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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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,



The pressure is on I have been nominated!

After nearly 2 months of not paying any attention to my beautiful blog that I adore and not paying attention to anything in the world of libraries that I love because I have been super busy (any excuse), I have returned because a very special person in the world of libraries Helen Kielt has nominated myself and a few others in this new project.  Here she has set a jumping off point for all of us with a few questions, so it is going to be a nice way to reflect after being away for a while.

So as I am a bit shy (ha ha) I waited until someone else took the plunge to answer these questions, and of course another twitter and info superpower Roy Murray started the ball rolling. I just want to first of all say a massive thank you to all of my  library friends that I know via twitter or college, the amount of information that we produce and share between us on a daily basis is an extraordinary way of collaborating and integrating, may it continue and prosper.

So the following questions start with:

1. How do you think blogging has benefited your personal/professional development?

I always thought I really should start a blog, and these thoughts would have popped up (light bulb moment) as I scratched my head through Sociology modules trying to figure out what the hell my lecture was on about, or through mind blowing political strategies like “Game Theory”. Looking back it really was that sense of reflection that I needed. But once I looked into it I had no idea what to write and second I thought once I have written it what good is it going to be? So when I entered the MLIS and I saw that one of the modules offered incorporated setting up and managing a blog, I jumped at the chance.  The management class was set up in a way that you read the readings prescribed every week and you wrote your blog post reflecting on these reading, your thoughts, your challenges, your opinions. I never once thought that writing something down and conversing through twitter or blogging would ever change my life, but it did. Looking back I did not think too much about it, and I just ran with it and typed as I thought, I did not want to have the academic link to my opinions and I wanted the blog to eventually become part of me, and reflect me as a person. I think when people read other blogs that for you to be interested in that person there has to be a sense of that person behind the words on screen. So through blogging I have gained a confidence in myself that looking back on I was searching for for a very long time, I would never be the one to engage in debate, and going back to college as a Mature student and undertaking a Sociology and Politics degree pushed every boundary that I had, yet it still was not enough. It is not the animosity of blogging, as I would have no problem tweeting my posts and looking at the feedback, it is the process of sitting down and having a topic and giving your thoughts and information to a wider audience and getting feedback about the information contained and/or your ideas that feels really good.

2. What is the most recent book you have read?

I have recently finished Colum McCann’s new book “Transatlantic”. I fell in love with his writing when “Let the Great World Spin” came out, it was the first of his books that I read and then I could not get enough, as I worked my way back through his storytelling I was fascinated by the threads and poetic stance to his sentences and how he can make words and people become so vivid in one’s mind. With “Transatlantic” I was so nervous reading it, as with so many authors once they have a big seller they need to up their game again and sometimes it can be a failure, “Transatlantic” is not by any means a failure however it does take McCann out of his previous comfort zone, he tells a tale that spans four generations and the book is bound together by the tiny thread of a letter, he mixes aviation with war and war with love and love with death and death with hope all in one story but with a mix of people that hold all these pieces in their hands without them even realising it and when you do sit back and go ” I wonder” you find yourself searching to see if all he says is true. In some parts it does ring true, no author would be as clever or silly whatever way you want to look at it as to tell the whole truth, leaving the mystery in it is what life is all about! It truly is a good read.

3. Describe yourself in three words.

Lovable, Honest, Colourful.

4. Who inspires you (in library land or otherwise)?

This is a tough one, I suppose it is all the authors I truly love as I love fiction, they give the mind space to imagine, and this reminds me of being a kid. I struggled a lot in school because I daydreamed a lot about the books I was reading but because I was a social kid I integrated and made friends so reading was done at home and then school bored me so all the teachers just thought I was not interested, and I just plodded along through school. It is only now and after meeting my partner (who encouraged me to go back to college) that I can understand what happened but now only embrace my love of reading.

5. Quote a line from a piece of prose/poetry that you love.

Where do I start?

“In reality, every reader, while reading, is the reader of his own self. The writer’s work is merely a kind of optical instrument, which he offers to the reader to permit him to discern what, without the book, he would perhaps never have seen in himself. The reader’s recognition in his own self of what the book says is the proof of its truth” by Marcel Proust.

6. If you could live for a time within any novel which would it be?

Where do I start?

mr-gallianos-circusI don’t know if it counts as a novel, but my earliest love and my most cherished time is reading Mr Galliano’s Circus, as a kid the circus would set up camp in the pitch across the road from my house so this book I read every summer and everytime the circus left I really thought I would be going to! So maybe as an adult I would not pick this but it really brings back so many memories good and sad 🙂

7. What is your biggest ambition?

To be a librarian and providing information to everyone who needs it. Also working and collaborating with a community and/or educational support to expand people’s learning abilities and to focus on people and teach them that they have the ability to expand their knowledge and learning but have never known how or why they should expand this knowledge pool would really make my dreams come true.

8. Who would play you in a movie about your life?

A female version of Dylan Moran (yes he also needs a lot of acting classes and yes he needs to be a women)

9. What song(s) would be on the soundtrack to that movie?

Tom Petty: Runnin Down A Dream

Eagles: Hotel California

Fleetwood Mac: You make lovin fun

Snoop Dogg: Drop it like it’s hot

Whitney Houston: I wanna dance with somebody

Dirty Dancing: The time of my life

10. Where are you most likely to be found on a day off?

If it is the same day off as with my partner we will be in the pub, if not I will be at home waiting for him to finish work so we can go to the pub, or I will have opened a bottle of wine pretending he is here and I will be making dinner for both of us so we can go to the pub.

11. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve heard?

Take baby steps, we will get there eventually! (Six years later and we have made giant leaps together!)

Thanks Helen this has been great I hope you enjoy!


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An EVENTful day

sunshine“In reality, every reader, while reading, is the reader of his own self. The writer’s work is merely a kind of optical instrument, which he offers to the reader to permit him to discern what, without the book, he would perhaps never have seen in himself. The reader’s recognition in his own self of what the book says is the proof of its truth”

The above quote is from a book I have never read but the author has found his way into many a book I have read and one I am currently reading. Marcel Proust has crept his way into my reading for many years now, and now I know why, this quote is what I live my life like, when I read things thats reflect the many ways I think or feel, its like a Déjà vu feeling, that to some is strange and scary, to me it was always a reassurance that life is going the right way, even if i did take some wrong turns and got lost, these feelings that come my way make me realise I am on track.

This week I really do feel I am on the right track, going through the week there was lots of mixed feelings. However reflecting back on it I now feel strong and secure in embracing the week to come. So what did I do this week, Tuesday was particularly eventful, hence the title!

Tuesday the 7th of May was the first beautiful summer’s day, in addition to what had already been a fabulous bank holiday weekend. Here I was attending a event in the Aviva Stadium to represent the company I will be starting with on Monday as a Research Assistant. In addition to this event I had also prepared to attend an event held in The Royal Irish Academy, so my day day started bright, warm and very eventful.

This seminar was held by a highly known name: LinkedIn. The feeling here, maybe apprehensive is the word or feeling I am looking for, as it was being held for recruitment companies in Ireland and how they can use LinkedIn for their recruiting purposes. I am very new to this industry and even more new to the type of recruiters that I shall be helping recruit (that was a mouthful). The event was very insightful, everyone there was there to network, to see they types of professionals that they each would be recruiting, even though I was not that comfortable approaching people, people still approached me so it gave me a brilliant opportunity to engage in this new world.

On reflection of the day, I felt like I was the new kid on the block but then again I was, in many ways when it is your first time entering a new world no matter what way, shape or form you prepare for it there are still elements of the new world that you will not know, and people are going to pick up on this I know I would!

So to my next event, this is held in the fabulous Royal Irish Academy on Dawson Street. This amazing establishment has been around since 1785! When you walk through the  doors into the library you get this amazing place surrounded by books wrapped with a woody, ancient scent. Here the discussion was surrounding a hot topic, Open Access to Humanities Data here three speakers gave their input and from three different perspectives, it was then opened to the floor which was very insightful. One gentleman in the audience made an important point about incorporating archiving into a project like building a thesis or if you are PhD student you need to build this into your research or there will come a stage where you may lose it or the information you have compiled will sit in a file on a remote computer never to see the light of day!

This was a lightbulb moment for me! My partner recently finished his thesis and he really enjoyed the topic, however where is all that information, research, digital pictures of letters he took? They are probably somewhere on this computer in random files where he only knows how to find. But where is the finished pdf, I am thinking it was on the USB key he handed in with the published edition, I doubt he thought to save a copy here or send it to himself as an email to keep it someway safe!

This information he has, could join a few dots in many more ways than he thinks for the certain historians he was dealing with. He never thought to go to them and say here I have all this information even though it may not be all relevant to you there may be pieces in here that with your expertise you could source another thread in history.

I really want that document and I want to make it available to the people that might get some use of it! I know there is a lot of MIGHT here but still you never know, by letting this document freely available rather than having a published book sit on a shelf in DIT library sounds amazing! It also gives people worldwide access to your published work, that must feel good!

So my next challenge is to persuade my partner to find this document! Wonder if cooking him a nice dinner will do! It may be my next post!

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Academic and Special Libraries SILS breakfast morning!


Bright and early on a Monday morning the committee members of the Academic and Special Libraries Board, Aine Carey and Laura Rooney Ferris laid out a fab spread for us in SILS, coffee, tea, and pastries.

We got off to a engaging start with Holly Fawcett from Social Talent giving us a very true account of how we deal with our Social Media profile. It is true that employers will look at all of these profile from your Facebook account you have that you might not be so proud off and the professional account of LinkedIn, to the twitter feeds that you have created. (semi professional at times)

It is this vast array of your social profile that employers will be looking at but most importantly is that you want them to find you, if you need to “clean up” your F.B.  account do so, because you need all these all these sites to represent you and your personality where a  C.V. can only do so much.

I did not realise until now how much of a footprint I have online, every suggestion Holly made about creating a profile I had already done or was getting around to it. I do have to clean up my F.B. account, the vast majority of friends that I have I don’t contact and then there are the other half who I really don’t need to posting things about me, the more you tell them not to tag you or upload pictures of you the more they do “for a laugh”. Even though Holly was very honest in saying “keep it real” some of those pics I am not proud of so that’s it I am cleaning it up!

Next up is the best speaker I have ever encountered Jane Burns, (Project: Mary Martin Diary) this is maybe my 4th or 5th time hearing Jane speak and not once has she recovered anything I have heard previous, each time I have learned something new and been given another opportunity to pursue a different angle in my career. Jane today covered how we as Library and Information Professionals can identify the tools which we have and challenge them to different sectors. One way to do this is by acknowledging that you have the skills of a project manager but reformatting this into the language of a project manager!

By volunteering in different projects available this can really help you identify these skills and share your ideas with various people from different sectors not just libraries. Jane show how you stamp the skills you already have with a “Formal name” seek out your skills and give them the title they deserve, if you need to brush up on them do! There are various courses available, one that was recommended is doing a knowledge/project management course, some may be for free, the one Jane took was part of IBEC! I am on it! I love volunteering, and I have accepted the fact it is going to be a while until I find a job so for now I am going to sign up to everything! Jane an inspiration as always!

Lastly we have Giada  from the LAI CDG, here the same thread is apparent through all talks “ENGAGE WITH OTHERS” by doing this you are always building your profile, and by engaging with people online and then attending talks, conferences, you are making these connections ever stronger! Also reiterating Jane’s point of volunteering, if you know of a collection that needs work done, and the company/organisation does not have the funds to hire approach them to see if it possible for you to volunteer and put your skills to the test!

The two amazing points that I took away from this morning and that will build my confidence ever more is:

1) Add to your status/tweets that you are actively looking for a job, make sure to “chase after companies that could potentially  employ you and tell them that they need you! Show them through all your online projects that you are the best person for the job, because no one else is going to do it for you!

2) Seek out these projects that are being left gather dust, in a dark corner of a library basement! Email these people ask them what you can do for them!

So a early Monday morning has provided another avenue for me to consider, first Facebook clean up, some peeps are going to be forgotten!!

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On Wednesday 10th of April Croke Park Conference Centre, the Library Association of Ireland, Career Development Group got together to organise an event for Professionals in work and how to enhance or renew their skills. In addition advice was given to guide Professionals that have recently been out of work along with the emergence of New Professionals into the world of Librarianship.

Two of the committee leaders Giada and Daniel were our speakers for today. Giada led the conversation with a very engaging Prezi presentation, where she gave a background to the establishment of the CDG which was something that amazed me; the group really have only begun to emerge in the last 12 months! My perception was this was a long established committee, so I was very eager to see their plans for the future.

Giada and co, have many ambitions for the group one aspect is to embed a job’s forum within the LAI’s website, and to work in conjunction with employers in order to establish another platform to seek us as potential employee’s.

This is a positive ambition of the committee as the establishment of has given me and my fellow classmates from SILS in UCD a lot of hope and encouragement for the future.

In addition future ambitions include the “libcamp”. I had not heard of the English version, however as Giada illustrated the event seems very engaging, the day is very informal, a topic is chosen beforehand within a group with similar ideas and you “pitch” this topic/idea to the floor! It sounds delightful, as there are so many issues surrounding our profession that you don’t always get the time to engage in debate, or even find people with similar or contrasting ideas. I am really looking forward to this event and I hope I can be a part of it!

Giada’s presentation then focused on Professionals within work, and she had a positive message. “Learn, Go, And Do”! This message would be a great workshop for any library to engage in.

Libraries today are facing many restrictions, however if you brought this plan into your institution you can change the outlook within the Profession and view these challenges as road block you need to divert from not stop at!

The procedures in which Giada outlined is to constantly keep up-to-date with the issues/topics/challenges surrounding you and your position. Get involved with the many debates that are being held via social networking. Personally I find Twitter an essential tool, even if your knowledge of the topic is sparse you still gain a lot from these conversations. I do take part in the Irish Libchat (#irelibchat) and it is great as you may not know these people but you build an online rapport with them. This is extremely beneficial when you attend conferences as this connection is already well established and you have found the links you need to help you within the issues and challenges facing you.

Another way to build your network is through Mailing lists and Newsletters; these illustrate the current issues and challenges facing this Profession. The people established within the various institutions need to engage with these issues in order to find solutions. So build up your social network, engage with the debates at conferences and keep up-to-date with issues and challenges, it is the only way to find solutions to the many problems facing Library and Information Studies!

This model Giada created is what she adopted as Professional Activism which is very true. The Professionals that are in the Professions need to renew their skills at a time when this profession is being threatened, and engage in dialogue with their colleagues from various institutions nationwide and worldwide to see how these have managed and used these challenges to be more effective for their community.

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Digital Libraries & E-Portfolio’s

Linking my Contemporary Issues in Professional Practice with my Digital Libraries Module has proved very beneficial.

Within the various Digital issues I have confronted, the two speakers that attended our class really did shine some light on how to help solves these problems.

Our Assessment for D.L. is a challenge, however exciting. Here we develop and build our own Digital Library!!! It has been a challenge, and also looking “outside the box” at various issues that surround Digital Libraries, copyright, metadata, scanning pictures,photo’s creating “tiff” instead of “jpeg”, files being too large…..

To access how the Professionals do it was a real bonus, instead of looking at creating a Digital Library from my own perspective it gave me the opportunity to see how the larger community would view it , and who they would be.

Connections have literally sprung up everywhere throughout this second semester and as part of our PLN it was suggested we take part in the Hack Library School “Day in the Life” of a Library Student. This was very encouraging as people who had signed up for the day or week were able to contact each other and follow them on twitter or view their blog.

This interest then led me to follow the Library Voices tweets which has just introduced their newest contributor Andy Tattersall, one of the topics he was covering was about digital copyright, which was something I was interested with my own D.L. As it then became apparent Andy had a lot of Prezi’s available which also started another conversation of the likes and dislike of using this new tool.

The following is an amazing presentation which to my surprise I had already become a part of through my own research.