We’ve just a week to go before our next event: Information skills for the future

We’ve just a week to go before our next event Information skills for the future. To whet your appetite (and persuade you that this is a must-attend event if you haven’t already booked your tickets) we’re going to have a look at what you can expect to hear from the speakers. This is your opportunity to hear directly from employers about the skills they’re looking for and the skills gap they are seeking to address.





The seminar is brought to you in collaboration with Trinity College Dublin Library and the Trinity Long Room Hub and we are delighted and honoured that Trinity’s Librarian and College Archivist Helen Shenton will open our event. Helen will be followed by Jessie Kurtz, Deputy Librarian at Trinity, who will give the keynote address.

ConfusedThe morning session will focus on Libraries, technology and the information landscapeBríd McGrath will kick off this session with a talk titled Towards an eco-system for development. She will be followed by Sarah Lyons, Digital Librarian at Novartis who will discuss the benefits librarians can bring to commercial business and how we can apply the librarian’s skill-set in a digital world. We all know that traditional jobs are few and far between at the moment so it will be interesting to get the perspective of a librarian working in Industry. John Howard, Librarian at UCD will wrap up this session and we will have plenty of time for questions for all of our panel before lunch.

Don't get left on the shelfAfter lunch (which will be provided) we will shift our attention to Physical and virtual library spacesOrla Nic Aodha,Head Librarian of the Cregan Library at St Patrick’s College will give an insight into the lessons learned during a building project in St. Patrick’s College Library, focussing on Grand designs with room to improve. Turning from the physical library space to the virtual one David Hughes, systems librarian at DBS will give a talk titled I am the Virtual Librarian (but you don’t have to be). Our afternoon session will finish with Mairead Owens, County Librarian from DLR Libraries who will discuss some of the necessary skills for a librarian in 2015.

We are incredibly excited by the calibre of speakers who have agreed to talk at our event and we know each one will inspire you in different ways. So if you haven’t booked your tickets yet it’s not too late. We’re looking forward to seeing you next Thursday for what we hope will be a lively and engaging day. And don’t forget we’ll be continuing the conversation in O’Neill’s on Pearse St afterwards.

Designing an academic poster

IDCC2015 poster FINALI recently had a poster accepted for an academic conference, which was great news except that I now had to actually design a poster and I had no idea where to start. This blog post documents what I learned along the way.


The first decision you need to make before you even start designing your poster is what software to use. I tried several different programs to design my poster before finally settling on Microsoft PowerPoint. A colleague recommended Inkscape which I downloaded and installed. Inkscape is free “professional quality vector graphics software” and certainly is very powerful but the learning curve for me was too great and I didn’t have time to learn a new program. I also tried Adobe Photoshop which I have installed on my home computer. Photography is one of my hobbies so I’m much more familiar with Photoshop. While it’s a very powerful program it’s also quite complex. And only working on my poster at home wasn’t really working for me either.

I had read that a lot of people use PowerPoint but was quite sceptical if it would be powerful enough. It was designed for creating presentations now posters! And a lot of what I read advised avoiding it. But in frustration I decided to give it a go and was delighted at how easy it was to use. It also offers the added benefit of showing guidelines when elements are properly aligned. You can easily create shapes and text boxes, you can link various objects together and then move them around the poster as a unit. If you have different objects layered you can easily select which objects to move to the front or send to the back.

My top tips:

  • To set the page size go to File -> Page Setup and enter the size given by the conference.
  • To view guidelines go to View -> Guides -> Ensure Dynamic Guides and Snap to Shape both have ticks beside them.
  • To link object together select the objects you wish to link while holding down the CTRL key and go to Arrange -> Group.
  • To change the layering of objects select your object and go to Arrange -> Bring to the Front or Send to the Back.
  • To save your poster as a pdf go to File -> Save As and choose pdf from the Format drop down box.


So now that you’ve chosen software that you feel comfortable with what next? Here’s what I learned:

  • Do bear in mind that it may take longer to design your poster than you expect.
  • Don’t just copy and paste your abstract onto your poster, think carefully about what you want to convey. Your main message needs to be clear from around 3 meters away and you need to catch someone’s attention within a few seconds.
  • Don’t include too much text but do include lots of images. If you don’t have any images to use consider using a lot of colour and a range of font sizes to get your message across. Do take colour inspiration from any images you are including or your institutional logo or brand guidelines.
  • Do tell a story. What problem are you trying to solve? How did you try to solve it? What’s next? Use graphics to lead the reader’s eye through the poster.
  • Do find a mentor. A former lecturer and now friend of mine offered to give me feedback on my poster, which turned out to be invaluable. Is there someone experienced in your organisation who would be willing to offer advice as you design your poster?
  • Do include all authors, affiliations and email addresses and also include institutional and funding logos as appropriate.

Useful resources

Here are some website and poster examples that I found great for inspiration:

Jenny O’Neill

Profile of a Health Librarian

St. Michael's logoCaroline Rowan, Medical Librarian, St. Michael’s Hospital, Dun Laoghaire

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

I worked in financial services for 13 years where I worked in a variety of legal, compliance and project management roles. Then I decided to change career and I went back to college in UCD where I got my Masters in Library and Information Studies. When I graduated, I got a short-term contract in Limerick as a librarian in the University Hospital Limerick. That was followed by another contract position working in the Glucksman Library in the University of Limerick. My experience in those roles really stood to me when I applied for my current position.

Describe a typical day

Typical tasks in my role are:

  1. Supporting Clinical Audit – I usually do at least one Clinical Audit support session each day. The hospital has a strong ethos of continuous improvement and encourages all staff to conduct clinical audits. My role involves everything from assistance with the paperwork required to start an audit through to providing guidance on the design of audit survey questions to support generation of useful reportable information to helping staff edit the final results. I also provide training and guidance on using Sphinx software to design clinical audit questionnaires.
  2. Conducting literature searches. This can be as simple as sourcing suitable articles for a journal club, through to identifying 30-40 articles to support development of a new policy.
  3. Engaging with suppliers regarding subscriptions.
  4. Cataloguing the journals or books which have come in using Heritage library management software.
  5. Editing the hospital newsletter. I coordinate the editorial committee meetings, minute the actions, assign deadlines and follow up with each of the contributors to ensure that they have their submissions in on time. I am also one of the magazine’s copywriters, so I have to write at least one article for each issue. I use Microsoft Publisher for designing the newsletter which will go out in print and online format.
  6. Supporting HSELand (an e-learning website) training sessions. Usually this involves talking a client through how to register for HSELand, what course they need to enrol on and how to follow through the steps. However, some clients require more guidance than others. The spectrum of computer proficiency in a hospital environment ranges from highly tech-savvy to staff with very little experience with PCs. Many hospital staff don’t work with a PC during the day or use them only for very defined tasks. So, it is important for them to have someone there to take them through the process.
  7. Providing one-to-one training sessions for clients on using the library’s resources.
  8. Monitoring and managing the Library’s Athens accounts. Athens is an authentication package which allows staff access library resources remotely.
  9. Managing document supply and inter library loan requests.
  10. Managing the physical stock. This can be anything from collating and sorting journals for binding, through to re-stocking shelves.

After work I spend time editing content for the Health Sciences Library Group (HSLG) magazine HINT or working on HSLG Committee items (we are currently planning for our annual conference which is taking place 14 & 15 May) or reading up on educational information. Being involved with LAI committees is a great way to keep in touch with other librarians, which is particularly important when you are in a solo role.

St. Michael's hospital libraryWhat traditional library skills are important to have within your role?

Reference skills are important, because an occupational hazard of working in health libraries is that your client assumes that your knowledge of medicine is the same as theirs.

Cataloguing is another traditional skill that is essential, whether that is cataloguing serial receipts or adding new books to the collection.

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

Desktop publishing is definitely something I would recommend as essential. Photoshop skills are also an advantage.

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

Heritage Library Management System for the daily circulation items. Sphinx software for clinical audit survey design. Microsoft Publisher for newsletters.

What is the most rewarding part of your role?

The most rewarding part of my role is seeing the positive and immediate impact I have on people. Recently I was working with a client with dyslexia, helping with coursework applications and identifying the software and resources necessary to support their study. The client said that, until those sessions with me, no-one had ever worked with them in a way that suited their particular learning needs. I knew then that I had absolutely made the right decision to change career.

St. Michael's hospital library2What is the most challenging part of your role?

Communicating the value of the Librarian in a medical environment. There is an increasing belief that the answer to everything is to simply use online resources.  Assuming that all our clients have the knowledge, understanding and ability to engage with electronic resources is a disservice to them and also to Librarians. Resource provision is only a small portion of a Librarian’s role. We are educators who support individuals in their training and development needs. We are researchers providing relevant, appropriate material to healthcare staff so that they can spend their time looking after patients, not floundering around the internet looking for information. We are managers who handle budgets, resources and clients, in the same way that any other business manager does.

What are the career prospects within your area of librarianship?

There are plans to create a centralised library structure within the HSE but it is not yet clear whether this will be a positive or negative change.  Will it be used as a push to centralise electronic library resources, with a subsequent removal of hospital librarians? Or is it intended to enhance the provision of library services at each individual hospital by a professional librarian or librarians?  And what will the impact of centralising HSE library resources be on healthcare librarians outside the HSE?

That being said, I think the current push towards outsourcing research to private companies/consultants rather than having in-house expertise could open up new opportunities for medical librarians who are interested in working for consultancy firms, rather than being directly employed within the healthcare sector.

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

As a medical librarian in a small/solo library, you are essentially a sole trader. The business rises or falls with you. You need to be self-motivated, flexible and able to work to a deadline.

Booking now live for Information Skills for the Future

CDG Poster April event - FinalBooking is now live through Eventrbrite.

The Career Development Group of the Library Association of Ireland, in collaboration with Trinity College Library and the Trinity Long Room Hub present:

Information skills for the future

An opportunity to network and learn about important skills for the future and evolving library space. Hear directly from employers about the skills they are looking for.

What you need to know:

  • Date: 2nd April 2015
  • Time: 9.30 – 16.00
  • Location: Long Room Hub, Trinity College Dublin
  • Price: Waged €20, Unwaged/ Students €12
  • Lunch will be provided
  • Booking: via Eventbrite
"The Long Room Hub" by Helio Dias is licensed under license CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The Long Room Hub” by Helio Dias is licensed under license CC BY-NC-SA 2.0


Special introduction by Helen Shenton, Trinity College Library

Keynote: Jessie Kurtz, Trinity College Library

Libraries, technology and the information landscape

  • Bríd McGrath
  • Sarah Lyons – Novartis
  • John Howard – UCD

Physical and virtual library spaces

  • Mairead Owens – DLR Libraries
  • Orla Nic Aodha – St Patrick’s College
  • David Hughes – DBS

The event will be followed by an opportunity to relax and network at O’Neill’s, Pearse St.

Booking is now live through Eventrbrite.

A&SL Conference 2015

Report by Kate McCarthy

Day 1

The Academic & Special Libraries Conference is always an annual highlight in the Irish library calendar, and 2015 was no exception. Hosted in a new venue this year – the Gibson Hotel – it proved a jam-packed one and a half days, with presentations and posters exploring the vital collaborative and transformative opportunities that libraries are taking to develop unique projects and enhance their services.

Opening the conference on Thursday, journalist and editor Malachy Browne gave a fascinating account of the work being done by Reported.ly, a start-up company he moved to after working for the Dublin-based Storyful. Reported.ly is a news organisation that operates exclusively through social media, verifying sources, including images or videos. Naturally, the intense focus on evidence and trusted information appealed greatly to the conference audience, but it was sobering to see how easily the location and other personal details of some people can be traced through their use of various websites. I’m sure I wasn’t the only attendee who double-checked the privacy settings on my social networking sites after getting home on Thursday evening!

In the first case study of the conference Helen Fallon from Maynooth University Library spoke about the Ken Saro-Wiwa Collection. Saro-Wiwa was a poet and environmental activist from Nigeria who was executed in 1995, and his personal correspondence to an Irish missionary nun, Sister Majella McCarron, was donated to Maynooth University. The library collaborated with a number of external partners to produce a book and an audio archive based on the material. It seemed that working with Kairos Communications, a media and training company, proved particularly successful, as it provided an opportunity for the team to build up their technical, media and promotional skills.

Parallel sessions that afternoon included a case study of The Forgotten Zine Archive by Tom Maher and Mick O’Dwyer, and an overview of the librarian’s role as ‘databrarian’ by Jenny O’Neill from the Digital Repository of Ireland. I attended Jenny O’Neill’s talk, in which she outlined the substantial changes that have occurred in skills requirements for librarians in recent years. This was followed by a series of Pecha Kucha talks, two of which highlighted literacy issues: Mary Delaney from IT Carlow focused on the library’s role in digital literacy training, and Jenny Collery talked about designing a programme to enhance critical thinking skills amongst third level students. Laoise Doherty, meanwhile, from the Royal Irish Academy of Music Library, spoke about collaborating with the RIAM Opera Project, to provide them with an online exhibition space, a project that has led not only to further collaboration, but to the use of the library as a performance and event space.

The first day finished with a hugely entertaining presentation from UCC Library’s Martin O’Connor, who was part of a team that curated a Sir Henry’s-themed exhibition at UCC Library over the summer of 2014, based on the history of the famous Cork nightclub. Overcoming a number of technical glitches and a rogue fire alarm, O’Connor gave a great account of his collaboration with UCC Social Sciences academic Eileen Hogan and radio DJ Stevie Grainger, to bring the exhibition together and promote it. Crowdsourcing for information and anecdotes about the club through a Facebook page established a great relationship with the community and even with members of the Irish diaspora as far away as Australia. The project was very successful for the library, raising the profile as well as the expectations of what libraries can do.

"Library Photography Competition 2011 entry" by Rich Grundy is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Library Photography Competition 2011 entry” by Rich Grundy is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Day 2

Day two of the Academic & Special Libraries conference was opened by Helen Shenton, Librarian and College Archivist at Trinity College Dublin, who spoke at length about the transformative shifts that are occurring in libraries across the globe in response to new technologies and expectations. She shared several examples of academic libraries in the United States that have embraced new collaborative projects and opportunities to transform the concept of “library as place, and place as library”. Helen’s presentation was an absolutely inspiring call to action for librarians.

The first case study on Friday morning was delivered by Elaine Bean from Maynooth University, who spoke about two literacy programmes that the library has developed for students, including a fantastic literacy module created for second level students to ease transition to the third level environment. Elaine was followed by Monica Crump from NUI Galway, who discussed the importance of stepping outside the library walls in order to forge all those collaborative relationships that were being showcased by the conference speakers.

It was difficult to choose between all the parallel sessions, which included presentations and workshops by Fintan Bracken, Arlene Healy, Anne Culhane, Stephanie O’Keeffe, Jane Burns and Roy Murray, but in the end I decided to sit in on Mary Dunne from the Health Research Board, as she spoke about the value of communication and open discussions around user needs, having worked with stakeholders on the building of new online resources. Jessica Eustace-Cook from Trinity College Dublin gave a really useful and relevant breakdown of how to go about fundraising for special events, such as seminars, exhibitions or book launches. Jessica’s background on the exhibition circuit in the UK has proved a distinct advantage in helping her to fundraise for the A&SL, demonstrating the value of bringing skills from other jobs into everyday library work.

"librarian" by Joachim S. Müller is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

librarian” by Joachim S. Müller is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

In the afternoon, Aoife Lawton from the HSE outlined further the benefits of partnerships, particularly within the health library and repository sectors. She commented that, while impact can sometimes be hard to measure, it is important to forge ahead with collaboration and communication, especially to minimise duplication of effort across the library sector. “Innovation is the new service” at Maynooth Library, according to Hugh Murphy and Michael Leigh, who spoke about setting up and maintaining a 3D printer at Maynooth University Library. The introduction of such facilities in academic libraries is increasing in other countries and the team at Maynooth recognised a valuable opportunity for the library to collaborate with other departments in the university to provide a neutral and open space for students to come and use the printer for specific courses.

As the talks wound down, Laura Connaughton was awarded a prize for her poster detailing the requirements and benefits of applying for Associateship of the LAI. The poster exhibition had included many interesting case studies of collaborative projects. As it does every year, the conference provided a superb platform for demonstrating the phenomenal work being done by librarians from academic and special libraries all over Ireland. It was difficult not to conclude that collaboration will play an increasingly vital role in the successful development of library services and special projects. It is a challenging time for libraries, but a very exciting one nonetheless.

Presentations and videos from the conference are available on the A&SL website.

Information Skills for the Future, April 2nd 2015

ConfusedSave the date! On April 2nd 2015 the CDG are hosting our next event in the Trinity Long Room Hub. The event will focus on Information Skills for the Future and we have invited a group of librarians from different professional backgrounds to speak about what they see as the essential skills for librarians of the future. This will be a full day event hosted in collaboration with Trinity College Dublin Library. We are very thankful for the Library’s support of this event.

We are still finalising the details but we are very excited to welcome speakers including John Howard, Librarian of UCD, David Hughes, Systems Librarian from Dublin Business School, Sarah Lyons, Digital Librarian at NovartisMairead Owens, County Librarian for Dun Laoghaire Rathdown and Orla Nic Aodha, Head Librarian of the Cregan Library at St. Patrick’s College. Helen Shenton, Librarian of Trinity College Dublin will open our event. We are honoured that each of these speakers has agreed to come and share their knowledge and experience with us.

Our morning session will focus on libraries, technology and the information landscape, while the afternoon session will focus on physical and virtual library spaces. Our guests will talk about their vision of the library of the future, the skill shortages that they see at present in the world of librarianship, and how to fill those gaps. We hope the event will spark a wider conversation in the Irish library world, as well as informing you, our members, about the skills that are currently sought after by employers.

And in the spirit of career development we will schedule plenty of time for networking. So add April 2nd 2015 to your diaries and watch this space for more details coming soon!

Twitter Chat questions #CDGChat

LAI CDG Twitter Save the DateAhead of our Twitter chat tomorrow evening (Wednesday 4th of March from 8pm to 9.30pm), here are the questions we will be asking. We hope this will give you a chance to get your thinking cap on in advance. We will be asking these questions every 10 minutes or so, but the conversation will be semi-structured.

To join our Twitter chat all you have to do it tweet during the chosen time using the hastag #CDGchat.

  1. What do you need/want from your CDG?
  2. What resources are invaluable to you on a day-to-day basis?
  3. What resources do you use for job-hunting?
  4. What skills are essential to your job?
  5. Are there any library roles you’d like to learn more about?
  6. Do you work as a librarian in a non-traditional library job? Tell us about it.
  7. What skills should be taught in professional Library courses which aren’t covered at present?
  8. Have you done any training/CPD courses that you can recommend?
  9. What transferable skills are essential to your library job? Ex. Organisational skills, communication skills, management, etc.

Setting up a Twitter profile

Sign up for TwitterTwitter is a fantastic way to get to know other information professionals, to keep up date with the latest library news and generally great fun. Signing up is free and easy. Simply pop over to twitter.com, put in your name, email address and choose a password. In the next step you will be prompted to choose a username, this is unique to you and is the name your followers use when sending @replies, mentions, and direct messages. Once you have created your account you’ll be sent a confirmation email with a link to confirm your account and then you’re good to go.

Don’t forget to follow the @LAICDGroup once you have your account up and running. If you prefer to have your account private you can ‘protect‘ your tweets, but for the Twitter chat we recommend unlocking your account to participate more fully.

Profile of an Academic Librarian

DBS Master Logo May08Head of Library Services


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

After completing an arts degree in English and Geography at UCC, I did a Graduate Diploma in Business Studies in the Michael Smurfit School of Business at UCD. Whilst at UCD I saw a post for a pre Library course internship for one year at King’s Inns Library. I did this and subsequently the GradDipLIS at UCD. Whilst doing the MLIS I worked as a part time library assistant at DIT. I continued in this role after graduation, going on to work as Senior Library Assistant at DIT, Assistant Librarian at the South Eastern Health Board, an Assistant Librarian at the Welsh Office, an Assistant Librarian at UCD, an Assistant Librarian at the Oireachtas and finally to my current post at DBS Library.

I worked as a library assistant for about two years after completing my MLIS. I believe that library graduates shouldn’t get overly focused on getting a professional post upon graduation. If you can obtain a professional post – that’s great but don’t hold out for a professional post solely. Just get working in a library. Get  library experience- the rest follows.

When I qualified there was quite a lot of contract work in libraries. Rather than fixating on securing a permanent pensionable job, I did a number of contract posts to build up experience. This helped me to secure a permanent job at DBS. Although I didn’t go down the business road, my business studies qualification helped me re HR, management issues. Bring what you have learned from your studies in their entirety into your current role even if it isn’t specifically library related.

DBS libraryDescribe a typical day

There is no typical day for the modern library manager. I am responsible for the strategic management of the Library so oversee a lot of library projects and developments in all areas of library operations. I am also involved in the library and research elements of programmatic and new validation events which are conducted by Quality Qualifications Ireland. I also devote time to marketing the MSc in Information and Library Management at DBS, a programme that I am passionate about.

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

Good collection development and IT skills. Ultimately a library is about providing access to materials for the empowerment of its users in the format that they require.

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

Project management is not a skill that is taught in library schools. This is pity. Most library projects are large scale projects. These projects must be implemented in an efficient and cost effective manner with maximum outcomes for all stakeholders.

The implementation of a new Library Management System for example is a huge project involving thousands of book and patron records. You also have to maintain essential library services whilst implementing these projects. One of the most important roles to emerge in libraries over the last decade is the role of the systems librarian. They are a huge resource when implementing any library project with a technical element. I am very fortunate to have an excellent systems librarian who you may know: David Hughes.

DBS library1Are there any specific software packages or technologies you use on a regular basis within your role?

Metrics and statistics are everything re showcasing to management, quality assurance agencies and other stakeholders the success of your department. For this reason I like the reporting and statistical modules of Koha and library databases. Healthy circulation figures, database usage figures also help to make the case for the renewal of library subscriptions.

What is the most rewarding part of your role?

Assisting the learner in achieving the learning outcomes of their programme. I also enjoy developing library staff professionally.

What is the most challenging part of your role?

DBS Library has a high retention rate re its staff. This is wonderful as we retain key staff who bring huge value to the department. The flip side of this is that it means that there are fewer promotional opportunities for library staff that are starting out in their careers.

What are the career prospects within your area of librarianship?

Over the last few years we have created a number of professional roles in DBS Library including the Systems Librarian, Information Skills Librarian (a teaching librarian), a Research Librarian, an Acquisitions Librarian and others. Career prospects are good and many of these professional roles are occupied by DBS Library staff who were formerly library assistants who completed their postgraduate library qualification. Full-time library assistants at DBS are also entitled to pursue the MSc in Information and Library Management for free.

Staff retention is high so opportunities don’t come up frequently. More recently some of our library staff have moved on to positions such as the Library Manager at Barnados and Executive Librarian at Wicklow County Council Library.  This created promotional opportunities for remaining staff. I believe that the experience one obtains at DBS Library is invaluable in building ones library career. We also offer short stints of unpaid work experience to library graduates wishing to build up their CV.

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

The old adage – get your foot in the door – be it a short stint of unpaid work experience, a job bridge contract or part-time library work. At DBS Library we have recruited part-time and full-time staff from people who have carried out work experience with us because they have made an impression on us etc.

Also keep learning. Even if you don’t have a lot of money – there are free Moocs that you can pursue that provide a talking point in interviews. Have a good CV which showcases your skills. Practise for interviews.  I am a great believer in the mock interview prior to doing an actual interview. Get a more experienced librarian to ask you relevant questions etc. by way of preparation for the actual interview. Find a mentor in the library profession with significant experience who can provide advice and support re your career development. I do a lot of this and find it very rewarding.

Profile of a Law Librarian

The Bar Council Law LibraryJohn Duffy

Sub-Librarian (Collection Development & Systems)

Bar Council of Ireland Law Library.

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

I graduated from Robert Gordon University in 2000 and began as a cataloguer, working on a short-term contract in Trinity College Dublin. From there I took a temporary position as Assistant Librarian in ITT Dublin, with responsibility for cataloguing, systems and collection development. My next post was a return to being a cataloguer in the Office of the Houses of the Oireachtas, but over nearly six years there the role evolved to take in systems, online services, and a large amount of the acquisitions and collection management duties. My job title was “eResources Librarian” when I left.

My current role is a further widening of these duties, with management responsibility for all aspects of what used to be called “technical services”: collection development, systems, and an array of online services, both commercial and developed in-house. I have reporting responsibility for four assistant librarians in this area, as well as a separate team working on digitisation.

Describe a typical day

My work tends to be quite project driven. At the moment a major revamp of the Law Library’s public website is being planned and I’m part of the team working on the design and content for that. I also assist with the routine flow of information through the organisation to our users, such as publishing content to our intranet or indexing digitised judgments.

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

The ability to see your service from the user’s point of view is absolutely crucial, and even more so as we move into an era of mobile services where users aren’t necessarily coming into direct contact with library staff or facilities. Designing things intuitively is vital for the library’s survival, and testing where the weak points are with analytics and surveys is also important.

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

It’s a cliché, but communication is key: within teams, throughout the organisation, and out to the users who are the reason our service exists in the first place. Every librarian should consider communications and marketing as part of their job.

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

I couldn’t live without Notepad: a  surprising amount of web content gets created or processed through it. I stumbled across InfoPath seven years ago and have made great use of it for creating and editing XML data. I was sad to see it has been discontinued by Microsoft. If anyone has any suggestions for a replacement I’d love to hear them!

[Editor’s note: I’ve heard good things about Oxygen which is paid for software.]

Law libraryWhat is the most rewarding part of your role?

Finishing things! Having a project, any project, completed, signed off and operational.

What is the most challenging part of your role?

Keeping all the plates spinning, making sure lower priority work does actually get done and that it’s not all grand projects or quick fixes.

What are the career prospects within your area of librarianship?

Times have been tough lately for the profession as a whole and I certainly don’t envy anyone starting out. The techie and systems side of librarianship can sometimes be undervalued too, by senior management who don’t understand what it is or how it differs from IT support. That said, there’s always a need for good technically-minded librarians. Bide your time, hone your skills, and the opportunities will come.

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

The old saw that nobody wants a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole, is apposite. Always present yourself as being about solutions, improving efficiencies, adding value to services. Never lose sight of what the technology and the processes are for: making life easier for the people who use the information we hold.