15 Dec 2022

Reflecting on IFLA WLIC 2022.

Image courtesy of Author
Guest post by Kathryn Briggs, Systems Librarian at ATU Galway-Mayo with a strong interest in emerging technologies, library instruction, Open (OA, OER), TEL & UDL.

It is with thanks to a bursary from the Acquisitions Group of Ireland (AGI) that I was afforded the opportunity to attend the IFLA World Library and Information Congress, the most global professional and trade event for the library and information sector.  This was the 87th Congress but only the first time it was held in Ireland. With over 2,000 delegates the event had high-level speakers, experts in the profession, and library and information people from around the world exploring issues and developments of interest to the global library field. The event was a time to celebrate library advocacy successes, learn lessons from each other, and strengthen the voice of the library profession. I heard from lots of people I would not have had the chance to hear or learn from before, met up with many familiar faces not seen since before COVID, and got many ideas to follow up on. It was a great day out!

The event took place over several full days in July 2022. There were so many sessions scheduled (over 50) that an iPlanner app was available to help delegates plan and coordinate their personal timetable. Although I only attended for one day, having the planner let me see which sessions were scheduled and when so I could choose the sessions that were of most interest to me before the event as it’s impossible to attend all the programmed sessions! The bursary covered one day’s registration fee for the event, one of the downfalls of the event is the cost. However, to enable as much participation as possible, eight key sessions were made available online for free. This meant that I (and anyone) could look over the wonderful opening and closing ceremonies even though I was not in attendance on the days they took place, as well as watching other key sessions on demand. 

Image courtesy of Author

As well as the huge number of programmed sessions there were over 170 poster presentations. The cat poster asking, “Are librarians cat people?” was the most talked about poster of the event. The winning poster was the Gazi Husrev-beg Library Book Museum which showcased their Library and its nearly half-millennium-long journey. 

The Library Boulevard was an opportunity to discover Irish libraries. Featuring a variety of promotional pop-ups on a range of different topics, such as new projects in libraries on digital innovation, distinctive architecture, and new library services. It was fantastic to see the array of work being done in libraries across Ireland. The boulevard was great to wander around when moving between sessions or grabbing a quick cup of coffee. 

Image courtesy of Author

Here I will discuss some of the sessions I attended and enjoyed. 

The State of Outcome/Impact Measurement in Metropolitan, National, and Academic Libraries (Session 097).

The IFLA Metropolitan Libraries Section and Statistics and Evaluation Section presented information on diverse approaches to outcomes and impact measurement at their libraries. Focusing on how libraries move from outcome measurement to the assessment of the impact or value of library programs and services.

Telling the Next Chapter: Marketing Libraries of the Future (Session 109).

This session presented a keynote by Waterford City & County Libraries Executive Librarian Tracy McEneaney on marketing of Irish libraries. Tracy spoke about the ‘Squeeze in a Read’ campaign by encouraging everyone to read. She believes that we need to put more money into marketing our libraries and thinks library staff are our best assets, and I would have to agree!

The keynote was followed by the top 3 winners of the 2022 IFLA PressReader International Marketing Award. First place and worthy winners were Yarra Libraries in Australia with We’re ready for the next chapter. Help us write it, this marketing campaign was a mix of digital and print, non-traditional outreach as well as effective user participation. The screenshot shows some of their catchy marketing material. 

The Use of Transformative Agreements: Do They Increase Access to Research? (Session 121).

This session started with the statement that the only constant is change and asked what can we do to manage change. Libraries have always evolved with time, as the image below shows. 

Image courtesy of Author

With the growing appreciation and support for Open Access there has been a growth in the use and development of transformative agreements. These transformative agreements allow for libraries and other such institutions and organizations to shift subscription costs to open access publishing. Due to efforts by funders, governments and libraries, these types of agreements and this reallocation of funding has grown notably in recent years. The panelists concluded that transformative agreements are not a perfect solution, but by developing existing models, sharing risk, and establishing clear communication, libraries can move open access forward.

I attended other sessions, but the sessions highlighted here gave me the most inspiration and ideas to follow up on. 

Now it wasn’t all about attending sessions by experts, there were also wellbeing activities, including guided walks and library visits, but as I was only there for the day these were unworkable for me. What I did enjoy though was meeting two lovely Irish guide dogs who were there as part of the conference wellbeing activities. 

The most valuable gain from attending this event was the personal connections with other delegates. I enjoyed my conference experience; even though, the venue and crowds were a bit overwhelming! I did not realize how big the Convention Centre is and how packed the venue, particularly the poster area would be. Nevertheless, it made for a great opportunity to bump into delegates, sometimes literally, making new connections and re-establishing ties with familiar faces. I was sorry to have missed out on the cultural evening at the Lexicon in Dún Laoghaire which was held on the evening I attended the conference as it would have been a good chance to meet people from around the world in a more relaxed environment, but I had to get the bus back to Galway!

The day was packed full of lively discussion from both experts in the field that were presenting and the delegates I met in the venue areas. The diversity of our profession was truly reflected in the conference, I heard stories of libraries and librarians from all over the world and found the conference experience extremely engaging and inspiring. My tip for anyone who wishes to attend the event is to try not to get overwhelmed by the massive size of the conference, plan ahead and embrace it! Try and attend for the duration of the conference so you can fully immerse yourself in the conference experience, attend more sessions to learn and get more of a chance to engage and connect to widen your profession network. 

To conclude, register to become a volunteer, this means that if accepted you will get to attend the event for free. The application for volunteers has just opened for the 88th World Library and Information Conference in the Netherlands in August 2023, if anyone is tempted apply now! Thanks again to the AGI for the opportunity to attend this huge event. 


Conference website: https://2022.ifla.org/  

WLIC 2022 online sessions and recordings: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLV81siTMahbuJpAjacTKcbgrq0KClBswM 

Winning poster: Ejla and Adnan Ćurovac, Bosnia and Herzegovina: Gazi Husrev-beg Library Book Museum

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)’s albums – Flickr

2023 Conference website: https://2023.ifla.org/ 

Posted on Thursday, December 15, 2022 | Categories:

9 Dec 2022

Ligatus Summer School 2022: Histories of Bookbinding

Guest post by Yvette Campbell, Collections and Content Librarian at Maynooth University Library. Yvette’s professional interests include the history of the book, codicology, descriptive bibliography, and digital preservation.
(Fig 1) - Week 1 Ligatus School 2022 participants at the Edward Worth Library. Photo courtesy of Elizabethann Boran

I was very fortunate to undertake a terrific professional development opportunity this year to attend the 2022 Ligatus Summer School for two consecutive weeks in September. The Summer School took place in Dublin and was hosted by the Edward Worth Library and included scheduled visits to both Marsh’s Library and the Chester Beatty.
The Ligatus Summer School is world-renowned amongst librarians, cataloguers, conservators, historians, and scholars who work with early books. It offers courses on bookbinding history and Linked Data - in particular, the development of historic bindings with a particular emphasis on description and recording of their various structures and materials.
Ligatus is organised in collaboration with many institutions including the University of the Arts, London and the Saint Catherine Foundation which supports conservation work at Saint Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai, Egypt. The Summer School takes place in a different city each year worldwide and 2022 was the first year it has been held in Ireland.
Call for applications
I noticed the call for applications to attend the school on social media and didn’t hesitate twice about applying. Anyone who works with unique and distinctive collections in Ireland will know what little opportunities are afforded to us in recent years to upskill in the areas of special collections curatorship. I also felt it was a great opportunity to visit some of the most important historical collections in other local institutions and to re-connect with colleagues in this area. I previously had knowledge of European bookbinding which for several years has been beneficial in my role as a rare materials cataloguer. In recent times, I have been drawn to the traditions of bookbinding that developed in the East (in particular, the Islamic manuscript tradition) and was very keen to expand my knowledge in this area. For me it was important to understand that bindings can be read as a text with a language of their own, and to describe them accurately is to learn their language.
The Application Process
The course fee (as of 2022) was €400 per week and candidates could choose to attend one or both weeks. Maynooth University Library kindly supported my application to attend both weeks. The application process was much the same as applying for a regular job. The school required an up-to-date CV and a supporting cover letter outlining who we are, our occupation and why we were interested in applying.

Successful candidates would be contacted in August, and I was delighted when I received the acceptance email. Shortly afterwards, I received the summer programme including a reading list for week 1 which focused on European Bookbinding 1450-1830. I was also provided with a list of software to download in advance of week 2 which was concerned with Identifying and Recording Bookbinding Structures of the Eastern Mediterranean.

Week 1 - European Bookbinding 1450 - 1830
(Fig 2) - Prof. Nicholas Pickwoad teaching European Bookbinding at the Edward Worth Library. Photo courtesy of Elizabethann Boran

Professor Nicholas Pickwoad‘s course on European Bookbinding, 1450-1830 was every bit as meticulous but rewarding as I had hoped it would be. It consisted of rich lectures every morning and hands-on sessions in the afternoons looking at specimens from the Edward Worth Library. Two afternoons included excursions to Marsh’s Library and the Chester Beatty for classes examining their collections in greater detail.

Participants came from a variety of diverse backgrounds, traveling from Estonia, France, England, Germany and Sweden. Eight students were book and paper conservators, while three were Irish librarians (including a digital librarian and two special collections librarians). It was fascinating to see the mix of backgrounds and I was heartened that there was representation within my own profession. Without the know-how to catalogue and describe binding structures as accurately as possible, we are losing great opportunities to provide researchers and scholars with enough material evidence to support important historical research including questions of who bound a book, where and for what purpose?

As a rare materials cataloguer, I have always tried to include at least a brief description of each book’s decorative binding. This course has now given me the knowledge and vocabulary to describe other important elements and how they were made. For example, recording the presence of uncut edges is vital for understanding the status of the book and to be cautious when recording the prices on title-pages to understand exactly what they mean - as without other supporting historical annotation, it can be meaningless - is it the price of the textblock, the print, or the binding?

(Fig 3) - Selection of bindings to examine from the Edward Worth Library 

(Fig 4) -Selection of European bindings from the Chester Beatty

We concentrated on the structural analysis of bindings particularly regional techniques and materials present rather than decorative finishing. We also examined how to date bindings in the medieval period, how to identify the raw materials used (with caution), how to check leather that has been tooled by hand through symmetry, sewing and stitching techniques, recessed supports, spine linings, edge treatments, board types and endleaves – all of which can tell us the where, why and hows of the history of the book as an object.

As books regularly travelled from the bindery to private collections across Europe during this time-period, they were often rebound to suit the taste of their wealthy owners. Patrons could choose their books to be bound in various uniform colours or stripped back to the plain old basics. Thus, Professor Pickwoad emphasised the importance of intact historic collections as one of the most important for studying original bindings - since they were often commissioned for one or perhaps two collectors and unlikely to have moved around. Some Irish examples in this context include the St. Canice’s Cathedral Library Collection on long term loan from the Church of Ireland held at Maynooth University, the Bolton Library at University Limerick and indeed the Edward Worth Library itself.

(Fig 5) - Example of customised fore-edge painting by Cesare Vocellio from the Pillone Library

Week 2 - Identifying and Recording Bookbinding Structures of the East Mediterranean
For week 2, the course was divided into two inter-related sessions delivered by Dr Georgios Boudalis and Dr Athanasios Velios, both conservators respectively working on the St. Catherine’s Monastery Project in Egypt. In the first session, Dr Boudalis focused on the major structural and decorative features of different bookbinding traditions that developed in the Eastern Mediterranean, including Coptic bindings, Arabic, Armenian, Georgian, Syriac and Ethiopic books– with a special focus on Byzantine and post-Byzantine bookbindings. We examined various precursors to the multi-gathering codices such as wooden, legal and wax tablets and papyrus rolls.

(Fig 6) - Week 2 Ligatus School 2022 participants at the Chester Beatty. Photo courtesy of Kristine-Rose Beers

While showcasing bookbindings from various museums and libraries (including St. Catherine’s Monastery), we were guided through the development of these closely related binding structures and their influences from the West. Dr. Boudalis emphasised that by examining representations of the codex in iconography, we can ascertain evidence of decorative and functional characteristics that may no longer survive and how they may have been utilised once upon a time. We concluded this session by visiting the Chester Beatty again to view and study examples of these various traditions with an impromptu visit to the Conservation lab hosted by Kristine Rose-Beers, Julia Poirier and Hoa Perriguey.
(Fig 7) – Coptic binding fragments from the CBL dating to 600 AD 

(Fig 8)  - Bone ties decorated with characteristic concentric circles used to keep leather ties in place

In the second session, Dr Athanasios Velios introduced participants to the semantic web, Linked Data and the CIDOC Conceptual Reference Model (CRM) for cultural heritage objects. We were also introduced to the consolidation potential currently being explored in a Linked Conservation Data Pilot.

The session consisted of a combination of presentations and hands-on group-oriented workshops. We explored the importance of standardised vocabularies for book descriptions and the significance of using Uniform Resource Identifier’s (URI) to assist systems in linking to a global thesaurus for maximum discovery impact. The afternoons were spent writing xml schema for various book components and mapping these to CIDOC-CRM using 3MEditor, a web application to view xml mapping files and publishing the Linked Data in ResearchSpace, an open-source platform that supports knowledge preservation.

At the end of the course, I received a certificate of completion for my continuing professional development (CPD) records.
Reflections on the course
I am looking forward to applying new knowledge of concise binding descriptions to my role in Maynooth University Library and perusing our holdings again as we enter an exciting and challenging new phase of the Russell Library Cataloguing Project to enrich records from the collections of St. Patrick’s College Maynooth with copy-specific features related to bindings. If contemplating how to describe bindings, I would highly recommend consulting the Language of Bindings thesaurus as a reference. The course has given me a deeper appreciation for the study of bindings as artefacts and how materiality impacts history. As Prof. Pickwoad declared during one tea break when I revealed that I need to go back and amend a few entries in our catalogue - “I want you to go away from this course feeling worried”… And I do, but in an optimistic way! 

29 Nov 2022

Reflections on my past year as a Digital Learning Specialist in UCC Library


Guest post by Stephanie Chen. Stephanie is the Digital Learning Specialist in University College Cork Library where she explores ways to integrate new library technologies and spaces into the learning experience to support student engagement and success.

This past year (and a half), I’ve been working in a new role in University College Cork Library. When I say new role, I mean new role. Not only is this role new to me but it’s entirely new to the Library. Navigating into a newly created role can have its challenges – no handover, no previous documentation, no idea of what the role is supposed to be but within those challenges are opportunities. 

This role is also my first “professional” librarian role in a University (even though the word librarian doesn’t appear in the job title). Previously, I’ve worked as a solo Librarian in the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland shortly after graduating with my Masters in Information and Library Management from Dublin Business School. After moving to Cork, I worked as a Library Assistant in Cork Institute of Technology (now MTU) Library for just under a year before moving to UCC Library as a Library Assistant. 

After about 7 months in UCC Library, the role for a Digital Learning Specialist was advertised…in March 2020. I applied for the role but, due to obvious reasons, recruitment was paused for the foreseeable future. It wasn’t until a year later in April 2021 that I was invited to interview for the role, an interview that (spoiler alert!) I was successful in and so I started my role as the Digital Learning Specialist in UCC Library on May 1st, 2021. 

The Role Itself

What exactly does the role entail? Good question!

When I started my role, as far as I could tell, there wasn’t an equivalent anywhere else in Ireland. There were some overlaps with other roles, such as Eileen Kennedy, Library Digital Experience Developer in University of Galway and Marta Bustillo, Digital Learning Librarian in University College Dublin but there was no Digital Learning Specialist in any university library. 

The job description for the role stated: 

“…the Digital Learning Specialist will lead on the design, delivery and evaluation of offerings that showcase innovative new learning spaces within the library such as the Library recording Studio, the dedicated virtual reality lounge, the evolving library makerspace, and other technology-enhanced spaces in development. The Digital Learning Specialist will lead the library’s efforts in adopting new technologies and spaces for innovative pedagogy and will partner with colleagues within the library and elsewhere to make use of new technologies to visualize, consume and experience library collections and services. The Digital Learning Specialist will develop educational resources and outreach services for digital, information and new media literacies.

The Digital Learning Specialist will also grow the library’s presence within the University’s new virtual learning environment, Instructure’s Canvas platform, to deliver high-quality, impactful and engaging digital library services. The post holder will also work collaboratively across the library to develop online supports directed at academic staff and researchers.”

New learning spaces, new technologies, new resources and outreach services, new VLE. And all of this while COVID was still happening. 

I dove headfirst into the role and took advantage of it being a new role to try new things. Some of the projects I undertook include: 


Now that I’m a year (and a half) into the role, I’m trying to do something which I have a hard time doing and which I certainly don’t do enough of: reflecting. 

There were definitely challenges. As mentioned, this was an entirely new role and it was on me to make it my own. 

Variety is great but it can also mean having too much going on at the same time. Having to find and create your own work allows for a lot of autonomy but sometimes it’s nice to be told what to do. There were some days when I felt overwhelmed by my ever-growing to-do list and my own ambitions for what I wanted to do. 

I might have been overzealous in asking for student help – making sure they had work when I wasn’t even sure of the work I was supposed to be doing. I found a priority for me was to ensure they were okay and supported which meant there was less time for other things. 

I don’t have a technical background (my undergraduate degree is in Anthropology). All this new technology, all these new platforms and software – I had to learn about it myself. Luckily, for some things like 3D printing, I could defer to my fellow colleagues who had more experience. But this meant some days I felt like a fraud. How could I talk to someone about VR and how to use it in teaching and learning when I’m only just figuring it out myself? Getting past this idea that I must be the “expert” required a lot of unlearning my own way of thinking and my own approach to work – something I’m still working on. 

There was also a bit of self-doubt. Am I doing enough? Is what I’m doing okay? Am I on the right track? It could also be a little isolating at times – I had gone from working with a great group of colleagues on the Services Desk Team to pretty much working on my own. 

Plus, all the usuals that come with starting a new “professional” role: policies and procedures, more meetings, strategic planning, promoting yourself and your role, talking to people about what you do constantly. 


But the challenges pale in comparison to all the opportunities this role has allowed for. I’ve had the opportunity to work with a variety of colleagues, both within the Library and in UCC. Elaine Harrington, Special Collections Librarian in UCC Library, and I worked closely on a number of projects with student help. Outside of the Library, I, along with the Library’s Learning and Teaching Team, was able to work with the Graduate Attributes Programme to develop content for their UCC Graduates Attributes & Values Compass. I helped develop two Pressbooks with Dr Briony Supple and Marnina Winkler. And I’ve worked with some amazing students – students who were involved in the Learning, Teaching & Assessment (LTA) Enhancement Fund 2021 summer project and my two student assistants for the 2021/2022 academic year.


I’ve had the opportunity to explore new things. New technologies, new platforms, new services that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to. We’ve 3D scanned date stamps, created a virtual 360 tour of a part of Cork city, and created interactive learning objects using H5P. 

I’ve had the opportunity to attend conferences, such as LILAC: The Information Literacy Conference, Wikimedia+Libraries International Convention 2022, IFLA World Library and Information Congress, and meet people doing loads of interesting stuff. 

I get to try new things and if it doesn’t work out, that’s okay because it’s all entirely new. Some things will work and some things won’t. 

Final Reflections

What’s next? 

As part of my interview for this role, I was asked to prepare a presentation on ‘Empowering students as co-creators of knowledge using emerging technologies in a physical and virtual UCC Library​.’ As part of the presentation, I weaved a hypothetical story of the Library helping to empower a student in UCC to have the experience and confidence in using technology. By engaging with technology available in the Library, such as the 3D printing or VR or the Library studio, this student would become digitally fluent and an independent and creative thinker. In line with UCC’s Graduate Attributes, they would be empowered to create and communicate knowledge. The Library would become an engaging, collaborative, and technology-rich physical and virtual space. This student could create a 3D model on one of the computers in the Library, experiment with it in the Library’s VR lounge and 3D printing it using the Library’s 3D printer. They could present on this process by recording a video using the Library Studio and editing it on a computer in the Library. That video could then be published online as an open educational resource for other students to learn from. 

Now that I feel I’ve found my feet a little, I’d like to start focusing on being more strategic with what I decide to do. I’d like to return to that “vision” I had of the Library supporting that hypothetical student and really focus on how I can make that happen. It won’t be an easy journey and I’m 100% sure I’ll make mistakes along the way and there’s still plenty for me to learn but if the last year (and a half) has taught me anything, it’s possible! 


All my achievements this past year (and a half) would not have been possible without the support and encouragement of my fellow UCC Library colleagues. In particular, Martin O’Connor has been a great resource in all things UCC Library and libraries in general and a fantastic sounding board. My line manager, Alan Carbery, has been nothing but supportive and encouraging every step of the way. I’m grateful to him for allowing me the autonomy to experiment and try new things.


22 Nov 2022

Library Outreach via Volunteering at Irish Secondary Schools

Ray at IFLA #WLIC2022

Guest post by Ray Gainford. Ray is a Library Assistant with Louth Library Service.

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of working with Junior Achievement Ireland and volunteering with a Transition Year class at a secondary school in County Louth. 

Junior Achievement Ireland (JAI) is a member of one of the world’s largest educational non-profit organisations, helping prepare young people for their futures by delivering hands-on, experiential learning in entrepreneurship, employability, financial literacy and the value of STEM. JAI was established in Ireland in 1996 and since then has built up a strong demand from schools throughout the country and created successful partnerships with 180 leading organisations.

An email was circulated to staff in Louth County Council asking if anyone would be interested in volunteering with JAI. Some colleagues of mine in Louth Library Service had previously volunteered with them and greatly enjoyed the experience, so I was very happy to put my name forward. 

I will admit that I was a bit nervous at the thought of teaching a class, but the training from JAI put me at ease. I first had a video call with a liaison officer at JAI named Elaine, which enabled me to get a clearer vision of what volunteering would entail. Elaine explained to me that JAI can find it more difficult to find volunteers willing to teach secondary school students, as people may feel nervous about teaching teenagers rather than younger children. There was an opening in their programme for a volunteer to teach the Career Success module to a Transition Year class at Coláiste Rís in Dundalk. Thinking of how helpful a module like this could have been to me when I was a Transition Year student many moons ago, I agreed to volunteer with this class. It was a full circle moment getting to teach a TY class myself!

Training was arranged for me soon after. It took place virtually with two facilitators from JAI, and a number of participants from various career paths. I was impressed with the variety of careers among the participants, as it showed the wide reach that JAI has. The training was excellent and boosted my confidence. We were given a chance to practice delivering some course content to the rest of the group, and received helpful feedback. Following the training, I received the content for the entire module, so I had plenty of time to familiarise myself with the various lesson plans and exercises. I also had to complete Garda Vetting in advance of the course. 

My classes with the Transition Year group went very well. Though I still had some nerves, the students were welcoming and well-behaved, and the teacher also stayed in the class at all times for support.  The module itself consisted of six weekly lessons, covering topics such as teamwork, communication, personal branding and interview skills. At the end of the module, I also held mock interviews with the students. I was really thrilled to see the students put all their learning from the past six weeks into action – it was such a fulfilling experience! 

We were encouraged to enhance the lessons with information from our own personal career paths, so I was able to show the students how realistic the course content was by relating it to real-life examples from my experience in librarianship. I was delighted to see that so many of the students were interested in what working in a public library is like. Some students told me afterwards that they enjoyed discovering more about careers in public service, as it wasn’t a career option that was immediately obvious to them. 

Volunteering with JAI benefitted both the students and Louth Library Service. The students received valuable knowledge about the world of work, and the library gained a class visit and new memberships from the students. This age group can be a difficult demographic to bring into the library, so it was fantastic to see this class so enthusiastic about their visit. It also helped the library service further identify the needs of young adults in libraries. 

Based on my work, Louth Library Service plans to build on the knowledge gained from this experience and provide further services to young adults and students. These include small steps, like increasing the amount of exam revision materials we have available in our library collection, to bigger projects such as furthering our outreach in DEIS schools in the locality and organising career guidance and CV clinics for students. 

I had such a great experience teaching this class, and was I eager to share what I had learned with other library staff. I submitted a poster proposal to present on this topic at the IFLA World Library and Information Congress in Dublin this summer. I was delighted to be selected as a presenter as part of the event’s poster sessions, with my poster titled “Library Outreach in Irish Secondary Schools via Junior Achievement Ireland”. This granted me the opportunity to tell librarians from a wide range of countries about the experience, and gain inspiration from other libraries who may have conducted similar programmes in their own countries. 

Junior Achievement Ireland always welcomes new volunteers, and I highly recommend giving it a go! It’s a fantastic learning experience for both the students and volunteer. Further information can be found at www.jai.ie.

Photo courtesy of author

27 Oct 2022

Collaboration, Collections, and Climate Action at Dublin City University

Members of DCU Library's Special Collections and Archives team
(Liam O'Dwyer, Gordon Kennedy and Killian Downing) before the launch of
Politics in a Changing Ireland, October 2022. 

Guest post by Killian Downing. Killian is an archivist at Dublin City University Library, with experience in collections management and digital cultural heritage. Killian is a councillor for the Europeana Network Association and a board member of the Archives and Records Association, UK and Ireland. Killian is also a member of the DCU Green Committee and co-chair of the Europeana Climate Action Community.

I started working in DCU Library in March 2020, when the words pandemic, unprecedented, PPE and pivot were slowly shaping society and the future of libraries. DCU, a young and vibrant university, was transformed by the pandemic, as was the library’s collaborative multi-campus response, which provided meaningful support and refuge to students and staff alike, many of who were working on the frontline or supporting the healthcare sector.

DCU library staff innovated and prioritised opportunities using digital technology to ensure our services remained relevant, intuitive and accessible. Earlier this year, the Special Collections and Archives team launched a new Charles J. Haughey exhibition in the O’Reilly Library titled Politics in a Changing Ireland complementing an existing Google Arts and Culture digital exhibition, both of which feature archives never seen by the public before. 

With extensive collections on modern Irish history, politics and society, the Special Collections and Archives team continues to process, catalogue and digitise its collections using open-source platforms, AtoM and Omeka, with iterative workflows, allowing discovery through DCU library's new platform, Ex Libris Alma and Primo

At the IFLA World Library and Information Congress in Dublin this year, I was delighted to be part of a climate action panel discussing approaches libraries can take to advocate for, and embed, working practices that minimise the sector’s impact on the environment. I would especially like to direct any libfocus readers to two inspiring and thought provoking presentations by IFLA co-panelist, Nkem Osuigwe, Human Capacity Development and Training Head, African Library and Information Associations and Institutions (AfLIA), Ghana, titled Climate Equity: A Manifesto for Libraries and Stuart Hunt, Director of University Library and Collections Services and University Librarian, University of Reading, UK, with his presentation Sustainability and the Green Library: Strategies for the Climate Crisis. DCU is working to support staff and students and articulate its role within the climate emergency and assess the environmental impact of our work as part of its ongoing Climate Action Plan.

Working with Europeana, I’ve been part of a growing Climate Action Community advocating for collective action to support environmental sustainability within the Europeana Network Association, which now has over 120 members across Ireland. In addition, Europeana Essentials, a free resource supporting communication and presentation skills for anyone to use is now available online. Europeana has also recently championed the Youth for the Future of Cultural Heritage in Europe initiative to better support young, new and emerging professionals, and provide a platform to spotlight research, tackle issues and open up new collaborations. DCU Library is a member of the Digital Repository of Ireland, the national aggregator for Europeana, and the diaries of Irish diplomat, Seán Lester (1888-1959), are one of DCU's first digitised collections discoverable on Europeana, with more to follow.

It's been wonderful to see the inspirational international cooperation project realised by the Beyond 2022 team and partners this year who have opened up the Virtual Record Treasury of Ireland. This newly launched digital archive combines historical investigation, archival discovery, conservation and technical innovation to re-imagine and recreate invaluable archives lost at the beginning of the Irish Civil War. For the first time in 100 years, users can step back in time to explore a virtual recreation of the Public Record Office of Ireland and its collections which were destroyed in 1922.

2022 has been a transformative year for DCU and I'm beyond lucky to work with such a wonderful library team opening up new collections, fostering new academic and research partnerships, and connecting with existing and new communities. 

Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2022 | Categories:

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.