21 Feb 2022

New Maynooth University Library Service is born during Covid-19 Pandemic,

Guest post by Bridie O’Neillcurrently working with Maynooth University John Paul II Library as a Library Assistant. 1st Year student with University of Ulster (Master in Library Information Management). 

Like all other libraries both academic and public, Maynooth University closed its doors in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.

This blog explores the new click and collect service devised to assist both Academic staff and students at Maynooth University (MU) Library. This service allows access to books on the library shelves when visiting in-person was not an option. As with other Libraries, Maynooth had to implement new digital services overnight. Social Media played a key role in advertising the new services available. The Library homepage  was updated daily to reflect the fast-paced changes occurring both in restrictions and online services.

Preparing essential and accessible technology for both staff and students was vital. Our (72) laptops which had been for in-house use only, were loaned to both students and staff. This was accomplished in collaboration with the Maynooth Access Programme (MAP), laptops were delivered to students at home.  Being able to access both our catalogue and electronic books entailed connecting to our server via our ‘Off – campus link’ for both students and staff which connects  differently than when used on campus.  

Library staff, some of whom were on site, while others were working from home dealt with a lot of queries about off-campus access via the chat function on the library website, email, and by telephone. The complexities from equipment set-up, broadband speeds to browsers used all played a part. As the title indicates “Click & Collect” is a service where a user, having searched the library catalogue to ascertain if a book is available in physical or electronic format, can request the physical copy if no e-book is available.  The user submits a request for a book in stock and includes the title and author of the book and most importantly the classification number for ease of retrieval by library staff. Staff receive click and collect request electronically via Lib-Answers which is linked directly from our webpage. The details of the click and collect request are checked. E.g., has the library user completed all required fields, are they indeed a current member of staff or a student? The book is then located by library staff from the library shelves and issued to the requestor’s account. This is not always straightforward as restrictions apply to the limit of books that a library user can borrow at any given time an e.g., short loan books can only be borrowed for xxx days, making them unsuitable for click and collect. Once the book is registered to the borrower’s account an email is sent to them stating the date and time for collection. We were able to streamline the service with standard reply emails informing the library user if the request has been successful or in some cases unsuccessful. Why not? Sometimes books are no longer available in our library catalogue, and they need to be requested via an Inter library loan (this again recommended the use of e-books or scanning up to one chapter.). Books could also be out on loan, lost or not present in the library at the time the Click and Collect request was submitted. We had specific times allocated for collection assisted our security team who facilitated access to the library.


The service has been highly successful and well received by both students and staff with a 50/50 split take up. The graph below displays the usage of this service over a 16-month period.

Statistical analysis of click and collect – compiled by Bridie O’Neill

On a personal note, continuing to communicate with both students and staff gave a normality to an exceedingly difficult situation. The camaraderie with other staff in our combined efforts to not only meet but exceed our users’ expectations was a rewarding unexpected well-being bonus.

Click & collect books ready for collection in Maynooth Library Foyer © Emma Boyce MU Library

The service has proved invaluable with feedback received via our poll survey. An example of such feedback is the following: How would you rate the service - “Excellent” and do you want the service to continue? “Yes, please.” At the peak we receive up to 80 click and collects requests in a normal 9 am – 5 pm working day. We welcome our library users' feedback and Click and Collect was born out of necessity and has become a popular new library service.

What Next?

In conclusion Click & Collect has proven to be an invaluable service and we have received numerous requests to continue this service now that the doors to the library have reopened.  The click and collects success has raised the question how we can improve this service further?   A parcel motel approach is being investigated to allow click and collect books to be left in the Library foyer in coded lockers for users to collect at times convenient to them.

2 Feb 2022

The Maynooth University Library Engagement and Information Services (EIS) Desk: A student to staff member perspective

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


This blog post explores my experience of the Maynooth University (MU) Library service as a student and as a library staff member. Initially, as a postgraduate student, I worked with the Library Facilities and Events Team (F&E) for a year from October 2020. Next, I took up a post as a Library Assistant providing front line desk services. I will outline the duties associated with both library posts, and what I’ve learned from both a student’s and an employee’s perspective, and how my understanding and knowledge of the world of information has grown through my experiences. 

John Paul II Library (Pic by Kate Hawkins)


I began my undergraduate degree in Law and English at MU in 2017. During my orientation I received a library tour and an information session about the Library. The beginning of first year was overwhelming and exciting. As law is heavily book based, I borrowed many textbooks for my law modules. I accessed the Library early in the academic year and I learned how to use the self-service machines with the help of library staff. Group study rooms were a valuable space for working with my classmates. From my second year onwards, I was selected to be an orientation leader. I felt proud to be showing the first-year students around MU. I spent time in the Library during orientation week where I met students in the foyer for their campus tour, and I brought them to meet the librarians for their interactive session on using the library. I enjoyed answering their questions and showing them how they could best use the resources to get the most out of their university studies.

Self-service borrowing machines
 (Pic by Kate Hawkins)


I began a master's degree in International Justice at MU in September 2020. It was a full-time course that linked to aspects of my undergraduate degree and allowed me to explore these topics in more detail. I completed my masters during the COVID-19 pandemic which was overwhelming at times, both with adjusting to studying remotely and online lectures. Thankfully the Library continued to offer a comprehensive service during this time. As all my lectures were online, most of my experience with the Library was as a remote user. When restrictions eased, I was able to book a study space in the Library for a three-hour period. That was an opportunity to read textbooks and consult British and Irish journals that were available in print only. The online service I used most frequently was the library search function on the MU Library homepage to find journal articles and eBooks. I used legal databases such as Westlaw and Lexis Library to read important case law for assignments, and for my dissertation. Some older textbooks were available online as eBooks. I used the digital on demand service for chapters of law textbooks when studying remotely. I did not use the click and collect service, however now as a staff member I notice the benefits of this service for MU students. 

Click and Collect Service (Pic by Kate Hawkins)

Member of Facilities and Events (F&E) Team

When my postgraduate studies began, I started work as a member of the Facilities and Events (F&E) team. This post is restricted to MU postgraduates. Due to the pandemic, there were no in-person events at MU Library, and I was not involved in online events. We conducted daily fire safety checks and contact tracing and mask checks, when students were back on site. Occasionally we were given projects. Two of us were tasked with creating an Excel spreadsheet in a Microsoft Team folder, with information on the layout of university library websites in Ireland and abroad. We recorded features of their homepages that we didn’t have on our website and added links to their websites. Transitioning to accommodate the easing of restrictions was a major project that the whole team was involved in. We placed QR codes on the appropriate desks and socially distanced the furniture. We made new signs to put around the library. It was great to be a part of the library orientation team week in 2021, especially meeting new students. When my time as a member of the F&E team was coming to an end, I trained new members of the team. It felt good to share my experiences and knowledge with them. 

                                  Maynooth University Library Homepage (Pic by: Maynooth University)  


Engagement and Information Service (EIS)

I was delighted when my application for EIS Library assistant was successful. I was nervous starting this job; there was a lot to learn. I was also excited. Now I am learning more about how libraries operate, and about MU Library’s policies and procedures. Recently I learned that there are multiple ways for library users to communicate with library staff including via different e-mail addresses and the library chat service. I use Libapps for answering student queries and click and collect requests. We rotate roles during shifts. I’m learning about the importance of keeping statistics, to demonstrate how our services are being used. I enjoy interacting with students and assisting them. Each shift brings something different a new query, a new library database to explore or a new book to find!  

                                                      EIS Desk (Pic by Kate Hawkins)

Where next?

I am enjoying my work as a Library assistant and am looking forward to learning more about the Library. I enjoy combining working as a Library Assistant with exploring my interest in human rights and immigration law. I attended the Library Outside In Lecture (this is part of a series of guest lectures) given by a Maynooth University graduate who spent six years living in Direct Provision while an MU student.  We are a University of Sanctuary, and I hope to explore this more and write about it.