The Casual Librarian

My thoughts and opinions

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Views from the experts: SCOUNL Focus 67 publication

I wrote this article a while back, and is has been in drafts, forgotten, today I reviewed it and added additional text.

SCOUNL Focus 67 publication included an article regarding views from the experts in various library schools across the UK & Ireland.

This list is very one dimensional as it does not represent all librarian views and many sectors have different skills and there are many different types of experts in the field of Librarianship. Yet I am happy to see this being published, it is important today to get all our opinions out there. In light of a another post by Libfocus it just goes to show how these different discussions are needed today.

As the article is very long I am going to address the first question that was put to the seven experts, ranging from UK. NI & ROI. I hope to gather the important parts and add my own thoughts from the perspective of a new professional. From there I hope (yes I have very high hopes) to continue addressing each question in separate blog posts.

How does your library school engage with the active profession?

Lyn Robinson Head of Library and Information Science in City University London, states how the school is active on Twitter with #citylis by engaging with students, graduates, and alumni. The school acknowledges the productive achievements in promoting their work through the school’s blog and inviting alumni as guest speakers to the school. In addition building a connection with a Library Association gives students strong engagement with the profession, in this case, CILIP. The school also offers an optional mentorship scheme whereby the student is paired with someone within the profession.

The establishment of #citylis is the best place for any student to be no matter what college you are in. Blogs and Twitter accounts are what you need in college, and as a new professional it is encouraging to see new projects spring up every semester.

The mentorship scheme really excites me, having had the experience of being a mentee it is crucial in building confidence and pushes you out of your comfort zone. Having a strong mentor as a new info pro can have a huge impact on your career, and I would encourage anyone to pursue developing a mentor/mentee relationship.

Marie O’ Neill of Dublin Business School, shares how her library school engage with the profession, she states that her colleagues are “active practitioners” where they bring real world industry insights and their knowledge to the table. Leaving college and entering the real world can be a strange transition, you become just another employed person and you can loose sight of the wider profession you are in. Having leaders that produce high quality research can steer you in the right direction through your career, and keep you in touch with current topics and trends.

Anoush Simon, from Aberystwyth University gives us a unique insight into how the town of “Aber” as an information town, how exciting is that, to be able to study Information Studies in a town dedicated to Information. This is then reflected in the teaching and learning where students partake in projects with local libraries, museums and archives, if this is not actively engaging with the profession then I don’t know what is!

From Aber we jump back across the sea to Ulster where the course Director of Library & Information Management
School of Education Jessica Bates talks to library employers, here she asks for their insight in developing and updating the curriculum, and how the school can keep current with the ever changing skills and knowledge now needed for librarianship.

In University College Dublin, Kalpana Shankar nudges students to attend conferences on all topics in and around Library and Information Studies. Conferences are so very important when you are beginning your journey in Librarianship, they are gateway to what you can do in your career, it allows you to think about what you wish to present on. Each student is different, interests are different so the library association they join and the conference they attend and present on will also differ, explore now and dip your toe into all topics.

The University of West England take an approach similar to Ulster here the teaching and learning includes employer and teacher. They do this by inviting professionals to discuss current issues and topics and create study groups for the students. In addition they look to employers and professionals for input into teaching topics.

Lastly we see the Robert Gordon University take a serious engagement with the profession by being highly involved with library associations such as CILIP. Having a Head of Department representing students and professionals as President of a highly renowned association such as CILIP is sending a very clear message that they have and maintain strong links with the LIS community.

With #uklibchat September Twitter chat being about how we as LIS students and graduates can get research to the right practitioner and maintaining the links we need to achieve publishing research over our career. I hope this article gives us an insight into the many ways we can reach out to library schools and collaborate with students and teachers.





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Google’s New Mobile Index


Intrigued was the word I used when I saw this article last week, I thought why would you create a totally new Index for a mobile device?

What is the point?

Google are saying, while desktop searches are still high, the majority now of google searches are coming from mobile devices. Now, what is the point of creating a totally new index just because the search is being made from a mobile device?

Looking deeper into this I had to back – track, so everyone is doing more on the mobile device, true. But how many people still use a desktop every day, this also has to have some significance?

And I am right to think this as many experts are saying the same thing;

“Are we now going to have to use mobiles at our desks? The mention of that word ‘primary’ seems to suggest so, as we become faced with outdated content on desktop search”

Sam Hurley, digital marketing expert

“I think the main reason Google is making this change has to do with people searching on mobile, getting a snippet created from the desktop index, and then not seeing the snippet content on the page once they click through. What this means for SEOs is that any content on desktop that doesn’t exist on mobile may not be updated as frequently (we’re talking hours here not days) and may not have as much weight for ranking”

Ryan Jones, SEO Manager

The answer; there is a need to “provide faster loading, mobile-optimised pages”, according to an article published late October this year.

“(Google) updated their algorithm in 2015 to prioritise websites that are optimised for mobile and provided a ranking boost for mobile-friendly sites, as well as the recent inclusion of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) in the search results”.

Ok so now I am starting to understanding the method in what is still some madness. But still, I am very intrigued!


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A Twitter Chat Review: Librarianship Across Borders

collaboration3-870x400Having travelled to an international conference this year, I decided to host June’s @uklibchat with a focus on how librarianship operates cross borders.

In the past 2 years, I have learned a lot from collaborating internationally, and it is something I wish to continue doing for the rest of my career. Going forward as a new professional my interests have begun to include looking at how the impact mentoring and leadership has within librarianship. I am excited by how these two management strategies can influence your professional profile, gaining you opportunities when that profile is added to a global platform.

My team members in @uklibchat are based all over the UK, from them, I have learned strategies and techniques to communicate across different cultures and contexts, to converse with people you have never met (we have since met in person) or only messaged/emailed requires a certain skill set. Communication is key, and once you learn specific ways to converse online I personally think many professional relationships can be established and flourish.

Today I have collated all the excellent topics raised and the positive feedback gained from opening up librarianship and having our profession reach across borders.

Our participants came from far and wide, Ireland, England, USA, Canada, Qatar, South Africa, and Europe. It was a delightful chat and one where this diverse melting pot came together and produced one of my favourite chats since I have joined @uklibchat, so a massive thank you to all who took part.

As I had attended an international conference in June I was interested to see how many others had taken part in an international event, conference or otherwise. It was interesting to see if it was something librarians did annually and if we don’t what are reasons?

The majority did attend a conference, a few took part in International Librarians Network and I was interested in the Erasmus programme one or two people did through their workplace within academic librarianship.

I am a firm believer in the more opportunities that come your way the better you become as a leader. Once you have done something you can be there to give support and encouragement for the next person.

The connections I have made in the last few years have lead to amazing opportunities and I am very interested in other people reasons for connecting internationally.

Here are some mentions:

  • Diverse perspectives
  • Wider vision
  • Access/Sharing support and resources
  • Positive and practical discussions
  • Similar challenges across librarianship, learning the solutions to overcome these challenges
  • Approaching situations in a new light, having a fresh perspective
  • Mentorship & Collaboration
  • Breaking down silos
  • Awareness of library trends
  • Friendship
  • Sharing how we deal with similar threats and challenges

In talking about connecting internationally virtually or face to face I am always conscious of people who find it difficult to make that first step. They can be a new info pro or a new member of an online LIS community. Here we discussed, simple ways to ease yourself into the international community.

1. Be a lurker on a Twitter chat, pick a hashtag a month and jump in if you only have a half hour that’s fine, most chats will create a Storify so you can access the discussion at a later date.

2. Be brave and apply for a bursary to an international conference (or any conference for that matter)

3. Ask your work colleagues what international connections they have, and see can they include you in groups, listserves etc.

4. Sign up for the International Librarians Network

5. Sign up for an international webinar (SLA have many and check out Web Junction)

I would like to focus on the first point, a Twitter chat, if you are thinking of becoming involved in Twitter, by all means, touch base with me. For new members and the established I have added a list of the twitter handles and hashtags mentioned in the chat, so we can all avail of a diverse pool of discussion.

Having spoken about how these international connections can enhance you personally, one question that I was delighted to see is how can this international collaboration benefit your library or library sector? The insight I gained here was wonderful. Here are a few thoughts or tweets!

  • Discover different solutions to universal themes
  • International collaboration helps with interlibrary loan and reference questions
  • International collaboration expands the pool of people and resources/collections, a super, extended library network.
  • New ideas, getting you away from your specific national funding context
  • Intercultural awareness. Understanding of /empathy with others
  • Very interesting to hear about USA perspectives on at @NASIG recently
  • Our library invites int’l librarians to see how we run our service & what we provide & we also learn from their practices
  • Perspective gained from Myanmar at @UKSG …we take our access to info for granted so often..
  • I’d be lost without my international contacts. I value them highly and am always willing to reciprocate with help

LIS sectors can differ, however, the core of librarianship does not change. Taking collaboration alone, can we establish and succeed across LIS sectors?  Many of our participants put forward a positive attitude, saying yes we can. In areas like CPD, I would agree that a group of people from different LIS sectors can produce a successful collaboration. In addition, I think the success of the project would be grounded in the diverse perceptions and experiences the group brought to the table.

Towards the end of the chat, we asked for overseas Twitter handles or blogs that you knew of but not located in your country. Here is the following list.




New Zealand

Thank you to everyone who participated, you can find the Storify for the chat on 



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What is the EU/US Privacy Shield & what does it mean for us?

The EU/US Privacy Shield is how personal data can be transferred from an EU country to a US organisation or company.

These “transatlantic data flows” states Leo Moore of William Fry was part of a 1995 Directive where the EU could pass data to a 3rd country outside the EU if they had adequate data protection plans in place.

Known as “Safe Harbour 2.0” came under attack when Edward Snowden made headlines in 2013. Along with Max Schrems and Facebook being played out within Ireland. The EU and US as Moore states “had a bit of a scramble” to put together something that corrected what safe harbour had in place.

Today we see in draft form this EU/US Privacy Shield, whereby companies are held by a self-certification process that sees them commit to a set of principles. However, Moore goes on to state that because this is still in draft form it is “unreliable” on a legal basis for data transfer to US companies.

The privacy shield is there to uphold the fundamental rights of EU citizens and even though it has made significant changes from Safe Harbour 2.0 there are still concerns surrounding the draft document.

Concerns raised include “massive and indiscriminate surveillance” the “onward transfer of data by the privacy shield entity” and how EU individuals have “difficulty to effective and independent resources to exercise their right”.

An interesting topic that will certainly be one to watch in the coming months!

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Data Protection: The Unprecedented Change.

Emma Redmond brings us through the terms and concepts involved in data protection. The definition of privacy or data protection is basically the protection of that personal data. Redmond explains this definition is a key and important concept to understand.

The importance of what is happening within EU legislation is reiterated over and over again by Redmond, where she states “we have never seen anything like this before”.

What is this change?

A lot of this is legal change with the main two areas being The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the EU – US Privacy Shield.

Who are the main players in this change?

Redmond brings us back to the fundamental basics of data protection, and teaches us to ask who is actually controlling all this personal data AKA a “Data Controller”. As the data is collected, held, processed, is that data then changed by a third party? If so this data then comes into the hands of a “Data Processor”. Redmond gives the example of a bank transaction, does the bank have a third party that will need to service all these public needs, and no surprise, the answer is yes.

What does it look like for us the people?

It is our fundamental right to have protection over our data, so we need to know what players are in the field and who does what to our data.


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“Privacy, a human right for the digital age” – the legal practice and challenge of Data Protection

Preserving the privacy of Europeans is a big challenge facing the European Union states Dr Denis Keller, a barrister  who specialises in privacy and data protection law.

The biggest news in the last few months sees the European Parliament passing new rules surrounding data protection, also known as the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”).

Many of the challenges facing Europe and the reason these rules are so crucial to the people of Europe can be seen in the way data can be gathered and used through our “data gathering devices” or as we like to call them our phones.

In addition to this personal privacy the law needs to take into account surveillance, how CCTV is used and how recording devices are now in everyone’s pocket, if you are being recorded you need to be aware of the interviewer but also your audience.

Dr Keller stress the threat to privacy in the privatisation of surveillance and how phone tapping can now be done outside of state surveillance. This massive topic has many angles and the magnitude of people that are affected by it makes the legislation hard to combat it, as it is forever changing.

So how do we, the regular people with the regular phones get our privacy back?

Dr Keller says there is an increased awareness now, but more people need to question their privacy, as they don’t know their rights.

Furthermore, to understand the data that is being harvested and gathered at all times & more importantly to change their behaviour surrounding privacy and the legal aspect of this topic.


April Showers

Hi, Everyone!

Reflecting back over the last 3 months, I am very happy with my achievements every month.

However, Job searching can be very draining. I find writing these blog posts help me look back over the goals I have set myself. The good news is I got a part time job as a Research Assistant with Waterford Institute of Technology which I begin next Monday.

Saying that, I am very interested in the goals I didn’t achieve, I like to sit down and ask myself, “Why didn’t you follow through with this”?

You need to stay real, and I can honestly say it is because I turned my focus to something that in the long run has helped win me an award!

SLA’s LMD Divison (if you don’t know it check it out) have a career advancement award every year, so with the encouragement of my mentor, I set about to create my application.

I was thrilled to begin this as it brought together a lot of ideas I had floating around for some time now. Watch this space!

Also, one of my main aims this year is to do as much public speaking as I can, and I can safely say I love it, I spoke at a family wedding, I joined a writing class and stood up in front of a crowd of strangers and read my material.

From there my writing class got invited to two events in Waterford and again I spoke to a crowd of strangers and showed my material!

I have finished reading Chapter two of the Organised Mind, however, I do need to write up a blog post.

Data Protection and Privacy I had to sideline, however now the Law Society if Ireland started a MOOC, and I am currently looking at Module 1 so will reflect on this come the end of the week.

I shall be very busy this month, however, I do plan to keep this blog even more active as I will have lots to share with you all!