Before my library job I worked in Hodges Figgis bookshop in Dublin. I worked in the Corporate and Library Sales Department. Through this work I met a lot of librarians who came into the shop for stock buys. Books that we did not have in stock I ordered for them, I also looked after their accounts. I remember librarians from the prison libraries coming in and buying up half the True Crime section on the floor! From there I went to work in the James Joyce Library in University College Dublin. University College Dublin is Ireland’s largest university with over 30,000 students from over 100 countries. It has five libraries, the James Joyce Library is the main library. The other libraries are for Architecture, Business, Health Sciences and Veterinary Medicine.
I currently work as a library assistant in the Collection Services Unit. As part of a team I work in the inter library loans area. If UCD staff or students need books or journal articles which we do not hold in our collection, we request them on loan from other libraries. We source most of our books through the British Library and most of our journal articles through an online document delivery service called Subito. We use Copac and Worldcat to search for the requested titles.
The other side of inter library loans is supplying our books and journal articles to other libraries all over the world. Essentially, I think it is like having a library within a library. This is a very popular service. With recent budget cuts it means we can still get material for our staff and students even if we cannot purchase it directly for the library they can still consult it for their research. The service tends to be busy all year but especially in the summer when students are writing up their theses and staff are doing research. A typical day involves requesting books and journal articles from other libraries on behalf of our staff and students, making sure the books go back in time to the lending libraries or requesting renewals, posting out UCD books and journal articles to other libraries in Ireland, the UK and beyond and answering e-mail and phone queries. Inter Library Loans is a great example of collaboration and co-operation between libraries worldwide.
I am also involved in more library wide work. The library has an orientation programme and a temporary new student desk every September to help new students find their way around. I enjoy working on this desk as I get to meet the library users face to face and answer any questions they have about the service.
I completed my MScEcon Information and Library Studies via distance learning with Aberystwyth University in 2012. I did this part time over a few years so that I could continue to work full time. The topic for my dissertation was “Understanding the role between the Librarian and the Academic” which I went on to re-write as a journal article which was then published in The New Review of Academic Librarianship. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13614533.2013.864986#.VS4Z1k10wdV
Skills that I think are important for information and library professionals are communication, team work and customer service skills. I think you also need to be enthusiastic, flexible and willing to learn all the time on the job as library roles are constantly evolving with new technology and new ways of doing things. If someone is considering a role in Information Management I would advise them to speak to other professionals about their roles and speak to new graduates about the qualification. If possible try to attend a conference or talks to get a taste of what is involved. The work is so diverse so maybe try to get some work experience.
I am a member of the Library Association of Ireland (LAI) and of the Academic and Special Libraries section. I have attended some of their networking evenings which the committee run a few times a year. Last summer I enjoyed a talk by Grace Toland who works as the librarian for the Irish Traditional Music Archive in Dublin. I’m always interested to hear what work other people are doing in the field and it’s a great way to meet other library people! I also attended the LAI conference last year where I exhibited a poster. https://libraryassociation.ie/groups-sections/academic-and-special-libraries-section-asl/past-events-asl-section-%E2%80%93-2014
I really enjoy attending conferences and talks as it is an excellent way to keep up to date with developments in the information world.