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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September Webinars

The Modern Library, by Library Journal. 

Wellington Public Library, New Zealand, began a new initiative to meet new customers. The idea they came up with was a book bike: Impromptu storytelling in the summer months along the beach front for kids and their families.

It provided really good feedback to the librarians and the families gave a positive reaction when they returned to the beach every week. It also gained some media attention, which was very positive for the library.

The librarians then took to twitter to take pictures and promote the book bike to their existing customers, after a while they would have queue’s form around them for borrowing books, and signing up for membership.

The library then developed the new mobile checkout software for the Ipad where they could issue new cards and new books to patrons while out and about with the book bike.

It ordered them to think outside the box, libraries need to go outside the library walls and engage with others, we need to show and tell people the value of the services that public libraries offer.

Especially for rural libraries, communities are vital and you need to give excellent service to the older community within rural towns and villages.

Networking Relations, by Tracy Z. Maleeff.

Professional relationships, need to be created, maintained and sustained. This process is a marathon, not a sprint, take your time and practice.

Networking is not to schmooze people there is no gain, you have to give and take, don’t always expect something from the relationship.

When you meet someone for the first time always say to yourself “What can I do for this person?”

People have various excuses for not developing networking relations, like being an introvert and extrovert, networking is a not a personality trait, you develop these skills.

Create a network:

People well known in the library world have a duty to new professionals, so they will want to get to know you. Find out who these people are, make that connection through twitter and build from there. Follow this through at a conference; find them, introduce yourself and talk to them.

The reason why you want to connect with that person is the reason why you want to talk to them. Pick a topic you are both interested in and go with that. If you do find yourself in a situation where you don’t know the person, start talking about the where you are, be it Dublin or Dubai, it helps break the ice and you will find it easier to navigate the conversation back.

If you are nervous about speaking with people in these situations practice in other situations, book events always have a Q&A session at the end, go in with a question and be sure to be kind and gracious, the author will remember you later when you are getting your book signed! Conferences also have Q&A sessions, find out who is on this panel, research them, research the program, and go in with a few questions.

Maintaining a network:

The most important element when maintaining a network is to keep in touch with people you meet along the way. Through all the social media routes, find the people who are active on these sites and keep connecting, and engaging. It will help you as you move through your career, these are professionals you can call on for advice, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone, or meet them for coffee.

More importantly be empathetic, you need listen to people and be kind. If you find that someone in your network is having a really busy and stressful time, reach out and give your advice, find solutions to their worries. This could be as simple as a funny article about a recent political blunder, but they might just need a laugh.

Be in the know! Know what is going on out there, yes there is a lot, so focus on the topics you like. Also, know your library sector. However always be interested in other sectors, at the end of the day we are all library and information professionals.

Sustaining a network:

Be an interested inquirer, as librarians we all love learning. So by sustaining these networks use the opportunities that will arise. Collaborations could include:

  • conference presentations,
  • journal papers,
  • webinars,
  • blog posts,
  • committee duties,
  • Twitter chats,


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August Webinar – Mentoring


(Recording only allowed through registration)

mentoringworks_logoTopic: Mentoring

This webinar is jam-packed with the top information professionals, and they each bring their own flavour of mentorship to this session.

Here I shall outline a few:

Pam Rollo has a background is in public, and corporate library, to find out more check out a small piece on the SLA website.

According to Pam,  mentoring is a wonderful attribute to have as a person. You are always providing help and support, giving tips and tricks and guidance.

Part of being a mentor you need to develop a plan to reach your mentee’s goals. These goals will break-through what the mentee is trying to achieve long term. One major part you have to play as a mentor is to help others develop faith in their ambitions.

Pam mentions how Rose L.Vormelker was part of her ambitions, she feels Rose was a mentor to us all, being remarkable in the places she has worked and influences she has had.

Next on is Ashleigh Faith, she says building a team between you and your mentor is vital.

Communication is also high on the list, both mentor and mentee need to communicate what you want and communicate what you need. Pursue professional development and ask your mentor to coach you, for example going to conferences. The most important part is to have a roadmap for the mentee towards professional goals.

Tracy Maleeff, the super Library Sherpa, is as we all know awesome!

Do I need to say anymore?

Kati Arzeta’s advice is  “Making the most of what you have”.

Find what you are good at, aim for expertise with these certain skills.

In addition as a mentor get people to know the business inside out whatever that business is, whatever library sector you are in KNOW IT.

Organisational knowledge and imitate knowledge of the people within the organisation is good, it gives you confidence and use this confidence and knowledge in an interview. Know the who’s who of the organisation.

Dee Magnoni is the Research Library Director at Los Alamos National Laboratory, suggests as a mentor to listen to individuals goals and see how they map the organisations goals. All these issues need to be discussed regularly.

One way to progress is to have a skills awareness, who has what skills in the organisation, pick up on these skills and as a mentee reach out to them and ask about these diverse skills.

As a mentor, you have the potential to team people together, go outside the library and have the cup of coffee.

Please check out these wonderful people mentioned, all are the best in the library and information profession.

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Twitter chats and opportunities.

As librarians we are great to get involved on Twitter, and I think everyone who knows me will agree with me when I say it is a great professional development tool.PD

The main focus of learning for me is getting involved in twitter chats. I find tweeting library material that you find personally is also important as it gives your profile and professional brand alot of attention (only if the content is good). However if you want to limit your social media time, twitter chats really do give your professional profile attention and you meet lots of people, you share lots of information and you learn something new.

I find twitter chats to be like focus groups where a group of people are asked about their perceptions, opinions, ideas surrounding certain LIS topics. Some of us know each other, others are new and the senior members help the new professionals along the way.

These people are your colleagues, they are in this Groupthink bubble of library and information professionals and not all of us know the vast titles that each of us have or the potential to move into. I find this cross pollination is vital to keep new ideas rising, you get so much diversity by collaborating with a bunch of creative people like ourselves.

In addition to having the diversity of a profession, twitter chats also allow you to dip in and out of other LIS contexts. There are people from all over the world, different communities can be really helpful when you think there is no one else out there, and “the struggle is real” conversation. But they do and it is heartwarming to get advice and inspiration from all these people.

To anyone in any profession I would strongly recommended getting involved in a twitter chat.

All you need to do is ask your fellow twitter professionals and I’m sure someone will point you in the right direction.


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Leadership in Libraries – Webinar Part 2

Part two of the leadership in libraries webinar is Eva Dahlbach from Stockholm University Library, here she is head of the department of customer service.

Her personal story of leadership is one of inspiration, learning, and collaboration.

Eva developed her skills at a young age, and became involved in a leadership environment through Scouts, this she maintains paved her way for professional development as a leader. Being a leader was fun, you became the organiser the planner and you had control over each process and decision.

Role models where many, at a young age it was her grandma, as she moved into adulthood mangers and mentors who trusted her and gave her confidence thought her many ways of leadership.

Good managers and mentors will listen and trust you and discuss and develop your ideas, it is reciprocal you cannot do it alone. Along with this is you need to incorporate your colleagues in this journey you need their support and more importantly their guidance.

Leadership skills need to be able to adapt and mold to the many different contexts you as a professional will enter into. No two libraries are the same, you need to learn these different skills and practice these skills as you move through your profession. There is “no one way” you need to listen and support the people around you.

The best advice Eva gives is developing your colleagues this is as important if not more important than developing the organisation itself, they grow everything grows!

Be honest with yourself, you and nobody is perfect. You will need to admit a few truths to yourself along the way, when things don’t work out – walk away. Admit when you don’t know how to proceed, admit when you need help – don’t get defensive show you are not perfect!

This honesty will only come if you reflect on your leadership decisions, what are your weakness? Where do I need to improve? Test your leadership, learn and find inspiration in everything, good or bad. Learn from colleagues ask them for feedback and in return give feedback.

Leadership in libraries is about teaching people responsibility, showing that you have confidence in your team. Mentoring them and assigning them tasks, being with them through each step is true leadership.

Good mentors don’t do it alone, they don’t claim to be the experts, they call on others for knowledge and expertise and they lead with everyone as a team.


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Making the Leap to Library Leadership – Webinar (Part 1)

IFLA New Librarians Global Connection Webinar, was held in April 2015 through the IFLA’s New Professional Special Interest Group. Hosted by Kimberly Sweetman  (Part 1) and Eva Dahlbach (Part 2)

Kimberly begins the webinar within a small discussion about why we are interested in this webinar on Leadership, What intrigues me to know more about leadership?Leadership-Quote

For me I reflect on three areas;

  1. To understand what a leader is, the perspective of a leader, the mindset and how I could learn to become a great leader in my profession.
  2. To gain an insight into the characteristics of a leader, to research these characteristics and to see which ones I tick yes to and which ones I fear, like delegation. To sit with myself and question why I fear this aspect of leadership.
  3. Preparation for future career prospects, if roles are available and they require an element of leadership now I can be aware of my weakness and strengths going forward. I can focus on building both so that if and when an opportunity comes my way I am not at a loss, that I will have a confidence to go for it and be successful.


Having good and bad leaders throughout my life has thought me alot and the most important aspect is to reflect back over these individuals and ask (1) what is it that they did? (2) what is it that I want to do?

In contrast what are the aspects of their leadership I found difficult?

Kimberly outlines some characteristics of a leader:

  • they have the bigger picture,
  • they focus on people,
  • they innovate and develop
  • they exhibit new ideas
  • they challenge the status quo
  • they continually question
  • they focus on people

This above list is very inspiring and it intrigues me to know more about how I can develop myself to become a leader. Kimberly suggests researching the various leadership skills that are out on the web and to maybe compile your own list of skills that you think you need as a leader.

For this presentation Kimberly focuses on seven skills:MBA-Leadership-Development

  1. Emotional intelligence – to be self aware, to self manage, to understand social awareness, and to understand relationship management.
  2. The bigger picture – to look at the industry you are in and understand the trends, challenges and issues that face that industry. Create a personal mission statement and ask does it reflect my organisation?
  3. Professional Comportment – this is closely linked to emotional intelligence. Some pieces of advice that Kimberly gives is: “is if someone tells you something horrible, don’t look horrified, keep balanced” this is the best advice I think I have ever heard. It is true if something goes drastically wrong on a project the first thing you do is cover your face and go “how did this happen”!!!!! Along with alot of *@&! and you can imagine the tone of voice! Secondly, listen to gossip but don’t repeat it! So So So important!
  4. Understanding the change process – here a leader is comfortable with change, however as comfortable as one might be you need to be mindful of the people around you. People will tend to take change alot slower and this needs to be added into your plan.
  5. Decision making – how do you as a leader make decisions well? Here are some key points to always think of:
    • Gather evidence from multiple sources
    • Think about all the different perspectives & consult with others to gain this perspective
    • Choose a course of action that benefits the whole
    • Evaluate your decision
    • Think about the process you use to make that decision, reflect and see what information you could have used to make an even better decision.
  6. Communication Skills – is so important, however knowing when an phone call is better than an email takes learning and a deeper understanding of people and what people are saying, some people will be more comfortable with an email and find it very intrusive if you “popped in for a chat” so knowing the person as well as the context for communication is equally as important.
  7. Innovation Skills – taken from Forbes online article leaders can learn the following:
    • Questioning allows innovators to challenge the status quo and consider new possibilities;
    • Observing helps innovators detect small details — in the activities of customers, suppliers and other companies — that suggest new ways of doing things;
    • Networking permits innovators to gain radically different perspectives from individuals with diverse backgrounds;
    • Experimenting prompts innovators to relentlessly try out new experiences, take things apart and test new ideas;
    • Associational thinking — drawing connections among questions, problems or ideas from unrelated fields — is triggered by questioning, observing, networking and experimenting and is the catalyst for creative ideas.


So with all of the above Kimberly illustrates how we can all develop a Personal Leadership Plan. This is very exciting and is something that you can reflect on daily within your workplace.

These are the following aspects that I find will help me on my journey through my PLP;

  • Finding a mentor – there are plenty on twitter
  • Form a support group – again twitter is a great place to do this
  • Research what various people list as leadership skills
  • Create a daily reading list & map out a time to accomplish this
  • Schedule time for thinking & reflection
  • Conduct a skills assessment – where do you most need to grow
  • Write a personal mission, vision and value statement

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Library Camp 2015

My first Library Camp, this is the third year running and it is fair to say it is an event that will not be missed again.

For those who don’t know what Libcamp is, it is run by the Career Development Group of the Library Association of Ireland (an awesome group) and it is what we can call nowadays an “unconference”.

cropped-laicdg-11So what is an unconference I hear you say, according to Forbes  “At an unconference, no topics have been predetermined, no keynote speakers have been invited, no panels have been arranged”

Within Libcamp, there is an agenda, pitches have been outlined before the event and posted on the CDG website, an overall theme is given and each pitch relates to this.  From there on, the day it is up to the attendees to make the most of discussion, by jumping in at anytime of the pitch and creating and imputing into the conversation, and most importantly by moving around each pitch to make the most of your day.

Your time on the day is the most important, I felt myself getting caught up in the pitches once they started and was very reluctant to leave one go to another, but once I started to get a feel of the day it was super fun.

The first pitch was by Jenny O’Neill, on the librarian’s elevator pitch, which is something that is very important especially for new library professionals starting out. Having started an internship, I was meet with alot of questions and astonishing stares as I spoke about what a library and information professional was. One such question was “so how does one become a librarian” and when I answered a “Masters” I got lots of “OOH” “WOW” REALLY” (this annoyed the hell out of me) so Jenny’s pitch was ideal for me.

I wandered into the end of Genevieve Larkin’s pitch about Marketing services at Cregan Library and felt a bit lost until her last segment where everything fell into place and this was super to see how everyone’s input gave Genevieve a new insight into what she needed to focus on when she returned to work.

My favorite pitch of the day was Louise Galligan’s, on Marketing the Libraryless Librarian, and she used the word BRAND to go through her pitch, the N for me is the most exciting part of being a librarian and going to library events: NETWORKING, we all know we should make more time to attend events, but for me it is that bit more difficult as I am based in Waterford and many events will not be anywhere near me. In order to combat this distance issue, I use social networking to keep myself in the loop.

Last pitch of the day was Niamh O’Sullivan, and this was something I needed to know, Picture Perfect Presentations, this has torn my hair out on so many levels even doing blog posts and finding images and not knowing where to find them, who to credit them too, or even if I was doing any of this right. Niamh put all my fears to rest and gave  wonderful advice and great tips.

It was a great day, I met loads of new wonderful people and came away with many new ideas, which I will hopefully develop over the coming months!