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

LinkedIn https://uk.linkedin.com/pub/elaine-mulholland/21/804/937



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.

Liz Glenn

My name is Liz Glenn and I am Library Manager at Belfast Metropolitan College.  I manage the library service at Belfast Met across four campuses and with an approximate enrolment of over 35,000 students.  The mission statement for the College is “Putting the learner at the centre of everything we do”, and my role is to ensure we support our learners to achieve and become confident library users.

Librarianship is the family business; my mother was a library assistant at Holywood library (NI).  My mother loved her job – she loved encouraging and developing readers; from the little old lady who moved on to novels from Mills and Boons to the child she introduced to C S Lewis.  I would visit her in work after school in the old gas station that was the library in Holywood at that time.  She saw libraries as a vital part of the community and her enthusiasm rubbed off on me.

I studied Librarianship and English at Queen’s University, taking a module in what used to be called Adult Literacy.  After university I worked in public libraries and eventually got a job with the Schools and FE library service at the South Eastern Education and Library Board.  I developed my interest in how libraries can support education by working in a large school in London and eventually returning to work in FE Colleges in Belfast.

Further Education is incredibly varied. We support learners from school age to retirement age and qualifications from Essential Skills to post-graduate therefore our support has to be as flexible as their learning.

Last year we implemented a new library management system, Koha , and we have been working through ’teething’ problems and are now developing it to support learners inside and outside the college. I am lucky to work with a very talented and innovative team and it is exciting to see new ideas and plans coming together to create an outstanding service.

The physical services, including books, IT and printing access, we provide also need to reflect the changing needs of our learners in Belfast. Currently we are closing one campus library and putting plans together to develop another.  One day I may be packing books and another discussing plans for refurbishment.

I think the key skills needed for today’s information and library professional are adaptability and a willingness to learn new skills.  Good IT skills are increasingly important. Strong communication skills are vital in all library work but particularly so in Further Education. We deliver induction and user education sessions to the majority of our learners and every induction is tailored to the needs of the class.

What advice would I give to anyone considering a career in information management? Be flexible and willing to learn new skills – libraries are going through a period of rapid change and the libraries of the future will deliver support in many different ways. It is still about supporting the library user and developing them into confident information users and that will not change.

Colleen Tierney

Oakgrove Library books

I am currently a school librarian at Oakgrove Integrated College in Derry.  I have been in the role for four years and I really enjoy my employment.  I first got into the Information and Library profession by working in the public libraries as a library assistant.  I worked there for two years before taking a career break to go travelling on a round-the-world ticket.  When I arrived back home I resumed my library assistant position for a few months before the opportunity arose to work as a librarian in a post-primary school.

I studied at Queens University Belfast and graduated in 2005 with a BA Honours in Social Anthropology.  I am currently studying for a Masters in Library and Information Management at the University of Ulster.  The course is part time and I am in my final year.  It has been a lot of hard work but has been an enjoyable and worthwhile experience.

Embarking on the Masters has been beneficial not only for my own personal development but it has had a positive and valuable impact on my workplace as the skills and knowledge I am learning can be put into practice.

My job can be quite varied and no two days are the same.  The main duties can be divided into two main categories which cover back room administration tasks and visible interactive undertakings with students.  The former includes working with a budget to purchase equipment and materials, ordering new stock and processing new acquisitions.  The latter includes leading class visits, facilitating homework club and supporting students in their studies to name but a few.  What I love most about my job is the variation each day brings and the feeling of satisfaction and pride when students succeed in their goals.

One such area is reading achievement and this can be demonstrated through Accelerated Reader.  It has been introduced into Oakgrove Integrated College and is a project that I am very much involved in.  Accelerated Reader is a computerised program that monitors and manages independent reading and motivates students to read for pleasure.  It assesses the reading level of students, quizzes them on their comprehension after reading a book and provides a variety of reports for teachers

At the beginning of the program students take a test, known as a Star Reading Test that will provide them with a reading range.  Students are encouraged to read books that fall within their range as these books are appropriate to their reading ability.  Once a student has finished their book they take another quiz based on the contents of the book, with the aim of achieving an 85% pass rate and if they succeed they win points.  The aim of Accelerated Reader is to provide a resource base of quizzes that will encourage children to read and accumulate points which in turn may increase their reading skills.  This is a project I co-ordinate and thoroughly enjoy.

Competence in co-ordinating and organising are important skills for library and information professionals to possess.  I feel that desirable attributes also include good communication skills, knowledge in their field and the ability to work well with people.

If anyone feels that they possess these skills then I would recommend a career in library and information management.  It is a fulfilling and worthwhile job.  As the profession is constantly evolving I would recommend joining a professional group or becoming involved in a professional activity.  It is a good way of staying abreast of current issues and trends.  This is something I have just embarked on by recently joining the CILIP Ireland committee.

Liam O’Hare

SRC newry_east

My name is Liam O’Hare. I am currently employed as a Senior Learning Resource Officer in the Southern Regional College (SRC), Newry, Co. Down, Northern Ireland. There are five campuses with libraries and Newry is the largest and busiest of them. There are approximately 1700 full-time and 9400 part-time students based in the Newry Campus. The SRC offers a wide range of courses at FE level and increasingly at HE in partnership with the University of Ulster. I work 18 hours a week as the sole Senior Learning Resource Officer on this site.  I have always enjoyed helping people to find the information that they are seeking and developing a service that makes a significant contribution to their educational attainment.

I spend a great deal of time developing and managing the library’s e-resources. Issues relating to student and teaching staff use of the library also demand a significant input from myself as is management of  four part-time library assistants.

I qualified as a teacher first but decided that librarianship was my preferred profession. I studied for the Diploma in Librarianship at Aberystwyth, Wales and subsequently worked in a public library in Leicester for a year.

I returned to Northern Ireland but was unable to secure a permanent post. I taught for several years before returning to England where I worked as a children’s librarian on Hertfordshire and the London Borough of Merton. I worked as a children’s librarian for three years and I became a Chartered Librarian. Returning to Northern Ireland I worked as a school librarian until my current position where I have worked for the past twelve years.

A library and information professional should always keep to the fore that the  users are the raison d’etre for the service provided and that one should always endeavour to seek ways to develop and improve this service.

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.

Jonathan Moore

Jonathan Moore

As Library Manager at North West Regional College I am responsible for library facilities and resources on our 3 main campuses in Derry/Londonderry, Limavady and Strabane as well as a large open access Learning Resource Centre with 150 PCs and 6 study pods.  Staff wise, there is myself and six Library & Learning Resource assistants, two of whom are “lone-rangers” in Limavady & Strabane.

I see our role as being three-fold:

  • Service provision
  • Education
  • Outreach & engagement

This applies to both our lecturing staff and our students. A tutor who recognises the benefits of library resources will do much of our outreach work for us among their students.  I feel strongly that the start of term is crucial for the library in a college like ours and that a student’s first impression of us is equally so – if a student gets a friendly welcome by knowledgeable Library staff and has their query answered we will probably have a regular library user for the duration of their course.

Much of my time is spent on e-resources – discovering and sourcing them; evaluating them; ordering them; creating access to them; demonstrating them; troubleshooting them; measuring and reporting their usage. This is in complete contrast to when I started in 1996 in the old Limavady College when all our resources were print-based, save for a few CD-ROMs; we used library tickets (2 per student); a card index and there was a grand total of one computer in the library.  This was my first full-time library post having completed a postgrad qualification in Aberystwyth following a History degree at UU.

The technology may have changed but I think the skillset remains the same –

  • enthusiasm
  • people skills
  • knowledge
  • willingness to embrace change

These are the main attributes required as I see it.

We come into contact with a wide variety of different students – from Level 1 courses to Foundation Degree students; from teenagers who have just left school to more mature people who haven’t been in an educational environment for many years; from people who embrace new technologies to those who are wary of them.  This is not always easy and the skills involved should not be under-estimated; however it is undoubtedly this aspect of helping individuals that is the most enjoyable part of the job.

I spend a lot of time collating statistics and reporting to college managers – footfall levels; number of book issues, down to department and course level; usage stats for e-resources i.e. who is using the library and who isn’t and showing that we get value for money from our resources. I also obtain the  views of our students whether by Focus Groups or Comment Cards or other methods and this feedback forms the basis of future planning.

Librarianship is a great career and one which I would heartily recommend.

It is simultaneously traditional and contemporary – when I was studying in Aberystwyth 20 years ago we were sending e-mails and creating web pages before most people had heard of them and recently we were one of the first departments in the college to use iPads.

  • It is simultaneously traditional and contemporary – when I was studying in Aberystwyth 20 years ago we were sending e-mails and creating web pages before most people had heard of them and recently we were one of the first departments in the college to use iPads.
  • It treats everyone the same – access to our resources is available to all our students.
  • Finally, it is the variety of the people I meet and the subjects I help them with which make it enjoyable.