24 Aug 2023

11 tips on how to make strategic thinking a habit

Guest post by Mairéad Mc Keown (BAHDipLIS), Capability & Knowledge Manager at Bord Bia - The Irish Food Board.
Shows a chess Board with two chess pieces
Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

Recently I dialled into LinkedIn Learning's Live Office Hours session on How to Make Strategic Thinking a Habit and it was a fantastic time investment. Why? Because at this session Columbia Business Professor Dorie Clark shared her tips and strategies to help make strategic thinking a daily habit, so that you can make the best use of your time, energy and effort at work.

In this libfocus blogpost I will summarise 11 tips shared by Dorie, so that Library and Information professionals can build their knowledge of how to make strategic thinking a sustainable habit, in the most time efficient way possible.

1. Time:

Strategic thinking is not just something that senior library leaders do, it is in fact something everybody should be doing no matter what level you are at in your career. So what exactly is strategic thinking? According to Dorie, the quick back of the envelope definition for strategic thinking is asking the question "what is it I can do today that makes tomorrow easier and better?" So, if you can slow down and answer that, that’s being strategic. The good news is it doesn’t require a huge amount of time per se, it’s about reframing the way you see the world.

Now what? To kick start this habit it’s important to assess where you are right now. Complete Dorie’s Free Long Game Strategic Thinking Self-Assessment so you can benchmark where you are starting from. Then begin to include short buffers between meetings/library instructions so you can remain focused, get tasks completed and reflect. Also set aside 30 minutes on a Friday afternoon to further develop your strategic thinking habit. The bottom line is this, to develop the habit you need to be strategic with your time.

2. Alignment:

The things you’re doing today represent what you’re focusing on and what you’re focusing on cycles up to who you are as a person.

Dorie recommends creating three lists:

  • To Focus list = a big picture reminder of why you’re doing the things you’re doing
  • To Be list = a reminder of what you’re striving for in the world and who you want to be as a person
  • To Do list = the things you’re doing today
Now what? Once you create these lists it’s important to take the time to reflect and ensure they align.

3. Execution:

There are two things that get in the way of strategic thinking execution:

  • Tip of the iceberg – things you can see, too many emails, too many meetings
  • What’s underneath the iceberg - Busyness which has become a form of status and is often used for emotional avoidance. For instance, when we don’t know how to do a thing or when we are in emotional pain.
Now what? Watch Dorie’s TED talk, The real reason you’re so busy and what to do about it to delve a bit deeper on execution. Then try working with an accountability partner/LAI (Library Association of Ireland) group peer or indeed your manager to help keep your strategic thinking goals accountable.

4. Decision diary:

In most of life you can control the process of strategic thinking and not the outcome. Therefore, you should analyse past mistakes and importantly past successful decisions because it’s useful to analyse the process and ultimately this helps make your strategic thinking sharper over time.

Now what? Treat your decisions as learning opportunities. Keep a decision diary, record the rationale behind successful decisions and mistakes and take the time to learn from past decisions that you’ve made.

5. CAN framework:

Using the CAN framework to think about strategic decisions, can help eliminate a lot of wrong strategy. CAN is an acronym which stands for: 

  • Clear – am I clear about what I should spend my time and energy on today? 
  • Align - is the thing I’m doing today aligning with the long term goals that me, my team and my university/institution/agency/company has identified? 
  • New information – have circumstances changed since I put the plan that I’m following into place – is there new information that needs to be considered?
Now what? Use the CAN framework to get Clarity on goals, Alignment on your previously mentioned lists, New information on macro forces. Then re-orientate yourself to shift from short term to long term thinking.

6. Inspiration files:

Re-orientate yourself in that way, so that instead of just reacting and responding to things, you are proactively making choices to try to see things on the horizon. Planning in advance, and asking what is it that I can do now that can make it easier to get to that place tomorrow, helps switch the paradigm from short term to long term thinking.

Now what? Leverage your libraries’ collections/other library collections and quality sources to create an inspiration file on topics to inspire and help you reach future goals.

7. Multiple strategies:

When evaluating multiple strategies, the more upfront research you can do the better. It’s really useful to ask questions like – has anyone else been in this situation before and if so what did they do, and how did it work? And use that research to reverse engineer and to begin to see patterns that can help you make smarter choices about which approaches are more or less practical for you. Also figuring out what’s the smallest bet you can place, can allow you to test multiple strategies. This prevents you from wasting time and money on something half baked.

Now what? Lean into the LAI and its specific groups, libfocus, An Leabharlann and other good sources of insight and information in the Library and Information field. Use them to learn from the practice of others who have been in similar situations and carry out upfront research that can help answer relevant strategic questions. Also consider documenting and sharing your strategic activities with other Library and Information professionals so you can reciprocally share your practice for the benefit of the wider community. In addition, you could consider placing small bets to test multiple strategies to test and learn fast.

8. Goals:

The one most important thing a strategist should consider when making a strategy is the progression from the tactics and the techniques to the strategy, to the goal. What’s always important is to make sure that your strategy is in service of particular goals and to know what the goal is. Then it’s going to depend on the external circumstances and your analysis of that and there’s not probably one strategy that’s always the right one. It’s about putting out your feelers and understanding in a given moment what is right for that moment.

Now what? Make sure your strategy is in service of particular goals and understand what’s right in the moment. How it was before is not going to be how it is forever, the world is constantly changing, so developing current awareness is critically important.

9. Roadblocks:

The longer the goal the more room there is for unexpected annoying things to happen, like roadblocks. So make sure with the scoping upfront you devote enough time to research and conversations that ensure you’re less likely to be rattled when something unexpected happens. There are many ways to achieve a goal, it’s also important not to get wedded to just one idea.

Now what? Use this set of checklist questions to guide your strategic thinking upfront and leverage a reference librarian to help you find answers: What did it take for other people to achieve this goal? How long did it take them? What path did they follow? What did that look like?

10. Questions:

Library and Information professionals can encourage their directors/leaders/managers to be more strategic by periodically asking the right questions that foster a strategic thinking culture.

Now what? Practice asking your leaders the following strategic thinking questions:

  • Great I understand you want me to do x, y, z can you tell me more about the higher level objectives these tasks will help us achieve? 
  • Can you paint a picture for me of a year from now, where do you want to see our department and what does success look like? 
  • If we were able to win at one/two/three big things, what are the most important things for us to win at so that we can accomplish the goals that we want? Where’s the biggest leverage?

11. Shiny object syndrome:

Shiny object syndrome is essentially looking around and having FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) about what others are doing. But necessary strategic intervention is not about what others are doing it’s about whether market conditions have changed and weighing up do we need to change as a result of that. That’s the real question.

There wasn’t a market condition that necessitated Google plus and it’s now defunct. In contrast, taxi apps answered a need for better connections between consumers and taxi drivers and they digitally transformed that industry.

Now what? Start asking, am I looking at a change in technology, laws or government regulations or socio political morays that make something different? If yes then it’s probably worth a change in strategy, not just they’re doing that, so I should too.

Implications for Library & Information Professionals who want to build a sustainable strategic thinking habit:

After reading this article, complete Dorie’s Free Long Game Strategic Thinking Self-Assessment to assess where you are at.

Then leverage your new knowledge from the assessment and begin putting the 11 tips shared in this blogpost into practice.

Repeat the free strategic thinking assessment annually to track your progress and reflect on your journey to becoming a strategic thinker.

References and further reading on Dorie’s Strategic Thinking content:

Clark, D. (n.d.). The Long Game Self-Assessment. Dorieclark.com. Retrieved August 21, 2023, from https://dorieclark.com/reinvent/

Clark, D. (2021, October 26). The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World. Next Big Idea Club. https://nextbigideaclub.com/magazine/long-game-long-term-thinker-short-term-world-bookbite/30275/amp/

Clark, D. (2021). Dorie Clark: The real reason you feel so busy (and what to do about it) | TED Talk. Www.ted.com. https://www.ted.com/talks/dorie_clark_the_real_reason_you_feel_so_busy_and_what_to_do_about_it

Clark, D. (2023, July 19). How To Make Strategic Thinking a Habit - With Dorie Clark | LinkedIn. Www.linkedin.com. https://www.linkedin.com/events/7084213438507311104

Clark, D. (2023b, November 7). How to make strategic thinking a habit. LinkedIn Learning | Login. Www.linkedin.com.

Clark, D. (2023c, November 7). Strategic Thinking. LinkedIn Learning | Login. Www.linkedin.com.

Posted on Thursday, August 24, 2023 | Categories:

21 Aug 2023

Reflections from winners of LIR's 2022 Show and Tell competition

Guest post by LIR HEAnet, Niamh O'BrienStewart Killeen

My experience entering and winning the LIR Show and Tell Competition 2022 by Niamh O’Brien 

I was having lunch with the Systems Librarian at my library when she told me about the LIR Show and Tell Competition. Having graduated from UCD with my MLIS in 2020, she suggested I enter. While I completed numerous projects throughout my MLIS, my work on the OER project stood out as an obvious choice for me. I had undertaken this project as part of my Service Learning module in college, and a year later, I returned to the same library to work full-time. This provided me with an opportunity to discuss my project and share insights into its benefits in transitioning from my MLIS into the field of library work. 

 OER PechaKucha from Niamh O'Brien 

As I created my presentation, I carefully sourced images and designed my slides to adhere to creative commons licenses. Recording the narration, however, made me realize that my initial script required extensive revisions to fit the format better. While I am content with the presentation I submitted, I acknowledge that there is room for improvement, particularly in the flow between slides to avoid stiff and awkward pauses. 

When I received the email informing me that I had won first place in the competition, I was absolutely thrilled! I eagerly looked forward to watching the other presentations that were uploaded to LIR's YouTube channel. As someone who has attended both online and in-person conferences before, I always enjoy watching presentations from other librarians who are new to the field. The LIR Show and Tell Competition proved to be an excellent platform for new librarians, and I'm excited to see the submissions for this year's competition. 

Reflecting on this experience, participating in and winning the LIR Show and Tell Competition was a significant challenge that ultimately bolstered my confidence as a presenter and strengthened my ability to concisely deliver a compelling presentation on a broad subject. Additionally, it led me to attend the LIR Seminar in DCU, where I had the chance to expand my network and connect with other librarians while learning about web security. 

Niamh O’Brien currently lives and works in Athlone, Ireland. She is a library assistant and provides ICT support to run the Laptop on Loan initiative at the Technological University of the Shannon. 




 LIR Show and Tell Competition Blog Post by Stewart Killeen 

Librarianship, and academic librarianship in particular, is in a constant state of flux, brought on by the rapid pace of change in digital technologies. Today’s professional librarian needs to be both proactive and dynamic to respond to and reap the full benefits of these changes.  


When in September 2022 I saw the advertisement for the LIR Show and Tell Competition (https://lirgroup.heanet.ie/index.php/lir-show-and-tell-competition/), I knew that this was an excellent opportunity to put my presentation and digital skills to the test. Not only that, but I would also have the chance to showcase my research into digital preservation and Irish institutional repositories to the wider library community.  

 After familiarizing myself with the requirements and instructions for entry to the competition, I set about researching the presentation format.  

 I take great pleasure in the art of storytelling, and the presentation format relies on the power of pictures or images to tell one’s story. As they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” However, choosing the right pictures to narrate the story of my research required me to carefully consider several important factors:  

  • the aims, methodologies and rationale behind my research question  
  • the salient points to convey in the presentation  
  • the content and quality of the images chosen and  
  • The expectations of my audience.   

It was also essential to ensure that I used images that had an open license. Google images provides a handy tool to search for images in the creative commons (https://creativecommons.org/) using their advanced filter fields while there are many websites on the world wide web that provide images with open licenses.  

 Once I had chosen the images, I then had to write corresponding text to bring out their full meaning. Before finally recording my presentation, I added alternative text to each of the images and turned on the text-to-speech feature in PowerPoint.  

Institutional repositories and long-term digital preservationPechaKucha from Stewart Killeen

Recording the presentation was, I admit, the trickiest part of this journey. It demanded of me a little learning and sometimes a lot of frustration. However, with a little trial and error and several minutes of how-to videos on YouTube, my entry to the LIR Show and Tell competition was ready: Institutional repositories and long-term digital preservation (https://youtu.be/qt12lRFmuQ8).  

 Participating in the LIR Show and Tell Competition was both exciting and challenging, and it ignited many creative sparks. There are so many free resources available on the internet to choose from which will undoubtedly help you. Practice a few times before finally submitting your entry, but most important of all, have fun. 

 Stewart Killeen is a recent graduate of the MSc in Library and Information Management with Dublin Business School (DBS). He took up a position as a Library Assistant with Technological University (TU) Dublin during his studies and is currently the Senior Library Assistant on the Blanchardstown campus. He thoroughly enjoys working in an academic library, especially as it allows him to engage with a diversity of information needs.  




The LIR HEAnet User Group for Libraries is running its very successful Show & Tell competition once again. 

This time we have opened the competition up to all early career library staff with five years or less experience of working in library environments on the island of Ireland, as well current LIS students and/or recently qualified library professionals from LAI or CILIP accredited institutions. 

This competition provides you an opportunity to showcase your work to the wider library community. We are interested in hearing about any research or collaborative projects/ initiatives you have contributed to, or are currently engaged in. 

If you would like to improve both your presentation and communication skills this competition is an ideal platform to make an impact. 

We would like you to record a PowerPoint presentation (maximum of 5 minutes), following a template. 

Prizes will be given to the top 3 submissions (vouchers) and participants can win a LIR branded hoodie. A selection of videos will be showcased on the LIR Group website. 

For more information, visit LIR Show and Tell Competition 


16 Aug 2023

Conul Conference 2023 Report: Brian Bredin

Post by Brian Bredin from the University of Galway Library who was awarded a bursary to attend the 2023 CONUL Conference. All the images featured in this blog post were captured by the author.

Shows a conference poster with the title UCD Library Outreach
UCD Library Outreach: Signs of Sustainability conference poster

I have just completed my second year of the LIM course at Ulster University, and it’s been bit of a whirlwind experience. I was about three weeks out from my final deadline when a colleague on the course mentioned the CONUL student bursary. Already in writing mode I applied, not thinking I’d hear anything about it again. So, I was really delighted to receive the fantastic news that I was lucky enough to be one of the recipients.

This year's conference was held in the Clayton Silver Springs in Cork, and what a fantastic first day it was to have a conference. Beautiful sunshine greeted the attendees, and a warm atmosphere surrounded the event. Lovely garden furniture on the lawn allowed old friends to catch up in the sun and the bright and airy event halls were lovely and cool settings for the talks and exhibitions.

This year's conference title was Sense and Sustainability: Environmental, Economic and Social Sustainability and what academic libraries are doing in these areas with some fantastic speakers and leaders in the field presenting their findings and information.

There were some excellent and very professionally produced posters in the entrance foyer for the poster competition, really excellent examples of some of the work being created by academic libraries around the country.

Shows a conference from Glucksman library with the title Inter-library loans and sustainability: not just good on paper
Inter-library loans and sustainability: Not just good on paper
Conference poster from Glucksman Library, University of Limerick
Fiona Morley and Sandra Collins gave their welcome speeches and introduced the event to those gathered, then introduced the first key speaker, Rebekkah Smith Aldrich. Rebekkah gave an incredibly engaging speech about the greatest challenge facing the world today, climate change, and what we all, especially librarians, can do to shift the balance. Rebekkah is obviously very passionate about sustainability, and she had the audience riveted with her laid-back style and the important message she delivered. She certainly got the conference off to a buzzing start and her thought-provoking presentation really got people talking.

There were several super presentations from academic libraries from around the country, the standout for me being from UCC’s Martin O’ Driscoll who spoke about some of the measures UCC library has taken in reducing its carbon footprint. It was a glimpse of what can be achieved with proper strategic planning and well-thought-out communication methods.

Day 2 started with another engrossing presentation, this time from Steven Gonzalez Monserrate, CONUL’s second keynote speaker. He detailed the impact data centres are having on the environment and communities. It was a subject I knew very little about and found some of the information both disturbing and enlightening.

Workshops and show and tells were ongoing throughout the second day as per day 1, but I decided to stick with the “Lightning Talks” in the main Tivoli suite. These consisted of 4 speakers giving 10-minute presentations each, and the quick turnover meant it was easier to stay engaged and focused on the content. Questions were always encouraged at the end of each session, and this led to some good discussions.

All in all, it was a great first conference experience for me. A well-run event that had the advantage of beautiful weather on its side, combined with the relaxed atmosphere, it felt more like a social event than a work outing.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank CONUL for allowing me to attend the conference through their student bursary, it was a fantastic experience. I would also advise any students of LIM to get applying for bursaries as they are great opportunities to get out there and see how the industry works.


Posted on Wednesday, August 16, 2023 | Categories:

Conul Conference 2023 Report: Maeve Kerins

Post by Maeve Kerins who is a Library Assistant in TU Dublin Library - City Campus. Maeve was awarded the LIS graduate bursary to attend the 2023 CONUL Conference. All the images featured in this blog post were captured by the author. 

Shows a page with Don't let numbers dictate our libraries written on the left and numbers and symbols cut out from magazines on the right
Exploring new ways of teaching and learning through UCC's workshop
'Facilitating knowledge creation: running a sustainable zine-making event'

As the summer term began, and our major cohort of library users left for three months, I thoroughly looked forward to a change of scenery. This year marks my first experience (hopefully, of many,) at a CONUL conference. I was delighted to have received the news that I had been granted the LIS graduate bursary to travel down to Cork. Prior to my current role at TU Dublin, I completed the Master of Library and Information Studies program at UCD in 2021. The course was full-time and fully remote during the pandemic. Therefore, I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to meet fellow library and information professionals from around Ireland, and abroad.

I met a lot of new people, but it was fun to run into familiar faces, including some of my former classmates from my master's degree. I also caught up with staff from the Glucksman Library at University of Limerick, where I did my undergraduate degree. I was able to have a chat with them about their poster on inter-library loan sustainability, which I was keen to learn about, as that is one of the areas that I am involved with, in my own library.

The days that followed were busy, and consisted of two thought provoking keynote speeches, that discussed key issues within the industry such as climate change, EDI (Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion) and the harmful impact of data centers. Then we had thirteen individual research presentations, three workshops, a sponsor and poster exhibition to engage with. It was great to see our own Israel Chidavaenzi and Silvia Onder win second prize for the poster competition.

The first breakout session that I attended revolved around effective and impactful use of library space, accessible design plans and sustainable teaching and learning tools. Given my role within Client and Faculty services at TU Dublin, I was particularly interested in how libraries respond to the ever-evolving library landscape while supporting social sustainability. In order to meet the growing needs of its library users, libraries must have open discussions both externally with their users and internally amongst one another. It is important to build relationships and to attend conferences to help deepen your own knowledge base and keep in touch with what other libraries have found successful.

UCC’s green imitative and energy management presentations highlighted the importance of making economic and environmentally intelligent decisions in their own Boole library, but not allowing their green initiatives to negatively impact their ability to supply an accessible and high-quality library service.

The most fascinating aspect of the conference, from my perspective, were the diverse styles and approaches to presentations that each library displayed. Upon receiving notification that the conference programme was published, I looked for the practical activities and workshops that were offered. These activities workshops integrated critical thinking, analysis and teaching/learning in an informal manner. Maynooth University and King’s College London staff discussed sustainable tools and methods for teaching and learning that help serve a wider population of library users. This is a critical aspect of our role as university librarians in assisting the promotion of EDI.

Shows a giraffe built out of lego bricks
A model giraffe that was constructed during
the Lego Serious Play and Open Scholarship workshop

I took part in zine making (UCC), object learning (University of Arts London) and lego building – I never would have guessed that one day I would be playing with lego as part of my job but credit to the Open Scholarship Committee of All Ireland Librarians, they made it happen.

One of the building prompts that enabled much discussion was building an animal that is representative of your role. I chose a giraffe because my job focuses primarily on frontline services, and to ensure a user's needs are met, I must communicate with all teams in TU Dublin. Thus, the giraffe has its legs on the ground, its body is middle level and then its head is the highest point. However, I might prefer the suggestion from a colleague that it represents the struggle of reaching for books on the top shelves in Park House.

The train journey home to Dublin on Thursday evening provided me with the perfect opportunity to pause and reflect. The volume of notes that I took during the presentations on this area really hit home to me, that I care a lot about understanding how library users interact with the physical and digital library environments that we have in place.

As someone who is at the beginning of their career as a library professional, the conference was an enlightening and inspiring experience. It is a fantastic way to meet fellow library professionals and get clued into what is happening in other libraries. I highly recommend LIS students and all other eligible candidates to apply for the bursary. If you’re not in, you can’t win.
Posted on Wednesday, August 16, 2023 | Categories:

9 Aug 2023

Libfocus Link-out for August, 2023

Welcome to the August edition of the Libfocus link-out, an assemblage of library-related things we have found informative, educational, thought-provoking and insightful on the Web over the past while.

Images featured in this month's libfocus linkout articles

Peer Review Week 2023 to Focus on Peer Review and the Future of Publishing
This blog post by Roohi Ghosh and Lindsay Morton announces Peer Review Week (September 25-29, 2023) and summarises high-level changes in the academic publishing sector in recent years such as increasing collaborations, open science and big data. What are implications of these changes on peer review, for example how can two reviewers comment with specialist knowledge comment on complex, inter-disciplinary publications?

Record year for library references in Voluntary National Reviews of SDG implementation by IFLA
Read about how libraries around the world are working to achieve the UN's 2023 sustainable development goals (SDGs). The examples shared in this  IFLA report show how libraries are making a positive impact on society.

Explore our libraries with a virtual tour by Dublin City Council
Dublin City Council have shared 3D videos showcasing select libraries with sensory services and facilities in Ballyfermot, Cabra Library, Coolock, Pearse Street and Walkinstown. The video tours aim to make the spaces more inclusive and accessible, especially for neurodivergent and autistic visitors and visitors with mobility issues.

The narrative website: from signposting to storytelling
As we move from a collections-based to a relational library, storytelling becomes very important. One trend is the emergence of a stronger narrative or storytelling emphasis on websites, which helps position the library, promote its services, and address specific interests.

The Library is the place: Information, Recreation, Inspiration (Irish Public Library Strategy 2023 - 2027)
The Irish government recently released it's new National Public Library Strategy 2023-2027 - The Library Is the Place: Information, Recreation, Inspiration.

Artificial Intelligence and Librarianship: Notes for Teaching
A recently published Open Access book authored by Prof. Martin Frické, School of Information at the University of Arizona. Focuses on the basics of machine learning and how librarians can integrate AI into teaching practices.

Big Ten Open Books project
A joint collaboration between university presses and libraries in the United States to establish a model for unified, open-access publishing of scholarly monographs. Launched in August 2023, the first collection looks at Gender and Sexuality Studies.

The Future of the Monograph in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences: Publisher Perspectives
on a Transitioning Format

A web-based survey of academic publishers undertaken in 2021 at Oxford International Centre for Publishing into the state of monograph publication in the arts, humanities, and social sciences found that respondents expect to be publishing monographs in ten years’ time, but that they anticipate the format and/or the model will be different, with open access expected to play a key part in the future, perhaps in the context of a mixed economy of OA and ‘toll access’ publication.

News & Views: Transformative Journals – An Experiment in OA Acceleration
In its recent annual update about Transformative Journals (TJs), cOAlition S noted that many journals had not met their targets, for the second year in a row, and were being removed from the list of approved TJs. Since most journals consistently missed the annual targets, we wondered if the originally included journals, at their demonstrated rates of growing OA content, could have eventually met the goal of 75% open access. Was this a timely move by cOAlition S to cut journals or was it premature?

Posted on Wednesday, August 09, 2023 | Categories: