Organisation of Information, Cataloguing and Metadata

This was a group project that we completed for Organisation of Information, Cataloguing and Metadata. The project involved creating a collection, real or hypothetical and creating a comprehensive consultation document to illustrate how we would manage our collection. The assignment was created to illustrate what we have learnt from the module. We were required to think about LMS, metadata standards, cataloguing and classification, shelving or file management and costs and workflows. Out collection was a hypothetical collection of images of Dublin through the ages. It was a really interesting assignment and a great learning experience. I really enjoyed working with my group on the project and I think it really gave us an opportunity to play to each of our strengths and at the same time learn a great deal because we chose to share as much information with each other as possible and we met up to discuss our findings, thoughts and concerns on a regular basis.

IS 40520 Group Project


Irish Library Camp 2013

On Saturday I attended the very first Irish Library Camp. The venue, ‘The Chocolate Factory,’ was actually very apt when you saw the cupcakeamount of chocolate and cake in attendance. Librarians are truly multi-talented, and they love cake! However, even though there were some truly amazing treats, by far the best thing about library camp was the informal setting and atmosphere which made it very easy to strike up conversation. From the minute I walked in I found myself chatting to people, many of whom I have ‘met’ on Twitter. It was great to finally put some faces to Twitter names. Some of my MLIS class were also in attendance so it was fun to catch up and see how people are getting on now that the madness of final assignments and exams is over and people are getting stuck into the various Capstone projects. In Ireland we know its a small world and funnily enough the first stranger I spoke to turned out to be from my hometown and there I was thinking I was the only librarian from my neck of the woods.

BellBefore we all lapsed into a sugar coma, the first event got underway. Speed networking, a pitch by Helen Kielt, was the perfect way to start proceedings. It allowed us to mingle and meet people and gave us the opportunity to think a bit about how we present ourselves. I really enjoyed it; I chatted to people I know, people I have chatted to on Twitter previously but have never met and complete strangers. Everyone had really interesting things to say and the only downside was that the 2 mins we had to chat seemed too short at times. I think this activity was particularly useful for the students who are taking their first steps into the ‘real’ world. I know I personally find meeting new people extremely nerve-wracking but situations like this force you out of your comfort zone and build your confidence.

Another fun aspect of Library Camp is that you can choose the pitches you want to take part in and that means that people can take away completely different things from the day. There were so many Tweets!! And I’m sure there will be several blog posts and they might all have something different to talk about which is great. You can check out the Storify by LAI CDG here to get a big picture of the day. I chose to attend a pitch by Laura Rooney Ferris, Marie Cullen and Aoife Connolly in the first session. Laura spoke about the issues surrounding being a solo librarian. I think the most important things I learnt from her pitch were the importance of being able to advocate for your library and your position within the wider organisation, being able to find projects where you can make a difference to show your worth, being able to multi-task or priortise projects and the importance of having a network for support. The idea of having a network for support led nicely into Marie’s discussion about membership of the Library Association of Ireland. I liked her suggestions that the process should involve more personal reflection on your CPD. On a personal note, I have found this blog extremely useful in thinking about what I have learnt this year and I intend to continue to utilise it for CPD in the future. Finally, Aoife wanted to think about our titles. I have come across a few instances this year where it seems the word ‘librarian’ may be a problematic one but how do we change perceptions? Do we try to find another word or phrase that establishes what we do in a way people can understand? Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer right now but it is a something I like to think about and I love to hear other people’s opinions on the subject.

After yet more cake, I chose to partake in the pitch by Emmet Keoghan which was looking at our qualification. I really enjoyed this Diplomachat because it made me look a little deeper at what I have learnt this year and what perhaps would have been beneficial additions to my learning. I think there is a case to be made that some things are omitted from library school that would be very useful, for example some business focused modules or a module that deals with the legalities of copyright and licensing etc. However, what I think is the biggest problem with the course, as far as the discussion we were having, is the different types of student involved and therefore the different needs or expectations of the students. Many students in the MLIS this year, like myself, did not have any practical library experience going into the course. Someone mentioned that all students going into the course should have 3-6 months work experience and then the modules could be better organised to provide more practical skills. I have to admit I think this is a brilliant idea; however, it is very very difficult for people trying to get into the library and information sector to obtain entry level positions without a Masters. The students of today are between a rock and a hard place in relation to getting qualified, getting experience and having the money to live. This applies to every student not just library students. Employers are expecting more and more for less and to be honest as much I would have loved to work in a library for free and get the experience I so desperately wanted, I couldn’t afford to eat and pay rent and pay college loans without working. Now I don’t feel sorry for myself, I’m very happy that I have been able to put myself through college. I have been lucky to get some work experience that is relevant in the last few months so I have achieved a great deal in a relatively short period of time and I’m happy with my progress. Would it have been better for me to have this experience before college? I’m not sure. Perhaps the Masters in SILS has changed to suit people trying to get into the profession rather than people that have been working in a library and are looking to up-skill. I know that my lack of practical experience hasn’t affected my ability to achieve very good grades. I know that as regards trying to get work after the course more experience would have been beneficial but I’m not sure if I could have afforded both low-paid or unpaid experience and a degree. I have enjoyed the Masters; I’m not sure how I’ll feel when I look back in a year or two after working in the area but one thing it has taught me is that I can adapt and I can learn. If the Masters has given me anything, it is confidence in myself and my abilities, the determination that this is the career I want to pursue and a thirst for more. To be quite frank I’m not sure how well any degree prepares a student for life in the ‘real’ world but I feel like if the degree gives them the same sense of confidence that their skills are relevant to their chosen career and makes them strive for more then surely it is doing something right. I understand that my views on this could be very different to someone who has worked in a library and has gone back to do the MLIS.

Anyway, after this chat, I stayed to talk some more and on my walk home I found I had a lot to think about. We were discussing how certain things were left out of the MLIS and someone made the point that things like budgeting and legal issues are not things that you are likely to deal with in your first library job out of college. I began to think that because CPD is so important it would be great to be able to learn about these areas after college and when it becomes relevant. There were suggestions of being able to complete courses at a modular level, possibly negotiating a lower rate considering the huge expense associated with college tuition. However, as I strolled along I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be great if librarians could collaborate with other groups to facilitate learning. Librarians have a lot to offer, we could help people with their information literacy skills, or with social media and very many other things while small business owners or lawyers or publishers could contribute with their expertise in budgeting or copyright law. By collaborating with others librarians could increase the profile of the profession and begin to change the outdated perceptions. The public library would be a perfect place to hold informal ‘learning camps’ and costs could be kept low enough if people had the attitude that it would be collaborative learning, people learning different things from each other. The difficulty would be that there would be no certification for anything learnt at an event like this and it might be very difficult to get up and running.

Anyway, that is just an idea but it goes to show that Library Camp was a success because I met other library and information professionals, took part in great pitches and I came away inspired and thoughtful.

Thank you very much to the LAI Career Development Group and the Academic and Special Libraries Section of the LAI for such a fantastic and thoroughly enjoyable day.

Developing an Information Literacy Programme

This is an IL programme entitled ‘College Preparation for Irish Teenagers,’ I completed as part of a module in the MLIS,  ‘Information Professional as Teacher and Collaborator.’ I developed the programme as a means of enticing teenagers to use the public library and as a way to bridge the gap between Second and Third level education in Ireland.

I’m sharing it with you because I’m really proud of the programme and because I’m very passionate about the need for this type of education for Irish teenagers. This programme is purely theoretical but there is a lot of truth in the report in relation to the need for more services in public libraries for teenagers (The Young People and Public Libraries report is linked here) and the fact that career guidance in schools may become an issue in the near future.

Firstly, this is the PDF that outlines the programme and explains its origins:  Sarah Kennedy – 12256405 – Individual Assignment

Then please feel free to check out the website that I have developed in order to conduct the course online.

I also set up a Facebook page to highlight how social media could be utilised to create a learning community.

I really enjoyed this module and this assignment in particular. It allowed us to be creative and think about what we could bring to organisations we may work for in the future.

Final Reflection on the MLIS

I have mentioned in a previous post that I had done my research and I was prepared when I began this course but even still this year has been surprising for many reasons. After completing my English MA in 2009 I felt that librarianship was the next step for me but student loans meant working for a few years in order to finance another year in college. One thing I have discovered about myself in the past few years is that when I am determined to do something I will put everything I have into making it happen. Starting the MLIS was such a great day for me because after three years of working in retail I finally felt like I was doing what I am supposed to be doing. This feeling of being in the right place has remained throughout the year and the support from lecturers, fellow students, librarians and other information professionals I have met at conferences etc. has only served to convince me that I was born to be a librarian.

In the first semester I took on four modules, Information Architecture, Management for Information Professionals, Information and Reference Services and Research Methods. Information Architecture was a really eye-opening module and I found it fascinating because it was something far outside my comfort zone. It was the first time I really realised the extent of an information professional’s skills and how they can be used in different careers. In semester 2 I took on Digital Libraries, Research Methods 2, Organisation of Information, Cataloguing and Metadata, Contemporary Issue in Professional Practice and Information Professional as Teacher and Collaborator. I had a class everyday and this semester was a lot of hard work and quite a bit of stress but I really enjoyed it because I really took a lot from the modules. Not to say that the first semester wasn’t very enjoyable but I found this semester I was truly immersed in the library world and I really began developing my thoughts on the profession and its future. I found Digital Libraries fascinating and it was a class where we were encouraged to read blogs and follow Twitter to follow the ever occurring changes and issues. Personally, I see librarians as teachers and collaborators so I really enjoyed my teaching module and I think that I learnt a great deal of relevant information in that class and the group work each week allowed us to be creative. However, it was my Contemporary Issues module that I was really encouraged to reflect and to go out into the world and attend events and conferences outside the MLIS bubble. This made the second semester very special for me because speaking with librarians and information professionals and being encouraged and supported by them means a lot to someone finding their feet and I only hope I will be able to provide that kind of encouragement to others in the future. There is so much benefit in having a network and I really appreciate the kindness and generosity of the library community.

I used to worry that my lack of work experience in libraries would hamper my progress in the course but I have learnt that my determination, hard work and willingness to learn and throw myself into new things is also very important in a career as a librarian. You have to be willing to adapt, ask questions and be aware of what you don’t know and find out. When I started I thought I was the opposite of tech savvy but after a few short months I can use loads of open source systems to create websites etc. I have used Google Sites, Omeka and of course, WordPress. Now I would love to do a Web Publishing course and I feel very confident that could master at least the basic of these skills.

There are a couple of things that I think would make useful additions to the course. I have mentioned I would like to see the Rare Books module brought back for those who are interested in Special Collections. Perhaps more collaboration between archives and SILS would be beneficial for both parties, where archivists could benefit from something like Digital Libraries and the librarians could get some archival expertise. I have just completed an environmental scan looking at copyright and DRM in the digital world. I feel like a module or at least some classes dealing with this would be very useful. Also, things like budgeting or proposal writing could be useful additions, even just some guest lectures by people with this kind of experience would be great.

At the end of the day I have gotten so much from this experience that I can’t even put it down in words. Like I have said, it’s been the hardest but the best year of my life so far and I sincerely appreciate all the people that have helped me get to this point. I especially want to thank my boyfriend Jono who is extremely supportive and helped keep me sane throughout the process. The next step now is the Capstone and hopefully to get some work experience over the summer to put my newly acquired skills to the test. I’m very excited about the future and although, times are tough, I truly believe this is the right career path for me so I’m more than willing to put in the hard work that is required and I know I’m going to enjoy every minute of it even when I’m stressed and tired.

So to sum up, its May, I’m finished classes and I’m exhausted, I’ve felt very stressed and under pressure for at least 4 weeks straight but I’m happy, I’m feeling prepared, I’m excited and I’m looking forward to the next challenge.

Teaching and Presenting

This semester I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to both present and teach. As a youngster I was always interested in debating and public speaking and I have up to Silver Medal in LAMDA for Public Speaking; however, I find as I get older it gets a little bit more difficult to stand up in front of your peers and speak, especially if you don’t get much practice.

I really enjoyed getting the opportunity to present to my class in Issues in Professional Practice despite my nerves. The topic ‘The Cost of Information’ is something I find very interesting and some of the information we presented is information that people might not have thought about before.

Due to my interest in WordPress, I also got the opportunity to help some of my fellow students with their blogs. I developed a short guide for them to help with developing menus in order to separate the sections of their sites as per module requirements. I really enjoy helping people to learn new things and I think this stems from the fact that I enjoy learning so much. The people that have helped me to where I am today and who have taught me things, however small, have been so important and I feel that if I can help people then that will make for a very happy and satisfying career.

WordPress Tutorial – Menus


My Elevator Pitch

I am a librarian. As a librarian I am an organiser, a researcher, a collaborator and a teacher. As a person I am hard-working, enthusiastic, organised, a leader, a communicator and a team-player. I have worked hard to get where I am because I am passionate about what I want to do. I have a degree in English and Psychology and a Masters in English. I have background in fashion retail where I have learnt the importance of customer service and being part of a team. I worked my way up quickly to ensure that I had some management experience before pursuing my dream career and undertaking the MLIS. There are two things in life that I believe are extremely important, access to accurate information and lifelong learning. As a librarian it will be important for me to strive for both and to help others in their search for information or help them improve their skills to be better learners or researchers. I hope to work in an academic or health library where I think my skills will be relevant and useful.