Annual Winter Networking Morning – recap

We held our Winter Networking event this past Friday, November 30, at the University of Limerick’s Glucksman Library, mashing up with the inaugural Library Ireland Week.

The main event was to be able to check out the Glucksman’s fabulous new wing and its chief new technology: the ARC, a high tech book storage and retrieval system.

A very good crowd gathered over the 10-11 o’clock hour to meet and greet one another with coffees and pastries. Plenty of folks from Clare, Limerick, Galway and around, chatting in the new building’s bright foyer area.

At 11 WRSLAI’s own treasurer, Michelle Breen, introduced the day. The overall group was divided into Greens and Blues, and then taken on an hour-long spin around the new facilities by gracious members of UL’s staff.

Michelle introduces the event

Plenty of ooh’s and ah’s were to be heard at the new facilities. The new building features a diversity of tech-enabled group work and study areas in particular, as well as group work booths loaded up with screens. Individual study areas have not been neglected, with gorgeous high-ceiling’ed rooms denoting the gravitas of higher level education, yet still by means of a bright, welcoming space.

The highlight of the tour, of course, was the ARC – or Automated Reserve Collection – facility itself. The ARC is a solution to how to store lesser used, but still useful, books, on-site, rather than at expensive, time-consuming off-site locations. The ARC essentially consists of a giant mechanical arm that, on command, sweeps up to retrieve an item from where it’s located in two massive walls of storage space around it.

The ARC in action


Everyone was quite impressed and wanted to find out more, making the talk at noon by UL’s Louise O’Shea very timely. Louise filled in the blanks for us in terms of how the ARC at UL came to be. While common in the US, where it is known as an ASRS (Automated Storage and Retrieval System), there have been no such systems implemented in Europe. Louise took us through the challenges of moving collections to the new facility, integrating the ARC with UL’s Alma library system, and ongoing work including life cycle maintenance of ARC and auditing processes.

Touring UL’s new spaces

The audience had questions, including whether there isn’t something lost here in terms of good old browseability. The response was that, in fact, with lesser-used materials taken out, that there is quite a bit gained in terms of users being able to find items that they are actually interested in — a user-focused outcome, in fact, in good keeping with the new library wing overall.

Thanks to everyone involved in organising the event, and especially to UL for hosting.

WRSLAI’s next event will be our AGM, at a time and place yet to be announced soon after the New Year.


#winterwest18  #LIW2018


Annual Winter Networking Morning #winterwest18

WRSLAI winter networking(1)


The Western Region Section of the Library Association of Ireland is pleased to announce that is is holding its annual winter networking morning in the lovely campus of the University of Limerick on Friday the 30th November.

There will be a chance to network over tea coffee and pastries from 10am.

To celebrate Library Ireland Week, the Glucksman Library is inviting the staff of local libraries to visit and tour their new library on the same morning.

LIW2018 event at UL

The event will begin with a chance to catch up with library colleagues and will be followed by a library tour and a presentation about the ARC, UL’s new automated storage and retrieval system.

The event is free to attend but registration is required

Please follow this link to register:



WRSLAI annual seminar #libwest18: wrap-up

The Western Regional Section of the LAI held their annual seminar in the inspiring surroundings of the Church Gallery at the Ballinasloe Library on Monday, June 11, 2018. Our theme this year was Challenging Times, and to paraphrase one of our final speakers, the day saw an exploration of how people have grappled with Challenges ranging those affecting half the global population to those affecting small cohorts of library staff. No matter the context, grit, determination, imagination and collaboration have been key to keeping on keeping on.



Capably MC’d by the WRSLAI’s own Stephanie Ronan and Michelle Breen, the seminar was opened by Catherine Gallagher, Galway City and County Librarian. Catherine focused our attention on the seminar’s theme, Challenging Times, reminding us that there really are no other times — whether they be times of having too much or having too little. Capacity, resources, expectations, all need to be managed, and this is challenging at any time. Catherine’s examples of positive developments in libraries included the recent success of the fully national distribution system among Ireland’s public libraries. Users have really taken to this, with 2 million items moved; yet the challenge of

pulling in new users to this amazing country-wide resource continues.


Our keynote speaker for the day was Dr. Micheline Sheehy Skeffington, here with us to talk about her grandparents, Hanna and Francis Sheehy Skeffington, and their role in the fight for women’s suffrage in Ireland as well as for Irish independence. Micheline traced the political roots and development of both Frances and Hanna,

WRSLAI Sum Sheehy Skeff person
Dr. Michelle Sheehy Skeffington / Image by Michelle Breen

from the political play of their childhoods, to the political signification of taking one another’s last names, all the way to the ways that Francis became engaged with the Irish independence movement — only to be murdered in the aftermath of the 1916 Rising. Dr. Sheehy Skeffington’s talk then shifted towards Hannah’s subsequent tour of the United States, undertaken as a means, in part, of pushing for a full inquiry into Francis’ death; and then her return to Ireland the continuation of her support for women’s equality in the context of the early years of the Irish Republic.


Dr. Sheehy Skeffington was followed by a fascinated talk by Dr John Bosco Conama who talked about the struggle for getting Irish Sign Language to become an official language of Ireland, focusing in particular on the progress represented by the Irish Sign Language Bill of 2016 — but also on the limitations of the Act. Dr. Conama began the talk by noting how much has changed in terms of attitudes towards deafness since he was a child — when it was recommended to his parents that he not learn sign language at all. The Act marks a certain level of recognition for the need to support people using Irish Sign Language. Yet he noted many of the limits indexed by the language of the Act, including ambiguities on who constitute the

WRSLAI Sum Conama
Dr. John Bosco Conama / image by Michelle Breen

 public bodies that are to provide ISL with free interpretation when accessing services — does this include libraries (the audience, when queried, wasn’t entirely sure!)?


The next section of the day involved three short talks, starting with an excellent look at the challenges of pre-employment in the information procession, by MLIS student Colleen Ballard. The key message from Colleen was the importance of being engaged in the field of libraries and information right from entry into the MLS programme, and can start with thinking through one’s personal brand — not something we’re all comfortable with, but an essential skill in a competitive job market! Opportunities to engage in workshops, conferences and similar are plentiful, so one has to be choosy about which pack the most career punch, in fact! And social media has certainly proven to be no fad — “don’t underestimate the power of a Like!” is a good quote to keep in mind from Colleen.


Rita McCarthy from Clare County Library Service followed, with a very interesting talk on setting up a Library podcast. Pitching something like this itself is a challenge itself, but Rita found support from Cora Gunther, county librarian, for the idea. Particular challenges in the production process included conducting interviews and having to troubleshoot in cases of technological failure. The first few episodes are nearing launch on the website, so stay tuned!


The morning wrapped up with a talk by Gwen Ryan about some of her work as acting School Librarian at Shannon College of Hotel Management, NUI Galway. Her work there included managing information through a flurry of staffing changes. Her challenge: how to go through these changes without losing valuable organisational and cultural knowledge? Gwen’s talk took us through her use of a wiki to keep track of knowledge, used via the mediation of Nonaka and Takeuchi’s theory on the interplay of tacit and explicit knowledge in knowledge creation in organisations.


Gwen’s talk was accompanied by an excellent poster, which was joined by further material that delegates were able to peruse over coffee and at lunch. These were some very interesting historical images of the Sheehy Skeffingtons, as well as a poster about the recently completed Rudai 23 CPD project that was put on by WRSLAI; the poster recently won runner-up prize in a poster competition at CONUL 2018.


WRSLAI Sum Building
The seminar was held at the lovely gallery in the Ballinasloe Library. Many thanks to Una and everyone at Ballinasloe! / Image by Michelle Breen


The afternoon got underway after an absolutely fabulous lunch catered by Karibas. Check out the scrumptious below; very social media-worthy, and indeed you can see further yummy glory at the day’s hashtag on Twitter, #libwest18.


The afternoon featured four speakers from libraries across the West, spanning public, special and academic libraries. Carolyn Tunney of Roscommon County Council got us under way with an excellent talk about the Work Matters programme. Carolyn described the ins and outs of this programme, designed to inform the public of resources available to them through the public libraries in a new way, particularly as they pertain to employment issues.


Niamh O’Donovan, of Galway County Libraries, took over from Carolyn with a talk about the Right to Read campaign being delivered by Irish Public Libraries. The campaign addresses the particular challenge of Ireland ranking peculiarly low on literacy scores among peer countries globally. Niamh described how the campaign has successfully pulled together pre-existing programming, networks, and stakeholders to present a coherent programme that has been popular with the public.


Overall, these two talks together were a great reminder of the rich resources and services available from our public libraries.


WRSLAI summer 2018 lunch
Super yummy lunch anyone? Deliciousness from Karibas. / Image by Michelle Breen

The afternoon next turned to the topic of GDPR, which has presented diverse challenges to many people, including librarians. Stephanie took us through a whistle-stop tour of the basics, including the principles underlying data protection generally, and bouncing in particular off some excellent support resources that have been put together by CILIP in the UK.


The seminar wrapped up with a talk from Maura Stephens and Kathryn Briggs. Maura and Kathryn talked about the recent implementation of the Koha Open Source Library Management System at GMIT Library. Maura began with challenges to the implementation from the standpoint of the project’s manager. Kathryn took over to talk about some of the more technical challenges of its implementation. It was very interesting to hear about the reasons for choosing an open source solution at GMIT, and how Koha works with the diverse systems and services there.


Kathryn and Maura from GMIT, all set for their talk! / Image by Michelle Breen

An engaging day as always to take the west of Ireland’s library community into summer, thanks to everyone who came, spoke, and helped organise, well done!

WRSLAI annual seminar 2018: Getting to Ballinasloe Library

We’re really delighted to be holding our annual seminar at the Ballinasloe Library this year. The library building was officially opened only back in 2016, so it is quite new! If you haven’t had a chance to visit yet, this is a great opportunity. Register for the seminar here:

Here’s where Ballinasloe Library is on Google Maps:


And here are directions to Ballinasloe Library

From Dublin or East


0735 from Heuston arrives 0919

Walk from Ballinasloe train station to junction of station road (R358) with Sarsfield road (R348) turn left and walk passing swimming pool, Barretts Hardware and Supermacs. The library is next on your left. Walk 15 minutes.

Bus (Bus Eireann)

0630 from bus Áras arrives 0923 Route 20

Bus Stop is Dunlo Street. Walk towards Main Street away follow road around corner walk for 10 mins library is on right across the road.


Take M6 to Ballinasloe West exit 15

Follow signs for town centre. Follow R355 through two roundabouts join the R446 pass Portiuncula Hospital. Take third left (L4604) Harris Road at next junction (Supermac’s directly in front) turn left. Library on immediate left.


From Galway or West


0730 Galway Ceannt arrives 0815

0930 Galway Ceannt arrives 1012

Walk from Ballinasloe train station to junction of station road (R358) with Sarsfield road (R348) turn left and walk passing swimming pool, Barretts Hardware and Supermacs. The library is next on your left. Walk 15 minutes.

Bus (Bus Eireann)

0730 from Galway City arrives 0837 Route 20

0830 from Galway City arrives 0937 Route X20

Bus Stop is Dunlo Street. Walk towards Main Street away follow road around corner walk for 10 mins library is on right across the road.


Take M6 to Ballinasloe West exit 15

Follow signs for town centre. Follow R355 through two roundabouts join the R446 pass Portiuncula Hospital. Take third left (L4604) Harris Road at next junction (Supermac’s directly in front) turn left. Library on immediate left.


Links for public transport



Fair green large car park across from the library 50c for 2 hours.

On street parking outside library 50c for 2 hours.


Annual seminar 2018: Registration now open



The Western Regional Section is pleased to announce that registration is now open for their annual seminar. The theme this year is Challenging Times, and the event will be held at the Ballinasloe Library on Monday June 11.

Dr. Micheline Sheehy Skeffington will be our keynote this year, speaking about her grandparents Hanna and Francis and the drive for the women’s vote in an Independent Ireland. Dr. John Bosco Conama will be visiting from Trinity College Dublin, talking about the challenges of making Irish Sign Language an official language. And we’ll have a clutch of librarians from public, third-level and special libraries from around the west of Ireland speaking on diverse challenges from those presented by GDPR, to workplace cultural knowledge transfer, to pre-employment challenges, and more.

Registration fees are 60 euro or 40 euro for student/unwaged/retired. Registration at the following link, where you can also see the full seminar schedule.

Call for papers – #libwest18



The Western Region Section of the Library Association of Ireland is pleased to announce that our annual seminar will be held on the 11th  June 2018 in Ballinasloe Library.

Our Title this year is CHALLENGING TIMES.

2018 is a year of celebrations, commemorations and anniversaries and challenges still to overcome. It’s the year of data and privacy including GDPR and its implications for our work. It marks a hundred years of women getting the right to vote. It’s the year sign language was finally officially recognised as a language. It’s the year of Irish. It’s the year the Region of Galway Gastronomy is launched. To name just a few.

We look forward to hearing your views on Challenging Times in your workplace, and receiving your proposals

We are accepting submissions for 10 minute lightening talks, or 20-30 minute presentations. We also welcome poster submissions.

Please keep proposals to 300 words max and they should be emailed to with an outline of the proposed talk and a brief biography of the speaker.

The deadline for submissions is the 11th May 2018.

Further details will be posted on our blog

Feel free to contact us via email or on social media through the blog  or on twitter @wrslai

Annual General Meeting 2018

The Western Region Section of the Library Association of Ireland will be holding our Annual General Meeting in Ballybane Public Library, Castlepark Road, Galway on Monday 29th of January 2018. The meeting will be held from 11 am.

The last year was a busy and innovative year for the group with well attended events, a seminar and  the organising and running of the second iteration of their successful and important Rudai23 MOOC.

We look forward to another busy year in 2018. If you would like to join our team, or would like to contribute ideas for networking events please join us on Monday.

If you are interested in joining the committee, would like more information about the WRSLAI and its activities, or attend the meeting please contact us through our email :



AGM poster 18

Event: Technology Enhanced Learning Seminar, University of Limerick

The University of Limerick would like to invite you to a free seminar on 29 November 2017. This seminar is about technology-enhanced learning and innovations in CPD and might of interest to managers, learners or those interested in the digital skills being taught through programmes such as Rudaí 23 and the 12Apps.

The seminar will feature Chris Rowell, Academic Developer in Digital Enhanced Learning from London South Bank University who will discuss the 12 Apps of Christmas model which he created while at Regent’s University, London. Also speaking will be Michelle Breen, Academic Librarian in University of Limerick.

Michelle Breen is both a content creator and moderator of an online, skills-building programme called Rudaí 23. The course name translates as 23 Things and is based on the 23 Things model that was originally designed in the US in 2006  Rudaí 23 was first run in Ireland’s libraries in 2015 by the Western Regional Section of the LAI (Library Association of Ireland) and was updated and modified to include Open Digital Badges in 2017.

The free Rudaí23 course has participants from across Higher Education, libraries and the wider community and is a valuable CPD model in that it offers accredited learning at a pace that fits in to people’s busy lives.

This free seminar takes place at UL on Wednesday November 29th at 11am in the ITD Video Studio and you can book your place here

Winter Networking Morning #winterwest17


Ballybane Library in Galway City hosted the Western Regional Section of the LAI’s annual winter networking event, on the morning of November 20. The event was lively and very well attended and featured the launch of the online learning programme Rudai 23.

WRSLAI Chairperson Stephanie Ronan welcomed the group and then jumped right into a discussion with Rudai 23 participants Siobhan Carroll and Maud Conry, both Library Assistants from NUI Galway. Siobhan and Maud recently completed the Visual Communicator Badge, the first of a sequence of five available via the Rudai 23 CPD project (this is Rudai 23’s second iteration). Participants were awarded a badge after completing a sequence of ‘Things’, or online lessons that focus primarily on useful online tools and technologies, and writing up a reflective post about their experience in doing so.


Siobhan and Maud talked about the blogs that they created for the project. Siobhan started off by talking us through her blog, which she created as part of the first of Rudai 23’s ‘Things’. Called Art and Art History (at, the blog is intended as a showcase for Siobhan’s interest in art and art history, and began with a post about a recent Vermeer exhibition. Siobhan has since detoured into talking about the images, videos and more that she has created as she has gone through the Rudai 23 Things. She noted that her favourite tools so far have been Powtoon and Screencast-o-matic. Here is the Powtoon Siobhan made

Maud then told us about her experience in getting the Badge. She noted that, while Siobhan had had a certain amount of experience with a few of the apps used, she was coming at them completely new. She did find the pace of the Things somewhat challenging, but kept focused, and wound up enjoying it. She particularly enjoyed Photofunia, and everyone in the audience quite liked the photo she made with that (see it here scroll down about halfway). Maud’s blog, about movies, is available at


Niamh O’Donovan, Rudai 23 project manager, then took us through the ins and outs of digital badging, and what approach the Rudai 23 team have taken with them. Niamh described digital badges as an online method of validating and awarding achievements in education. The key word with badges is ‘open,’ that is, they are created by means of an open standard, and anyone can create and award them. What’s important is that the criteria for being awarded a badge is attached as metadata to the badge, as well as links to evidence of work completed. These are what make the badge valuable, helping them to demonstrate the gaining of a particular skill.

Niamh noted that the badges approach was taken after feedback from the first iteration of Rudai 23, after which participants said that it was tough trying to get through 23 Things to get their certification. The badges help break the course down into parts that participants can pick and choose among. Niamh also took us through the process of deciding on a badge provider (Mozilla’s Open Badges), getting funding to pay for them (many thanks to the LAI), and designing the badges (via tools like Canva, DesignApp, and IconsDB).


The final segment of the morning was an excellent workshop by Michelle Breen from the University of Limerick. Michelle came prepared to help everyone create a social media strategy, working from her own experience in doing so after having taken a course about it. With a structured brainstorming worksheet, Michelle asked us to think about specific audience segments that we would want to reach with social media, what social media platforms those specific audiences tend to use, and what kind of messages or content they would be interested in engaging with.

A lively discussion ensued throughout the exercise, with plenty of sharing of experiences from people coming from different library sectors. Michelle offered potential solutions to people concerned about a lack of support from different levels of management. She also answered questions such as how to keep up with content on platforms that are very popular with younger users, in particular — Snapchat being the central example — but where the content itself is ephemeral, i.e. disappears after no more than 24 hours! A great deal was learned from Michelle’s advice and by the experiences of different people in the audience. Watch out for the UL Library’s Elf on the Shelf social media campaign, coming up in advance of Christmas!

Plenty of food for thought from librarian colleagues across the west of Ireland to chew on as we get set for the chilly season. The WRSLAI’s next event will be its Annual General Meeting, in the New Year.

Happy holidays everyone!

Kristopher Meen, Academic Librarian, NUI Galway.

WRSLAI Winter Networking Morning

This year we are celebrating the launch of the second run of our online learning programme Rudai 23. This will be an opportunity to meet fellow Rudai 23 participants if you are participating in the course, or learn more about the course if you are interested in signing up.

We are also delighted to be the first Library Association of Ireland Section to be awarding Digital Open Badges for CPD activities. Digital Open Badges is a new and emerging field and you can learn more about their use from our Secretary and Rudai 23 Manager Niamh O’Donovan.

Also, if you’ve ever thought about putting together a Social Media Strategy for your workplace then you can learn more about what is involved from our Treasurer Michelle Breen. Michelle will share her experiences of putting together a Social Media Strategy for the Glucksman Library in University of Limerick.

Our networking events are a good way to meet other people in the information profession based in the West of Ireland. You will always receive a warm welcome, some good coffee and refreshments and come away inspired with new ideas and new connections.

This event is free. Please book your place via this link.