12 Jun 2024

Western and Munster Regional Sections of the Library Association of Ireland Joint Annual Seminar 2024 ‘EDI in the Library’


Guest post by Tina Stagliano, MLIS, Electronic Resource Content Manager at Novartis

Last week, a unique gathering unfolded in the halls of the TUS Moylish Campus. This was the Western Regional Section's first in-person event since 2019, and it marked a significant milestone for the Munster Regional Section as their inaugural event since reforming in 2023. The Western and Munster Regional Sections of the LAI came together in person to reunite friends and old colleagues all with the same goal, to learn how to implement Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) in their library.

Before settling into a day of learning, we had the chance to enjoy some refreshments while networking and catching up with friends. Having only moved to Limerick from Dublin myself a few years ago during pandemic lockdowns, I was especially delighted to finally have the chance to meet and socialise with other librarians from my new city and region. Working from home full-time has made it difficult to make these invaluable connections with my peers and I know I am not the only one who cherished this time.


Registration for the seminar at TUS Moylish.

The first speaker of the day was Marian Duggan, VP for People, Culture & EDI in TUS. Marian’s presentation, titled “EDI in the Library,” stressed the importance of her role and that of TUS itself in providing equal opportunity for all students. The library at TUS provides support to EDI endeavors by promoting awareness and providing books and other resources as needed for various events, such as International Women’s Day.

 Marian also explained how TUS has taken steps towards EDI that reach beyond those mandated by Irish Law. Currently, there are nine grounds in inclusion legislation (gender, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race and membership of the Traveller community) but TUS has expanded this to include two further grounds – socioeconomic background and membership of the Roma community.

The challenging work of Marian and the EDI team has already paid off, as TUS has just been named the EU Newcomer Gender Equality Champion for 2024 – an award presented to the university for their efforts to advance gender equality in education and research.

The next speaker was Nicola Beagan, Adult Dyslexia Coordinator with the Dyslexia Association of Ireland who gave a talk titled “Dyslexia Awareness.” Nicola provided an overview of dyslexia itself and then discussed how a library, or any space, can make minor changes to be more inclusive to those with dyslexia.

 First, Nicola began by emphasizing that dyslexia is a "learning difference" rather than a disability and is hereditary and lifelong. While it can affect working memory, long-term memory or both, individuals with dyslexia can manage their symptoms effectively with the right support. 

 Libraries can play a crucial role in supporting dyslexic individuals by providing audio recordings when possible, giving them extra time when checking out materials and using more visuals in the library such as videos, maps and infographics. Interestingly, individuals with dyslexia are often strong innovators and can contribute significantly to library layout and design. 

 Nicola also mentioned that there are several ways to improve signage around the library to be more dyslexia friendly. For example, use easy to read fonts such as Arial and Verdana, add more space between lines of text and place text on blocks of colour to give more contrast. Also, avoid using justified alignment on blocks of text as it can create extra white space on the page.  


Nicola Beagan, Dyslexia Association of Ireland.

After a break for lunch, the seminar continued with Elizabeth Kirwan, Assistant Keeper in the Department of Special Collections in the National Library of Ireland (NLI). Elizabeth presented “EEDI in the National Library of Ireland (NLI)” and explained the NLI's Diversity & Inclusion Policy. She noted that the policy was developed after a collaborative forum and was recently revised to stress the importance of diversity. The NLI represents a changing Ireland and is committed to ensuring that all voices are heard. For example, when the NLI was founded in 1877, it was illegal to be openly gay in Ireland and the library did not collect materials that represented LGBTQ+ voices. Now, the NLI proudly promotes their Irish Queer Archive, with materials dating back to 1951.

 The NLI's commitment to EEDI is evident in its strategic plan for 2022 – 2026, which includes working with the Irish Centre for Diversity to achieve the Investors in Diversity Silver standing. To achieve this standing, the NLI has conducted various trainings for staff, including addressing unconscious bias, bullying, being active bystanders and by promoting the use of JAM cards in their library. 

Erica Meslin, Education Manager of AHEAD Ireland, led the final discussion on Universal Design (UD). Her presentation was titled “UD-ing the Library Service” and  she explained that UD is the design of buildings, products, or services mindfully created for access, understanding, and use, regardless of an individual’s background. AHEAD names four strategic pillars to keep in mind when creating such an environment for students, which are:

  • Teaching and learning
  • Supports, services and social engagement
  • Physical environment
  • Digital environment 

AHEAD is also acting as Lead National Collaborator of a new initiative called the Altitude Charter, which involves the implementation of UD in institutes of further and higher education.

 The seminar concluded with a tour of the TUS Library, which gave us the chance to further share ideas on creating an inclusive library space for all users. It was interesting to learn that the university had recently remodeled their library to create an inviting entryway which includes a lowered circulation desk, making it easily accessible to wheelchair users.


Recently refurbished Circulation Desk at TUS Moylish Campus Library.

View of the refurbished TUS Moylish Campus Library.

Overall, the seminar was a powerful reminder of the role libraries can play in promoting diversity and inclusion. It underscored the importance of creating spaces where everyone feels welcome and can access resources without barriers. Unofficially, the seminar served as a much needed in person CPD gathering for all. The event was a tremendous success and I look forward to the next one.

 For the Western Regional Section of the Library Association of Ireland’s full report on the seminar, please visit: https://wrslai.wordpress.com/




Posted on Wednesday, June 12, 2024 | Categories: ,

10 Jun 2024

Top 10 tips for prospective Library Association of Ireland (LAI) award applicants

Guest Post by Mairéad Mc Keown, Knowledge and Critical Capability Manager at Bord Bia - The Irish Food Board 

A woman holding a certificate
Mairéad McKeown holding her SALAI certificate

This Libfocus blog post will look at why you might apply for an LAI professional award, what type of awards exist and my top 10 tips for prospective LAI award applicants.

Why might you apply for an LAI award? The benefits:

All three awards signify that a member of the Association has developed:

  • An increasing level of personal professional practice
  • Continuing professional development
  • Contribution made to the library and information field at large
  • They also carry the right to use the post-nominal letters ALAI, SALAI and FALAI respectively and inclusion as an Associate, Senior Associate or Fellow in the LAI Professional Register

Achieving all three awards also:

  • Gives your career prospects a competitive advantage
  • Provides proof to current and future employers of peer recognition and of commitment to continuing professional development and practice
  • Creates an opportunity to be part of a network of active like-minded information professionals
  • Enables Associate awards holders to apply for a Senior Associate award at a later date and in turn enables Senior Associates to apply for a Fellowship award at a later date.

In addition, as the highest career level award, achieving a Fellowship award also signals:

  • Recognition of personal achievement at the highest possible level
  • Proof to current and future employers of peer recognition and career-long commitment to continuing professional development
  • Demonstration of a personal contribution made at a strategic level to the Association, nationally or internationally for at least ten years

What types of LAI awards exist?

There are three professional awards that LAI members can apply for, each will be covered briefly below:

  • Associate, ALAI
  • Senior Associate, SALAI
  • Fellow, FALAI

What is the ALAI?

The Associateship is an entry-level award, intended for early career professional librarians with a minimum two years relevant work experience. The award recognises personal commitment to ongoing professional development, evidence of reflective learning from such activity, and engagement with the Library Association of Ireland (LAI).

Prospective candidates looking to learn more about the ALAI, can click here for information on the application process, e.g. when and how to apply and what happens after your application is submitted (LAI, no date).

What is the SALAI?

The Senior Associateship is a mid-career award, intended for professional librarians with a minimum 10 years relevant work experience. In addition to length of service, the award recognises personal commitment to ongoing professional development, evidence of reflective learning from such activity and engagement with the Library Association of Ireland (LAI).

Prospective candidates looking to learn more about the SALAI, can click here for information on the application process, e.g. when and how to apply and what happens after your application is submitted (LAI, no date).


What is the FLAI?

The Fellowship is a senior-level award intended for professional librarians with a minimum of 15 years relevant work experience. In addition to length of service, the award recognises personal commitment to ongoing professional development, evidence of reflective learning from such activity and engagement with the Library Association of Ireland (LAI).

Prospective candidates looking to learn more about the FALAI, can click here for information on the application process, e.g., when and how to apply and what happens after your application is submitted (LAI, no date).


With regards to all three awards, ALAI, SALAI and FALAI, if you have particular issues that are not covered through the links above, send your queries to awards@libraryassociation.ie



Top 10 tips for prospective LAI award applicants:


In 2023 I achieved the SALAI and it was one of the most fulfilling and personally awarding highlights of my career to date. It has helped me to reflect upon my strengths, areas for growth and celebrate my professional practice, development and connection with the LAI and other library bodies. Based on my experience, the next section of this blogpost will share my top 10 tips for prospective LAI award applicants.

1. Don’t regret not applying for an LAI award – JUST DO IT!

The fact that you are here reading this blogpost already signals your curiosity and interest in LAI awards. Learn all you can about the awards, then choose the one that’s most suitable for your career level and go for it.

‘If you have regrets, make sure they are for things you did rather than did not do’ National Library Director Dr Audrey Whitty (Reporter, 2023).

2. Know the award guidelines, give yourself plenty of time and get early buy in

Research the guidelines for the awards and become familiar with what’s required. Once you’re committed, start at the beginning of the summer in the year you wish to apply. Do not underestimate the amount of time this will take (six to eight months). But don’t be put off by the time required either as this is a really worthwhile process. By practicing good planning and organisation skills, it’s well achievable. If you are seeking support for the application fee and time to devote to the award whilst at work, ensure you sell the benefits to your employer and get early buy in.

3. Think broadly about quantitative and qualitative activities/proof points

A good portfolio of evidence will provide sufficient information for the assessors to judge if the candidate has satisfied both the quantitative and qualitative requirements of the award. Quite often we fail to realise the broad depth of continuing professional development activities that we undertake. Reading this blogpost is an activity which you could include in your CPD tracker! To help you think broadly about qualitative and quantitative CPD activities and proof points, I’ve included a list of examples to consider below:

  • Training courses
  • Workshops
  • Seminars
  • Conferences
  • Knowledge cafés, conversation clubs, journal clubs
  • Publications
  • Academic qualifications
  • Internet-based learning such as MOOCs, online tutorials, webinars, newsgroups, email lists, blogs, other social media
  • Training received from industry suppliers, such as database providers
  • On the job learning
  • Shadowing people, job exchanges/rotations/secondments
  • Professional reading
  • LAI/other Committee membership
  • Informal networking opportunities
  • Reflective writing

4. Keep your C.V. up to date

All award applicants are required to submit an up-to-date C.V., so taking the time to continue to refresh your C.V. as you prepare your application will be time very well spent. Place a ruthless focus on demonstrating the breadth of your specific library experience and engagement with the profession.

5. Create an excel CPD tracker in the flow of your activities 

Complete your excel tracker in the flow of your CPD activities, doing this in real time will save major headaches down the road. It’s also a really good habit which encourages you to reflect and recognise small and larger CPD wins. Create tracker headings which will enable you to easily reflect on your practice when writing your reflective statement.

The headings I used in my excel tracker can be found below (these may be useful when setting up yours):

  • My name
  • CPD Activity Date
  • PKSB area (if using the CILIP PKSB Professional Knowledge Skills Base wheel)
  • CPD Activity Title
  • Who the CPD Activity was delivered by
  • Amount of time for the CPD activity
  • Reason for the CPD activity
  • What I learned from the CPD activity
  • How I will put what I learnt from the CPD activity into practice – further action as a result of it
  • Any further thoughts on the CPD activity
  • References to the CPD activity (where possible) E.g. a URL from a webinar, article etc. 

6. Stand on the shoulders of giants

You’ll need to create a reflective statement that’s unique and distinct to you, but at the same time the LAI advise taking inspiration from these reflective writing/practice sources:

Also, as previously recommended by Helen Fallon and Jane Burns, leverage the register of LAI award holders to identify award holders and make connections for peer to peer support - this was a great tip which was invaluable to me (Fallon & Burns, 2022).


7. Craft a reflective statement which embodies these three elements:

  • Concise yet comprehensive
  • Demonstrates that you have engaged in reflective practice as a means to continuous learning and professional development over time
  • Demonstrates that experience alone does not necessarily lead to learning but that learning follows from deliberate reflection on such experience.

8. Seek letters of support:

Reach out to those who can aid your application and seek letters of support. I got letters from my CEO, my current director, former director and a vendor I worked closely with on a large project of strategic importance. When compiling your CPD tracker you will naturally identify prospective supporters that you can approach to aid your application.

9. Display proof of your award

As the professional landscape continues to evolve rapidly, the need for adaptability and learning has become crucial for individuals to thrive in the workplace. It’s no surprise that, adaptability was recognised as the “skill of the moment” in LinkedIn’s2024 Most In-Demand Skills list (Bessalel, 2024)

LAI awards demonstrate continuing adaptability and commitment to learning. Therefore, once you have achieved your award, I strongly advise displaying social proof of your achievement, e.g. create a celebratory post on your social channels. You can view my celebratory post on LinkedIn for ideas on how to display social proof of your award (Mc Keown, 2023). It’s also a good idea to add your award to the awards and honours section of your LinkedIn profile, include it on your CV and think about writing about your experience and sharing it.

10. If at first you don’t succeed, don’t give up and try again

If the Assessors do not recommend your application for an award, do not give up! Use the outcome and constructive feedback provided as a CPD learning experience. Then reflect and re-apply at a later date.

“If one has courage, nothing can dim the light that shines from within” Maya Angelou.


Now that you are armed with information on why you might apply for an LAI award, the three different types of awards and 10 top tips for prospective award applicants, I would encourage all LAI members who have not applied for an award to consider doing so. And for those who have already achieved an award, I would encourage you to set goals to apply for the next possible award. There is an award for every LAI member, no matter what stage you are at in your career. Why not begin your LAI award journey today to ensure you can never regret not doing it!

Contact details:

Mairéad Mc Keown Mairead.mckeown@bordbia.ie https://www.linkedin.com/in/maireadmckeown/


Bessalel, S. (2024) ‘LinkedIn 2024 Most In-Demand Skills: Learn the Skills Companies Need Most’, www.linkedin.com. LinkedIn, 8 February. Available at: https://www.linkedin.com/business/learning/blog/top-skills-and-courses/most-in-demand-skills  (Accessed: 13 May 2024).

Fallon, H. and Burns, J. (2022) ‘Applying for an Award of the Library Association of Ireland (LAI)’, Libfocus. Libfocus, 26 April. Available at: https://www.libfocus.com/2022/04/applying-for-award-of-library.html (Accessed: 14 May 2024).

LAI (no date) Award of associateship candidate guidelines (no date) Library Association Of Ireland. Available at: https://www.libraryassociation.ie/award-of-associateship-candidate-guidelines/  (Accessed: 13 May 2024).

LAI (no date) Award of senior associateship candidate guidelines (no date a) Library Association Of Ireland. Available at: https://www.libraryassociation.ie/award-of-senior-associateship-candidate-guidelines/  (Accessed: 13 May 2024).

LAI (no date) Award of fellowship candidate guidelines (no date) Library Association Of Ireland. Available at: https://www.libraryassociation.ie/award-of-fellowship-candidate-guidelines/  (Accessed: 13 May 2024).

McKeown, M. (2023). 🎉Awarded Senior Associateship of the Library Association of Ireland!📚: I am thrilled to share the news that I have achieved the Award of Senior Associateship of the Library Association of Ireland (LAI), 1 November, [LinkedIn]. Available at: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/maireadmckeown_laiawards-libraryassociationofireland-professionaldevelopment-activity-7112346437937455104-Cq6Y/ (Accessed: 14 May 2024).

Reporter, P. (2023) National Library director dr Audrey Whitty: ‘if you have regrets, make sure they are for things you did rather than did not do’, National Library director Dr Audrey Whitty: ’If you have regrets, make sure they are for things you | Business Post. Available at: https://www.businesspost.ie/article/national-library-director-dr-audrey-whitty-if-you-have-regrets-make-sure-they-are-for-things-you/  (Accessed: 13 May 2024).

Posted on Monday, June 10, 2024 | Categories: