Thing 13 – Professional Organisations

I became a student member of the Library Association of Ireland when I was completing my MLIS. It was invaluable to me because it was through Library Association of Ireland group events that I became acquainted with so many of the amazing librarians I now know. There is a huge support network available if you can just put yourself out there enough to attend a conference or networking event and say hello. And, the fact is that it is easier to stay in the loop when you are a member. I intend to remain a part of the LAI as an overseas member.

Since moving to the UK I have really missed being a part of all the LAI conferences and events. However, I have joined the Historic Libraries Forum and very recently CILIP. So far I’ve already had the opportunity to write a piece for the Historic Libraries Forum Newsletter and have attended a fascinating workshop on historic bookbinding. As regards CILIP I’m hoping not only will it be good for my CPD but it also looks good on my CV. I am also hoping to continue on to become a chartered member in the near future. If you have tips please know that you are more than welcome to get in touch!

I would like to attend some more events over here and get to know some more librarians. London is a big city and I do feel a little bit isolated sometimes, though I am lucky to be working with a lovely team and have something like Rudai23 to keep me networked.

While in Dublin I was very lucky to become a part of the Career Development Group (@LAICDG) and my only regret is that I couldn’t remain a member for as long as I would have liked. I took on the role of Secretary and really enjoyed every minute of organising events and thinking up new ways of engaging with people in the profession. I’m very proud my name was attached to the group even if it was only for a short time as they are doing such stellar work and their next event looks absolutely brilliant. I would highly recommend getting involved if you have the time; it is extremely rewarding.

For new professionals the NPDIreland group are brilliant and their events are great to get started as you know that almost everyone there will be in the same boat.

I do think we could also do more in our professional organisations, but the important thing is to try to make the most of your membership. Like I said if anyone has any hints and tips as regards chartership and/or tips about other organisations I should be joining or events I should be trying to attend here in London I would be delighted to hear from you.


LAI Career Development Group Open Day

@LAICDGroup #cdg2013

Yesterday I attended the much anticipated LAI Career Development Group Open Day in Pearse Street Public Library. The Group is a relatively new group to the LAI, made up of enthusiastic volunteers that are keen to help librarians find work and uncover perhaps unknown career paths. This was their first event and I have to say I thought it was very successful and that comes down to the enthusiasm and hard-work of the volunteers and Giada who spent time and effort to organise the venue and the talks. It is great to see such pro-active people working together to help and inform others of what is available, what skills they might need to obtain and even information about part-time/contract-work and social welfare schemes etc to keep them working and, in the interim, having some kind of income. I have to say that I spent the morning before the event with my friend who was flying back to Australia after a quick two week holiday at home. I had to drop her to the airport and it was horrible because she does not want to be so far away. She is a nurse and her partner, an engineer, and they hope they will only have to be away another year. I am mentioning this because, although I have no problem in moving to another country to work, I know that there are people to whom Ireland is the only place they can call home. I think it is amazing to see people be positive and pro-active and working together in the way the Career Development Group do, to enable people to find work and feel a bit more positively about their situations and career choices.

After a cup of tea and (plenty) of biscuits we entered the room for the first talk of the day by Edel Kelly from the Irish National Organisation of the Unemployed. Edel has 11 years experience in her field and she gave a very informative talk about Job-seeker’s Benefit and Job-seeker’s Allowance and other schemes and entitlements. She also gave very good advice in relation to obtaining your entitlements:

1)      Double-check your information; there are plenty of people who are well-informed but some civil servants may be put on the desk covering a sick-day etc. and may not have all the info (through no fault of their own!)

2)      Keep paper and electronic copies of your efforts to find work.

3)      Job-Seeker’s Benefit has been reduced by 3 months as of April this year, be aware of this change as many schemes require you to be in receipt of a social welfare payment for a year. You will need to apply for JA immediately after your time on JB.

4)      If you want to start your own business make sure you know exactly what finances are available to you and for how long, you need to understand there are huge risks involved and that you may need to think longer term.

Check out the website for more information or email them at

During the Q&A session, members of the audience also informed people that they may be entitled to Technical Assistance and Training if they are benefitting from Short-Term Enterprise Allowance or Back to Work Enterprise Allowance. Most importantly for the students that are reading the blog, we were informed that you may be able to claim Job-Seeker’s from the end of April when we are finished the full-time portion of the course. At this stage we will only have the Capstone Projects to work on and will be available for full-time work and therefore eligible. This is a great piece of information because by the time we are finished Capstone in August we may have been receiving a payment for three months and therefore entitled to apply for Job-bridge schemes. For those that are not aware, there are many library jobs advertised on Job-bridge lately and it seems (especially for those without actual library experience) that these would have been the entry-level positions before the recession and they might be a good way to build up your C.V.

After another short break, Tina Byrne from Arcline took to the podium. Arcline is a private archives and records management company established in 1996. Arcline gains a lot of project work from the public sector and creates teams to fill the positions needed for each project. More and more recently they have projects in which just librarians are needed for the team. This is usually working with older, historical books and using traditional library skills such as cataloguing. She provided the before and after pictures of a project they had worked on and they were very impressive. She stressed that this is a good way of showing the client the work that has been achieved. She also stressed that they believe in hands-on management and have great time and respect for those that work for them, which is very nice to see in a private company in this day and age. I think the fact that they try to match the person to the project is fantastic, again especially for students or those without certain skills, you may be partnered or teamed with more experienced people allowing you to gain from their insights and skill-set.

Tina then told us the kind of skills that would be required by people they hire:

  • Familiarity with AACR2, MARC21, Library of Congress Subject Headings etc.
  • Use or familiarity with Library Management Software
  • Language skills (esp. Irish, students check out the Irish lunches Info-Soc will be running, info on the Facebook page.)
  • Team spirit. (The group work has been worth it. :))
  • Interest in rare books, historical collections and, especially for students, if you are willing to do some of the assistant work and perhaps blend library and archival work.

Tina also stressed that digitisation, e-learning and technology are inevitably the way of the future so try to develop as many skills in these areas as you can! See yourselves as content managers and don’t get bogged down by terms like “librarian” which can be problematic. I have seen myself that although we may see ourselves as “librarians” there are jobs and career paths for people with our skill set that don’t associate with the title. Be willing to think and look outside the box.

You can find out information on the website, or follow on Twitter @ArclineInfo  They are more than willing to accept CVs from recent graduates and they get the majority of the work in the public sector in the months before Christmas. However, if you do send a CV, please let them know if you find work and are no longer available for projects. And for those willing to work outside of Dublin, let them know!

Finally, the last talk of the day was by Brian Donovan, CEO of Eneclann. Another private company founded in 1998. Eneclann are involved in publications, archival and genealogical work and research among other things. Their mission statement involves making information and records held in archives and libraries available to the general public.

One of the things I found very interesting about the talk was the subject of genealogy. Obviously, genealogy and family history is something that has garnered huge interest in recent years, programmes such as Who Do You Think You Are have had massive public appeal and it is most definitely a growth area. However, do not think that it will be a cash cow for a librarian. As Brian says, many people want to research for themselves and for those that don’t there have been huge numbers of people offering services in this area over the last few years. The work Eneclann does is slightly different, they are making the records available to people; although, they do offer research services to those who require them, including private individuals looking for information on families etc. They are involved with the publication of CD-ROMs and online content and with the website These types of resources provide people access to the information they are seeking. They also try to improve documents from the past, to correct mistakes and make them more accessible to people.

Brian stressed the importance of being able to work with IT people and provide the specifications required without having to become an expert in the technology yourself. The role of the librarian, archivist or researcher is not the role of web-site developer. For the librarian the classification is important, but also, experience with the digitisation process. Brian stressed that this is hugely important in their work. He, like Tina, emphasised that digitisation is the way forward and that it is essential to build up your skills in the area if given the opportunity.

Brian was a very interesting speaker and the documents that they are making available are fascinating. As he said himself, they provide families looking for their past with stories alongside the facts and figures, although I must warn you, many can be more than slightly unpleasant given Ireland’s rich history. He showed us a document detailing a court case from Templemore in County Tipperary (being from Tipperary I was intrigued by this) which involved a brother calling his sister a witch and the sister subsequently calling her brother a lunatic. You may think that these kind of accusations would be surprising to me but Tipperary was the county in which the (supposed) last witch-burning in Europe happened in 1895, the case of Bridget Cleary. I find history and the stories behind the people incredibly engaging so I can only imagine how intrigued you would be to find these stories hidden in your past.

Find the website here or follow on Twitter @Eneclann


As we left the library, my friends and I spoke about the positive experience the Open Day had been. We met some lovely new people who had already gone through the course and they gave us lots of helpful tips. They were really interested to hear about our experiences and Capstones and it really helped us to feel part of a wider community. There was also a huge amount of tweeting during the day. Get on Twitter and get involved!

Here’s a post from New Professional’s Day with the same advice! NPD – Get Tweeting….

The library community is inclusive and friendly and I have found them to be willing and able to help you feel involved and welcome. The LAI membership forms are available online and if you join you can get involved with groups like the CDG, which I hope to do. Also, the New Professionals Day Event will be coming soon, get on Twitter (@NPDIreland), follow on Facebook and watch this space. There is also the LAI’s Annual Seminar and talk about a Libcamp here in Ireland. Plenty of exciting events and it makes me think that it’s a great time to be entering the Library world. It may seem that libraries are facing an up-hill struggle but we know libraries are essential and I think the fact that there are so many people willing to get up and be passionate about the profession gives me hope that people will eventually understand this. Before we know it we’ll have an army of Tweeters and #LibrariesAreAwesome should be trending worldwide! 🙂

LAI’s HSLG and A&SL Networking Event

Guinness Storehouse Archives Talk

On Thursday last, 24th January, I attended the LAI’s Networking event in the Royal Irish Academy. Although the thought of going to an event hosted and attended by working librarians by myself was a very daunting concept, I am delighted that I forced myself out of my comfort zone to attend. I was intrigued to hear the talk by Eibhlin Roche, the archivist in the Guinness Storehouse and I hoped to meet people that had completed the Masters course I am currently undertaking and see if they had any advice about finding work and the types of work available for current graduates. I was also interested in hearing about how the job is changing in line with the new technologies that are being developed daily.

For the first few minutes I found myself slightly overwhelmed by the experience, it seems that the library network is a small and familiar one as most of the people there seemed to fit comfortably and there were plenty of little groups conversing around the room. One of the organizers was kind enough to come over and speak to me and having explained to her that I was interested in health libraries she pointed out the health librarians in the room and moved to introduce me. In a happy coincidence the first health librarian she introduced me to was Niamh O’Sullivan, the librarian in the Irish Blood Transfusion Service who I had met previously when she had given a very interesting and insightful talk during a Management module I was taking. Niamh is an excellent example of someone who works very hard to show what a librarian can offer an organisation and she is very enthusiastic about making sure the library has a place and that people realise the service is available and essential. I really enjoyed speaking with her again and look forward to hearing her talk at the LAI’s Annual Seminar in March.

Another student, Ryan, also attended on the night and shortly after speaking to Niamh we were ushered into the room set up for the talk. The first thing that struck me was the the RIA building is beautiful and the room in which we were seated was stunning, walls of books, it was the perfect setting. Eibhlin was a very interesting speaker and she explained the different facets of her job very clearly. I think the amount of work that they do is outstanding. (12,000 queries a year) I couldn’t believe the amount of information and objects they store and I thought the way they were associated with the museum and the advertising sections of the business was fantastic. This means they are associated with the bottom line and in that way they can make sure that the archives are kept as an essential part of the business and that they are given the staff and budget to keep going (although maybe not as much as we would like to see. :)) At the end of the day I see more and more as time goes on that an essential part of the job is to market yourself and what you do and make sure the organisation you work for, whether public or private, knows that what you do is worthwhile. It is just unfortunate that for many “worthwhile” may be associated with monetary gain.

Guinness Archives Webpage

I think the genealogical aspects of the archives are something I hadn’t even thought of and it is amazing that these kinds of records of employees still exist for the families and they allow people make an appointment to research their history. It is good to know that a company so entrenched in our culture such as Guinness is actually aware of their importance to Ireland and feel the responsibility of this and make sure that these important things are being kept and looked after. It is also fantastic that they are digitizing and using technology to keep the archives functional and in the case of images etc., using them for advertising and the museum so that they are not just kept enclosed and hidden away. I feel that this is also a really important part of what the archivists are doing.

It is clear from the talk that Eibhlin is doing a very different job now to what she thought she would be doing when she started in her position 10 years or so ago. I find this exciting. Eibhlin is part archivist, part librarian, part curator and many many more parts. I chose this Masters because I felt that it would lead me to a career that would allow for life-long learning and listening to this talk and hearing the consensus in the room leads me to think that I was correct in my assumptions. It appears that the job is ever changing and librarians and archivists may have to take on numerous roles and job descriptions as they go through their careers.

After the talk we went back to the main room for a few more glasses of wine and nibbles. I spoke to two women from the libraries in TV3. One of the women had graduated from the MLIS in 2010. She said although it may be difficult to find jobs, perseverance and determination will get you a long way. She highly recommended attending these events (as do I) and she spoke about taking opportunities to get experience.

All in all it was a fantastic night and I am really looking forward to the next event I am attending on Saturday which is all about alternative career opportunities.

LAI CDG Open Day