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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Artefact #2 Presenting Professional Projects

As part of our Contemporary Issues in Professional Practise module our supervisor gave us a project to work on as a group. We had the freedom to choose our own topic, and at the time a lot of people were debating the open access topic.

Here is our presentation:

As I have only given two other academic presentations this one was tough as it was a very detailed and the many issues surrounding the topic were technical in figures and statistics.

The group came together having read various pieces and we met to decide each other’s interests. As we went through the topic we each discussed what section of the project we each would like to take and how to combine each element into one presentation.

The group worked very well together as each person had an interest in the issue of open access. Having practised a run through of each section we realised that the introduction was very detailed along with the second part so in order to keep the topic from getting to heavy the last two pieces were kept to a minimum giving an overview of the debate between green and gold access.

My part included the issue of green open access, here my idea was to work with Amelie as she was working on the gold debate so there was no overlapping. We both had similar ideas which was to use the Finch Report as a jumping off point and try to illustrate how this debate emerged and the future possible decisions that will come from it.

Our slides worked well, we each made reference to points made from each other and even though it was a debate we left the debating to the class. Presenting was very daunting as I tend to talk very quickly when nervous. However before class we all did a run through, I learned that having “props” helped me focus, I did need a script which when I look back now seemed very boring. The script acted a nerve barrier however when I reflected on the presentation it now seemed like I was not confident enough about the topic.

Altogether we did very well our debate as an activity in the class went down very well, and it was so much fun. The class were very engaging in helping us see the minor faults in the project, and it was very beneficial to reflect on this analysis. For future presentations I have learned a lot from this one, I shall rehearse with a script first and then without to see how I can incorporate the slides as I move through them, another good idea is to get someone who has no previous knowledge of the topic to sit in and see what they have learned for your presentation, and the questions they have may change you presentation from a good one in a amazing project!


Dreams Do Come True

As today is our last class of the MLIS, I have begun to think back over my college term. It started in 2009 where I first entered UCD as a Mature student. Being a Mature student was very difficult to adjust to, however as term went on a group of brilliant people came into my life. As we were all similar in age we  helped each other through every assignment, looked  after each other when home troubles started because the degree was taking up so much of our time, and of course frequenting the student bar!

Each person in that group had some kind of an idea of what they wanted to achieve by the end, we all knew the degree was not going to get us these dreams jobs, so by 2nd year we all began researching  Master courses, the majority of us were all in Sociology together and entering into a Sociology degree is not an easy task. My thoughts were very mixed. Politics was my minor and my biggest challenge, however as 3rd year came into view Sociology began to rear it’s ugly theory head. I had to make a decision what Masters am I going to do?

As I was browsing the many elective choices you can take, I came across Lee Komito’s module Cybersociety. As I loved Sociology and was very interested in how technology was affecting society, I delved a little deeper! What did I find, The School of Library and Information Studies! As I searched the curriculum for the Masters I could not believe what I was reading, all the modules were either referring to a piece of sociology or were asking me to enter into a librarian’s world and seek out the many challenges and possible solutions to them.

I cannot put into words how I felt when I started my Internship in Waterford, finally after years of wondering what is it I wanted to do I felt I had achieved it. The warmth and encouragement in those few weeks was amazing, the way they went through all the modules I would be taking and answered the many silly questions I had about Libraries and their quirky words! (MARC21)

Starting the Masters was a Dream come True on it’s own, I could never have dreamt being at such a high academic level. I finished school in 1998 and did not achieve high points ( I only added my grades up when I filled in my CAO form) to enter into college, my principal when handing me my leaving certificate hugged me and said “I always knew you would pass”. That to a very naive 18 year old always followed me around through my 20’s. It was like I would not be able to achieve anymore within education, it was the best I could do.

However I did go on to do a 2 year certificate in WIT, college life was not for me I got through the 2 years by the skin of my teeth. Again my course leader struggled and pushed me every step of the way, looking back I did not appreciate what all these educators were doing for me as I was my own worst enemy!

My life did change when I met my partner, he showed me that I did not know everything because I choose not to learn anything, end of story! He said to me one day, have you ever read the paper, what’s is going on in America right now? I knew there were elections happening but that was about it, so he says “if you want to know stuff read the paper”. At 27 that really is harsh, but it woke me up I was always an avid reader but the learning never went beyond the book I read.

So I begun learning, and one day reading the paper I saw an advertisement, a home study course for a Diploma in Social Studies. It was a fabulous challenge, I had never used my computer for academic reasons so having to install microsoft word and write up essays which I would email to my tutor sounded exciting. As I started this new journey of knowledge I begun to wonder will I go back to college. As my partner saw me doing really well with the Diploma, he suggested to enrol to college’s.

It has been a long crazy journey since then, the diploma I could not finish as I started the degree and could not juggle both, but I knew I had achieved what I wanted so I was happy to let it go. For a lot of people education is a daunting challenge one that you can very well fail at, but if you know in your heart that what you’re learning, is all you have ever wanted to learn, you will achieve all you desire and more.

And now for my next journey, I have recently been hired as a Research Assistant for a recruitment company. It lies in a different world of recruitment than I could have ever dreamed, I will be in a totally different environment from what I am used to, sitting at home on your computer for 8 hours doing assignments might be a bit different to this job!


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Cost of Information

money bank

As it is the last few weeks, our supervisor has allowed the class to focus on topics that we feel are relevant and current within the library field. This week the topic is “Cost of Information” with focus on the current debate “Open Access”. Here myself and three classmates organised the content for the class and presented the research to them.

The readings focused on how this is seemingly the solution to the cost in which libraries have to pay for journal subscription. This solution being the Finch Report in 2012, two options arose and were named “Green Open Access”  and “Gold Open Access”.

This debate gathered pace as the results of the Finch Report became apparent, that Gold had been favoured. So first what is Open Access, it seems self explanatory Access to Information that is Open to everyone. However when you get to the bones of the subject it can become very dense.

So, Wikipedia! Oh my what is a librarian (well potential librarian) doing using Wikipedia to source Information? To give the basic no frills look at Open Access.  “Open access (OA) is the practice of providing unrestricted access via the Internet to peer-reviewed scholarly journal articles”.

As part of my piece within the presentation I focused on Green Open Access, here I argued the positive aspects of this option and how in general Green and Gold need to be taken into context. Academic Universities need  to be aware of the solutions that are available, however they need to enter into a dialogue with all the disciplines they collaborate with.

The incentive for change is slow, as this debate keeps going in circles. Steven Harnad shows how this debate can seem to wander in circles, and each side has it’s own flaws.

The presentation was a success, as we opened the debate to the class to see how each side shone through, Gold did have a lot of advantages and one can see how. Green tends to hide behind the banner that says “FREE” but this is a fallacy as there is always going to be a cost. The change that needs to happen is to remake the model that is currently effecting libraries and to seek a way to help them from ever declining budgets.

These are issues that we will all be facing as we move into the sector  of librarianship, we may not just yet have to make these big decisions but we can become part of the dialogue that is currently making its way to us.

Only 1 more week left in college, with this many decisions are going to be made, this blog for one will adapt and change the new direction this summer will take towards my Capstone project!

Onwards and Upwards!

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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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Information Tweets Information Bloggers!

images (1)

I have been very excited in the amount of information and connections I’m making through Twitter, it started by connecting with and following library personnel that were known within various fields.

However when I attended the AS&L conference and the NPD conference I really was taken aback at how many tweets were being made, the speed people were tweeting, it was like they were transcribing each talk by tweets!

I had known of the #uklibchat and decided the following week I was going to take part in the Irish one #irelibchat. This particular week was on Publishing, and asking why don’t many Irish librarian’s take to it. It was very informative and the leaders were very keen in seeing how the new professionals viewed this.

The conversation veered towards getting our capstone projects publish and how to go about the process, however my thoughts were lying elsewhere, the conferences had sparked something in me and I thought why should librarians just write we are really good communicators and extremely good at sourcing information so why can’t we promote ourselves through conferences within different businesses. Taking our skills and using our knowledge, meshing it into every aspect of a particular establishment.

It’s this platform where we as librarians can really show off, and change the perception to everyone that a librarian is not someone who stamps your books and asks you for an overdue fine, to show that we are everywhere and everyone needs our skills.

I think it is through this avenue that changing the title “librarian” will happen,  and the space we envelope will open up people into finding the new modern ways of seeking information through the many technical options open to us, by teaching people and letting various establishments know what we are.

It seems like various people are doing the above and the idea I have is still being teased around my brain, however if the amount of tweets and the high attendance at the two conferences in March are anything to go by I think we all should raise the bar a little higher and see who takes notice.

One venue that I am really looking forward to and hoping to develop this idea is the various Conferences that will take place in Croke Park next month. I have already signed up for the two days of the European Data Forum, however the Library Association has just announced their dates and 1 of the days overlap, I shall need to sit down and decide. That same week, the Health Libraries conference is on and as part of my capstone it would benefit me immensely to attend, I really need to make a decision!

To find what everyone else is doing I shall take to twitter and find the best solution. While doing this today I came across a fabulous opportunity. A organisation have drafted this new massive open online course MOOC in San Jose state University School of Library and Information Science. This module is covering how to explore libraries and how they are using emerging technology to serve their diverse communities.

This is an amazing opportunity and it is free, it is on a first come first served basis, 400 students will be taking part and no previous educational experience is needed only a knowledge of computers to submit your assessments. Further information can be found here if you are interested.

My personal learning network is slowly building, I feel it may well gather momentum in the coming weeks!

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Library Conferences and Connections


It has been awhile since I have written, as I have been trying to sort out the presentation of my blog for class, one of my classmates has been instrumental so many thanks  to her 

Last weekend was very eventful, I had signed up for the A&SL conference on Friday and on Saturday I was attending the New Professional Day in Pearse Street Library.

I had mixed thoughts on each event, I was looking forward to  hopefully meeting one or two of the librarians from Waterford where I did my internship, and to my luck one lady that I knew was present.

It was brilliant to get her perspective on the day, and we talked a lot about the Masters and how did the Internship match the actual content that we are covering, she was very perplexed when I spoke about Digital Libraries and “metadata” and “XML” which was amazing so I spoke about  my (small piece) of knowledge about this area, she was so encouraging and there was a talk afterwards all about embedding metadata etc, so she was very impressed!

We had a fabulous lunch in the Radisson Hotel, as all of my classmates joined each other to talk about what we had heard from Simon Tanner from Kings College London, about the many tweets that happened and were still ongoing through lunch. This was my VERY first conference and it was daunting at first, however as the day moved on and the topics being covered, I could relate to it, it soon became apparent how  inspiring  it was to be part of that group for a day.

The next day was the New Professionals Day and the same classmates were attending so we all gathered in the foyer for tea and biscuits, 2 of the speakers that were on the previous day were also here, so it was great to be able to have a cup of tea with them and a chat. Michelle Dalton was one of these speakers and it was exciting to find that I was also connected to her through Twitter. Michelle writes a blog for libfocus and it was great to see how enthusiastic she was about our journey through the Masters.

As the day went by the committee made sure that we mingled with others, we were given “personas” I was a librarian for Kings Inn (I had to Google it)  and we had to go to other groups and pretend who we were and “network” this was so empowering as I got to speak with one of the committee member’s from the day before!

The keynote speaker for the day was Jane Burns and she was so encouraging and approachable in the way she outlined her journey through the Library and Information Profession, she showed us various ways to adapt and transfer our skills over the term within the Masters and how to adapt these when we finished. I was truly surprised how she had worked for Failte Ireland  and had never thought that for one second I could use my Hospitality career in a Informational way…EUREKA!

Jane was a true inspiration I felt for the first time in my life I truly knew where I was headed in a career, and that the people I was surrounded by where true to their nature and loved every piece of their profession, the helpful hints they all gave will not be forgotten from twitter connections too blogs being commented on, truly means this profession is where I want to be.

A HUGE thank you to all!