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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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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Artefact #3 Analysing Information seeking behaviours of Football Fans

My module for Information Behaviour was an interesting choice, we had covered a small piece of this topic in semester 1 and it really intrigued me. As I read the course description I was sold, over the semester class would be held online each week, through Blackboard collaborate.

In addition, each week 2 members of the class would be seminar leaders and work together with the readings allocated for that week. We also had a Facebook page were the class added their opinions about the readings a fruitful discussion began from week 1.

Assessments were just 1, which was due end of term, however as each week would build up our knowledge of information behaviour we needed to keep this assessment in mind and build on it each week. My topic was centred around football fans which originated from my interest in how sport can effect the male population and how they show different emotions throughout a football match or any sporting event.

The final draft of my presentation is here:

It was so much fun, it really opened my eyes into the many decisions one has to make when undertaking a observation project. At first I wanted to go to a football match, however on further analysis it was apparent I would not be able to take notes while there. So I decided I would watch a football match in a pub. This decision alone was the most important decision I had to make within this project as context proved to be the foundation for all other behavioural traits.

This was a different project from anything else I had done before as it was only as I started compiling the document did I find the various elements that attached to it. As I documented each observation many threads started to emerge, some of the threads to emerge really did amaze me, the difference in the groups I observed along with the different football teams they supported really brought out difference along with similarities between the people.

The module altogether was very insightful in how people behave in general. It was amazing to find a another world of theories from what I had previously done in Sociology.

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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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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.