Profile of a Systems Librarian




My name is David Hughes and I am the Systems Librarian in the library of Dublin Business School.

What path did you take to get to your current role.

A rather convoluted one!   A BSc in Molecular Biology saw me start a PhD, but for various reasons, that crashed and burned.  To salvage a Master’s degree from the wreckage, I had to do some fairly extensive library research.  Funnily enough, I did think about librarianship at the time, but saw a syllabus for a Master’s course and thought ‘that’s really dull!”

However, using Biological Abstracts (ask your parents!), I was impressed by the power of subject indexing to aid the retrieval of information that I needed and thought that would be something I’d like to try.  After a brief detour as a trainee computer programmer, I found an indexing position with a start-up that had landed a contract with Elsevier B.V. to produce database records for EMBASE.

After that company was bought out and closed down, I moved to a job as an Information Scientist with a UK government department.  This was a gateway role: I was indexing, classifying and doing other IS stuff (e.g., bibliometrics), but also doing some more traditional library roles: such as cataloguing and literature searching.  For personal reasons I was moving to Ireland and it was suggested to me that to improve my employability here, I should do the library degree at UCD.  After completion of the Master’s I had two part-time jobs: working on a XML project in UCD and at DBS as a part-time library assistant.  Incredibly I was offered full-time positions in both but chose DBS, so here I am.

Describe a typical day

A typical day involves handling queries (email, telephone, instant messaging) from students & staff, a lot of which concern access to resources, and performing triage on any library IT issues that have arisen i.e., can I solve the problem; does it need to go to our IT department or is it something a vendor needs to look at?  After I finish this, for example, I have to investigate why YouTube won’t work on Internet Explorer on our student PCs and/or find a solution if possible.   At the start of term, there’s also the need to make sure that all students can borrow from the library and have access to our electronic resources. Similarly, I have to ensure that ex-students can no longer borrow books or access our resources.    That’s the bread and butter, but there’s usually ongoing projects to manage or to work on (in recent times that has included implementation of a new library management system [Koha] and snagging our new reading list software [LORLS]).

What traditional library skills are important to have within your role?

Search and retrieval and the reference interview in particular; you’d be surprised by how many queries consist of: “it won’t let me login” and replying “tell it I said to let you login” won’t cut it. However, you never know when some other skill is going to be needed; cataloguing came up in the context of the library management system switch for example.

What non-traditional library skills are important to have within your role?

IT skills, obviously. Project management: a lot of library work consists of discrete projects (go on, think about it), and having some project management experience is important. People skills and being able to communicate effectively; it’s important to be able to say “no thanks!” politely but firmly to cold-calling electronic resource salespeople.  Thinking about it, people skills should be a ‘traditional’ library skill as this is a service professional after all.

Are there any specific software packages or technologies you use on a regular basis within your role?

Koha, Microsoft Office – one of the best things I ever did was take a Microsoft Access training course.  MySQL, Notepad ++, Zotero, HTML.

What is the most rewarding part of your role?

Hopefully making a difference to our users by either by giving them access to the information that they need or resolving the particular library IT issue they have at the time; it’s nice to receive thank you emails and see smiley emoticons on the instant messaging service.  It’s almost pathological, but I like solving problems; I like (pretending) to be the expert!

What is the most challenging part of your role?

There are a million and one things I’d love to do, but can’t because of corporate IT policy – that’s not a complaint, it’s just the way thing are, so some workarounds have to be found.  Time management – answering all the queries, getting all the trivial jobs done and finding the time to keep abreast of what’s happening in the LIS world; Twitter is absolutely essential in this regard.  Librarians shouldn’t just be providing access to information to their users, but should be actively seeking to improve their knowledge of their own field: every day ought to be a school day.  Maintaining a quality service in a time of budget cuts.

What are the career prospects within your area of librarianship?

Mixed. On one hand, IT skills are needed for more and more aspects of librarianship. On the other hand, critical though system roles are in the 21st century library, there’s a danger that they will be hived off to IT departments.  This would be bad as IT departments (in my experience) just don’t have the same service ethos as we do.   A little IT knowledge – even just being able to understand what IT staff are talking about – can take you a long way. Having a 10 minute conversation with the technical support guy for our print management software in her presence was what convinced my manager, the awesome Marie O Neill, to offer me the systems role in the first place.

Do you have any advice for people interested in pursuing a role in your genre of librarianship.

In general, find a niche for yourself. Network, network, network! In particular, look at spreadsheet (e.g. Excel) and database software (e.g. Access, MySQL) in a little depth.  Learn some HTML and XML.  Don’t worry about not being able to code; chances are you’re not going to work in a library where that’s required.  Be willing to admit you don’t know something but you are prepared to go and find the answer. If you’re interested in systems librarianship, The accidental systems librarian by Nicole C. Engard and Rachel Singer Gordon (Medford NJ   Information Today Inc.) is well worth a read.  Also, be aware that you don’t have to work in a library to use these skills, and don’t worry about Imposter Syndrome, it’s not just you; a lot of us feel that way.

Profile of a Law Librarian

cb (2)

Clare Brown

Library and Information Manager

Collyer Bristow provides bespoke legal services to a wide range of businesses and individuals in the UK and internationally.

What path did you take to your current role?

The local library used to employ a couple of students a year from my school as Saturday Assistants. My form tutor decided that it would be a good idea to put me forward as a candidate, and happily, they took me. I quickly realised that no other career would do and the head librarian there put me in contact with The Library Association/CILIP.

As I reached the end of the second year of my Library & Information/English degree at Loughborough University, it was apparent that business and law were my areas of interest. Part of the degree was writing up practical experience so I wrote to a number of law firms to ask for a summer job. Bond Pearce (now Bond Dickinson) in Plymouth was happy to introduce me to law librarianship, and my University was pleased with my report. I firmly believe that this invaluable experience was the reason why in September 1995, I was able to join London law firm Kennedy’s as Library Assistant with such confidence.

Since then I’ve always either worked in small teams or solo roles where I can be in direct contact with the lawyers. Although management roles are financially more rewarding, there is nothing like the challenge of day to day research. As proof of the transferability of our skills, I provided information services to a local government Department for Children and Young People for a few years; though the information was different, the users still required a prompt intelligent response to queries.

Describe a typical day

Typically I start the day by producing a bulletin of the day’s news, cases, legislation, and government press releases. Though much of this is now distributed electronically and delivered directly to the lawyers, I find reading through the newspaper headlines essential.

Once that has been sent out, I then deal with any email requests. This could be anything from assisting with company searches, pitches, database issues, to in-depth research for matters/articles or issues arising out of current affairs. I dash through the admin such as post, circulation, cataloguing, invoices and filing so I can get on with projects.

Projects for September included a CLA audit. We also need to review some databases so that is  time-consuming in the latter part of the year. New trainees also started in September so there was training and inductions to carry out.

What traditional library skills are important to have within your role?

The core skills for legal information professionals are being able to help users find the right information, at the right time, presented in the right way, and for the right price. In twenty years this has remained central to what I do for the lawyers.

What non-traditional library skills are important to have within your role?

Every workplace skill has a place in the librarian’s role. We are organised and practical project managers, we are experienced commercial negotiators, we are technologically aware, we are thoughtful counsellors/mentors, and we are imaginative and creative, which makes us excellent all-round communicators.

However more specific to the legal information role has been a requirement to add value to raw information. It has always been the case that a certain level of filtering is required. For instance, when someone asks for a list of cases on a particular issue, they would be unimpressed if you hadn’t checked through for relevance, importance and currency. But increasingly there is an expectation for you to understand some of the legal and commercial angles which might arise from your research.

As part of an increasingly more knowledge/expert-based role, I have been involved in the creation of legal content for the firm’s new website. Combining my interest and expertise in social media with the firm’s Reputation Management team has created an opportunity to work at the cutting edge of a really new area of law.

Are there any specific software packages or technologies you use on a regular basis within your role?

Thomson Reuters and Lexis Nexis are two big publishers providing the majority of both raw legal information and value added services, so most law libraries will have access to one or the other. However demonstrations of other products are useful and informative. Bailey Solutions remain my go-to company for library management systems and Penlib works really well for small firms.

What is the most rewarding part of your role?

The most rewarding part of my role has been the recognition of my writing skills by the firm. I was named as ‘Star Writer’ in the IT, data and privacy sector by The Lawyer, and given that the other four were lawyers, that is quite an achievement. Sometimes the work we do as information professionals goes unrecognised by other industries, so it is up to us to rise to the challenge and stand out.

What is the most challenging part of your role?

The most challenging part of my role is staying one step ahead of the news, and trend spotting. If I can alert my lawyers to potential developments, they can provide original commentary and, as a result, raise the profile of the firm. However as we are a full service law firm, there are many areas of ongoing interest and keeping abreast of it all can be overwhelming.

What are the career prospects within your area of librarianship?

There will always be a market for legal information professionals but the legal market is changing. Over the next 10 years or so, I believe that the industry will splinter further, leaving a new type of marketplace. There will be the high volume claims firm which will have outsourced all back room services; there will be boutique firms offering specialised services; and big name accountancy, business consultancies, family offices which will increasingly offer legal services; and potentially, local authorities will start offering paid for legal services to the public.

All of these will offer opportunities to information professionals but we have to remain flexible and willing to change with the landscape. As for promotion, corporate/legal information still lacks the opportunity for a progression up the ranks; our role is particularly ‘user’ or ‘client’ facing. However there is still no reason why we cannot become Chief Information / Knowledge Officers or even be made Partner in this new legal world.

Do you have any advice for people interested in pursuing a role in your genre of librarianship?

Academic ability is not important, what matters is your attitude. Mental flexibility, imagination, problem solving abilities, and endless patience, are absolutely essential.

CDG joint seminar/AGM 2015 – Abstract to Audience: a guide to conference presentations

Michelle_Workhop (6)On the 2nd October, the LAICDG held its third AGM in the National Library of Ireland. Thanks to the generosity of Dr. Sandra Collins and the NLI team, we took the opportunity to host a full-day event focusing on how librarians can become involved in research, value our role in collaborations with other stakeholders, and communicate the fruits of our labour through effective, eye-catching and engaging presentations at conferences.

Our keynote speaker, the new director of the NLI, Dr. Sandra Collins, Sandra (4)kicked the day off on a positive note with her talk “What kind of librarian are you? and other difficult questions” which emphasised the value of librarians, libraries and others who work in cultural heritage and information/knowledge management. As her career has included leadership roles in research, industry and public service, she was well-placed to assert the importance of communication and presentation skills for librarians – no more hiding our collective light under a bushel! It was in her role as director of the Digital Repository of Ireland that she fell in love with cultural heritage and her diverse range of skills could be fully utilised in uniting experts from different fields to collaborate on initiatives and deliver projects.

Niamh (30)Next the excellent Niamh O’Sullivan from the Academic and Special Libraries committee and the IBTS held us all captivated with her talk “How to Pack a Punch with your Presentation”. She gave valuable insight into how she became a confident presenter during the course of her career and provided tonnes of great tips on engaging your audience – from using flat design and snappy titles to preparing an abstract and giving the audience something practical they can use, her presentation packed lots of punches!

Next up, Laura Connaughton from Maynooth University  examined Laura (30)visual communication with her talk: “Poster presentations that get noticed.” Laura encouraged the attendees to consider poster-presentations as a first step towards conference presentations and spoke about her experience of designing the content and layout of her award-winning poster.

After a brief Q&A and a lunch break packed with delicious food and copious networking, Peter Peter (9)Dudley (Manager of Public Services in DCU) gave a great talk on using presentation software effectively to captivate your audience, and declared the bullet-point dead! Peter gave loads of examples on how to make your slides both aesthetically pleasing and eye-catching in a bid to win the attention of the power-point-weary. Again clean design and meaningful imagery came to the fore.
Michelle_Workhop (40)Michelle Dalton (Liaison-librarian in UCD) echoed Peter’s thoughts on creative alternatives to bullet-points and her workshop put some of our new-found knowledge to use in group-work where we decided on the optimal layout and design for a presentation. This gave us all another chance to get to know each-other a bit better as well as a hands-on activity to practice the art of telling a story through a presentation.

Finally at the end of the day our chair (Marta Bustillo) began our AGM by thanking all of our supporters, speakers, members and hosts throughout the year, and explained the current make-up, remit and communication methods of the CDG. She also thanked former committee members (Sarah Kennedy, Jenny O’Neill & Niamh Hanratty) for all their hard work in developing the group before they left to pursue other things.
Our goals for this year were:

  • To organize affordable events.
  • To reflect on the profession.
  • To improve the financial status of the Group.
  • To develop our communication with members with a particular emphasis on social media.

Each of our events over the last year has covered different aspects of career development. “Information Skills for the Future” held in TCD, took a holistic view of the future of information work and gathered together a group of established professionals to envisage what skills are needed for the library of the future. Healthy discussions were had about how best to appeal to employers and to use your skills to your advantage in the current job-market.

The theme of Library Camp this year (kindly hosted by St. Patrick’s College, DCU), was marketing  – this was a topic which Library Camppermeated the discussions generated at our Information Skills event. Along with speed-networking (and lots of sweet treats!), 3 rounds of pitches explored how librarians and info-pros can market their services and themselves more effectively and an ideas lounge provided a space where attendees could provide suggestions for the next event and for the development of the group in general. These suggestions were put to use in the planning of our Abstract to Audience event.

The CDG Treasurer, Lara Musto, provided an overview of the financial accounts of the group, the health of which has increased significantly since last year’s AGM through careful management and an emphasis on affordable, useful events. A special mention goes to the A&SL group who have provided unceasing support, both financially and through attendance and participation in our events.

Marta’s closing speech celebrated that we are doing better financially and described our ideas and plans for the future involving utilising CILIP’s PKSB tool-kit for professional development and an informal mentorship scheme for new professionals based around Library Camp. She also called for attendees to consider joining our committee to contribute to our on-going work.

Philip (10)A closing word from LAI president Philip Cohen commended the committee and proposed working together on the development of some of our future plans. He also awarded CPD certs to our attendees.

We then de-camped to Buswells to continue the discussions and unwind. A great day was had by all and we were delighted by the feedback – we also had several applications to join the committee and continue our efforts to support library and information workers in their career development. Thanks to all our members and participants for getting involved and making the day a success! You can read the Storify for the event here, and you can look at our presenters slides on our Slideshare.

Abstract to audience: a guide to conference presentations and CDG AGM 2015

AGM final sketchYou asked, we listened!

At LibraryCamp 2015 back in May we received lots of suggestions in our Ideas Lounge for events/training centred around public speaking and presenting for librarians. Our roles are changing: we interact more widely with academics, and contribute more to research of all kinds. Now more than ever librarians must learn to communicate their research, and present it at conferences effectively.

There’s been lots of talk of conference presentations recently  as the A&SL committee have sent out a call for papers for their upcoming annual conference in February: Smashing Stereotypes: Librarians get loud!, and the International Librarians Network have contributed some excellent blog posts and discussions on all the different kinds of formal and informal conferences that librarians can get involved with (see here and here). It can be daunting to put yourself forward to speak at a conference for the first time. So in collaboration with the National Library of Ireland we’re delighted to announce our upcoming CPD event and 2015 AGM:

Abstract to audience: a guide to conference presentations

We have a dream-list of experienced and engaging speakers lined up to take you through the process from generating an idea to embellishing the finished product; be it for lightning presentations, poster presentations, or just confident, focused public speaking.

Keynote speaker: Dr. Sandra Collins (NLI):  “‘What sort of librarian are you?’… and other difficult questions.” Librarianship is changing and evolving – the digital and information revolution impacts the skills and practices of both librarians and researchers, and great partnership opportunities exist. Dr. Collins will talk about how diverse experience can be a strength and how librarians should be more confident of their skills and role in research partnerships.

Niamh O’Sullivan (IBTS): “How to pack a punch with your presentation.” From choosing a topic to present to writing a snazzy submission that gets picked to packing a punch with your conference presentation: this practical “tips and tricks” talk has all your bases covered.

Laura Connaughton (MU): “Poster presentations that get noticed.” This session will outline why you should consider submitting a poster to a conference and give lots of tips and suggestions on the content and design of conference posters. The aim of the session is to help attendees develop their skills and knowledge to produce high quality posters.

Peter Dudley (DCU): “Style over substance.” Presentations work best when they evoke an emotional response that draws an audience in. One way to achieve this effect is to treat each slide as a blank canvas for creativity through the use of striking images, stark contrasts and shifting rhythms. In short, to put style over substance!

Michelle Dalton (UCD): “Bullet-point-proof presentations.” This workshop will highlight some of the different tools and techniques to help with storyboarding, design and layout of presentation slides. Participants will get an opportunity to share ideas and approaches with hands-on and group activities.

As well as all that you’ll have a chance to network with peers and hear about the activities the CDG have organised over the last year. We’re also looking for new committee members to work with us on our exciting plans for the future! Joining a committee and having a go at professional activism can be a great way to enhance your CV and brush up on skills such as event-management, marketing, and communication skills, as well as a fun and rewarding way to meet like-minded library and info-workers.

Afterwards, we hope to gather everyone in the cosy Buswells bar for a well-earned drink and more chats.

You’re guaranteed to get something out of the day so book your ticket now to avoid disappointment. See you there!

Erasmus+ Staff Mobility for Librarians

Some of the beautiful architecture in Prague

Some of the beautiful architecture in Prague

Did you know if you’re working in an academic library you might be eligible to apply for an Erasmus+ Staff mobility trip which would allow you to go to a participating University library in Europe (and beyond) for training and CPD purposes? I’ve recently returned from a trip to Charles University in Prague where I participated in an exchange of best practice with other librarians. Over one working week my host librarians at the university showed me around several satellite libraries located in Prague and the Central Library where I gave a presentation on my work in Cregan Library in St. Patrick’s College.

Charles University

The Faculty of Arts of Charles University

Founded in 1348, Charles University was the first in Central Europe and now ranks in the upper 1.5 percent of the world’s best universities. The libraries of the university are ‘decentralised’ – each of its 17 faculties has its own main library as well as department and campus libraries. They have 83,169 users and 214 full-time library employees.

Why go?

Service desk on the ground floor of the Czech National Library of Technology

Service desk on the ground floor of the Czech National Library of Technology

It’s always a good idea to step outside of your own cultural and institutional bubble to see how libraries and info services operate in different contexts. As well as many of the libraries of Charles University, I also visited the National Library of the Czech Republic, the Czech National Library of Technology and the Municipal Library. In each place we were treated to insider information on the history and development of services, and the successes and challenges encountered by library staff.  From beautiful installations, architecture and sculptures, and the innovative design of library spaces to the technical and user issues that colleagues have faced, I came away from my trip bursting with ideas, photos, notes and slides, as well as a new international perspective on librarianship.

Prague National Library reading rooms

Study rooms in the Czech National Library

I highly recommend applying if your institution participates – I found it to be a very worthwhile learning experience and it enabled me to build up some contacts with colleagues in Prague and also in Kraków (there was a group of Polish librarians from the Pedagogical University of Kraków on Erasmus at the same time as me). You can receive some expenses (for travel, accommodation and food) by completing the relevant documentation and providing receipts.

How it works:

  • If you work in an academic library apply to the international office in your institution
  • Pick your destination from a list of participating institutions
  • You will be supplied with an application form – complete it with an eye to international cooperation and collaboration/best practice
  • If you are successful you will be expected to make contact with your proposed host institution to arrange the details and itinerary of your visit
  • You will usually be given an allowance for expenditure
  • Start booking flights and hotels
  • Keep all your receipts and travel stubs, as you will need them to claim money back
  • Prepare a presentation on your own Library (making sure to include info about yourself)
  • Remember to bring something for your host institution (like Irish sweets or publications from your home library)
  • Take lots of photos and notes so that you can share info with colleagues when you return
  • Don’t forget to swap contact details/connect on LinkedIn with the people you meet
  • Enjoy! Take in some of the cultural highlights and local food
  • For more information about Erasmus+ see here.

    Me with colleagues from the Pedagogical University of Kraków

    Me with colleagues from the Pedagogical University of Kraków and Charles University

Human Search Engines-Formally Known as Librarians

Library Camp 2015Living in a world whereby technology has made it easier and faster than even before to gain access to information. The real problem is not access to information but rather is too much information to sort through. This got me thinking about my old college days were I didn’t really know to find reliable and accurate information. I always felt like I could have been taught these information searching skills prior to starting my undergraduate college degree. This is where I got the idea of that Librarians market themselves as having expertise in information searching skills and work with secondary school teachers.   This so that school students have a bit of a head start in college and are a bit savvier when it comes to finding information online.

It was that time of year again when I was to attend the infamous Library Camp. I was excited to get an opportunity to pitch my idea to my fellow librarian buddies in a fabulously designed new library. I started off by introducing my idea and opened up the floor to a lively discussion. Some key points were:

  • Schools without a library or professional librarians were at serious disadvantage- opportunities to have space and resources to provide this kind of tuition was very limited.
  • There needs to a change in the school curriculum to provide more opportunities for students to do research at second level instead of spoon-feeding the information
  • At primary level some of these skills are taught for example pupils were shown how to use an index. However because there is no tuition at second level these skills were never developed or were even lost.
"Information Literacy" by Ewa Rozkosz is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Information Literacy” by Ewa Rozkosz is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Overall there was an agreement that there is a serious need to provide students with the opportunity to develop these skills. In doing so students are better prepared going into University. These skills are relevant for world we live in today and are important to have for their future career. I really enjoyed pitching and hearing what my fellow Human Search Engines had to say. The whole day was very successful.

By Elaine Fahy

Copyright for the Digital Arts and Humanities

I recently attended a talk given by Eoin O’Dell from Trinity College Dublin on the topic of Copyright for the Digital Arts and Humanities. While the talk was mainly aimed at students of the Digital Arts and Humanities PhD Structured Programme it was also very relevant to librarians, particularly those dealing with digital collections. Here are some of the nuggets of information I took away from the talk (and I mean nuggets, I’m only giving the headlines because as a non-expert that’s all I feel comfortable with). However, Eoin has also kindly allowed me to share his slides.

First, two Digital Repository of Ireland (DRI) reports were recommended: Digital Humanities: Ireland’s Opportunity and Going Digital: Creating Change in the Humanities.

There are several relevant pieces of legislation that deal with copyright. These are:

Section 17 (2) CRRA: Copyright subsists in (a) original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works, (b) sound recordings, films, broadcasts or cable programmes, (c) the typographical arrangement of published editions, and (d) original databases.

Section 12(1)a CRRA: The author of a work shall be the first owner of the copyright unless the work is made by an employee in the course of employment, in which case the employer is the first owner of any copyright in the work, subject to any agreement to the contrary.

If you are employed to create some original work, for example digitise a collection, then your employer owns the copyright. However, if you are not an employee but have been hired on contract to digitise the collection you own the copyright unless it’s written into the contract otherwise. This is something for libraries to take into account when outsourcing digitisation.

It’s also worth noting that even if you create something on the weekend or in your own time your employer still owns the copyright. So if you are a software engineer and you write code in your own time your employer owns the copyright to that code, but if you are a software engineer and you take photographs in your own time they do not.

Section 37(1) CRRA: The owner of the copyright can copy, adapt and make available the work. This is what is referred to as ‘all rights’ when you see ‘all rights reserved’.

Question: How much do you need to adapt a work before it becomes original to you?

Answer: The more you change, the more you adapt, the more you infringe. If you copy someone else’s work it never becomes yours.

For copyright to exist the creator must use skilled labour and judgement. So quick snaps taken with a point and shoot camera are not subject to copyright as there was no skilled labour and judgement used.

So you want to reuse someone else’s work?

  • Old: Section 24(1) CRRA – “The copyright […] shall expire 70 years after the death of the author, irrespective of the date on which the work is first lawfully made available to the public.” This applies to the EU, copyright laws in other countries (most notably the US where Disney has a big influence on copyright laws) may be different. The 1916 centenary is next year, so it’s worth considering that there is a good chance works created in 1916 are still in copyright.
  • Public Domain: Public Domain means a work in copyright is put beyond copyright. Stuff that is online is not by it’s nature Public Domain (but we knew that anyway, right?)
  • Public Sector Information: Directive 2013/37/EU is relevant but has not been enacted into Irish law. This legislation would see the assimilation of cultural institutions, e.g. libraries into existing legislation, with three special rules:
    1. Only documents where re-use has previously been allowed are reusable.
    2. The institution can charge the full costs, including reasonable return on investment.
    3. Institutions may engage in the award of exclusive rights for digitisation projects.
  • Permissions: It’s important to note that 99.9% of contracts are verbal (I didn’t sign a contract when I bought my morning coffee), oral contracts are valid.
  • Licences: Commonly used licences include: Irish Copyright Licensing Agency, Creative Commons or bespoke licences.
  • Exceptions: Part II Chapter 6 CRRA refers to “fair dealing”. However, “fair use” is a US construct and does not exist in the EU. For example, the Google Books project would not be legal in the EU. Section 52(1) CRRA refers to incidental inclusion of a work, so if a copyrighted work happens to be in the background this is ok, but if it is the subject of your work then it is considered infringement.
  • Orphan works: A work is considered ‘orphan’ when the copyright holder can’t be traced. This is dealt with in Directive 2012/28/EU but only applies to literary works.
  • Links: Providing online links does not infringe copyright that vests in the materials on the other end of the link.

Thank you to the organisers of the lecture and to Eoin O’Dell for presenting a really interesting and accessible view on copyright law. It’s a complex area but it’s good to know it’s not totally impenetrable for those of us in libraries that need to be aware of the laws.



Brainstorm…how to exploit the zeitgeist, using traditional and social media, in order to market your library

Library Camp 2015The sub-title of this post should, I think, be Diary of a Wimpy Pitcher, such was my fear in advance of pitching at Library Camp 2015! The day itself was such a positive and invigorating experience that my particular fears were most definitely unfounded.

The central premise of my pitch was essentially, thoughts on helping your particular initiative stand out in the ‘white noise’ of social media; with subsidiary themes about the power of brainstorming, and the benefits of exploring, and exploiting the zeitgeist.

What was covered? I hear you ask (with enthusiastic anticipation?!!) Well, here comes the bite-size bullets bit!

  • The marketing tool/vehicle is always in flux, it is the message that is constant and important.
  • Social media can reach saturation point…mix it up!
  • The zeitgeist too is, by its nature, in flux, be aware of it, explore it, harness, and even better, expand it.
  • To social media or not, that is the question…but it is no longer an option. However, social media is not the only kid on the block.
  • It’s about establishing, and re-establishing a relationship with your customer, one initial connection could lead to further use of your library, and its services.
  • Trust your instinct and experience, libraries and librarians are their own ‘usp’.

Some of my brainstorming ideas included:

  • Writing a column for a local/college newspaper
  • Broadcast a slot on local radio re. library initiatives/services (Irish people love radio!)
  • Create a podcast, using the help of local media students.
  • Advertise using a pop-up, or better still, a pop-out installation (all the rage with shops and restaurants at the moment).
  • Create one poster, with an eye-catching theme, or image, post the same image on twitter, facebook, etc. Drip-feed the information, create interest and hype around what it is you are trying to promote.
  • The zeitgeist is nostalgia/vintage/throw-back – create an event around this theme, and use it as an opportunity to show how much the library, and the services, have progressed.

The response to my pitch was very encouraging, and generous. Its purpose in giving the audience pause for thought was, I think, successful. If you are thinking of doing a pitch next year, do it! This particular Wimpy Pitcher had turned Evangelical Library Promoter by the end of the pitch…imploring her congregation to ‘go forth and brainstorm’ as they dispersed!

By Carolanne McPartlan

Profile of a Solo Librarian

Damien Wyse

Librarian and Information Officer

An Bord Pleanála

What path did you take to get to your current role?

I originally qualified as a plumber before attending what is now MU to study social policy. My intention had been to gain employment in the public service in areas of either education or welfare policy. As it turns out, my first job offer was from An Bord Pleanála, the planning appeals board, and I’ve been here ever since.

After a couple of years, I noticed a need for increased records and information management within An Bord Pleanála and applied for funding to study in DBS, explaining the potential benefits to my employers. This application was approved and following completion of my MSc in Information and Library Management in 2012 I was fortunate enough to be promoted and began to work as the organisation’s librarian and information officer.

Describe a typical day

As a solo-librarian my day comprises all of the routine tasks involved in managing a small government library. I have a part-time library assistant who assists me but a lot of time is still spent with reference queries, acquisitions and cataloguing. Additionally, my role as information officer involves investigating Freedom of Information and Access to Information on the Environment requests made to An Bord Pleanála.

Additionally, as an organisation, we are currently upgrading our ICT infrastructure to allow for receipt of planning appeals and applications electronically. This will involve the design and creation of a new case management system for the organisation. As lead for the digitisation component of this project, I am working to create a structure for all data created or received by An Bord Pleanála during the handling of planning appeals and applications. This currently represents an enormous amount of my daily workload.

What traditional library skills are important to have within your role?

In a state body like An Bord Pleanála, many of the library skills learned in college are more widely applicable. Records management, dealing with information legislation such as FOI or Data Protection, and the use of statistics and evidence for analysis and decision making are all important and extremely useful.

What non-traditional library skills are important to have within your role?

Project management and advocacy for information management are two library skills which constantly recur in my role in An Bord Pleanála. As with many of the more traditional library skills, these are generally useful across the public service.

Are there any specific software packages or technologies you use on a regular basis within your role?

An Bord Pleanála currently uses a purpose built case management system which is sadly reminiscent of DOS. However, we are in the process of upgrading our entire ICT infrastructure to include an integrated case management system, geographic information system and web portal. So the future is bright.

What is the most rewarding part of your role?

Having the opportunity to practically apply what I learned in DBS in a manner which directly improves services for our own internal staff and the wider public.

By Ryan Maguire, licenced under CC0.

By Ryan Maguire, licenced under CC0.

What is the most challenging part of your role?

As a solo-librarian in an organisation with a lot of information management needs, I frequently find it daunting when I am expected to know the correct approach the organisation should take in important areas such as with our digitisation strategy or records management policy for example. I’m not long qualified and have no fellow information professionals to consult with internally. Unfortunately, I’m not great for networking externally either.

I try to allay my own concerns by conducting research and accessing training where I identify a knowledge deficit. This has led me to utilise standards for record keeping from ISO, guides on creating thesauri and controlled vocabulary from the DRI, seeking additional training regarding FOI, conducting research into the information search and retrieval systems of dozens of planning authorities in the Republic of Ireland and the UK, and contacting other government bodies directly to seek advice or arrange tours or demonstrations. It’s very important for me to have confidence in the approach I’m adopting or recommending for the organisation but having to constantly find my own professional direction can be a challenge.

What are the career prospects within your area of librarianship?

Opportunities are beginning to arise in the public service, albeit slowly. Although for many graduates, the ultimate goal is to obtain a professional library position, I would urge people to consider attempting to enter the public service in any administrative capacity.

There are many opportunities in the public service to directly apply the skills learned in library school and gain really valuable experience. I also believe that information professionals provide unique insight into many areas of public policy where the dissemination of information is under discussion and that without our perspective, public service information systems may not serve the public as effectively as they should.

Do you have any advice for people interested in pursuing a role in your genre of librarianship?

Learn how to advocate for your profession within your organisation. Take it upon yourself to demonstrate what you can do to improve services and seek to work on projects which would benefit from your skills as an information professional. Eventually your supervisors will begin to notice and start to approach you with more opportunities.

Also, don’t give up. Being a librarian is something worth pursuing even if things are tough right now. Best of luck!

Profile of an Academic Librarian

Emily Prather-Rodgers, Technical Services Coordinator, North Central College

Founded in 1861, North Central College is an independent, comprehensive college of the liberal arts and sciences that offers more than 55 undergraduate majors and graduate programming in seven areas. North Central College is committed to academic excellence; a climate that emphasizes leadership, ethics, values and service; a curriculum that balances job-related knowledge with a liberal arts foundation; and a caring environment with small classes.

What path did you take to get to your current role?

I began my library career as a page (shelver) in a branch of a medium-sized public library system. It was a part-time job to earn a bit of money during college and to figure out if it would be worth pursuing at the graduate level. After a few months, I was promoted to a part-time circulation position. A few months later, I entered library school and accepted a position as a graduate assistant in technical services/special formats in the Fine Arts Library at the university. I was lucky to get a job as a cataloger almost immediately after graduating. After about 18 months in that position, I accepted the position of Technical Services Coordinator at yet another institution. I’ve been here almost 8 years.

Describe a typical day

“Typical” is a bit of a stretch, but the following are some highlights:

  • supervise (hire, train, support) paraprofessional staff in acquisitions, cataloging, and electronic resources
  • serve as head of Special Collections
  • perform reference duties on a rotation
  • serve as an academic-division liaison—collection development/management, library instruction, specialised reference
  • negotiate and manage license agreements
  • administer library-specific software packages

What traditional library skills are important to have within your role?

My role requires an excellent understanding of traditional acquisitions and cataloging skills. It’s also important to have a fairly high comfort-level with reference and instruction. Generally, it requires the ability to have a high-level understanding of the overall operations of the library and the way various departments interact.

What non-traditional library skills are important to have within your role?

Less traditional skills (which are becoming pervasive and are likely to be considered traditional before long!) are the ability to understand and maintain the back-end of numerous software/e-resource admin systems, managerial skills, accounting skills, and the patience to deal with the never-ending sales calls.

Are there any specific software packages or technologies you use on a regular basis within your role?

I work most often with our integrated library system (Voyager and its accompanying Oracle-based reporting system), a link resolver (SFX), electronic resource management system (Serials Solutions), online ordering systems (including YBP’s Gobi and EBSCO’s Ebsconet), and various back-end database/journal publisher platforms.

What is the most rewarding part of your role?

The most rewarding part to me is fostering my staff to be their best and helping them understand how their work has broad implications for the way the entire library functions. (It’s also pretty cool that I can access the Special Collections any time I want.)

What is the most challenging part of your role?

Ensuring that everyone has what they need to complete their research in the fact of static (or decreasing) budgets.

What are the career prospects within your area of librarianship?

It varies, but I’ve seen quite a few really interesting job ads lately for people with some experience. I don’t keep much of an eye on entry-level jobs, but they’re definitely out there.

Do you have any advice for people interested in pursuing a role in your genre of librarianship?

Two things: Do everything in your power to get experience BEFORE you graduate. Even “entry-level” jobs require experience these days. And, be willing to consider opportunities outside of your current/preferred geographic area. Many, many institutions in more rural areas really struggle to fill positions, but those jobs can help you get the experience you need in just a few years to get an amazing job somewhere you’d rather be.