Siobhán Dunne

Siobhan Dunne

How did you first get into the library and information profession?

I fell into it by accident really, although my mother claims I was always destined to be a librarian as I used to wheel around a mobile library when I was seven!  I saw an advertisement for a six month FÁS (an employment scheme, it no longer exists), cataloguing a private archive. I was at a crossroads at the time, unsure about what path to take after my primary degree. I decided to give it a go and it turned out to be a great move. Towards the end of that placement, I was offered a job as a library assistant job in Dublin City University.

What qualifications did you take?

I had already completed a Bachelor of Arts in University College Dublin. After a few years working in the academic, health and corporate libraries in Ireland and Australia, I decided it was the career for me. I returned to UCD to complete a Graduate Diploma in Library and Information Studies.

Are you currently pursuing a professional qualification (i.e. distance learning, certification, chartership etc.)?

Two years ago, I completed ‘Teaching Online’ and Assessment and Feedback in an Online Environment’ – two modules offered to DCU staff by the Teaching Enhancement Unit. I’m currently nearing the end of an MSc in Education and Training Leadership in DCU. As part of that, I got the chance to participate in an Erasmus programme in the University of Peloponnese, which was a fantastic opportunity to collaborate with colleagues in the education sector from seven countries.

What is your current job title?

Humanities and Social Sciences Librarian at Dublin City University.

What does your job involve?

I’m a liaison librarian for the faculty of humanities and social sciences. Essentially that involves collaborating with colleagues to design and deliver information skills programmes for students and staff and also developing collections. I’m a member of the library’s management team which involves making decisions about operational and strategic policies. I’m also involved in a number of cross departmental projects including branding and changing spaces initiatives. Outside of the Library I’m a member of the Faculty’s Research Committee and the University’s Civic Engagement Forum. The fora provide invaluable opportunities to promote the library’s role. At the moment I’m co-convenor of an international conference taking place in DCU and planning for that takes up a lot of time.

Can you describe a ‘typical’ day?

There isn’t one! During semester one, a lot of my time is taken up with delivering information skills sessions and setting and marking assignments. That eases off in semester two; however that’s when project work takes over. A typical day right now could involve a training session, a meeting with colleagues about LETS (our online tutorial for students, we are currently developing it to include new content), answering email queries typically about resources students or staff are trying to track down, a consultation with a PhD student and in late afternoon, there might be a conference planning meeting.

What skills do you think are most important for today’s information and library professional?

An ability to see the bigger picture, ensuring that the library is integral to and supportive of the larger organisation. Attention to detail; communication, advocacy and marketing skills are vital. Emotional intelligence: without that you can’t work effectively with library colleagues or the users of your library. Adaptability and a willingness to try new things are crucial.

What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in information management?

Go for it! Information management is a really interesting and rewarding career. There’s lots going on in the area and it is changing rapidly so there’s no time to get bored.

Are you involved in any professional activities (ie. committees, special interest groups)?

I’m chair of the CONUL (Consortium of National & Universities) Teaching and Learning Group which works to promote the role of and measure the value of libraries in teaching and learning within Higher Education. I’m a member of the LIR Libraries Group which provides a forum for cooperation between, and training for, member libraries in accessing online resources. I’m also a member of the British and Irish Association of Law Librarians which provides an invaluable support network to of librarians working in the law library sector.

Twitter: @dunnesiobhan


Anne-Marie Murphy

AM Murphy

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.

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.

I really enjoy attending conferences and talks as it is an excellent way to keep up to date with developments in the information world.


Gretchen Gfeller

Gretchen UMaine USA

I want to begin by thanking Elaine Mulholland, one of the blog co-ordinators, for inviting me to contribute. Elaine and I worked together during her time at the University of Maine (USA). I am delighted to have the opportunity to share my experience with the group.

What is your current job?

And so, to begin… I am the Public Relations Manager at Raymond H. Fogler Library, University of Maine, USA.  I was attracted to the opportunity to work with students in a university setting.  My current position offers opportunities to collaborate with faculty and staff as well as with our students.

I have a B.A. and a Master of Arts in Romance Languages. I am one of a growing number of professionals in the US who bring very specific skills to a library environment.

What does your job involve?

As Public Relations Manager, I am responsible for planning, developing,  and implementing PR strategies, liaising with and answering enquiries from media, individuals and organizations, writing and editing press releases and publications, organizing events , engaging with users on social media (Twitter and Facebook, for example), and developing community outreach initiatives.

Can you describe a ‘typical’ day or projects you have been involved in?

Every day is different. Some days are spent in my office working on newsletters, posters, and other publications. Some days are spent teaching a workshop series that introduces users to the Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator). These workshops are open to the university community and the general public and are one of a growing number of services to our users. I have to say that my favorite projects are those involving our students. One example is our therapy dog visits, which I organized in response to student requests. Certified therapy dogs visit the library during fall and spring term Final Exams and during the early part of September, which can be a stressful time for our new students. We set aside a corner of our first floor reading room for the visits and the students love it. Just watching them interact with the dogs always brings a smile. Another favorite project was our library band, “The Renewals,” which included both staff and students. We wrote, choreographed, and performed songs about the library, which were shared via YouTube. Our “hits” included, “My Library” and the ever-popular, “Inside Fogler Library.”

What skills do I think are most important for today’s information and library professional?

This is an exciting time as libraries strive to re-define themselves to meet users’ needs. We need to learn to take risks and to accept failure as a beginning.

What advice would I give to anyone considering a career in Information Management?

Remember that information is well-managed only when it is easily found and understood by users.  In addition, we must continue to value and develop the library building’s role as a place within our communities.

Eva Hornung

Eva Hornung Curriculum Development Unit-Trinity College

How did you first get into the information and library profession?

Well, I was a library kid :). Having read my way through the children book collection at my local public library it was probably inevitable I’d end up working there. The head librarian took part in a career fair at my school when I was in my final year, and we started chatting. She suggested joining the team for a few days to see if I liked it. That was it. After I had qualified I became the Children’s Librarian there, so it all came full circle.

What qualifications did you take?

I was very lucky in that we lived not far from the Library School in Stuttgart, Germany. So I applied for a place there and did the three-year degree in Library and Information Studies. A number of years later I got into the Master’s programme in UCD. And in 2011 I was awarded a PhD in Information Studies from the University of Sheffield, which had been a part-time degree (remote location). It was brilliant to be able to compare what is happening in different countries and meeting new people.

Are you currently pursuing a professional qualification? (i.e. distance learning, certification, chartership etc.)

A couple of years ago I became a Fellow of CILIP and am revalidating that qualification on an annual basis. Also, in December, I was elected a Fellow with the Library Association of Ireland (LAI). Looking forward to receiving the certificate at the AGM in March!

I am always looking for new opportunities to learn, so this will be an ongoing feature of my professional and personal life. My PhD research was about continuing professional development (CPD) for librarians, so that’s a topic close to my heart.

What is your current job title?

What does your job involve? What do you particularly enjoy about your job?

Currently I am a so-called “one-person librarian” (OPL), which means I’m the only information professional in the organisation. So I’m responsible for every aspect in the library, from strategic planning to finances to cataloguing and research support. What I like about it is the autonomy – you can try out new things and services without having to get permission from three different people.

Can you describe a ‘typical’ day or projects you have been involved in (refurbishment, experience of a merger etc.)

As an OPL no two days are the same. I might help someone with a printer that doesn’t work, and try and locate some document on the Internet the next minute. One of those “oh, I think it was published in the 70s by someone in the UK, possibly an NGO, but I can’t remember the title”… we also moved twice since I started in 2001, so that means packing up the library and, last time around, trying to squeeze everything into a smaller place.

What skills do you think are most important for today’s information and library professional?

Flexibility; being curious; being able to think on your feet; resilience; being able to work as part of a team as well as on your own; being a people person; having a sense of humour – pretty much what you would need in any profession.

What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in Information Management?

Go out and meet information professionals. You’d be surprised to learn how diverse the profession is. Make connections. If you have no experience, see if you can get into an internship – even though you might not get paid, it’s crucial if you want to find out if this is what you want to do with your life. And no, you won’t have time to read the latest novels!

Are you involved in any professional activities? (i.e. committees, special interest groups)

Yes, I’m the current chairperson of the Academic & Special Libraries Section of the LAI and have been on that committee since 2005. We’re the biggest section of the LAI, and our members come from big university libraries, specialist one-person operations, libraries in commercial entities, and non-for-profit organisations. We organise an annual conference, many networking evenings and, occasionally, a workshop. We meet once a month in the evening. And I’m on the CPD committee of the LAI. We accredit training courses and other events and promote the Associateship and Fellowship programmes.

I’m also the country co-ordinator for Ireland with the International Librarians Network, which helps librarians establish international connections. It’s free to all, including students, so please sign up and start sharing your stories.

For the last number of years I’ve been a mentor with CILIP for librarians undertaking Certification, Chartership and Fellowship. It’s great to be able to be a link between CILIP and the LAI.

All of these activities are crucial to my own professional development as it is really tricky to get to events during working hours. Study leave and funding are not available. Desktop-based CPD activities are the most important way for me to keep up-to-date.


Elaine Mulholland

Elaine Mulholland 23 Librarians

How did you first get into the information and library profession? The University of Maine (Fogler Library) in the USA is where my library career began in 1993. I was studying for my Masters in History at the University of Maine at the time while working in the library. I gained experience working in Special Collections and Reference before moving to the Listening Centre. I was lucky enough to work a little on the papers of Stephen King and Senator William S. Cohen. I am still in touch with my colleagues from Fogler Library, where it all started.

After the USA, I taught English in Japan for three years (on the JET programme) before returning to N. Ireland where I resumed my library career at Queen’s University, Belfast. From 2004 until 2013, I worked in Further Education.

What qualifications did you take? I completed my first degree at the University of Ulster. I then studied and lived in Maine for almost 10 years where I completed my MA in History. I became chartered and soon after obtained my MSc. in Library and Information Management.

What is your current job title? Librarian at St Mary’s University College, Belfast.

What does your job involve? My role varies from determining strategic priorities for developing new service initiatives to overseeing staff matters and budgeting. I also implement new technologies to ensure the service remains, accessible, relevant and up to date for all our users.

Can you describe a ‘typical’ day? There really isn’t a typical day. There are scheduled issues to deal with every week but there is always something new and interesting. In fact, I have just had a CLA (copyright) audit.

What skills do you think are most important for today’s information and library professional? Excellent customer engagement and customer service skills are important, as well as, developing effective relationships both within and outside the library. The Library team at St Mary’s University College are a certified customer service team with WorldHost. It is also essential for today’s information and library professional to engage and embrace new library innovations.

What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in information management? Recent developments in information technology have radically changed our roles. Adaptability and being open to change are important attributes in the library environment. It is important to understand the needs of the information user and the role of libraries in view of these developments.

I am currently a committee member on a number of Library and Information committees. Making connections and building enduring, mutually beneficial associations are also crucial.


Use and Perceptions of E-books by Academic Staff in Further Education: The Journal of Academic Librarianship, Volume 40, Issue 5, September 2014, Pages 492-499



Geraldine O Beirn

QUB G O Beirn

I am e-resources librarian at Queen’s University Belfast, based in the McClay Library.  I hold a BA (Hons), MSc (Econ) Information and Library Studies and I recently graduated with an MSc E-Learning: Interactive Teaching Technologies.

My current role is to ensure that electronic subscription content and database resources are set up appropriately for access by users. A major part of my role is to manage the electronic resource management (ERM) system, knowledge base of resources, the openURL resolver and the resource discovery platform. As well as this, I ensure authentication to resources using Shibboleth, EZProxy and username/password is maintained. I also coordinate the collection, collation and analysis of usage data about electronic resources using a variety of systems.

In addition to this, and in collaboration with the eresources team, I trouble-shoot any queries received and work is ongoing with the Library Systems Service Desk throughout the year to provide advice, information and assistance to students, academic and support staff where difficulty is encountered using eresources.

I also support any new developments and implement proprietary systems, providing advice and guidance relating to future developments to other user groups. A major responsibility this year has been the selection and customized implementation of the EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS) as the preferred discovery service solution for Queen’s University Belfast.

My professional research interests lie in the user experience and how emerging technologies can be used to develop and enhance library support services for users. As part of my MSc E-Learning course I undertook a usability study on the EBSCO Discovery Service which comprised of a task-based observation and post-observation interviews with undergraduate students.

This year my continuing professional development has been enhanced by the successful completion of ITIL Foundation course and joining the newly founded EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS) Steering Group.

Heather Anderson

Assistant Librarian for Metadata and Acquisitions
University of Ulster

I completed a BA in Combined Humanities at the Ulster Polytechnic where French and Geography were my chosen subjects.  Later in life I attended the University of Wales, Aberystwyth and studied part-time for a Masters in Information and Library Studies.  I graduated in 2007 and then subsequently became a Chartered member of CILIP in 2012.

Libraries were not where I had ever envisaged myself working, but after graduating from the Ulster Polytechnic I was desperately looking for a job and applying for many jobs in many different sectors.  Quite by chance, a library job came up at the University of Ulster, near where I lived.  I applied and have now worked at the University of Ulster since 1988, starting out as an Information Assistant working both at the Issue Desk and in Resource Management.  In 2009, I became a Senior Information Assistant in the Cataloguing section overseeing a small team of staff.

Between September 2006 and December 2012 in addition to my daytime post I also worked part-time in the evenings and weekends as an Assistant Librarian in charge of the Issue Desk.  This was my first step onto the professional ladder and being the most senior person in charge out of core hours was certainly, at times, a steep learning curve!  Accidents, floods, systems failures, power failures, noisy users, international and distance learners, accident reporting  and broken fixtures and fittings were all just an everyday part of the job.

I was appointed to the full-time post of Assistant Librarian for Metadata and Acquisitions at the University of Ulster in November 2012. I have a large staff across three campuses and responsibilities for stock purchase (print, NBM and e-books) and withdrawal, staff training, health and safety, office procedures and workflows, budgets and allocations, new technologies and upgrades based around our LMS, software and EDI developments, reading lists, cataloguing rules and regulations, and new standards such as RDA.  I regularly gather and produce statistics for in-house purposes and also annually for outside bodies such as Sconul.

I am the academic representative for the University of Ulster on the CILIP Ireland Committee where I have served as Treasurer for approximately 4 years.  I had previously served as a committee member and Web Editor for the Career Development Group Northern Ireland, a CILIP Special Interest Group, for about 5 years.  I also sit on the Acquisitions Group Ireland which is an active group of librarians from both public and private sectors, in Ireland and Northern Ireland, who are interested in acquisitions.