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.
The morning session will focus on Libraries, technology and the information landscape. Bríd 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.
After lunch (which will be provided) we will shift our attention to Physical and virtual library spaces. Orla 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.
I 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.
Here are some website and poster examples that I found great for inspiration:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Providing one-to-one training sessions for clients on using the library’s resources.
Monitoring and managing the Library’s Athens accounts. Athens is an authentication package which allows staff access library resources remotely.
Managing document supply and inter library loan requests.
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.
What 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.
What 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.
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.
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.
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.
Save 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.
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!
Ahead 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.
What do you need/want from your CDG?
What resources are invaluable to you on a day-to-day basis?
What resources do you use for job-hunting?
What skills are essential to your job?
Are there any library roles you’d like to learn more about?
Do you work as a librarian in a non-traditional library job? Tell us about it.
What skills should be taught in professional Library courses which aren’t covered at present?
Have you done any training/CPD courses that you can recommend?
What transferable skills are essential to your library job? Ex. Organisational skills, communication skills, management, etc.
Setting up a Twitter profile
Twitter 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.