The Casual Librarian

My thoughts and opinions

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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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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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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,



Library Advocacy #1

Topic: Values & Community

As I begin my second MOOC which is a very different setting from the first MOOC,  I settle into finding my way around the site I am initially disappointed, finding it difficult to locate the resources is very frustrating and the discussions are grouped in 4 different sections which I am not pleased with as I hope to learn from all in the library profession and have the opportunity to look at different perspectives and contexts within the profession.

However as time seems to running away from my plans I realise I need to get on with week 1 and assignments.

Assignments consist of multiple choice quizzes which you have 10 chances of taking again, very easy to do if you have not read the material. In addition they ask you partake in a discussion within the 4 groups you find your job title closest to.

My present two part time jobs reflect a small part of the “other” sector that has been listed and I am very keen to get an insight into where my new skills lie within librarianship. However, I am very interested in public libraries and how they operate and view library advocacy from a worldwide perspective.

As I find my resources I am inspired as I read the overview and this motivates me through the site,

“Libraries are bonded with their communities aspirations” (Library Advocacy Unshushed, 2014) which is very true in many regional libraries in Ireland. I see many public libraries adapting to the new communities that have entered into Irish society. Libraries are changing their outlook into becoming a open & engaging space which is a fabulous opportunity for students who wish to learn, and libraries have done this by becoming a learning space adding in bright colored seats and incorporating engaging facilities for learning.

As our world is changing, adding to this changing landscape is how people are learning, how teaching is changing and how information is being ingested. In order for libraries to keep abreast of this rapid switch they need to turn their focus to each individual that uses their particular library and view how they learn, look through their eyes for a moment and if they cannot understand or visualize this then they need to ask!

The second point I really felt summed up the above point is how “libraries are linked to ageless values” (Library Advocacy Unshushed, 2014) as librarians these are our core skills, however now our own skills are adapting and changing with this new movement. I like to call it the movement of information! These core values come in many shapes for example equality – everyone is welcome, and everyone is treated the same within our libraries.

Public libraries have a challenge as they do need to meet a wide range of people’s needs and with limited resources it is a interesting time within how local communities can help develop this amenity.

Community has been rather forgotten when it comes to libraries even though these individuals are the reason for our existence, to which some may add is declining, which I argue is not the case.

In order to make this known libraries should adapt and should promote their facilities, however all this is good and great with social media tools and I learned a lot of how this can be done by Micheal Stephens, however here I get the flip side of “promoting our services” WHY?

According to some this does not build relationships, I can see an element of this but my answer to this is then the community is not engaging with these social media tools if they are not working tweak them!

It is proving difficult to get my focus or head space into this new concept of Advocacy, a type of marketing tool but speaks to a specific pool of people who have a hand in library making decisions? A quote from the MOOC illustrates the following “In library advocacy, we are positioning libraries as assets in our society’s agenda or parent organisations agenda or priorities” (Library Advocacy Unshushed, 2014)

Okay instead of talking to our users talk to the people who keep our doors open and our staff strong and innovative! Interesting!

These new concepts and ideas are difficult at the moment to put into perspective, as they seem to be relating to people who do or may speak to this pool of people within each community, maybe by looking at their discussion feeds I might be able to get a better perspective.

Keep Learning!

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Week 10: Learning and New Literacies

Learning is acquiring new, or modifying and reinforcing, existing knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, or preferences and may involve synthesizing different types of information. (Wikipedia)

In this post I shall document the challenges and triumphs that have changed (A) In my approach to learning (B) my approach to the teacher (C) how I learn around my peers.

When you have a topic that you are very interested in, and on the first day of class the teacher is very clearly saying what he/she has said for a long time you can feel this by their body language and how they engage with the content which can be very disappointing.

I understand that 300+ students in a Sociology lecture year after year can get very repetitive, so why not change your content, laziness? That is a total contradiction, he/she is an academic they have to keep with the current changes in their profession, right?

Many times through my undergrad and Masters I found this, but I was a mature student so a part of me had an expectation of what a lecturer might be and one of those was a love for their profession. However it seemed that the love was there, they were just content with how they delivered it!

As I moved into the Masters a new way of learning was introduced: Group work!!! And it was my learning nightmare!!! It is a fear that I had of my own ability I had succeeded in the undergrad however I fought many demons along the way and now I had to share my work with a group of people that I knew were far more advanced than me.

It can have a terrible effect on someone when you do start to work on a project and you produce your work in a google doc and then you see what the rest of the group has produce you automatically feel like you have been kicked in the stomach, and then the editing happens and none of your work is yours anymore!!!

The only aspect of this group work that allowed me room to gain confidence was through the establishment of my blog, it was through this that I could be me, be colourful, add in funny remarks or pictures or link the topic to something current and argumentative. It also allowed me to be happy with my ability as a Masters student and to accept my ability within the library profession.

I will not fear the aspect of group work when I move into the working world of a library there will be many new aspects of how I approach teamwork and how I will work together with my colleagues.









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Week 7 Mobile and Geo-social environments

libThis week’s topic is something that in the last 5 years I have come to question, then hate, then come very jealous of and now LOVE! The reason this relationship has panned out like this is, as smart phones became the norm, and iPhones became the phone to have:

I became frustrated with the lack of what my LG phone could do compared to an iPhone, and then became very jealous of the people who had them (my partner got one free and was always on it) and now I love it (as he got an upgrade, switched to a HTC and I got the iPhone)

However I feel I have come to know this new technology at the right time, as if I had explored and bought a iPhone 5 years ago, my Twitter account and my apps would be used in a very different way and for a different purpose.

This is how I view libraries using these new technologies, if they are going to embrace the massive and diverse nature Apps have they need to choose wisely as it can have an overpowering effect on the goals of the library and on the interests of the community.

I understand the use of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as a good utility for showing what the library has to offer and engaging with their community, however if the community is small and rural and has a limited knowledge of these devices and geospatial applications it needs to choose what is relevant to the community, the library and the overarching objectives that have been the foundation of the history and future of the community.

I agree with Michael when he notes that unique collections should be shown to the world, long gone are the days where you have to travel to a town, district to see a collection. There are many ways of choosing what you want digitised and what you want to leave untouched for the unique collectors or archivists to come see.

And it is deciding this first that will then allow you decide on the application you wish to incorporate into your library.

Onwards and upwards in this techie world!!!

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User Experience

There are many aspects to a user’s experience and as society has changed so has the face of a library, which we hope has also changed the way a person uses a library.

Schmidt (2010) constructs this ‘mapping’ in which he thinks of  every step a user may need to go through in order to accomplish their informational need. Step by Step he brings us through the many interactions that person has with the many aspects of a library only 1 of those being us the librarian which for the first time it stuck me how we relate to the structure and how embedded we are in process.

Each of these elements need to adapt to the changes in society here the way I would approach and anticipate my users actions or informational needs to analyse and develop Political, environmental, social, and technical needs, changes or maybe wants within that community, also known as PEST.

Environmental changes for instance may affect how that community engage with seasonal changes if they are in a high flood plan or are prone to storms the information would change according to what informational needs the community has. This is one way of looking at how or what your users may need, during my time learning information behavior there were many articles like these:JunJul10_Palen_Starbird_Vieweg_Hughes that I found very interesting.

images cOf course the diversity of your population and community changes drastically from area to area and the social aspects would the geographical situation of the community rural or urban, social housing private housing etc.

Each of these elements gives you a foundation to build on when looking through that particular communities eyes, you can see gaps in where they lack information or could improve in areas of literacy skills and by doing this it changes and adapts your library to fulfilling their needs.

I recently came across a beautiful quote from an Irish lady Caitlin Moran and it goes like this: ‘A library in the middle of a community is a cross between an emergency exit, a life raft, and a festival’.

It is anticipating your community needs and making sure the process is free flowing that will ensure your diverse user and community a fluid service.