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. 


Post a Comment