Friday, 30 September 2016

Part-time library management job available!

I'm very excited to be starting a 2 year part-time secondment next week as Acting Head of STEM Libraries - it's going to be a big job but I'm really looking forward to the challenge!

I will still be based in the Department of Engineering while I'm on this secondment, but will clearly need someone to help me cover the day job.  If you're interested in a job share (60%) at management level, this is your chance!

Full details:

PS - I've had people ask about the STEM background part.  It does say 'ideally' because it's a bonus, but it's not an absolute requirement.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

SLA 2016 Annual Conference: Engineering Division sessions

For the past 18 months I've been preparing for the 2016 SLA Annual Conference, coming up with ideas, collaborating with other Engineering Division members and the planners from other divisions of SLA and generally trying to make this programme the best I possibly can.  We're now on the final count-down, so hopefully all of that work will pay off!

I thought it would be useful for Engineering Division members to be able to see our sessions at a glance, so a shared calendar is embedded below (click through to week commencing 11 June 2016 for session times).  Feel free to click on the +GoogleCalendar link below to add this information to your own calendar.  Do check the official events system for room details though, because these could change closer to the time - I've put the links into the description field for each event.

Oh, and don't forget to book your places in advance for the ticketed events, including 50 Years of the Engineering Division, Science and Engineering Newcomers' Breakfast and the Hershey Tour.

Saturday, 31 January 2015


I've had a few questions about SLA and how it relates to CILIP as a result of my last post,  so I'll try to clarify a bit here.  They are two completely separate organisations, SLA started in North America, has been growing internationally, while CILIP is very much a UK organisation but with a small number of international members.

I am sometimes asked which professional organisation I'd recommend to others.  This is a difficult question because, as with most things, the answer will depend very much on the individual.


I've been a member of CILIP for around six years now and was very involved until around 18 months ago.  I find it fantastic for the local networks and keeping up with library developments in the UK.  They also have special interest groups that focus on areas such as academic and research libraries or information literacy.  I've Chartered with them, am keeping an eye out for mentoring training I can get to and plan to apply for Fellowship in due course - it's very much about my personal professional development.

Why SLA?

I joined SLA around 18 months ago when I started working with an Engineering Department.  I was aware that this was a completely different subject area to others I've supported, that engineers worked in a very different way and that I had a lot to learn.  SLA's Divisions are fantastic, mostly focusing on specific subject areas but also covering areas like Leadership and Management that are relevant across all subject areas.  Although most of the action happens overseas, they organise lots of webinars and committee meetings via conference call, all of which makes it easier for me to benefit from my membership in whatever chunks of time I can give to it.  The much narrower subject focus means that my SLA membership helps me to develop as an engineering librarian and everything I do with them is directly relevant to my job.

Why choose?

For me it's not a question of choosing one or the other because I get very different things from each, and depending on your context there may well be other organisations you should consider e.g. IAML for music librarians, BIALL for law, LAI if you're in Ireland... No shortage of options!

Friday, 30 January 2015

A gap in the market? A virtual caucus for SLA #slaleads

I was at SLA Leadership Summit in Baltimore last week - a really fantastic opportunity to network, plan and learn from leaders in our profession.

What's SLA?

SLA is a bit of a misnomer - it stands for Special Libraries Association but actually my experience suggests that the 'libraries' bit (in the traditional sense) is in the minority.  The tagline 'Connecting people and information' is more appropriate, painting a much larger picture.  Through SLA I've met a really wide range of people from corporate and academic contexts, ranging from knowledge managers and vendors of information products through to user experience librarians and library/information service directors.

What about Leadership Summit?

The Engineering Division was well represented...
I was there as Conference Program Planner for the Engineering Division.  This involves identifying topics of interest to information professionals in engineering departments/organisations for inclusion in the programme for the 2016 SLA Annual Conference in Philadelphia, identifying speakers, managing budgets and generally coordinating things.  If you have any topic suggestions let me know!

This would be a daunting task, but Leadership Summit was hugely reassuring.  My main reason for going was so that I could attend the planning meeting that kickstarts the whole thing.  The message I got from this session is that I am definitely not alone - there are lots of dedicated, creative and inspiring people planning sessions for all the other divisions of SLA and collaboration is encouraged to ensure a practical, relevant programme for all attendees.  The other Engineering Division members were also hugely supportive - I'll be working closely with Chair-Elect Giovanna Badia on this and already have a volunteer willing to talk about copyright issues in the corporate sector (thank you Gabriele!) was the Leadership and Management Division
This and other business meetings formed just one aspect of the conference though - there were keynote talks by Steve Denning on Radical Management and James Calvin, Associate Professor and Faculty Director of the Leadership Development Program (LDP) for Multicultural and Multinational Leaders at the Carey Business School, Johns Hopkins University.  Programme sessions included SLA 101 (how it's all put together), fund-raising tips and strategic thinking as well as update sessions on the Member Preferences Task Force and the State of the Association.  I came away with lots to think about, tools that I can put into use within my library and renewed enthusiasm for getting involved with this professional association.

Just to make me feel at home, one of the evening receptions took place in Tír na nÓg, bringing a whole new angle on the conversations about my name, how to pronounce it (Nee-uv) and its meaning and origin (a totally normal Irish name, there were four of us in my class of 30 in primary school and Niamh Cinn Óir was the Princess of the Land of Youth in a well-known Irish legend).

So what's this about a virtual caucus?

During one of the sessions, someone suggested in passing the idea of a virtual caucus as the first step towards developing a Chapter that is not geographically based, reaching members in any part of the world whether or not they belong to a local chapter.  (See here for more on SLA Caucuses, Chapters, Sections and Divisions.)  If you know who that was, please let me know in the comments - I'm a strong believer in credit where it's due!

I loved this idea and a main reason for putting this blog post out here is to get a feel for whether or not we could make this happen.  Are you interested in getting involved? Do you have thoughts on how we could make it work? What kinds of things could a virtual caucus or chapter do?  Maybe we can start this conversation in the comments of this blog post and develop it in an #SLATalk Twitter chat at some point?  I'll be talking to Kate Arnold, Past-President of SLA, about the logistics of it all as well.

Looking forward to your feedback!

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Interested in Research Support? Come work with me!

I don't often blog about the day job, but I'm making an exception for this.  I'm really excited about a brand new Research Support Librarian post on our team - if you're interested in supporting world-class research please apply!

We're a small, close-working team, which means we all get to do a little bit of everything, but this post has a particular focus on supporting research staff and students at the Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge.  The job advert and further particulars are on the university website, deadline Thursday 20th November.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Opportunity for Science/Technology Librarians, apply now!

Around this time last year, a very good friend pointed me in the direction of the Bonnie Hilditch International Librarian Award (thank you Jo!)  This award is sponsored by the Science-Technology and Engineering Divisions of the Special Libraries Association (SLA) to help an international librarian get to the SLA Annual Conference.  Application was by CV, cover letter and letters of recommendation, I applied and won!

Here I am with Beth Wishart, winner of the 2014 Diane K. Foster International Student Travel Award, photograph courtesy of Marleene Boyd

The 2014 conference was in Vancouver and I loved it.  At >2000 attendees, it was much bigger than anything I've been to in the UK/Ireland, but without being so huge that you feel lost in the crowd.  The Engineering Division dinner, the Sci-Tech Newcomers' Lunch and the Fellows and First-timers Reception made me feel welcome from the start.  SLA Engineering and Sci-Tech Divisions are so welcoming and, shockingly, it was also the first time I had met the other SLA Europe attendees!

I learned so much, with sessions ranging from embedded librarianship and user experience through to 'Science and Engineering 101' and electronic lab notebooks (see my write-up on p.27 of Sci-Tech News 68 (3) 2014).  I found myself searching for ways to come back next year, and am really excited to be involved in planning the 2016 conference in Philadelphia.

So about that award? Applications are now invited for the 2015 award which will help you get to SLA Annual Conference in Boston.  Apply now!  Not sure this particular award matches your background?  There are loads of others, take a look at what is offered by the most relevant Divisions and of course there are also the SLA Europe Early Career Conference Awards.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

#chartership chat tonight at 8pm

A few of us are going to try out the chat functionality on CILIP's new VLE.  Hope you can join us tonight at 8pm!

The discussion and chat sections are unfortunately well hidden.  To find them:

  1. Log in to the CILIP website
  2. Click 'VLE'
  3. Click 'Professional Registration'
  4. Click 'Professional Registration Support'
  5. Click 'Professional Registration Chat'

For those who've been following my progress - I've finished the annotated job description and am now working on my first draft of the evaluative statement.