Newsletter

Well, the library is alive and kicking, books are flying off the shelves and into the arms of the students of Rockford Manor, imaginations are spurred on by the ink on each page as yet another treasure is uncovered, a mystery, a love story, the comedian, the depths of darkness where vampires reign supreme, this my friends is the entry of the greatest affair of life, a thirst for books! Those that examine the art form of a short story have described that it must strive for ‘great riches in a small room.’ That is essentially the wonder of a library the entry point into a vast range of worlds, it is the wardrobe that opens onto Narnia and the Hogwart’s train that transports you into a world of wizards, the world of Twilight, a book that hurtles you into a reality TV show where The Hunger Games reign supreme or if you prefer a backwards look at life, Manga is for you!

World Book Day arrived on the 7st March and Rockford Manor celebrated it in style with the initiative Drop Everything And Read. The basic premise of this initiative is that at a set time, everyone, teachers, students stop what they are doing and read. At 10.15 on Thursday, the corridors were silent, the only sound in the entire school was the sound of pages turning. It was a quiet success. Another Drop and Everything And Read initiative is in the pipelines as it was such a triumph last time with students queuing up to get the prized possession, a book!
For students, The Mighty Pen Creative Writing Hour continues to take place every Wednesday at 3.30pm. It is a free creative writing session, the hour includes writing exercises and prompts to get ideas flowing. It is open to everyone and is suitable for all levels of experience. Whether you’re a poet, playwright, budding novelist or short story writer, we would be delighted for you to come along.
Rockford Manor has opened its doors to esteemed writers. The First Years and LCA took part in a two wonderful writing workshops held by Jane Mitchell on Monday 5th March. Jane has written numerous children’s and teen literature including Chalkline which won the Irish Children’s Choice Award 2009/2010. Jane Mitchell had this to say about the students: “I really enjoyed the workshops and the students were receptive and engaged. I especially enjoyed the creative writing with the LCA students. They showed great imagination and really participated. The time just flew by!.. the girls were really so full of natural creativity and original ideas that it would be wonderful if they could develop their skills in this area a little more.” The students of LCA had this to say about Jane’s workshop: “We had a creative writing class with Jane Mitchell. It was really interesting and good. We learnt a lot of new ways to write a story and have more confidence about writing one now. We learnt to create a good character and bad one . We really enjoyed the class, we had her and hope she will come back again to our school because she gave us a lot of good tips!” Niamh Owen from 1st Years said: “Jane Mitchell is a very talented writer. It only took me two days to finish Chalkline as I was glued to it. I would recommend reading Chalkline!”
Next to knock on the doors of Rockford Manor was Henry Mc Donald. On Friday the 9th of March, the Fifth Years were given a talk on journalism whether it be; feature writing and the new elements of writing such as blogging, Henry shared his enthusiasm for writing. Henry set the 5th Years a challenge of writing a news story in ten minutes dividing the class in tabloid and broadsheets. He was impressed by the standard and gave helpful hints on how to pursue a career in journalism. The 5th Years were miles ahead of most journalism students as they had already utilised their social media skills through Twitter and Facebook. Henry McDonald is the Ireland Correspondent of The Guardian and The Observer.The 5th Years had this to say about Henry’s visit: “We all got the opportunity to improve our writing by taking part in various exercises. All in all, it was a very beneficial and informative experience!”
On Monday the 12th of March, Denise Deegan, author of the Butterfly Novels did an interactive workshop on story writing with the Second Years. Denise talked about what it’s like to be a writer and how she ended up as one. The big question that every budding writer wants to know! She told the students of her journey as a writer and set out brain-storming exercises to really get their imagination flowing. She is now following two of the students on Twitter as they embark on a literary career through blogging.
I would like to end this news bulletin with words of thanks. The library works in close collaboration with Ms Marian Keyes, Senior Librarian in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown, I would like to pay tribute to her outstanding contribution and support throughout the year. I would also like to thank the students whose comradery and infectious enthusiasm fuel this project and make lunchtimes speed by!

 

 

 

 

Final Reflection

Final Reflection
This course has been instrumental to reviewing my own perceptions of management and the processes that belie it.
In Stud Terkel’s book, ‘Working’, he draws on Freud’s infamous saying: “lieben und arbeiten are the two moving impulses of man”.
Freud asseverates that, “his work gives him a secure place a portion of reality, in the human community”. Through the act of blogging this year, it has given me a purpose of placing theories in real contexts and opening up new possibilities that I hope to share as I have reflected in my future career. (Richardson 1995). ‘Narrative displays the goals and intentions of human actors; it makes individuals, cultures, societies, and historical epochs comprehensible as wholes”. Essentially it is the reflective and reflexivity process that we have embarked on through this semester. The reflexivity and reflection process have been the keys to the library doors, where we now students can envision ourselves one day as information professionals.
(Riessman 2002) ‘Narrative analysis focuses on the story itself and seeks to preserve the integrity of personal biographies or a series of events that cannot adequately be understood in terms of their discrete elements. Using this quote, it has been the myriad of articles, case studies and guest speakers who have opened up the domain of the world of information professionals and through it, I find my comrades, fellow students sharing their resources, reflecting, refracting and positioning ourselves in the narrative of library and information.

According to Adorno, where popular music acquires the fetish character of the commodity itself. (Adorno 1978(1932)) ‘Music which employs the regressive or obsolete characteristics of traditional forms and materials accepts its character as a commodity and becomes identical with the tendencies of society, thereby affirming and reflecting them.’ Using his theory and applying it to management, I can honestly say I was Adorno’s ‘shop girl’. I was just a girl who loved books, sought refuge in their words and broadened my horizons as my world opened further with each page that was turned. I now think reflectively, critically about managing and organizations, managing individuals, managing teams and human resources, decision-making processes, the importance of communication, knowledge management and managing change and innovation. Management processes have broadened my thinking process and the readings have been incorporated into reflective practices in my education and hopefully my professional life.
A friend of mine once remarked on a celebrity we were discussing saying: ‘The artist, who can look at the world but live too fast and not look at themselves’. I think we all are guilty of this from time to time but in taking the time to reflect, we enrich and place value on our experiences.
‘Images detached from every aspect of life merge into a common stream, and the former unity of life is lost forever. Apprehended in a partial way, reality unfolds in a new generality as a pseudo-world apart, solely as an object of contemplation’. (Guy Debord 1964)
For Guy Debord, “For the spectacle, as the perfect image of the ruling economic order are nothing and development is all – although the only thing into which the spectacle plans to develop is itself.”
As Debord, if I am interpreting this correctly, we are fed to want these spectacles, so if we appear to accept them, we think that as individuals, we have come to an original premise. Maybe the spectacle is living and breeding in all of us but if we take action reassess and truly engage in reflective and reflexivity practices, maybe we can keep the monster of spectacle at bay and only let him out at Christmas! (Just a thought)
I’m still young and making mistakes.
I can be ignorant.
I can be controversial.
I am still in the process of creating my own image but then so are all of us, it’s a never ending process.
We often dislike flaws, we see in other people that are actually our own attributes.
Reflective practice must take into account, theories and case studies that involve hybridity, contradiction and multiple selves, in other words, complex characteristics, like all of us.
We live in a sound-bite mediated culture where, people increasingly believe mediated personas are caricatures, two dimensional.
We must not become complacent; the people in our society deserve to judged as real actors and contributors.
Many of us have forgotten about society, we only think in terms of economy, we are all commodities. In this management course it has become apparent that if an organization is managed well, people and communication are pivotal to the success of organizations.
Every so often, when one is feeling despondent and dismal, one can begin to just review oneself as yet another commodity but we are so much more.
I will end with a quote from Confucius:
By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest. In the case of this course the experience has been a joy.
Thank you for taking the time to read this to the end.

 

Week 12: Reflecting on reflecting

Plath, Sylvia, 1977. Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams. London: Faber and Faber Limited.

 

Context p.92,93

 

‘The issues of our time which preoccupy me at the moment are the incalculable genetic effects of fallout and a documentary article on the terrifying, mad, omnipotent marriage of big business and the military in America – ‘Juggernaut, The Welfare State’, by Fred J. Cook in a recent Nation. Does this influence the kind of poetry I write ? Yes, but in a sidelong fashion. I am not gifted with the tongue of Jeremiah, though I may be sleepless enough before my vision of the apocalypse. My poems do not turn out to be about Hiroshima, but about a child forming itself finger by finger in the dark. They are not about the terrors of mass extinction, but about the bleakness of the moon over a yew tree in a neighbouring graveyard. Not about the testaments of tortured Algerians, but about the night thoughts of a tired surgeon.

In a sense, these poems are deflections. I do not think they are an escape. For me, the real issues of our time are the issues of every time – the hurt and wonder of loving; making in all its forms – children, loaves of bread, paintings, buildings; and the conservation of life of all people in all places, the jeopardizing of which no abstract doubletalk of ‘peace’ or ‘implacable foes’ can excuse.

I do not think  a ‘headline poetry’ would interest more people any more profoundly than the headlines. And unless the up-to-the-minute poem grows out of something closer to the bone than a general, shifting philanthropy and is, indeed, that unicorn-thing – a real poem, it is in danger of being screwed up as rapidly as the news sheet itself.

The poets I delight in are possessed by their poems as by the rhythms of their own breathing. Their finest poems are born all-of-a-piece, not put together by hand; certain poems in Robert Lowell’s Life Studies, for instance; Theodore Roethke’s greenhouse poems; some of Elizabeth Bishop and a very great deal of Stevie Smith (‘Art is wild as a cat and quite separate from civilisation’).

Surely the great use of poetry is its pleasure – not its influence as religious or political propaganda. Certain poems and lines of poetry seem as solid and miraculous to me as church altars or the coronation of queens must seem to people who revere quite different images. I am not worried that poems reach relatively few people. As it is, they go surprisingly far – among strangers, around the world, even. Farther than the words of a classroom teacher or the prescription of a doctor; if they are very lucky, farther than lifetime.’

 

I believe that what Sylvia said about poetry applys to the reflection process we must engage in to not only manage organization but our minds.

 

 

 

 

Week 11 Evidence-Based Practice and the Practitioner Researcher:

 

Click here to view our information and reference services smoking virtual resource centre

For my artefact, I choose my information and reference services collection group wiki. As a group we were applying the literature on collection development to a real-life situation which in turn deepened my understanding of the theory of collection development. I learned to look at various aspects of collection building and to tailor it for specific user groups. As we decided early on, we would have a virtual resource centre on the subject of smoking. There were so many resources and reference tools available out there but we wanted to have a virtual resource environment that catered for those wanting to quit smoking, academics of all disciplines and for schools to educate younger people. We endeavoured to collate all these resources, Proquest database, several self -help resources like quit.ie and books like Paul McKenna’s, audio and visual reference tools to include our clients that might be a specialised population and cultural resources like “The Cigarette Book: the History and Culture of Smoking” by Chris Harrald and Fletcher Watkins and online reference tools like Merriam-Webster.com as literary quotations could be found on the subject of smoking. The virtual resource centre was to develop and extend our client’s information literacy and give greater context to the subject
I learnt a lot from my Vark Profile results and I discovered that I was a multimodal learner with tendencies towards kinaesthetic and read/write modes of learning. I did a little research on what a kinaesthetic learner was. It turns out that kinaesthetic learner remember things better by actively doing them. We like to move around. We’re good at assembling and making things. Apparently, we’re not too shabby at demonstrating how things work. Now the bad news, the disadvantages of being a kinaesthetic learner are the following; we may sometimes miss instructions if things are explained verbally to us (that’s me!). We can find it hard to concentrate on written tasks while seated (me again!)

The focus was on group work; specifically working effectively in a team and in cooperation with your team members. I learnt that group work isn’t as simple as it sounds, it is not just the end result that is at stake, we are dynamically reflecting and initiating a variety of management skills that feed into communication, coordination and planning. One must have reflected on themselves as well as their team members to provide a cohesive team. For developing this project, our group met regularly from early on in the semester. We discussed the various aspects of the project and divided it into tasks that needed to be accomplished. We set up a wiki and added to the pages as work became finished. Communication involved regular meetings and frequent emails. I was delighted with my team members, Nicola, Aidan and Darragh. If anything the team work brought us together in our academic pursuits and there was huge comradery. I appreciated each team member as I think we all brought something to the table and it made this mammoth of a university, UCD something of a challenge not a burden when you had your team members at your side.

I had never worked on a wiki project before, sometimes the technical limitations proved quite challenging and a lot of time was spent trying to curb its mercurial streak. I’m really looking forward to the open house event and think it will be an exciting opportunity. The other group’s ideas for collections sound fantastic and so engaging. It will be a beautiful night of celebrating librarianship.
As part of my participation, I investigated a frame work for policy of virtual resource environment and found Hoffman and Wood’s book excellent for outlining our policy and it raised issues that I would otherwise have omitted by ignorance. I provided a basic skeleton and the group edited till we were happy with the policy. Another aspect of the collection was my evaluation of the dictionary reference tool, Merriam Webster Online Dictionary which has the fundamental elements when judging a reference tool: Authority, Scope and Purpose, Arrangement, Format and Special Features. I also evaluated two of the books in our collection as well.

Hoffmann, F. and Wood, R.J. (2005). Collection Development Policies: Academic, Public, and Special Libraries (Good Policy, Good Practice). Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press.

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Week 10: Marketing and Communications

Rowley, J. (2003). Information marketing: Seven questions. Library Management, 24(1), 13-19. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/198856804?accountid=14507

Alshare, K. (2011). Business communications skills in information systems curricula perspectives if is educators and students. Journal of Education for Business86(3), 186-194.

Marketing and Branding is essential to library culture if we are to keep libraries afloat. We have customers at multiple levels, vantage points, and spaces from our organisations and primary services. We all have a duty to market our products, services, images and experiences to keep the information world alive and vital for our clients. This week, our readings focused on the importance of marketing, branding and communication in an information environment and reflect them as primary processes to be managed.

I found Alshare’s article fascinating regarding communication skills in students, particularly her query whether there is enough emphasis placed on communication skills in information systems curricula. Her findings were that educators and employers felt that there was a need to reflect and incorporate communication skills and inter-personal skills in third level curricula. These skills like listening, not making assumptions about your clients and communicating well with your clients have been taught to us in information and reference services and while we have the theory, it will only be when we come into practice that we will learn if we have achieved a state that will welcome clients and engage with them, therefore promoting information literacy.

When it comes to branding, I think sometimes information professionals don’t shout loud enough, we’re so used to whispering in our library environment, we forget to sell ourselves. Earlier on in the semester there was a worldwide virtual library conference and we heard Steve Abrahams. He is an incredible man and so inspirational, he inspired us to think like rock stars, bawdy loud-mouthed chefs and tell the world to visit a library and bring a little bit more magic and creativity to our world. It is through opening the first pages of a book, listening to an audio, that we  expand our universe. Knowledge gives us power and as the inn keepers of this knowledge, we must brand it accordingly.

Week 9: Innovation and Change Management

Managing and Organizations: An Introduction to Theory and Practice: Third Edition (2011) by Stewart R Clegg, Martin Kornberger, and Tyrone Pitsis; Sage Publications: UK. Ch. 10

Being an Information Innovator Rowley, Jennifer (2010) Facet Publishing; Chapter 1: innovation and entrepreneurship in information organizations

Olson, J. A. (1999). What academic librarians should know about creative thinking. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 25(5), 383-389. doi: 10.1016/S0099-1333(99)80057-3

In every organisational environment, change is inevitable whether it is planned or in the process of emerging, internal or external, reactive or proactive. Change is one thing you can always count on as a factor in life. What is interesting is how individuals and organisations’ attitudes to change and their response which can be pivotal between cultural disintegration or opportunities for innovation. Communication and information technologies are revolutionising at such a pace that the information professionals’ work environments are perpetually evolving and entrepreneurship and reinvention are now the new professional norms. This week in our literature, we were considering varieties of change organisation experiences and the utilities for managing change and nurturing innovation. One day perhaps, we will as managers have to consider the role of creativity in every day work and traits that will nurture these evolving roles.

Olson argues that librarians need to explore their individual creativity. He contends that creative thinking is an underutilized problem solving skill that can be learnt and applied to any circumstance. This article examines how librarians understand, develop and utilise their creative thinking aptitudes and skills in the workplace, i.e. an academic library. The article is divided under the following  headings: Creative thinking principles; Attributes to complement creative thinking; Critical thinking versus creative thinking; Creative thinking for librarians; The external workplace; The internal workplace; Creative thinking and library organizational culture; Institutional culture; Empowerment. He argues that creative input must be seen and evaluated equally on all levels of the academic library organisational culture. ‘Creativity has no hierarchy’.  Organisational creativity has huge factors to consider on the administration style, size and structure of the organisation. Olson projects forth the motion that administrators should foster the creative ability of each individual as it can greatly improve problem-solving.  Olson argues that creativity has been largely under examined. He does pose the challenge that coordinating and developing aspects of creative thinking is a challenge and unfortunately does not quite address this challenge sufficiently. Nevertheless he raises consciousness about the traits that are crucial in creative individuals. Creative thinkers possess high levels of self-confidence, ambition, perseverance and motivation. They are in the mode of learning and don’t fear risks or making mistakes. Creative thinkers employ mistakes as an extension of their learning process thus a method to success instead of an end point. Olson reiterates that through brain-storming techniques can help to avoid premature evaluations and breathe new life into old ideas. Also it requires reflectivity and allows ideas to be assessed in a more complete manner in an unbiased environment. Creative thinkers and creatively culturally organisations consistently re-evaluate the rules and environment. This is hugely empowering for academic library organisations can greatly alter a library’s culture. An organisation’s culture environment is defined by the communal organisation’s recognised behaviours and values. Olson warns that culture needs to evolve and grow and creative thinking is such an asset for maintaining the verve of the organisation. He ends with a quote from Robert Kennedy, he said: ‘Some men look at what is and ask why? I look at what is not and ask why not’. Creativity is crucial for organisational culture as it promotes including the individual into the organisation and consistent renegotiation is pivotal for the success of transformative change in addressing organisation culture and information literacy for both the information professional and the client. Barker, Shepstone and Currie both have case studies that also categorise creativity and communication as key to organisation culture and innovation and change management.

Apologies I went on a rant there, but I love Olson’s article and think it should incorporated into all organisations. I’ll wind back again and say that I think change management is possibly one of the most fascinating aspects of management. I loved Rowley’s article as it comforted me that a manager’s job or ‘entrepreneur’, isn’t the perceived view of being locked in an office starring at a monitor away from the drama of work.  In chapter 10 of Managing and Organisations there were different actions of innovating organisations. Weick and Westley’s (1999) once again reiterated the importance of improvisation and improvisation is the first thing anyone will do. A first step of a baby is improvised, the first word that comes out of a mouth is improvised. Improvisation is fundamental to our learning process and therefore is key to our professional development. There is always risk trying out something new, but evolving and changing is so fruitful to developing organisations, stagnation is defeat, no matter what way you look at it!

Week 7: Organizational Learning and Knowledge Management

Gray Southon, F. C., Todd, R. J. and Seneque, M. (2002), Knowledge management in three organizations: An exploratory study. J. Am. Soc. Inf. Sci., 53: 1047–1059. doi: 10.1002/asi.10112

Chun Wei, C. (2000). Working with knowledge: how information professionals help organisations manage what they know. Library Management, 21(8), 395.

Joanna O’Riordan, A Review of Knowledge Management in the Irish Civil Service 

This week we are focusing on organisation learning and knowledge management. In particular, how organisation and their members learn and how they manage what they know are embedded concepts through managerial strategies and activities. I will exploring these concepts through learning developments, also how knowledge is generated, shared, communicated and employed. This stream of consciousness will be explored from the role of information professionals in knowledge management. This concept first emerged in the world of business and has now transcended through the LIS world.

In Gray, Todd and Senegue’s article, it is acknowledged that Knowledge management is a growing field and one where information professionals often occupy a bridging role between the knowledge management function and management. The authors present three case studies that reflect the dynamics of knowledge management in organisation. The three organizations studied were very different types of organizations—a high status, high-performance corporate law firm; a highly politicized, hierarchical, teaching-based commercial higher educational institute; and a legislation-bound local council. Although only the commercial higher education institute had formally adopted a knowledge management strategy, all expressed quite perceptive understandings of the role of knowledge in their organisation. This reading illuminated how knowledge management is employed in different organisations and for a variety of purposes. I found how knowledge management could be improved especially in the case of the educational institution. It seemed like education institution’s assessment devise was driving a few of the teachers mad. It seemed like the teacher’s suggestions weren’t being heard at all, or of having an input on how the student survey is being decided. Some people would say this is a management issue but knowledge management should be integrated into management so a flaw was obviously deeply enmeshed in their managerial strategies and the activity in question. I did an evaluation for modules earlier but some of the lecturers have themselves confessed they don’t know where this data is being used.

I really enjoyed the readings this week. The other case study focused on the Irish civil service’s knowledge management which in turn took a systematic approach to knowledge management in attempting to find out what it is, how can it be ‘audited’ and improvements that can be made utilising knowledge management. Choo (2000) and O’Riordan make the declaration between ‘explicit, cultural and tacit’ knowledge which is quite influential in broadening our concept of knowledge management and giving it context. The idea of subsets of knowledge reiterated my belief of the different varieties of learning, thus different end results of that learning. My Vark learning results echoed back to me, multimodal and I think Choo’s last statement of the article epitomised an ethos that sometimes is ignored in business and even the education process.  ‘Knowledge management is not the domain of a single profession, but is the result of collaboration across multiple streams of expertise.’ Pooling resources is essential to gaining a wider understanding of ourselves and those around us and yet in some of the work place environments, I have encountered individuality is rewarded and competition against colleagues is encouraged. Darwin’s infamous quote: “survival of the fittest” is something to think about. It still is one of the most quoted lines in our society today, hopefully sometime in the future; Choo’s quote will reside alongside Darwin in perspectives on gathering and knowledge management.

Choo article also suggests keeping an updated online curriculum vitae and ‘expertise directory’, hopefully some of my blogging this year will constitute as this.