The Casual Librarian

My thoughts and opinions


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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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Professional Reading: The Organised Mind

25878011._UY200_This book is written for the curious minded, however because the word’s “Organised” and “Information Overload” is used on the front cover, librarians are going to be drawn to read this.

I was so excited when I saw this in my local bookstore, I had seen it referenced in another book and saw it popping up on various social media sites, I thought I have to purchase this little gem.

Levitin is a psychologist, so he is somewhat removed from the library and information profession, but we all love to learn. In addition, I always hear librarians speak about gaining knowledge about their profession from outside sources. It is true we do look outside the library to see what everyone else is talking about and we always try to situate ourselves among the chatter. This time, I found myself with a psychologist, not a bad thing really!

To begin with Chapter 1, Levitin does start strong he throws in historical events that will make your head spin. I really like the little taster of theory as he mentions some of my favourite theorists that I studied in Sociology and Anthropology it is really intriguing to find them noted here. What really made me sit up is his reference to survival, he is making the point of our human ancestors and how we categorised the world around us, he goes on to say;

“those who were interested in acquiring knowledge – whose brains enjoyed learning new things – would have been at an advantage for survival, and so this love of learning would eventually become encoded in their genes through natural selection” (Levitin, 2015, p. 31)

Now I hope I am not the first to go, “These were definitely librarians in the making”! The text goes on to note Clifford Geertz a very famous anthropologist, Levitin then goes on to show how Claude Levi – Strauss gives an opposing view. Without getting into too much detail the argument is, did we start to categorise in order to survive or did we do it because we wanted to make sense of the world around us, learn from it and thrive from it. Maybe we did both! A wonderful discussion to enter into, and one that I sense could go on forever.

His main aim with this first chapter is to see how we, society, have changed in today’s information age. How does the speed at which we consume information affect our minds? Levitin teaches us how our minds work with information in every form. His focus is on attention and how our minds adapt to what we need to pay attention too, or even how we make or minds pay attention, the other side of this is what distracts our attention.

In reading this I have been paying extra attention to paying attention! I am not the best when it comes to doing and completing anything unless it is a paying job that of course is different. But when it comes to me doing tasks in my daily life, like for instance reading this book and writing about it has been a difficult task. I am easily distracted, I will daydream, I will start researching aspects of the book and get side tracked, and before I know it I am still reading the same chapter for two months! So it is interesting to read about what happens to your brain as it is paying attention.

The last part of chapter one for me is the best, it sets up the next chapter for me. I want to read more! He gives wonderful examples throughout and many make you realise that this mind that is all yours is pretty awesome. Psychologists make you feel damn good!


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Conference Time!

Conferences are an excellent way to keep your CPD profile active. Once you begin to list all the events you have attended it gives you a great sense of accomplishment.

Personally, it allows me to immerse myself into a zone of pure learning.

In the past, I have taken notes and tweeted, but this year I have decided to really listen and to learn, not only from the person presenting but to the conversations that surround me while having a coffee or looking through poster presentations.

It was a different experience and one that left me researching various libraries and librarians. I wanted to know more about their institution and their job role, how they came to be a librarian, and what their values and goals are in their given career.

This reflective post shall focus on aspects I learned from the A&SL 2016 conference held last February. I hope to adapt this learning to my own interests which will enable me to create a piece of work that I can use throughout my career.

Having reflected on video’s posted on YouTube by the A&SL committee I have chosen the first of two areas to focus on. My second post will follow shortly!

Computer security

First, Digital Privacy. The Keynote Speaker for Day 1 is Alison Macrina from The Library Freedom Project. I was really struck by Alison’s journey towards her creation of this amazing project. In 2014 as a technology librarian/IT manager, in a Public Library Alison gave computer privacy classes, this that made me sit up! Computer Privacy Classes, I want to do that someday.

I thought this is something I want to know how to do and do it right. As a librarian, it is crucial to what we do. It is an area I have not concentrated on and I would like to begin my learning. Following Alison on Twitter is the best resource, you get to see the other side of the story that is; our data and more importantly how we the citizens and the world’s governments view privacy in different ways. I need to know where I stand on all this, I need to ask questions.

Do I care that I am being followed all over the internet?

Do I care that they have all my data?

Is my data important to me?

Will learning about privacy make me hate Google and Apple who I really love?

Privacy, I read recently that everyone needs their privacy and everyone does things in private, embarrassing things that you want no one to know about. Then you open up your device click on the World Wide Web and share EVERYTHING with EVERYONE, and the EVERYONE part, are the people who get to keep all that shit! It is scary to actually realise that they know what underwear I like because I have bought it online. No one, well maybe only your partner should know what underwear you like, but other than that it is weird! But we don’t seem to care, or worry about any of this. Teenagers don’t understand that their photo’s can be used in some very seedy ways, as seen recently this year in Cork.

How can we protect ourselves? How can we as librarians help inform our users about digital privacy?

This I need to know. Stay tuned!


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Professional Reading & Engaging with Library Associations and Organisations.  

For some being a new library and information professional is a chance for you to experiment and explore all things LIS.

The profession has broad levels of knowledge and skills. As you investigate and identify all areas on offer it can begin to overwhelm and bemused some new graduates.

I for one was very bemused, as I moved through the Masters I subscribed to all the Library blogs and noted all the professionals to follow and engage with on Twitter. However, as time moved on I began to accumulate a number of documents. These documents were relating to a number of topics most of which I was not reading and later realising I had no interest in.

The need to retrieve, and store this information in my mind is a way of “staying in touch” with the wider world of library and information professionals.

As I began to weed my ever growing collection of documents, I decided to question each piece;

Why would I read this?

What could I produce from reading this, a blog post or add it to my literature review for a potential article?

Who would benefit from me submitting an article about this topic or reading a blog post about this topic?

What was my interest and what was the value of this topic giving me as a professional?

I questioned these over and over.

The one question that struck me was who would benefit from me submitting an article or blog post? The way I intend to read these topics is to increase my CPD and by doing that I would keep on top of my professional reading whilst

The way I intend to read these topics is to increase my CPD and by doing that I would keep on top of my professional reading whilst showing my CPD with various library blogs.

The next question then I came to is who do I choose? I am not prepared to join every association nor am I going to read through all the library blogs that are live.

What I am prepared to do is sit down and look at who I am interested in and see what they are interested in. Moreover, I decided which of the library conferences or unconferences will I be able to attend this year, certainly not all of them. As I noted the ones I would like to attend I matched the organisation or association that arranges them.

From here I noted many things, by focusing on a few library associations and joining them I could connect with a wider network yet control the flow of new information. I could then engage with this new information on a scheduled basis, newsletters, webinars, lectures etc. As I have a keen interest in social media I wanted to not lose this global platform for interaction so I chose an organisation that was not based in Ireland but had a presence on Twitter.

Here I began to engage more with a selective few that were happy for me to blog or tweet about the topics in their newsletters or webinars. The access to the professional information was more defined, I still find other pieces serendipitously but I take my professional reading from these organisations first and foremost.

I am no longer overloaded with unnecessary information, the lesson learned here is you don’t have to read it, only read it if it interests you. From there do plan to produce a piece of writing something from the article or journal.

Happy Reading!


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Writing guest posts for LIS Blogs

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Deciding to write a guest post? What are you waiting for?

It can be very daunting writing a blog post for a professional blog rather than writing for your own blog. However there are many ways of getting past this, the first step is to look closely at the content that is being produced.

Still daunted? I didn’t think so. The content is exactly the same as you produce personally.  My personal fear is having others view what I have written. Questioning, is it good enough? Have I made a total mess of the conference review and worst of all did I miss anything?

Many LIS blogs welcome guest posts with wide open arms. And the content is totally up to you, (within reason of course, it will still be reviewed by the editorial board) in my own experience I have written about events, seminars and conferences that I have attended over the last year or so.

Writing about conferences and events is great however it may only be of advantage to people within Ireland who could not attend on the day. In order to produce a blog post that can be viewed and discussed by people in and outside Ireland, decide to brave and write about current LIS topics that are causing a stir.

What are the benefits of writing guest posts?

LIS Blogs are highly important when building a professional profile; many of the professionals that maintain LIS blogs interlink their work with professionals in the UK and America.

It is this global platform that gives the first and most important benefit in writing for LIS blogs. This is why I have previously mentioned creating posts that will cause a global discussion.

Personally for me the main benefit is confidence. It has given me confidence in my writing. Guest posts have built my confidence in how to critically assess a topic or event and enabled me to be confident in engaging with others throughout the LIS profession.

I have written for three professional LIS blogs, Libfocus, LAI CDG, and New Professionals Day Ireland (NPD).

In writing these guest posts you build on your individual professional profile and CPD, it connects you with many more LIS professionals which in turn helps you develop and grow with your LIS sector.