Publish to Flourish: An Leabharlann and beyond!… event recap

NGI prosecco colourSparkling prosecco and old master paintings provided the lavish setting for last week’s highly successful CDG event. Held in the National Gallery of Ireland’s Lavery Room, usually the gallery’s luxurious venue for corporate launches and weddings, the evening consisted of a series of talks by established and up-and-coming authors working in the library profession. Entitled “Publish to Flourish: An Leabharlann and Beyond”, about 40 attendees listened to a series of speakers who gave important advice including pitching ideas for articles and books, as well as writing techniques, tips, as well as the vital “do’s and don’ts”. Chair, Marta Bustillo, welcomed the attendees and first up was Marjory Sliney, who as editor of An Leabharlann, gave handy hints on writing for the LAI, recommending the need to keep book reviews and conference reports concise (<500 words), and emphasised the importance of reviewing past issues of the publication to get a feel for format and style. Back-issues can be consulted either in print or online (LAI/CILIP Ireland members have immediate access by logging into the site; non-members can access up to six months ago) through the LAI website/CILIP Ireland website via eDeposit Ireland. The CDG committee is now involved in the Open Access management of An Leabharlann and were delighted to celebrate this at the event.

speakers

Speakers at #cdgp2f included (left to right) Aoife Lawton, Alex Kouker, Senan Healy, Colm O’Connor, Marjory Sliney, Amye Quigley and Laura Zaliene

Aoife Lawton, Systems Librarian at the HSE, then provided a presentation on general advice for novice writers, specifically on publishing and then gave some information on how she wrote her book “The Invisible Librarian”. I asked a question in the Q&A about how it was possible to manage the writing of a book, and Aoife explained that it meant sacrificing a lot of free time, but that the pay-off was more than worth it in terms of career progression, and making your mark. Crowd at talkColm O’Connor, Information Resources Librarian at the RCSI then gave a presentation on articles he has had published in medical journals, and the triumphs (and pit-falls) of collaboration with co-authors. Next up, Senan Healy, Head Librarian and Information Systems Manager in the RDS, gave insight into how as a librarian he had once pitched an article to colleagues using “librarian jargon”, and his text was rejected. He then explained the vital importance of writing for your audience and tailoring your texts to meet the reading and comprehension levels of readers from different disciplines. Two members of the CDG committee then gave talks on their writing for An Leabharlann; Laura Zaliene, Library assistant at UCD, and Amye Quigley, Librarian at Wicklow Co. Public Libraries. Both Laura and Amye stressed the importance of venturing into the world of writing and publishing as an important step in library career development and progression. Last but not least, Alex Kouker, Research Librarian at Dublin Business School, gave an interesting insight into a new journal which he manages with an editorial team; “Studies in Art and Humanities”.Alex  Alex focused on articles from the point of view of commissioning editors and stressed the importance of adhering to style guides, and gave some salutatory advice to rejected contributors: if you can’t beat ‘em, then blog your own articles (write for LibFocus or for the CDG blog!), and better still, start up your own journal! Alex also considered the perspective of the author and the idea of self-regulated learning when writing for publication.

The event was a wonderful evening, meeting new people working in librarianship, and hearing from a range of enterprising and motivated colleagues – see the Storify here. Marta wrapped up the evening by letting everyone know that the CDG’s next networking event will be at the annual LibCamp, which this year will be held at Dublin Business School on the 21st May 2016. Tickets (and more details) will be available online soon, so mark this date in your diary. See you there!

Pub networking 1

Andrew Moore

Library assistant, National Gallery of Ireland

Publish to flourish-Banner-Twitter

 

Librarian as Researcher – HSLG Workshop

 

hslg-logo-165pxOn the 17th December 2015, Rosarie Coughlan (Scholarly Publishing Librarian at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada) facilitated a custom-made HSLG workshop “The Librarian as Researcher” in UCD, Belfield, which was well-attended and enjoyed by a mix of librarians from different sectors. In her current role, Rosarie manages the University library’s journal hosting service and institutional repository and coordinates library support to graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. Her previous roles include Information Literacy Co-ordination Librarian at Concordia University, Montreal, and Research support Librarian at NUI Galway.

The first part of the day was dedicated to the theme of ‘Librarian as Researcher’ and began with Rosarie describing the key differences between academic librarianship in Ireland and North America, including the obligation for librarians to publish when seeking tenure in North American Universities and the right to ‘academic freedom’ that faculty (and librarians) enjoy in some institutions. ‘Academic freedom’ allows researchers to develop, explore and disseminate research “regardless of prescribed or official doctrine and without limitation or constriction by institutional censorship.” This stimulated an interesting discussion on whether librarian-led research is valued in the same way as that

Why librarians conduct research

Why Librarians research – group discussion

of other researchers, and how we can balance institutional priorities and individual research priorities given time constraints and other professional commitments. Workshop participants discussed current research plans and the reasons why they personally engaged in research – which revolved around the desire to ground practice in evidence-based decisions and to affect positive change within health, education and special library contexts. Many participants felt that the professional development and research that they undertook had to be carefully balanced with supporting the research needs of scholars and practitioners in our organisations. Continue reading

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!

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.

 

 

Reflection on my first information literacy tutorial

This week I taught my first real information literacy session to a group of students on “Advanced Google Searching”. The following is a before, during and after account of my experience.

Before

I approached my manager in late February asking if I could design and teach an information literacy session on “Advanced Google Searching”. Information literacy is an area I have a keen interest in and I wanted to add “teaching information literacy classes” to my CV. I frequently sit down with students and do one to one sessions demonstrating the use of the library catalogue, databases and information management options but I felt standing up in front of a group of a class would give me more of a challenge. After getting the go ahead from my manager I decided to start my preparation.

Preparation

One thing I really underestimated was the amount of work that actually goes into planning and designing a session such as this. A 30 minute session took nearly three weeks to plan between researching the information needs of the students, to advertising the class and preparing handouts, feedback forms and the presentation itself. I read some literature on information literacy and analysed different types of teaching methods to best suit me and my audience. For the content I did extensive research on Google’s Inside Search and Power Searching with Google and took ten main search operators and other Google features and then designed these around relevant examples.

Most of the students are Art & Design students so I focused on finding information about painters, sculptures, image searching along with critical theory articles. Credibility of information was key in this session so I demonstrated how to only search educational websites (sites with domain name ending in .edu) for research and how to limit their search results by relevancy. When I felt my presentation was ready I had to start marketing my class. I contacted academic staff to inform them what I was doing, sent out emails, stuck up notices and advertised by word of mouth when students came to the information desk.

"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.

The Information Session

Due to the room being occupied by a class until the last minute, I had trouble with the projector at first but after some awkward moments I got started. Even though I never had an issue with public speaking, I was nervous. I knew I was prepared but there was still an element of panic as my audience waited in anticipation. Once I got started I was fine. I stressed the importance of using the libraries resources as a starting point for any academic research while simultaneously explaining how Google is becoming more popular as a research tool with Google Scholar and its other features.

In my head I had prepared for questions at the end of the presentation and got slightly side tracked when I got asked a question bang in the middle of the presentation. After going off on a tangent but still answering the question I was able to resume where I left off. Before I knew it forty minutes had passed and I was finished. I asked the students to answer a short feedback form and inform me where I could improve.

Reflection

All in all, I felt the class went well for a first attempt but there are definitely areas I need to improve on. Structuring and speed being the two that I feel need attention. Due to the time of the academic year there was a low turnout but it was a place to start and get teaching practice. While I may have lacked teaching experience (and wish to do more in the future to improve on this) other skill sets were vital from beginning to end.

Research Skills

I spent time in the preparation stages deciding how I would present my class. I played around with Prezi, Microsoft Powerpoint, PowToon and eventually decided to go with Google Slides as I am used to working with Google Drive. Pinterest was also very useful for giving me ideas on effective library teaching. And of course I had to research the different ways to search Google and keep myself updated on any changes.

Communication and Networking

Networking and building a relationship with other staff within my Institution was important as I needed to consult with academic staff for advertising my class on the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) Moodle, administrative staff for the booking of the classroom and informally advertising my class with the students when they came to the information desk.

Time Management and Organisational skills

Designing, planning and giving a session like this required me to use my time management skills as I still had to carry out my daily tasks. I was informed that most essays and writing assignments were completed at this stage in the semester and the rest of the time may be spent on practical work so this time in the academic calendar wasn’t ideal. However, at this stage I feel I have a good foundation to work from and this information skills session can be built on.

Tips for first time Info Lit Instructors

  • Try and get some teaching practice in College or place of work- it can be intimidating getting up in front of strangers. Class presentations are an excellent way to gain experience in speaking publicly about a topic.
  • Network and communicate with others in your institution. Introduce yourself to other staff in your building and inform them you work in the library. You will need to consult with them on advertising your class, booking a room, inviting them to your talk etc.
  • Practice your sessions on someone and preferably in the room where your talk is taking place. Arrive early and try and solve any technology issues beforehand so you do not waste any class time.
  • Allow time for questions at the end and be prepared for questions at any time of the session.
  • Request feedback at the end – Find out what worked? What didn’t work? Where can you improve? Constructive Criticism does help!
  • Read some literature on best practice for information literacy training and ask experienced librarians for advice. What style of teaching do they use? Is it formal or informal? Think about your learning style and then think about what you want your teaching style to be.
  • And Finally: Do not underestimate the time that goes into planning a class. This was the most valuable lesson I learned in this experience.

Mary Murray, Library Assistant at Galway Mayo Institute of Technology

Networking on a budget

"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.

If there is one thing I’ve learned since becoming an information professional it is that other information professionals are fountains of knowledge and wisdom. Going to events and meeting others who inevitably have advice or experience you can draw from will make you more knowledgeable about the profession as a whole and can be invaluable at different points in your career when you have questions or need support.

Unfortunately when you are just out of college or that contract you were on has come to an end it can seem like networking is completely unaffordable; however, don’t be disheartened – there are plenty of ways to engage with your peers and keep up to date by spending little or nothing at all.

Firstly, make the most of social media. Twitter is an excellent resource for information professionals. Some of my network I have never met face-to-face but nonetheless they have offered advice and support when I’ve needed it. Get involved in things like twitter chats to build your contacts and look out for lists of information professionals so you know who to follow. There are also plenty of librarian groups on the likes of Facebook and Linkedin also.

Attend free networking events – A&SL and HSLG have a joint networking event every winter (usually January) and it is always a great night with plenty of opportunity to mingle and chat. If you aren’t from Dublin look out for regional events such as events run by the Western Regional Section of the LAI.

Attend conferences virtually – this year I couldn’t make it to A&SL but thankfully the conference was streamed live, allowing me to participate without costing a cent. And if you’re social media savvy there isn’t even a need to miss out on the networking aspect. Twitter can be a conversation – follow the hashtag for the day and get involved by asking questions and replying to comments.

Apply for bursaries!!!! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain from this.

"Ace of Cakes, library edition" by clemsonunivlibrary holder is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

Ace of Cakes, library edition” by clemsonunivlibrary holder is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

Finally, there are some events that are specifically targeted to those who haven’t got a budget for networking and CPD but can really benefit from it. NPDIreland run free events aimed directly at new professionals. And LibraryCamp is an annual event run by the CDG and A&SL, there is a nominal charge and everyone brings cake! So for a very small amount of money you get to spend the day listening to, and chatting with, lots of your peers and you get cake into the bargain – what’s not to love!

So there is no excuse – go forth and network!

by Sarah Kennedy, Collections Review Assistant, The Royal College of Surgeons of England

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.

Software

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.

Design

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

New and old methods of art historical research

As a librarian in a fine art library, I was thinking about how I would characterise researching a painting and the parallel methodologies of research used; book and internet.

Traditional methods

The traditional method has been to use art books for the purpose of fact-checking: leafing through heavy, bulky reference tomes and, if you are lucky, to have in stock a monograph on the artist. In addition there may be archival files held in the gallery which collate aspects of a painting’s provenance, but the content of such archival files can occasionally be akin to a “lucky dip” in terms of what you can find.

However these methods of research remain the tried and tested methodologies in terms of art historical research and their consultation is a vital and continuing aspect of any research project. Regarding biographical dictionaries many of these would have indispensable reading lists, or bibliographies, providing the researcher with vital clues to the lives of artists, which the internet simply doesn’t cover to such a specific extent, nor provide a sufficient level of factual reliability, although “Wiki-thoners” would beg to differ.

Newer methods

On the other hand, the benefits of the internet to art historical research have been far reaching in terms of broadening the overall knowledge and contextual language of a painting. In terms of researching art, i.e. the interpretation of paintings, a vital new development has been the growing importance of Google Images as a high speed device showcasing comparative images for a key word search.

A contemporary example

An example of this is in a current research paper I am writing on a painting held in the National Gallery of Ireland. Entitled “Arras 1917” this oil on canvas is a depiction of the destroyed belfry of the town hall of this northern French town, painted by an obscure artist called Fernand Sabatte during the First World War.

From using traditional art historical resources, notably Benezit’s multi-volumed biographical dictionaries held in the library, scant albeit important information is available; his birth and death dates, where he was educated, some facts regarding his career as an artist, and the various prestigious art awards he received.

However by comparison, conducting searches on the internet has brought up a fascinating series of linkages regarding the subject of the NGI painting, showing that it is one of many painted depictions of Arras, being one of a series of bombed out towns including Louvain, Rheims, Soissons and Ypres, known generically at the time as “Les Villes Martyrs”, or Martyred Towns. Allied propaganda responded with outrage at the destruction of French and Belgian architectural patrimony, as shown in the following image. Here Reims Cathedral is shown in flames after hits by German artillery. The graphic artist Albert Robida produced this lithograph in 1915 in a set of 8 prints (including the burning Arras Belfry).

In each of the 8 engravings a demonic German eagle was positioned beside a burning French landmark. Such was the popularity of the destroyed Arras Belfry as a propaganda subject, that there is a similar artwork entitle “The destruction of Arras” and held in the Mariano Procópio Museum, painted by the Australian war artist George Washington Lambert. Similarities with the NGI painting are striking. The Lambert oil on canvas depicts the burnt out ruins of the Arras belfry from the same viewpoint as the NGI work and is executed in a very similar painterly style with a heavy use of oil impasto.

Destruição de Arrás 1916” by George Washington Lambert [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

These images produced one hundred years ago of course acted as propaganda for the Allies. A full range of visual media was employed; prints, books, postcards, newspapers, and even postage stamps (known as vignettes) depicted the “Villes Martyrs”, with similar, and in some examples, the same view as the NGI’s Arras Belfry. What we also discover is that the esteemed position of “fine art” has been used for the same function as demotic, folkish ephemera, that is, as a vehicle for political propaganda.

Andrew Moore, Library Assistant (National Gallery of Ireland)

Technology skills for librarians

cropped-data.jpgTechnology skills and the ability to use various pieces of hardware and software are quickly becoming essential skills for most jobs and this is equally true for librarians. Every librarian needs a certain level of technical knowledge, whether we like it or not.

Need to know

Librarians working in more public facing roles still need to be able to show users how to use the online catalogue, how to check emails and browse the web. They will also need to be able to use certain features of their Integrated Library System (ILS) to check materials in and out and to create and update patron accounts. They may also need to be able to troubleshoot software problems or perform basic fixes on the printers or photocopiers.

Reference librarians will obviously need to be proficient at searching catalogues, databases and the internet. Cataloguers need to be comfortable with the cataloguing functions within the ILS and need to be familiar with online resources such as Library of Congress subject headings and authority lists.

Useful to know

Moving beyond the ‘need to know’ to the ‘would be useful to know’ is the ability to edit websites. Many librarians find themselves doing a bit of everything within their roles and the ability to understand, read and edit HTML and CSS is very useful. An understanding of Information Architecture will also help with designing useful and useable library websites.

For librarians who work with data XML looks similar to HTML and has become the best practice standard for how metadata is encoded. Metadata? Cataloguers will already be familiar with MARC21, but it is also important to understand the pros and cons of various metadata standards (Dublin Core, MODS, VRA Core), and be able to apply the most appropriate standard accurately to your data.

Data? Librarians also need to understand different file formats, the difference between .tiff and .jpg, .doc, .pdf and .txt. We need to be able to advise on preservation quality format for various different types of data. Librarians should be leading the digital preservation charge.

Linked Data is another really exciting area for librarians to get involved in. Librarians have been organising and connecting information for centuries and we will continue to do so. But to do so we need to be able to engage with the computer scientists and show them how it’s done.

And for librarians who really want to push the technology boat out the ability to program will give them a huge advantage. All library catalogues are giant relational databases, so SQL (pronounced Sequel, or so I’m told) is an incredibly useful querying language to learn. I asked my software engineer colleagues and they recommended javascript if you already know HTML and CSS, to really improve the library website. For librarians who are interested in getting started with programming they recommended Python or Ruby.

For many of us adding these skills to our arsenal requires a willingness to learn, an ability to upskill quickly and learn on the job. The following are just some resources that are available:

Jenny O’Neill

Writing for an Academic Publication – a review of Helen Fallon’s workshop

We all know it is essential to focus on areas that people traditionally associate with career development (like getting your CV right and all those other basics), but it is important to realise that career development can encompass many different avenues. A new field which is becoming increasingly popular and important is that of writing for an academic publication. Sometimes the words ‘academic publication’ can be off-putting so we were very enthusiastic to help Helen Fallon, deputy librarian of Maynooth University, give a workshop.

The workshop attempted to increase the confidence and motivation to write as a starting point. Helen also explored identifying what is publishable and where to publish. What attendees seemed to react to most positively was the drafting of actual written pieces and for constructive criticism. It can be difficult to stay focused about an area that you have little or no experience with, but the practical element of the workshop was really well received.

You can read Shona Thoma’s blog post about this event here.

If you weren’t able to make it on the day (and weren’t checking #laicdgacd on Twitter) you can read a storify about the event here.

Thank you to all who came along, to everybody who helped, and special thanks to Helen Fallon for organising such a fantastic workshop.