Monday, April 16, 2018

Thing 22: Reflective Practice

Your task for Thing 22: to write a reflective blog post.

I completed tasks for Things 19, 20 and 21 and wrote separate blog posts for each Thing. 
I will use Terry Borton's reflective model (1970), as adapted by Gary Rolfe and colleagues (2001): What? So What? What Next?, as the framework for this Reflective Practice.

Thing 19: Podcasts:
I have almost weekly experience of using one podcast (On Being). I enjoy it. It exposes me to new people, thinkers, thoughts and ways of thinking and viewing things. However I would be more of a podcast consumer and sharer than a creator. Due to the limitations of my technology (my old iPhone) and my limited tech skills and interest in broadcasting my views, I'm unlikely to become a podcaster. I realise this technology could also be used to podcast about library activities and services, but I feel that the time I would spend in learning that skill would be more effectively put towards communicating my library message in other media I'm more capable in (e.g. facebook posts using Canva infographics). I know this is not as multidimensional, only being visual and not aural or personal, but I'm not a multimedia person (yet). I have noticed I'm more aware of podcasts since I did this thing, e.g. an introduction to a short story 'The Swimmer' by John Cheever, in an anthology, the editor referred to a podcast from The New Yorker with Richard Ford discussing the short story 'Reunion' by John Cheever, which added to my enjoyment and understanding of the author. Before doing Rudaí23, I might have ignored that reference. Now I'm glad I didn't. The three free New Yorker podcasts per month might reveal more reading-based material to share with our library facebook followers.

Thing 20: Advocacy
This Thing helped me to 'see the bigger picture' a bit better. I confess it is a picture I do not gaze on sufficiently. I tend to be a more micro-focused person than macro-oriented. I have had negative feedback in the past that "so-and-so sees the bigger picture" (the subtext being that I don't). However I felt like pleading, "well show me the bigger picture!", but I know that's a bit pathetic, like asking for the Book of Revelations. However the national and international advocacy examples given by LAI, CILIP and ALA in this Thing helped me to see the bigger picture. I blush to say that although I am very familiar with the strategies referred to in this Thing and in my task on this Thing (Opportunities for All, Right to Read, Work Matters etc.), I read them more as interview preparation documents or buzzword checklists than actual blueprints for a working library plans. How cynical does that sound! (Though honestly there is a lot of bumph in them too!) Somehow this Thing helped me to view them differently, particularly when I had to consider them from my own personal work perspective, applying them in the task for this thing. Doing that task helped me put that bigger picture into my small local frame, or vice versa helped me put my small, local frame within the perspective of that bigger picture. I found the ALA Frontline Advocacy Plan particularly useful and practical and I will use that myself and give it to my staff to use on future projects. 

Thing 21: Professional Groups/Organisations
This Thing helped me to see not only the value of national and international professional groups like the LAI and ALA to me professionally, but also to the library profession as a whole, in Ireland, US and throughout the world. The Online Networker section of this Rudaí23 pricked my conscience into posting my LAI membership form. This Thing showed me not only the benefits of membership for me, the "what's in it for me", but more importantly what's in it for libraries, and library users and society. I'm reminded of JFK's quote "ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country." The professional and societal benefits of contributing to the work of professional groups in raising the profile of the profession, and contributing towards service development and innovation are obvious. The benefits of CPD such as this Rudaí23 is also obvious, in that it has made me think about all these things. The ALA's CPLA Chartered Public Library Administrator Program is something I should and will definitely consider for my future CPD, and would love to see an Irish version available in future, especially when I consider the half-life of my MLIS means it is now obsolete! The way forward is life long micro-learning in professional groups.


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Thing 21: Professional Groups / Organisations

1. Learn more about the roles, activities and benefits of individual professional bodies by searching some of the links listed in this module. Write a paragraph in your blog on what you learned and how you can apply it to your situation.

I joined the Library Association of Ireland (LAI) in the fairly distant past, but my membership didn't automatically renew. Maybe I sent a one-off cheque for annual membership, rather than filling in an annual direct debit, I don't remember, but I guess that the LAI is short-staffed in their membership / accounts section, so I was never contacted about it. Reminded by this Rudaí23 course, I posted my membership application form for this year. All quiet so far. I am not criticising, because I know it is a voluntary organisation, and I'm also not volunteering to help (yet!). However, I often get the impression of short-staffing and out of date information and links not working on the LAI website. I used to get copies of An Leabharlann regularly by e-mail, but haven't received one in a very long time, and only saw the recent issue through a link on this Rudaí23 course. It was of a high standard, and worthwhile, but I would not have been aware of it it without Rudaí23.

By contrast I joined the American Library Association  (ALA) on LinkedIn [free to join], and I get their monthly 'Library Worklife' newsletter each month by e-mail. It is an excellent newsletter (albeit with a very US focus) and I read it each month and always find something interesting and useful. It always has a good HR section, which I find useful as I am managing a team. Articles in the April issue, that I read and found relevant were "How to be a good boss when your team is understaffed", and "Give employees time and permission to be well" about wellbeing and productivity. Neither article were written by the ALA, they were linked to other online content, from and respectively. This shows the handiness of using content from other sources. The LAI would not always have write all the content from scratch for their newsletters if they used this method. I appreciate the greater value of original content researched and written by Irish librarians that An Leabharlann provides, but in emphasising quality over quantity it may be losing connection with members and not seem up-to-date.

The ALA April newsletter featured a Spotlight article on a medical librarian "Just Dive in and Learn! An Interview with Aidy Weeks by Caitlin Williams". source:
It referred to a Deloitte report about the half-life of a learned skill. "They said that the half-life of a learned skill is five years. The skill you learned 10 years ago is obsolete, and the skill you learned five years ago is irrelevant." Yikes! It's 10 years almost since I started my MLIS, which means anything I learned then is obsolete!! The interview referred to "micro-learning, short, self-paced and accessible learning modules in the form of video tutorials, apps, and online courses." This is what I have pursued recently with Universal Course, FutureLearn and Rudaí 23, and what I hope to pursue. Other micro-learning organisations they mentioned were, Udacity and Coursera.
More valuable still, they referred to their CPLA Chartered Public Library Administrator Program This appears to be a valuable course for supervisors in Public Libraries. The topics highlighted in this issue and starting in May 2018 are "Current issues in Public Libraries Management" and "Planning and Management of Buildings", both very relevant. The costs are considerable, but the course can be spread out over 5 years.

Estimate of Fees
ALA Member
Non-ALA Member
Application Fee
Courses, 7 @ ~$350 (ALA member) or $450 (non-member)
Course Completion Reviews, 7 @ $60 (ALA member) or $75 (non-member)
Final Review/Certification $75 (ALA member) or $100(non-member)

I might consider it for future, or maybe the LAI might consider offering an Irish-focused version in future.
But first thing first, complete this Rudaí23 course before its half-life starts to tick down on me!


Thing 20: Advocacy

Exercise 1: Name three detrimental effects to a local community when a public library is closed.
  1. Loss of a public community space, one that is open to all, free to all and somewhere where anyone can meet and participate within the community
  2. Loss of free recreational and educational amenity, resources and services, including loss of library staff expertise
  3. Impoverishment of the community in terms of free public services, facilities and spaces

Exercise 2: Find a Library Strategic Plan in Ireland or beyond for a library of any size.  Identify three ways in which the strategic plan also advocates for the Library Service.
New Public Library Strategy 2018-2022 [Ireland]: source : (not published yet 14/4/18)
  1. Advocating for investment in library infrastructure (buildings, mobile libraries and IT) and expanded services (Open Libraries) in the Library Capital Investment Programme for the period 2016-2021
  2. Advocating for library impact on quality of life: "As a result of ongoing investment in the public library service, quality of life is being is being improved and new opportunities for education, life-long learning, leisure  and personal  development  have  been developed  through enhanced  multimedia  and ICT services."
  3. Advocating for national public library development programmes: Right to Read literacy and reading programme; Work  Matters  programme  of  services  for  business  and employment; Healthy Ireland at Your Library initiative providing health information; Libraries Ireland national public library catalogue and nationwide delivery service –  the first such national service anywhere in the world
Exercise 3: Name three ways in which you can demonstrate the impact and value of the library service that you work in or use.
  1. Highlight services, achievements and positive feedback in social media
  2. Report positively on library activities in monthly and annual reports
  3. Gather useful, convincing quantitative and qualitative data and images that demonstrate impact and value to present informally to stakeholders (councillors, directors, members of the public, press etc.) and formally in reports.
Exercise 4: Identify three key people (name their role) outside of the library in the wider organisation/community that you need to network with in order to advance the development of the Library Service.
  1. Within County Council, outside libraries: Municipal District Manager, Director of Services, Chief Executive, Councillors
  2. Local Media: newspapers editor / journalists / photographers and local websites and prominent local social media sites
  3. Local Education stakeholders - school principals, teachers, tutors, parents associations in preschool, primary, secondary , post leaving certificate, adult education, WWETB, training organisations etc.
  4. Local community organisations (Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise Centre, Tidy Towns, Active Retired / Retired Teachers, Mens Sheds, Parish/Church based communities etc.)

Exercise 5: Write down in 200 words or less an idea for Library Ireland Week for a library you work in.
Wexford public libraries run a yearly Summer Reading Challenge for children. It encourages all young readers, particularly focusing on reluctant readers, to read minimum 6 books. I ran a Club Leabhar Gaeilge previously, and noticed the improvement in confidence after reaching the milestone of reading 6 books proving you can read and enjoy it.
I’d like to establish a 6 book challenge for adults.
I’d offer this to refugees to improve their English language skills and cultural understanding, and local people who are non readers or reluctant readers or not active library members. Gorey Library shares a building with the Gorey Municipal District offices. At weekly housing clinics, people wait in the foyer outside the library. A newly installed ticketing queuing system will display in the library. People can wait in the library, hopefully join the library, and use library services (public internet PCs or wifi, read newspapers, magazines, books in paper or electronic versions). They could join the 6-book challenge, and potentially pair up with refugees. I need to consider how to do this sensitively and how it might be received by both parties. It is an opportunity for mutual learning and understanding beyond literacy.
Examples :

Exercise 6: In your opinion what are the three best features of the My Library, My Right Campaign and why?
  1. It highlights the statutory obligations of local authorities to provide library services
  2. It highlights the public's legal entitlement to receive library services
  3. It encourages the public to proactively pursue their entitlements to good modern library services

Exercise 7: In 200 words or less, describe a new area of librarianship that you are passionate about. How would you go about promoting it within the library that you work in and/or the wider library profession?
Data Analysis and Insight may not be considered a ‘new area of librarianship’, but it is definitely a new and expanding field of information studies.
Libraries hold an enormous amount of data, on our users, their reading habits, our library stock and its usage. However, in the public library I work in, this data is only utilised in the most minimal way to count the number of users, the number of books issued, and the total book stock of the library.
Greater analysis of this data could lead to more efficient purchasing and spending, better stock management, circulation and weeding, better understanding of the reading profiles and preferences of readers, which in turn would feed into more targeted purchasing strategies. It could also highlight gaps in the demographics of users, even looking at reader lifecycle data to identify when we potentially lose readers, and develop strategies and services to try to avoid this fall-off.
I would look at software in the market (e.g Infor v-insight), search international library associations and libraries for information on existing systems, talk to IT librarians about the current capabilities of the national LMS that are being used/underutilised, identify the gaps and areas for potential. Present a proposal for useful data analysis and insight, with costs and benefits to my county librarian, and potentially present it in a poster or talk at a library conference.

Exercise 8: Choose an area of library practice that you feels requires debate.
Dealing with antisocial behaviour in libraries, abuse of library buildings, equipment and stock, violence and aggression toward library staff requires debate. In our focus on customer service and our effort to retain and attract new membership and present a positive image, we may risk air-brushing this issue out of the picture and under the carpet. Public libraries are a reflection of society, and as such the reflection can be negative as well as positive. Neither scaremongering and exaggerating nor ignoring will resolve this issue.

Exercise 9: Open up the ALA Frontline Advocacy Plan. Complete the plan for a real advocacy campaign. Source:
ALA Frontline Advocacy Plan
1.    What is your goal? (What are you trying to accomplish?)
I want Gorey Library to be used by everybody in the Gorey catchment area, in particular every child.

2.    What are your objectives? (Why is it important?)
I want every school child to have a library card and to be an active library user. This is important because it gives them a personal relationship with reading, learning and information that is outside the discipline of the school, so it starts a lifetime habit that is personal to them, based on their own interests and enjoyment.

3.    What are your strategies? (the activities you’ll do to accomplish your goal)
Contact every pre-school, primary school and secondary school in the area personally, arrange library visits with each class, but if they do not accept the invitation to visit the library, then go out to meet them in their school. Invite them to join the library. Prepare a brochure and joining pack outlining the benefits of library use and reading to give to each child to take home to their parents.

4.    What is your message? (15 words or less)
Give children the gift of starting a lifelong journey enjoying books, reading and learning.

5.    What data (or stories) support this message?
“Poor literacy … limits a person’s ability to engage in activities that require either critical thinking or a solid base of literacy and numeracy skills.”
“The Right to Read Campaign looks to complement and support existing programmes and initiatives including Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS) and early childhood strategies, providing continuity and reinforcement outside of formal education, supporting children, parents and adults with low levels of literacy.” Source:
“Libraries and librarians are an important resource in supporting children’s literacy. Through the expert selection and provision of a wide range of books and other materials, libraries can both support the acquisition of literacy skills and help foster children’s love of reading amongst children. … the forging of strong links with local public library services will be an important facet of the literacy and numeracy plans of schools. Public libraries enable families to support their children’s literacy development through the range of resources and information they make available in a free, open and informal setting. While libraries are an excellent resource for all families, they can be of particular assistance to families who find it difficult to meet the cost of providing a rich range of books and educational resources in the home.”
Source: The Department of Education and Skills’ National Literacy and Numeracy Strategy, Literacy and Numeracy for Learning and Life: the national strategy to improve literacy and numeracy among children and young people 2011-2020

6.    Who is your target audience?
Children, Parents, Grandparents, Childminders, Teachers, Principals

7.    Why should they care?
Because of the benefits that the children will gain from active library membership, and enjoyment of reading and improved literacy and general knowledge over their course of their lives. Also active library use will help education professionals to achieve their educational and social goals for their pupils.

8.    How are you going to reach them? What will be your best tools?
Phone calls, personal contact, school visits, library visits, e-mail newsletters to school principals and teachers, e-mail newsletters to parents, texts to parents, social media (Facebook & Twitter) & traditional media (local newspaper, radio & parish newsletters) reports of fun library events, author visits, summer reading challenge, book reviews


Sunday, April 8, 2018

Thing 19: Podcasts

Option 1 – Listen to, subscribe, rate and review a podcast of your choice. This includes subscribing to the podcast through a podcast app (apple or android) rating and reviewing the podcast via the app and then writing a short review of the experience and the podcast on your Rudai23 blog.

A friend recommended a podcast called On Being with Krista Tippett, described on as "The groundbreaking Peabody Award-winning public radio show and podcast. Conversation about the big questions of meaning in 21st century lives and endeavours — spiritual inquiry, science, social innovation, and the arts. Each week a new discovery about the immensity of our lives. Hosted by Krista Tippett."

I downloaded the podcast app to my iPhone in December 2016, and I have been listening to the weekly episodes regularly ever since. I rated the podcast 5* and I wrote a review on it on the iPhone app store. The review hasn't appeared yet, maybe it has to be passed by a moderator first. 

The experience of using the podcast app has been trouble-free, and easy to use. There is also a searchable website associated with the app and a blog.

The podcast itself is excellent and well worth the time spent listening to it. The host Krista Tippett holds a conversation with a different guest speaker or speakers every week. The episodes last approx. 1 hour or less. All the episodes are searchable on the website and app going back to when they started in 2001. The archive offers a great selection. They are always interesting, intelligent, thoughtful speakers and the conversations always make me think about new things, or think about things differently. They very often refer to books or poems or authors, and have often directed me to interesting reading. Because it is American based, it is a little American-centric, but her guests have also included Irish poets John O'Donohue, Michael Longley, and Padraig Ó Tuama, and an Austrian theologian Br. David Steindl-Rast, among many other international contributors.  I would recommend it to anyone interesting in thinking about our world and learning more about "spiritual inquiry, science, social innovation, and the arts". 


Saturday, April 7, 2018

Thing 18: Reflective Practice: Critical Thinking

Task:Write a reflective blog post on the content and tasks from Things 14 - 17.

I wrote blog posts on each of the Things 14, 15, 16, 17, which outline in more detail what I did for each task, and how I reflected on them. 
I summarise all of them here:

In Thing 14 I set up an Evernote account, creating a few notes of library events ideas and a few notebooks of types of library events, allocating notes to the relevant notebooks. My objective is to use Evernote to log all the multiple event ideas I come across, to categorise them into the 10 main programme headings we support in the library (Literature, Heritage, Health & Wellbeing, Environment, Business, Irish Language, IT Literacy, Science, Culture & Arts, Literacy & Children's Services), and plan new, interesting events across all strands to ensure a balanced programme. I also tried Pocket and Remember the Milk, but didn't find them useful or helpful and don't expect to use them again.

In Thing 15 I tried to edit a Wikipedia page with no success, and evaluated a citation I was trying to include using the CRAAP test, which is a simple, memorable evaluation test. This Thing article on Wikipedia was useful because it gave me a contact name (Dr. Rebecca O'Neill), and idea for a potential citizen science / citizen curator type information literacy workshop for adults and/or teens.

In Thing 16 I read about, considered and acted on the recommendations for improving the security of my digital footprint. This was both practical and useful. I also installed Duck Duck Go as my default browser. 

In Thing 17 I considered two future potential projects for preparing presentations that I could share with others on SlideShare. I also considered presenting a poster at the LAI public libraries conference in 2019 and in the Leabharlann journal in the future.

In Thing 18, I enjoyed reading John Cox's article, and it would encourage me to keep a weekly reflective journal. It seems to be a useful practice to review what you have done in a week, or more importantly what the impact of my week's work has been. This is more than the task management effectiveness that tools like Trello might help me with.  
Cox referred to 'doing' too much, and focusing on the urgent rather than the important, which is a pitfall I regularly fall in to. I struggle to maintain focus, and can get distracted and sidetracked very easily, always into 'doing' type tasks that do not have the greatest impact. 
Having spent 7 years managing branch libraries in Co. Wexford, I feel I am now fairly competent in the practical day to day running and operation of branch libraries, and I am very comfortable in the organisation of a full events programme. However, I must focus my efforts and energies on managing my time, myself and our team more effectively for carrying out work with the best impact. First I need to define what that impact is or should be. All our measurables are quantitative transaction statistics (items issued, visitor numbers, internet & wifi sessions, event numbers, attendance numbers). I need to go beyond that to measure and increase the impact of Gorey Library in its community, on individuals, and in groups such as schools. I need to think about and plan how to do that. I also need to prioritise. Given the 10 main programming heading listed above, it is a challenge to balance efforts across all those areas. Also priority is a singular word, and 10 items is not a single priority, and new initiatives are being introduced every year or more often. I have to work in the realms of human possibility and within the human and budget resources I have. I need to work in Covey's Quadrant II, the Quadrant of Quality.
The Urgent Comes First | Leadership Vacuum

This thing has made me reflect on my own work practices more, how I organise, evaluate, and store my information securely online and how I should produce material of a quality that I would be happy to share with others informally online or printed in a professional journal or in person at a professional conference. It has also shown me the value of deadlines and community to force me to stretch myself out of routine library tasks and business into more challenging, and hopefully impactful and rewarding library work.