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

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

Marketing libraries and data analysis

Andrew Moore Library CampThe day being in it, the results of the Marriage Equality referendum were due in, just as we started our pitches, and sampling opinion and analysing demographics was very much on my mind when I began by pitch. My talk regarded the sampling of library visitors, using a questionnaire, at the National Gallery of Ireland, a project I conducted in 2012 for my MLIS.

The theoretical basis for my pitch was from the book “The Library marketing toolkit” (Facet Publishing, 2012) which provided many helpful ideas. The most important was a diagram, The marketing cycle, which puts the use of quantitative data as central to any kind of marketing activities. It shows that a marketing campaign should in theory operate cyclically, and that constant evaluation of library visitors is required to formulate effective campaigns, involving the use of statistics. I then showed the results of my sampling project which showed a breakdown of demographic profiles.

An open discussion then began in which my audience and I looked at the data from my project and considered how to theoretically create marketing campaigns which meet the needs of different groups; students, professionals, as well as differences in age and gender.   The talk concluded with a discussion of which paintings are most popular in the National Gallery of Ireland and I referred to the national vote held in 2012, known as “Ireland’s Favourite Painting” and the winner “The meeting on the turret stairs” by Frederick Burton held in the gallery. This thereby gave a “real-world” example of the importance of surveying with regards to promoting cultural heritage.

by Andrew Moore

LibGuides, Loop and Library Videos…marketing Library services at Cregan Library

My pitch centred around effective ways to market library services using three different tools: a “Welcome to the Library video”, a “virtual learning environment” (Loop), and online Library guides (LibGuides). Library Camp 2015First we looked at who our “target market” might be and decided that the student profile (made up of 66% undergraduate students and 24% who are online/distance learners) were the most important demographic that the Library weren’t currently reaching. Many Undergraduates use the Library mainly as study-space and are unaware of the vast number of resources, facilities and services that we offer them. For my MLIS (completed last year) I researched the information literacy of our Postgraduate students and found that many of our online/distance learners would like more support from the Library when it comes to their information use. So the question posed was how to reach non/limited users and distance learners. I explained each tool briefly, mentioned some advantages and then we brainstormed how to market Library services effectively using each one. I asked one leading ‘post-it’ question per tool and the group came up with some really interesting ideas!

1. “Welcome to the Library video”

Market: new students, distance learners, non-users and potential students Advantages:

  • Showcases the new Library
  • Instructs on new facilities
  • Highlights the Library’s role in teaching & learning
  • Supplements Library orientation

Brainstorm Q: How can we make the video ‘engaging’ to students??? Answers:

  1. Interview students about the Library
  2. Interview friendly library staff
  3. Brevity – keeping it short & sweet!
  4. Avoid info overload
  5. Show activity at the information desk

Post-it Q: Ideas on how we can get students to participate in a Library video:

  • Go outside the Library and ask students around the campus to be involved
  • Ask the Student’s Union for help
  • Ask the Access office for success stories utilising the Library’s impact on students’ studies
  • Have a waive on library fines for participants
  • Offer money off photocopying
  • Give a prize
  • Recruit volunteers on social media
  • Offer free lunches
  • Make it into a Library ‘event’ – invite students informally
  • Offer a title such as ‘Library ambassador’ for participation
  • Use media art, or business studies students to be involved on a project-basis/as work experience

2. Loop (virtual learning environment)

Market: all students and distance/online learners in particular Advantages:

  • Free to the Library
  • Students automatically enrolled to a “Library Loop” page
  • Info is online at their ‘point-of-need’
  • More interactivity possible than with traditional Library website
  • Online classroom facility for info-literacy sessions with distance students

Brainstorm Question: What are the possible disadvantages of setting up a ‘Library Loop’ page??? Answers:

  1. Less foot-fall in the Library
  2. Not accessible to everyone (i.e. less I.T. savvy students)
  3. Increased expectation that all info is online
  4. Increased expectations that we are constantly there to answer questions

Post-it Q: What ‘content’ would you put up on a Library Loop page??? Ideas:

  • New resources – ‘just-in’
  • Useful bibliographies
  • Library staff contact details
  • A newsletter/news
  • User surveys
  • Recommended resources
  • Course info
  • Weblinks
  • Materials for answers to likely exam Qs
  • Past exam papers
  • Link to Library Catalogue

3. LibGuides:

Library Camp 2015This cloud-based content management system allows librarians (with limited coding skills!) to create attractive and easy-to-use guides to Subjects, Collections and events (to name but a few)… Target market? Everyone! Advantages:

  • Guides can be embedded in Loop/VLE.
  • Can increase web traffic to Library resources
  • Can be used to make recommendations or ‘best bets’ for quality info sources
  • Markets the info service
  • Allows collaboration with academics

Brainstorm Q: How can we promote the guides??? Answers:

  1. Through a poster presentation to all College staff
  2. Get buy-in from Lecturers
  3. Embed the guides in Loop/Library website
  4. Use them during Library orientation for new students

Post-it Q: How can we encourage academics to collaborate with the Library on LibGuides?? Ideas:

  • Through Focus groups
  • Word of mouth
  • Assure (and re-assure!) training and support
  • Offer a service in exchange

(we started running out of time here!) In short, I learned a lot about making presentations more interactive and came away from my pitch with loads of brilliant ideas for using these tools to effectively market Library services. Further ideas welcome! You can reach me on

by Genevieve Larkin


Library Camp 2015 145

We had a great day at the Cregan Library in St. Patrick’s College Drumcondra last Saturday. The weather was gorgeous, Orla and her staff welcomed us with open arms, and all the pitches were engaging and sparked a lot of discussion about libraries and librarians. Thanks to all who left their post-its in the Ideas Lounge – we have compiled them all, and will be taking those ideas into account when planning our programme for the autumn.

For a taste of what Library Camp 2015 was like, have a look at our Storify and some lovely Photos.

We will be publishing the various pitches in short blog posts in the next few days.

Many people contributed to the success of the Camp. First of all, thanks to Gen, Jenny, Elaine, Andrew, Louise, Carolanne, Niamh and Elaine for pitching your ideas – you gave us a lot of food for thought. Secondly, thanks to Orla Nic Aodha and the Cregan Library staff for lending us their space, providing great coffee throughout the afternoon, and looking after all the little details [including flip-charts, post-its and markers!], as well as taking us on two tours of their wonderful new library. Thanks also to our friends at the A&SL for moral and practical support;  and finally thanks to all of you who gave up a sunny Saturday to participate in Library Camp and share your ideas with us. We look forward to Library Camp 2016!

Library Camp 2015 105

Library Camp 2015 147


Explore the new Cregan Library during Library Camp

Cregan Library5St. Patrick’s College is one of the oldest third-level educational institutions in Ireland and has enjoyed a leading position in the area of primary teacher education in Ireland since its foundation in 1875. Cregan Library has had several homes in the College, with the last iteration being built in the 1970s and located at the back of the Drumcondra campus.

Cregan Library4In February of 2015, (after a prolonged building period and much hard work!) Cregan Library moved into a brand new state-of-the-art four-story building which faces onto Drumcondra Road. It provides students and staff with a modern, comfortable, expanded learning space complete with collaborative and group study spaces and an archive room for the Library’s special collections.

Cregan Library3Named a ‘flagship project’ by the President of the College, the colourful Library building is now firmly placed both in the Drumcondra skyline and at the heart of the student experience for 2016.

Cregan Library2We were absolutely delighted when we were offered the library as the venue for this year’s Library Camp. We are also very excited that tours of the new library will be running during the Camp so you can have a good look around this beautiful new building. So what are you waiting for? Get booking and we will see you on Saturday May 23rd at 1pm!!

Cregan Library 1

10 reasons to attend attend Library Camp 2015

If you’re still not sure if what Library Camp is all about and whether it’s for you, we’ve compiled our top 10 reasons for coming along. If you still haven’t got your ticket, click here to book!

#1 Speed networking

Networking can be intimidating so why not try speed networking? You get a short amount of time to chat to whoever is closest to you and when the bell rings you move on. Thanks to Helen Kielt who suggested speed networking for the first Library Camp.

Cregan Library5#2 A tour of the brand spanking new Cregan Library

The Cregan Library at St. Patrick’s College in Drumcondra opened in February of this year. Here’s your chance to have a good nosy around! We’ll also be running tours during the breaks. It’s a beautiful new building and a tour is sure to be one of the highlights of the afternoon.

#3 Have we mentioned the cake?

Every year participants bring cake and other goodies. There is usually more food than we could possible eat in a day.

#4 We’ll have an Ideas Lounge

This year we’ve decided to introduce an Ideas Lounge. We’ll have an area where you can come and talk to the CDG committee, let us know what you would like from us, what we’re doing right, what we could be doing better, or if you have any ideas for upcoming events. Or ideas for anything really!

#5 Brainstorm how to use a combination of new and traditional marketing methods

How do we combine traditional marketing methods such as newspapers, radio and exhibitions with newer social media approaches. Comes and tell us how it has worked for you and learn from the experience of others.

Library Camp 2014 Marta#6 Advice for your Elevator Pitch

We have lots of great pitches for you to get involved in. This includes your elevator pitch, how do you explain the importance of your skills as an information professional and the value of libraries in general.

#7 Advice on marketing library services such as LibGuides

This pitch will explore ways of marketing library services to students, as well as using these services to reinforce the Library’s role in the wider community or organisation.

#8 Want advice on marketing a small library in a larger organisation? We’ve got it covered!

In this pitch, Niamh and Andrew will share their experiences of how to promote librarians and libraries within a large organisation. The pitch will also look at how to market to different stakeholders; e.g. those who use the service versus those who manage the budgets!

#9 Borrowing & lending items for an exhibition? There’s a pitch for that.

This pitch is based on UCC Library’s Special Collections’ experience of lending an 1802 item to the British Library for an exhibition.

#10 There will be even more ‘networking’ after the Camp finishes in the Ivy House.

After the event we will gather for drinks and more  talk at the Ivy House Pub, 114 Upper Drumcondra Road.


Pitching at Library Camp

Last year was my second time attending Library Camp but my first time pitching. Pitching an idea may seem a bit intimidating so I’m sharing my experience to show that it really isn’t intimidating at all.

Library Camp 2014
Library Camp 2014

I really wanted to get involved last year but as I had recently graduated and had only just started a new job I wasn’t sure what I could contribute. The only thing I knew about was job hunting so that’s what I decided to pitch. I titled my pitch ‘Information Professionals and the jobs market’ and emailed a few short paragraphs about my idea to the CDG committee.

Library Camp is really informal and there are no powerpoint presentation – just you, a marker and a flip chart. I had written down my ideas on some flash cards but really the person standing up with an idea is really just there to facilitate a conversation. I was definitely nervous at the beginning of my pitch, that’s totally normal, but a few familiar faces put me at ease. Librarians are a friendly bunch!!

I started with the job hunt itself, I gave some recommendations of job sites I had used and then we added more suggestions as a group. Naturally we tackled internships and had an open discussion around their pros and cons. We also discussed how to get the most out of your internship if you decide to do one. We then moved on to networking and CPD. Again, I gave a few suggestions and then opened the question to the floor for further ideas. The time flew by and I had to wrap up quickly.

Library Camp 2014 LauraI really enjoyed the experience and saw my role as giving pointers to start a conversation rather than me exclusively talking about my job hunt. So if you have an idea relating to marketing within your organisation, jot a few ideas down and then throw it open to the floor. Library Camp is all about collaboration and communication of ideas.

Although I’m not involved with marketing in my organisation I have decided to pitch again this year. I sometimes struggle to explain to people what I do and why it’s important. So this year I’m tackling the Librarian’s elevator pitch and I’m hoping we’ll have a really great discussion about how to tackle this problem.

So what are you waiting for? Get your thinking cap on and get pitching!

by Jenny O’Neill, DRI Data Curator and CDG Committee member

Library Camp is back!

asl logoSPD Library Letterhead (web) (1)

Drumroll please…. the CDG in conjunction with our lovely friends, the Academic and Special Libraries Section and Saint Patrick’s College Library, are delighted to announce that May 23rd marks the return of the LAICDG Library Camp!

""Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read" Groucho" by bruno is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Library Camp is a chance for all members of the Library Community to get together to discuss current trends and opinions on everything Library related. What makes Library Camp a bit different is that it is pretty informal and inclusive; you don’t have to be working in a Library or be a LAI member, all you need is an interest!  The Camp is a daylong “Unconference” where there will be several mini workshops and talks happening at once. The idea is that you can wander to and from the various discussions allowing you to gather as many ideas as possible.  Another perk of the Library Camp is that in spirit of networking (and eating!) everyone is encouraged to bring sweet and savoury food to share, so if you like cake you like Library Camp!

file000370626123The theme of this year’s event is Marketing, we chose this topic on foot of the success of the Information Skills for the Future Event. This event generated some healthy discussions about what skills are deemed important for future career development. Throughout the course of the day it became apparent that Marketing and knowing how to brand your library/services/you is a real cause for concern among the Library Community. It is hoped that the Camp will help address this skills gap and generate some new ideas on how to tackle it.

We are very fortunate that this year our event will be hosted in the brand new state of the art library in Saint Patrick’s College Drumcondra.  So regardless if you’re an established Librarian or you are just curious about the world of information and Library management we want  to see you there to join us in the discussion and the fun.  Keep an eye on our Blog, Twitter and Facebook for more details on this event and how to get tickets.

Library Camp Ireland 2014

Libcamp Logo Orig1Library Camp Ireland was organised for the second year in conjunction with the Academic and Special Libraries Group of the LAI. It was an honour to work with such an established LAI group, popular for its successful workshops and seminars. The selected meeting place, Wood Quay Venue, was astonishing with its historical remains from medieval Dublin, made us all feel like we were the ‘cutting-edge Vikings’ of the information profession.


It was my first time at a Library Camp. I had some idea of what to expect after reading last year’s blog from the Career Development Group. And my foretaste was met well beyond my initial expectations. Since joining the Master’s course at DBS in 2011, I have been to several events organised by various LAI groups for different reasons: learning about the new profession I was entering, meeting and talking to like-minded people and apprehending latest ways of operating within different fields of the profession. However, I must admit that the focal point about Library Camp – is that it is an event where not knowing each delegate does not make you feel like ‘a fish out of water’. It turned out to be a social/profession meeting-day with a lot more overflowing knowledge than in any other convention I have been to. In fact, embracing and sharing current or past work experience in every field was the theme of the day! Some of the attendees have had years of experience within the information profession and seeing them actively participating in the initial interaction of ‘speed-dating for info pros’ amongst people just entering the profession was pretty gratifying.

Despite being occupied with taking as many photographs as possible on the day, I was still able to contribute to a couple of the discussions (pitches) and absorb some encouraging tips from other participants. I found particularly interesting Roy Murray’s pitch about creating a social media content ‘bible’, which was run at the end of the day and maybe for too short a time. What I liked most was the practical group work. Social Media is spreading like a virus in the information profession and it’s evolving on a daily basis. Hence, I think more LAI groups should dedicate some of their workshops to this area. Thank you Roy, for contributing with such an outstanding topic.

Social Media Content Bible
Final pitch – Social Media Content Bible

My first thought about the day was that everyone who has a drift toward the information profession should be made aware about the ethos of the Library Camp, and get involved in it. Therefore, as part of the LAI Career Development Group’s committee, I look forward to organising Library Camp Ireland 2015 alongside the Academic and Special Libraries Section of the LAI.

Post by Lara Musto, Treasurer of the LAI Career Development Group.