. It was also my first real-life conference I’d be attending after two years of virtual events. While I’d learned a lot from taking part in virtual events, which proved to be something of a professional lifeline during the pandemic, I was excited to have the full 3D, in-person experience in Limerick! 

After a year of living and working out of the country, I was also excited to be back and in touch with the academic library sector in Ireland. Upon my arrival at the Limerick Strand hotel, I was delighted to run into two former Queens University colleagues who were presenting a lightning talk that morning on creating video training materials for staff. This followed an excellent Keynote by Chris Bourg, Director of Libraries at Massachusetts Institute of Technology who, despite having begun their talk with a disclaimer about being a bit rusty on presenting, delivered a compelling talk on MIT libraries and their concept of the future of libraries—which is indeed now!

Much of the discussion focused on how library and information professionals navigated the physical limitations brought about by the pandemic and how this operational context could be balanced alongside the need to provide in-person support for students and colleagues. Speakers presented much scope for innovation in the areas of blended learning, hybrid working, and flexible library spaces to name but a few key topics. I was particularly interested in Day 2’s keynote from Melissa Highton, Assistant Principal for Online Learning and Director of Learning, Teaching, and Web Services at the University of Edinburgh. I studied for my undergraduate degree at the University of Edinburgh and also completed my master's degree via online learning so I enjoyed hearing Melissa talk about the University’s continued success with online modes of learning and her advice for supporting those studying and working in this way. 

PTFS Europe, the company I currently work for, is dedicated to providing Open Source solutions for libraries. Since I began working for PTFS Europe last year, I have become extremely invested in the Open Source movement and its analogues; Open Science, Access, Education, etc. One of the aspects that I most enjoyed about CONUL was the positive conversation around these Open Movements and the changing scholarly communication landscape. I also enjoyed catching up with colleagues from Interleaf, PTFS Europe’s Irish equivalent, who had a lot of Open Source Wisdom to share! It was encouraging to see that in a programme that looked to the future of libraries, Open Source was very much part of that vision. 

I had a wonderful time and was so glad to attend. I’m very grateful to CONUL for awarding me the student bursary and would recommend that any current MLIS students apply for the chance to take part in a brilliant opportunity for professional development. 




Photo Courtesy of Niamh O'Brien


Report three is from Niamh O'Brien, ICT Support, Library Assistant, TUS Midlands

Pandemic delays, posters, and prizes: reflections on my first in-person conference  #CONUL2022

I was sitting in the UCD library with my head stuck in my laptop trying to finish my assignment at the end of the first semester of my MLIS when I received the news that I had won the student bursary for CONUL2020.

Fast forward a couple of months and I had moved back in with my parents, was studying from my childhood bedroom, stuck in lockdown and found out CONUL would not go ahead in 2020. It feels like a lifetime ago now. 

*****

I’d just received a job offer for my first library assistant job position in December 2021, when the conference organisers got back in contact with me to let me know they would honour the bursary I originally received in 2019 for CONUL2022 in Limerick.  Five months later I packed my suitcase and headed to Limerick with my conference poster and coffee in hand. 

Once I got my poster up, I headed for the free stuff. I love free stuff, and you know what online conferences don’t have? Free stuff. I started gathering souvenirs to bring back to my co-workers immediately but was quickly side tracked when I bumped into some familiar faces from Galway who showed me the ropes in the Hardiman library when I did my pre-MLIS work placement. Soon I was chatting with former colleagues and classmates that I hadn’t seen in over two years, and meeting twitter mutuals in person for the first time. 

I also had the pleasure of meeting Ellen Breen who was my conference mentor. A lovely bonus for receiving the student bursary was that I was assigned a conference mentor. It was great to have someone to touch base with throughout the conference and someone to ask for some advice before the conference. Although I had attended plenty online conferences, I had a feeling I couldn’t wear pyjama pants to CONUL so I reached out to Ellen beforehand for some dress code insights!

CONUL opened with (well the official opening but after that) a keynote from Chris Bourg from MIT who talked about how libraries have had to focus on a digital first (but not digital only) approach to providing resources, especially since the pandemic. 

After the keynote I scurried upstairs for the first session Technology and Innovation in Libraries. The first presentation in this session starred David Carlos Rinehart who went on to win an award for his ability to hold it together and stay calm despite a myriad of technical difficulties. David wrote a hilarious blogpost about that here (Link: https://www.libfocus.com/2022/06/keeping-calm-in-face-of-technological.html). At the time I assumed he was very calm but I’ve come to learn he’s a great actor! 

During lunch, I took up my position beside my poster to present the Laptop on Loan scheme at TUS Midlands, answer questions from the other delegates, and pass out the bookmarks I had made about the scheme. 

The second session of the day centred around the very important subject of library services at the heart of EDI. To close the conference-y part of day one, there was a fantastic panel focused on the future of libraries, sustainability, and the key external influences for academic libraries. Then I wandered back to my room, drank more coffee, and got myself ready for dinner. After dinner I went back to my room at a very reasonable hour and got loads of sleep so I would be refreshed for day two. Okay that’s a lie. I stayed up all night chatting with all the lovely librarians I had met during the day. 

Dr Melissa Highton kicked off day two with her keynote where she spoke about her role as digital technologist at University of Edinburgh and how they meet the challenges and demands that arose from the sudden university wide pivot to online learning.

Later that morning Molly Twomey from UCC presented on Using Social Media and Humour to Engage with Students. I found out later that Molly is a poet, so I ordered her poetry collection and found out she’s very talented. I think I’ll be a bit start stuck if I meet her again. 

In the second session of day two, the OER team from NUIG discussed their OER project. Having previously attended a longer, half day workshop on creating OERs in Galway I was seriously impressed at the amount of information these guys fit into their 20-minute presentation slot. 

In the final session of the day I regrouped with all the gang from TUS Midlands to cheer on our colleague Assumpta who presented with the Library Carpenters.

Before the final panel discussion and conference close, the winning conference posters were announced. My colleagues Emmet and Catherine came joint third place, and I came second! This was a great thrill and a great way to end what was a very enjoyable conference. 

I’d rate my CONUL experience very highly and look forward to next year! 


Photo courtesy of Niamh O'Brien