“I now consider myself an information professional.”

I now understand what my colleagues meant when they said they were too busy to write blog posts; it has now been three months since my last post and my professional life has been hectic, to say the least!

My work placement with The Library Project took an end about three months ago. As part of the PhotoIreland festival, I had the pleasure to promote a diverse collection of photo books using HTML and CSS, as well as to work with multiple artists and photographers to organise exhibitions and special events.

Now tomorrow is my last day in Dublin Business School Library, and I thought that it was about time I wrote a new article here. I feel that I expanded the experience I first gained in UCD Library by answering multiple queries from students and scholars. I have also had the greatest joy working on expanding eSource, the DBS open-source Institutional Repository, and I also enjoyed making the DBS PsychInfo Literacy Programme for first year DBS Psychology students. As the ALA once said, “Ultimately, information literate people are those who have learned how to learn.” Through the development of the DPIL Programme, I did my best, in conjuction with the Information Skills librarian, to provide students with tools for critical thinking, which is a central aspect to their work in third-level education. Our aim was not to teach students how to do X or Y, but to know how to navigate and evaluate information in an academic setting. I also helped organising the very first DBS Annual Seminar, which went incredibly well thanks to our brilliant speakers. If anyone from DBS Library reads this; I am grateful for having had the opportunity to work with each and everyone of you. Again, thank you so much.

My journey in Irish libraries carries on. I will now be volunteering at the Marsh’s Library, the very first public library in Ireland, still available to members of the public, and scholars. Three centuries have passed since its first opening and the Library as well as its works are still very well preserved. It is the second time that I work for a Special Collections’ unit/library already. I will be giving English, Spanish, Portuguese and French-speaking tours of the Library on Saturday afternoons, so don’t hesitate to pop in! At the moment we are hosting an exhibition on historical perceptions of Japan, as well as a headless mummy named Maurice. We also hold a collection of books that was shot during the 1916 Easter Rising.

The Underground Library

The Underground Library project has been set up by students from the Miami Ad School, as a way to promote the New York Public Library. The idea is simple: Thanks to near field communications (NFC) technology, commuters are offered to read the first 10 pages of a current best seller. Once they have access to an internet connection, they are offered to keep reading the book for free in a nearby public library.

Although I wonder how responsive people would be to such an ambitious project, this proposal is yet another example of how innovative ideas could help combat the decline in public library usage, -if only funding was available. The video also reminds us that technology is changing the way society consumes information and books, and that in 2014, the challenge of public libraries remains to adapt around their community of users.

DBS Library Annual Seminar

ID-10092741Source: freedigitalphotos.net

Dublin Business School Library,-the library I am currently working at, is hosting a conference on Friday 13th June 2014. Whether you are an information professional or a LIS student, you are welcome to sign up and attend the conference! The event is entirely free and should provide you with very interesting perspectives on academic library practices. I enjoy working at DBS Library; we have a rather flat hierarchy, which means that all of us work in collaboration with each other, allowing for remarkable projects to flourish. Attending library conferences makes us aware of outside practices, and most importantly it helps us improve our own services. I must say I am quite proud to be part of DBS’s first conference. Looking forward to meeting you all! Plus free food will be provided, which is always nice.

Register now | Location

09:30 – 10:00 Registration

10:00 – 11:00 Gary Brewerton and Marie O’Neill | The Reading List Challenge: Implementing Loughborough Online Reading List Software (LORLS)

11:00 – 11:45 Dr Clare Thornley | The Role of Librarians in Measuring the
Impact of Research

11:45 – 12:00 Coffee Break

12:00 – 12:30 Brian Hickey | The Opportunities and Challenges of
Hosting on the Cloud

12:30 – 13:00 Alexander Kouker | DBS Assignment Planner and Reference Tracking

13:00 – 13:45 Lunch

13:45 – 14:15 David Hughes | Migration to the Koha Open Source LMS:
The DBS Library Experience

14:15 – 14:45 Maria Rogers and Keith Brittle | The Benefits of Cross-Institutional Collaboration

Gamifying the Library

Amye Quigley, one of my colleagues in DBS Library, recently introduced me to a new web app and concept, currently being used in the University of Huddersfield Library. It’s called Lemontree, and it is the perfect example of how well libraries can do in terms of marketing, in a societal context of fast growing technology-centered trends.

Lemontree-University-of-HuddersfieldSource: Running in the Halls.

The application, originally created by Librarygame, runs with the local library management system. It basically turns every interaction that the user has with the library into a game, allowing the library to engage with its patrons in a fun, social and rewarding way. As users borrow books and use the library’s facilities, they start earning points and nerdy-looking badges. It not only enhances the user experience of the library, but it also allows the library to reach out to a whole new range of patrons, and improve its usage statistics.

“Lemontree automatically gathers information about your activities within the library when you link it to your library card.

So when you visit library, when you bring books back or even when you log in to an e-resource, your actions — provided you’ve registered with us —will register on Lemontree and earn you points!

During the week Lemontree will show your progress visually.”

— From the About page of Lemontree.

The user response to the idea was automatic, and the app is now going viral. The fact that patrons are able to share their virtual rewards on social media platforms promoted the app better than any other marketing move.

I am quite curious to know how many active users the University of Huddersfield Library has gained since the first implementation of Lemontree. It is a great example of what information agents can achieve for a library in 2014. A few top universities in the UK have already signed up, hopefully Ireland won’t miss the train. My only hope is that the “pointsification” of the library does not alter the meaningfulness of its user experience.

To know more about the concept and perhaps embrace it, take a look at the Librarygame page on Tumblr.

Bill Murray OFFSET exhibition in The Library Project: Call for submissions

BILLMURRAYSource: iloveoffset.com

7pm Thursday 20 March 2014
at The Library Project
4 Temple Bar, Dublin 2, Ireland

This year in conjunction with OFFSET 2014, Hunt & Gather would like to try and capture the man with no manager, who has only a hotline number to contact him, in an evening where we can tip our hats to the gentleman himself.

On the 20th of March, join The Library Project in the curious adventure of trying to catch the white whale of Hollywood, Bill Murray! From singing karaoke with complete strangers, to hijacking random dodge ball games, Bill Murray never ceases to amaze the world.


Submit your work

This print exhibition will need you, illustrators, designers, visual artists and screen printers. And anyone who wants to try a hand at it. All prints will be made to order on the evening of the show. In exchange, Hunt & Gather will endeavor to get Bill himself to come to the opening on the 20th. They will be scouring the internet and ringing those hot line numbers… some are less savory than others. But they will try their darndest to capture the white whale. Can you?

Please get your Bill Murray submission into Hunt & Gather before the 17th of March

All prints will be A3, Hunt & Gather will print all works on behalf of the artists. Please email them at hunt.to.gather@gmail.com with high res images of your submissions. They will be confirming all successful exhibitors by the 17th of March at the latest.

Looking forward to hosting this exciting event!

Renting The Library Project gallery space?

PhotoIreland invites proposals from all individuals, collectives and organisations involved in the Visual Arts in Ireland and abroad to use the gallery space or the whole venue of The Library Project, 4 Temple Bar, Dublin 2, for special evenings.

We are interested in promoting Contemporary Photography, and any practice that engages with, emphasizes, and challenges Visual Culture. The cost for renting the gallery space is subsidised to €150, and it includes all the bills, invigilation, and our marketing and curatorial support.

If you have any questions about the submission of proposals, do contact us by email at tlp@photoireland.org.

UKSG Conference: the new digital students

The UKSG Conference nailed the importance of embedding our services into the lives of our patrons. Providing high quality resources is no longer enough. Libraries are here to answer genuine needs with suited services, and doing it well in 2014 is every library’s challenge.

Curatorship of Rare Books and Manuscripts

“Good books don’t give up all their secrets at once.” ― Stephen King

As an Intern Library Assistant, I have had the privilege to work for the Special Collections unit of the University College Dublin Library. Specialising in rare books and putting collections together was for the Historian in me a fantastic experience. I would like to thank the librarians Evelyn Flanagan, Eugene Roche and Vanessa Buckley very warmly for their very insightful teachings and collaboration.

Rare book collecting

Rare books are very different from books you can find in the General Collection of the Library. They have a different material and historical value, and for these reasons, they are given special care.

The University College Dublin Library policy considers pre-1930 books and pamphlets to be eligible for the Special Collections store, but the required date varies according to the institution’s collecting ambitions. First editions are also considered rare books, as well as limited editions, signed copies, and books that belonged to the personal library of public figures.

The interesting thing about these books is the History that they carry –whereas it is through the general style of writing, printing, the specific insight it provides into a historical period, annotations and family crests…-, and the job of Rare Book Librarians is to make sure that every piece of History owned by the Library or its benefactors can be passed onto next generations. For instance, through their collection development process, the UCD Special Collections unit aims at promoting the university input into Irish History.

Current challenges in the field

An important paradox exists in Special Collections. The primary role of librarians is to provide information to users, yet as we give access to our resources to our patrons for them to use, we are also facing the problem of preservation.

To ensure their preservation, books are given special care; the humidity of the air and general luminosity of the storage space are controlled, and patrons are only allowed to read books on thick cushions, in the Reading Room. Despite all these precautions, however, the handling of books by users remains a threat. Most people hold books by the edges of their bindings, which is a classic way to damage them. Book pages are also very fragile and torn apart very easily. The more these books are used, the less likely they are to last. Initiatives such as the Oxford Jesus Library‘s have been undertaken to enhance patrons’ awareness of the handling and implications of rare books, which probably helps librarians do their job in a way.

The digitisation of rare books has been introduced to ensure that the content of valuable books will remain accessible to a great number of people throughout the years without damaging the original items. I have contributed to the UCD Digital Library and I must say interesting archival projects have been conducted by the unit already.

This process is seen by many as a great way to preserve works from the past whilst creating a diverse range of historical archives online, yet digital preservation measures are, in fact, less reliable than that of physical copies. And any rare books librarian should also bear in mind that print books are artefacts that cannot be fully analysed through their digital reproduction.

Restoration is another issue with rare books. Some of the copies owned by UCD are way too old to be repaired by regular librarians, and with the recession the library cannot afford the funding of specialised companies to repair the material. Our current solution to budget cuts is to keep books together with soft pieces of string, and surprisingly it does the job for now.


Working with very old, valuable books and pamphlets makes you rethink the way you perceive and manage books as a reader, but also as a librarian. As I was cataloging and receiving books in the Collections department, I have noticed that “regular” librarians tended to “privilege users to books”. Some librarians (not all, thank God!) would follow certain standards whilst labelling the books, and deliberately stick a barcode or a call number on top of text or images. This can be an understandable practice given that sometimes there is no blank space on the books for librarians to stick their labels on, although I was still very surprised to find a relatively recent barcode on an author’s signature that was dated from the late 1800s, whilst the rest of the page was completely blank. There is a huge difference between following a habit or a policy, and outrageously damaging books, and violating their historical value. This is quite an ironical story given that most librarians complain about miscellaneous patrons’ scribbles that can be found in the books of the library.

UCD Special Collections

I highly recommend you read Evelyn Flanagan’s post on the UCD Reading East website. The post is quite outdated, but it should give you an idea of the origin of the main collections we hold. Here is an extract:

“The foundation collections are drawn from the libraries of those bodies which ultimately became part of University College Dublin, most notably the Catholic University of Ireland and the Royal College of Science for Ireland. The strengths of the Catholic University library are primarily in philosophy, theology and church history, but there is also significant coverage of Irish literature and the Irish language, history, archaeology and classics. Important individual collections from the Catholic University include those of Archbishops Joseph Dixon (1806–66) and Daniel Murray (1768–1852). The Royal College of Science collection is predominantly 19th century material but does contain some 17th and 18th century material also. Special Collections, James Joyce Library, University College Dublin.”

Going further

To know more about rare books librarianship, check out the ALA Competencies for Special Collections Professionals guidelines. If you are interested in rare books and/or you possess an old book you would like to know the value of, check out the Abe Books website. Vintagier also created a very informative page on book restoration, and the UCD Special Collections E-resources guide might also interest you.

Enhancing the efficiency of research repositories

As I was working for the Digital Library unit in University College Dublin, the prospect of integrating a new registry of researcher identifiers to our Research Repository came up. The next big thing is called ORCiD, and after digital librarians discussed it over and over, UCD finally decided to implement it.

Here is a short definition of ORCiD, taken from their website:

ORCiD works with the research community and third party developers to identify opportunities for integrating ORCID identifiers in key systems and workflows, such as research information systems, manuscript tracking systems, grant application processes, and membership databases.

Integrating ORCiD identifiers to local systems supports data exchange and enables automated updating of researcher profiles.

ORCiD is of great interest to Academic libraries, since it enhances the data management of local researchers, their papers and their schools. You can take a more comprehensive look at it through these Prezi slides:

ORCiD support is implemented in the descriptive information (metadata) associated with research datasets and publications hosted in the UCD Digital Library. In particular, whenever an ORCiD identifier is available, it is embedded in the MODS, Dublin Core and DataCite metadata that underlie all resources in the Digital Library that are assigned a DOI.
― From the UCD Digital Library news page.

ORCiD certainly is brilliant for data mapping, the promotion of researchers -who are constantly seeking the recognition of their work, and their impact, and the quick retrieval of linked data for our users. I am now quite curious and excited to see what results UCD will get from that ambitious and interesting implementation. Will keep you posted!

The wonders of big data

Pretty much everyone seems to be talking about big data these days. People get excited about the rate at which highly complex data is now collected, and they also marvel at what companies make of it.

Data alone is useless. The interesting bit happens when it becomes managed and then re-used. Does that ring you a bell, fellow librarians?

The concept of big data surpasses Web 2.0 by far. One thing that most users don’t understand is that Web 3.0 is not about keeping your personal information for the fun of it. It is all about injecting huge amounts of machine-collected data in a managed system that will then reuse it to serve other purposes. The data generated by machines and applications is being kept and reused by companies in order to feed decision-making, and other systems such as taxonomy -that allows Amazon to show you “other books you might like”, for instance.

From a librarian’s perspective, big data is the key to making great user-oriented systems. Our databases, catalogs and websites can literally feed from it! Big data can also influence decision-making in a relevant way, detect misuse, improve our patrons’ searches… The sky is the limit.

In an interview with InformationWeek David McJannet states that: “machine data is absolutely one of the biggest generators of data, whether from air conditioning units, refrigerators, trucks or farm machinery.” He added: “It’s exploding in terms of the kind of instrumentation that’s out there. And big data isn’t a nebulous thing. Very pragmatically, it’s about building net-new analytic applications based on new types of data that (an organization) wasn’t previously tracking.

Over the last few years, interesting and original uses of big data have been elaborated, and this very inspiring TedTalk tackles one of them. Luis von Ahn explains how he managed to create a system that would recognise digitised words with data collected through captchas, as well as translate texts with users’ learning outputs. This video should hopefully give you a practical idea of how amazing big data can be once reused in a clever way.

Of course big data raises the question of ethics, and not everyone seems to trust the firms who are currently using it. I am currently working on the ethics of information surveillance for my master’s thesis, and big data is at the center of it all. If you have any thoughts on the topic, feel free to comment below.

The Library Project & PhotoIreland

“We imagined a library dedicated to Photography & Image Culture
with unique, contemporary publications from all over the world,
for you to enjoy.”

Participating in the creation of The Library Project could be every subject librarian’s dream, and I happen to be part of it. Located in Temple Bar, it is the very first library in Ireland to specialise in Photography. It aims at providing Irish people with a deeper understanding of photography around the world, as well as to promote the PhotoIreland festival, exhibitions, and research in related fields.

TheLibraryProjectSource: library.photoireland.org

Originally, The Library Project was a temporary exhibition. Our archive later expanded to that significant, permanent collection of ours, composed of specialised magazines, textbooks and photobooks of all sorts -from landscape to portraits and photojournalism. Collection development and event management are very interesting parts of the project, and as a newbie in the organisation I very much hope to contribute to it. The Library collection is constantly growing and refining itself, as a matter of fact the Library aims at becoming a major subject library in Europe. The library also provides a bookshop and, thanks to an great number of agreements made with publishers, patrons are able to order relevant books from the shop.

The library still isn’t managed through a proper database, which is for me a source of concern. When it comes to libraries, information retreival is the key word, and from a user’s perspective, The Library Project still has a long way to go.

For the time being, the collection mainly grows out of voluntary submissions and financial donations. If you’d like to take part in that amazing Library Project, you can submit art-related books from your personal collection, and even your own self-published works.

The library does not lend out its material, however its policy allows for some books to be taken out for special exhibitions or genuine research projects. You can also have your own exhibition take place in the space. As part of the PhotoIreland Festival 2014 we recently had an exhibition of photographs and videos documenting an extraordinary art project by the Cause Collective, called “In Search of the Truth: Afghanistan”. I highly recommend that you check it out here.

TheLibraryProjectSource: photoireland.org

Pop down to The Library Project yourself and enjoy the experience, at 4 Temple Bar, Dublin 2 (Ireland). You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter.