Monday, 26 February 2018

Thing 22: Reflective Practice

Final Reflection

The Rudaí 23 team and all five digital open badges

A massive congratulations to you for making it this far in Rudaí 23. This is our penultimate module in the course, and the last in the 4th badge, 'Engaged Professional'. It is the last task you will have to complete to gain your final digital open badge. Well done everyone, this is a great achievement.

Thing 23 to follow at the end of the week is for your reading pleasure and our take on your career development after completing Rudaí 23. You will also get the opportunity to apply for our fifth and final digital open badge 'CPD Champion'. That one will definitely be a badge of honour.

Here's a quick re-cap on digital open badges in case you're just joining us on the course at this point. If this is your fourth badge, you're a pro, so skip down past the next section.

Earning your Engaged Professional Digital Open Badge

We have a great FAQ section on digital badges available here if you’re unsure about what they are. You can also read about how to apply for a badge here.

What we need:

As per the other three badges, to be eligible to apply for this Engaged Professional digital badge, the quality of your reflective post will be assessed.


We are looking to see if all aspects of the tasks in Things 19, 20 and 21 are completed and you show good understanding of the topics.


We want to see that you demonstrate an ability to appraise the podcast tools or advocacy/ professional groups topics covered, based on your experience in using them or interacting with the topic;
Give evidence of their practical application;
Give your thoughts and opinions on using the tools or engaging with the topics including your problems or successes, likes or dislikes, you don’t have to agree with us, but detail why;
Detail any changes you would make next time round.

The purpose of this reflective practices is to enhance your learning and application of skills through critical thinking and self-reflection.

Reflective Practice can be defined as the capacity to reflect on actions so as to engage in a process of continuous learning (Schön, 1983).

Gibbs Reflective Cycle

Gibbs, G. (1988) Learning by Doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods. 
Further Education Unit, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford.

Thing 9, our first Reflective Practice post outlines the Gibbs Reflective Cycle, and how to write reflectively. It's as relevant for this 4th reflective post as it was for your first and it is a model participants have found to be very helpful. The headings help you to structure your reflective writing and help you to think about what you learned and how you can apply it to your experience. Examples of the type of reflection we require can be seen in Thing 9.

Another great way to see the standard of reflective practice required is to read the blog posts of your fellow participants. If you're reading this entry on the Rudaí 23 blog, just scroll up and see the latest entries from our Rudaí 23 bloggers on the left side of the screen.

Alternative models of Reflective Practice

If this is your fourth badge, you may want to try another model of reflection for something different. There are quite a few theories on Reflective Practice and Wikipedia actually gives a pretty good overview here with some great references if you plan to go a bit deeper into the subject.

Borton 1970

Terry Borton's reflective model (1970), as adapted by Gary Rolfe and colleagues (2001)

Kolb and Fry 1975

Adaptation of Kolb's reflective model, source: Wikipedia

Johns 1995

Adaptation of the Johns reflective model, source: Wikipedia

Brookfield 1998

Brookfield argued that these four lenses will reflect back to 
us starkly different pictures of who we are and what we do

Reflection after Rudaí 23?

Will you every use reflective writing again now that you're coming to the end of Rudaí 23? We hope so! You may think that working in a library does't call for much reflective writing, but you'd be surprised at where you'll start to see it cropping up.

You may decide that you love it and will make it an essential part of your week's recap as is the habit of John Cox. In Thing 19 John outlines the value he sees in reflective writing and how it has helped him throughout the years.

If you are completing Rudaí 23, it's evident that you are interested in CPD and you may be planning on some academic endeavours. Many further education course will ask for reflective practice as part of your course work. Adding references in academic writing will show that you have read the course content, but reflective writing will show that you have engaged with the topic and have a deep understanding of its theories and applications.

Many of us information professionals are 'Teaching Librarians' and teach information skills to students and researchers, or teach on MLIS courses. Often reflective writing is used in these instances for assessment. If you are planning on taking a career move in this direction, you may want to research a little deeper into the area.

However or if ever you engage in reflective writing again we wish you every success.

Your task for Thing 22:

As with the previous three Reflective Practice posts, your task for Thing 22 is to write a reflective blog post, as detailed in the 'What we need' section at the top of this post.

You have until 30th April 2018 to apply for your digital open badges, after completing all four Reflective Practice modules.

Thing 22 was written by Stephanie Ronan

Friday, 23 February 2018

Thing 21: Professional Groups

Professional Groups


This module defines professional groups or bodies, describes their role and activities, explains the benefits of engaging with such groups and suggests some tasks for you to follow up.
A professional association (also called a professional body, professional organisation, or professional society) is usually a nonprofit organisation seeking to further a particular profession, the interests of individuals engaged in that profession and the public interest Source:

Wikipedia lists 27 professional groups in Ireland, including the Library Association of Ireland (LAI), but the actual number is much greater and covers a wide range of different occupations.  The situation in other countries is similar.


Groups for library and information professionals are many and varied, based upon geographic areas and/or sectors, such as academic, public, special.  Links to some of the groups are listed below in the Web Resources section.


Professional groups fulfill various roles for their members and for their profession more widely.  These include the following:

Leadership and Advocacy

They champion the functions and value of practitioners to the public; raise the profile of the profession generally; represent the profession on Government Committees, international bodies and elsewhere; maintain contacts with the media, run campaigns, lobby, advise and influence.


Recognition and Regulation

They set standards, codes of conduct and ethics; determine skill levels and competencies; accredit courses offered by education providers; agree reciprocal recognition with peer professional bodies in other countries.



Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and Current Awareness

They provide conferences, courses, workshops, webinars, podcasts and mentoring schemes centrally and through Groups and Sections; give awards that recognise different stages of professional practice and CPD activity; publish journals and newsletters; post to social media.


Networking and Support

They provide forums to exchange ideas, experience and best practice; occasions to learn about different sectors of the profession, new products and developments, possible job vacancies; offer opportunities to make contacts, seek advice and to socialise.

Source: Western Regional Section of the Library Association of Ireland


As with most commitments, the question of What’s In It For Me (WIIFM) is important, of course.  This module is part of Rudaí 23, Open Badge # 4: Engaged Professional.  There is no better way to engage with your profession and to make a difference than to participate in activities with a professional group or association.  Indeed, it gets to the very heart of being a professional.

The Bigger Picture

At its most basic, how can we expect others to value our own profession if we do not do so ourselves?  Furthermore, these are critical times for the library and information profession and - more than ever - it requires a strong voice.  There is strength in numbers and the more active members then the more powerful the profession can be.  Such engagement, therefore, not only brings personal benefits but it also benefits others.  It is an excellent way to give back to the wider community.

What the Associations Say:



What the Members Say:

The LAI provides access to information and support to help develop your career.

Source: Quotes from

Your tasks for Thing 21:

Once again we are providing you with many options for your task for this module. They are all great tasks and will really get you thinking and investigating activities and areas of both your local organisations and international groups. You may choose just one task, or do a few, or do them all, it's up to you. Best of luck, you only need complete one of the tasks for Thing 21 for contribution towards your badge.

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.


2. Subscribe to a social media account of a professional body of your choice.  You could follow them on one or all of their accounts: Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, Snapchat, website, blog, Youtube channel, Google + etc.  Did you learn anything new about that organisation after joining?  Was it useful? Reach out to that organisation on social media, for example you could send them a Tweet. Did they recognise your tweet with a 'like' or respond to you in any way, if not, perhaps you could try one of their other social media channels.


3. Investigate any upcoming conferences that you would like to attend, organised by a professional library group.  Create a wish list of these events and see if you can get funding to go to one.

  • Try speaking with your manager about it, also investigate if there is a bursary option to attend, what do you have to do to apply for that?  
  • If you present at the conference is there a discount or free option available?  Will your manager look more favourably on funding you if you plan on presenting, or can you justify your budget spend to finance if you are presenting?  
  • If your library has an institutional subscription to the organisation, you may be able to attend for free.  
  • Are there any free courses available, your library may not have the funds for conference fees, but may allow you to go during work hours? WRSLAI and other groups of the LAI often hold networking events and workshops with no fees charged. 
  • Are there other online courses like Rudaí 23 that are certified and will help your CPD?  
  • If funding and time to attend are unavailable, check if any part of the conference is live streamed?  Will the professional group put the recorded sessions online afterwards? 
  • Remember, even if you missed a conference, very often the slides at the least will be uploaded to their website, perhaps even a full recording of the talk as WRSLAI, Conul or A&SL have often done .  Write a reflective blog post on this process and your experiences of it.


4. Are you a member of a professional organisation?  If so, write a reflective blog post on your experience with this organisation and the impact it may have on your CPD.  For example, has it provided you with the opportunity to be involved in any committees?  At what level is your involvement?  Have you gained any project/time/event management skills?  Have you attended/presented at conferences through this organisation?  Has it increased your library network and knowledge base?  Are you happy with the organisation?  Would you like to be more involved - can you investigate this possibility i.e. join a local committee, apply for your Associateship (your Rudaí 23 work load and digital badges will prove excellent evidence of your CPD activities if you apply for your LAI Associateship).  If you are not a member, what has held you back, is it awareness, funding or a time issue?

Web Resources 

Library and Information Professional groups:

Thing 21 was written by Dr Philip Cohen

Dr Philip Cohen has been Head of Library Services at Dublin Institute of Technology since 2004.  Before that, he worked for more than 20 years in various University libraries in the UK.  Philip is a Past President of the Library Association of Ireland, Convenor of the Education Committee: CPD and a member of the Education Committee: Professional Standards.  He is particularly interested in the role of libraries and librarians in the education process, as well as the education of librarians themselves.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Thing 20: Advocacy and Engagement

Library Advocacy 101

Library Advocacy and the Big Picture

Sometimes in the day to day running of busy library sites, it’s easy to forget the higher level impact of libraries on society. To advocate for libraries effectively, library professionals must never lose sight of the library’s fundamental role in society.
The American Library Association identifies the core values of librarianship as: access, confidentiality/privacy, democracy, diversity, education and lifelong learning, intellectual freedom, the public good, preservation, professionalism, service and social responsibility. These core values enrich society beyond words. It is our duty and privilege as librarians to defend these values and the libraries and librarians that embody them.


Ray Bradbury, American author and library champion made some particularly powerful comments about libraries and librarians during his lifetime. Here are some examples:

This small selection of quotes from a library user who went to become a tireless advocate for libraries succinctly encapsulates the powerful role that libraries play in society. Libraries promote social inclusion; preserve the past for future generations and educate and empower people. Without the library as Bradbury states there is ‘no civilisation’.



Proactive Versus Reactive Advocacy

It is critically important to continually articulate, communicate and champion the core societal and organisational benefits of libraries so that library advocacy is a proactive rather than reactive activity. Advocating for a library service only when it is threatened with closure is a far less successful activity. One of the most powerful ways to proactively advocate on behalf of your library service is through strategic plans, mission statements, manifestos, annual reports and other library publications.

The national strategy for public libraries in Ireland from 2014-2017 is powerfully entitled: “Opportunities for All: The public library as a catalyst for economic, social and cultural development”. The title of this report unequivocally articulates and communicates its core value to society with reference to social inclusion, equality as well as economic, social and cultural development. The Strategy elucidates with clearly laid out objectives and insightful case studies how this vision can be achieved. The Strategy is a stunning example of proactive library advocacy as well as an impressive working strategy.

The Strategic plan of TCD Library sets out its stall in an equally inspiring and eloquent manner. The Library’s core vision is encapsulated in the quote below and includes reference to TCD Library’s ‘national responsibilities for the benefit of the entire community.’


TCD Library’s manifesto which is also outlined in the Strategic Plan vividly captures the impact that libraries have referring to the education of ‘future generations’, the responsibility to ‘steward world-heritage items entrusted to our care’, the ‘financial responsibility to contribute to the knowledge economy nationally and internationally.’

Pg. 9

As well as being a working strategy, TCD Library’s Strategic Plan is another stunning piece of proactive library advocacy. There are many more examples of strategic plans like this in Ireland and beyond.
Library advocacy must also be vigorously practiced at institutional level. Do you proactively advocate for your library service in your Library’s strategic plan and other key documents?  Do you articulate to management within your organisation/local community the value of the library service? Do you train your library team to be advocates for the library service in their daily professional interactions?


Capturing the impact of the library can be a difficult thing. How do you quantify the personal development that using a library can invigorate? For example Ray Bradbury stated ‘I discovered me in the library. I went to find me in the library.’ When funding is short it is extremely difficult to maintain and grow library services without tangible impact/engagement measures. Ideally these should be a mixture of engagement statistics and qualitative feedback which are communicated back to all relevant stakeholders. In the aforementioned public library strategy Opportunities for All, the value of public libraries is proactively advocated with a section on the value of libraries which includes a number of powerful engagement statistics.

Source: (pg.9)

Advocating for libraries without an evidence base is a much less effective activity. CILIP has produced an impact toolkit to assist librarians with the capturing of impact measures.

CILIP Impact toolkit

Demonstrating library impact in terms of the strategic objectives of Government or an organisation is a particularly powerful advocacy activity. For example if you work in an academic library, demonstrating a correlation between library use and student academic performance and retention advocates strongly for the impact of your library service.



Marketing what your Library Service does is a critical advocacy activity. Having a navigable library website with relevant information; producing infographics about the library service; producing incisive annual library reports and having a strong social media presence are powerful forms of proactive library advocacy.  Marketing the impact that your library has in terms of organisation/national objectives such as student retention, improved literacy levels and other outcomes is critical. See example infographic:



Make sure that you forge strong links within your organisation and the wider community with key personnel who are involved with the funding and development of library services using a mixture of informal and formal communication. Social media platforms along with events and launches can also be leveraged to promote library activities to key contacts. Lobbying parliament/politicians is also a useful way to promote the importance of libraries. In other professional spheres, teachers, doctors, lawyers and others go into political life. Given our skill set it is surprising that more librarians do not pursue this path. It is an extremely powerful way to advocate for causes and sectors that you are passionate about.

 “Being able to build strategic alliances across the University, local authority or even with other partners within the sector is a political skill which the library leaders stressed was of the upmost importance. This kind of ‘relationship management’ can help secure funding or at least help the library leader defend his/her current position with support from others.” (Goulding, Walters and Stephens, 2012, p 114)

Launch of the CONUL Strategy 2016-2019

Back row: Dr. Philip Cohen, Dr. John Howard, Christopher Pressler, John Cox, Cathal McCauley,
Front row: Gobnait O'Riordan, Helen Shenton, Richard Bruton,T.D, Siobhán Fitzpatrick,Colette McKenna.

Networks and professional groups are also powerful ways to advocate for particular sectors or interests within the library profession. Private college librarians in Ireland like myself and the Heads of library at Griffith College, CCT College, Hibernia College, National College of Ireland and others are members of the Library Committee of the Higher Education Colleges Association (HECA). Collectively we are working hard to highlight to the Library sector and beyond the work that private college librarians are doing.

HECA Librarians: Left to Right: Justin Smyth, Librarian CCT College; Robert Mckenna, Librarian, Griffith College; Audrey Geraghty, Librarian, Hibernia College; Mary Burke, Librarian, National College of Ireland; Jane Buggle, Deputy Librarian, Dublin Business School; Dimphne Ni Bhraonain, Deputy Librarian, Griffith College; Marie O’ Neill, Librarian, Dublin Business School.

Your Professional Body

Professional library bodies are powerful advocacy tools, advocating for libraries and library related issues at national and international level. Geraldine Blee in an article on political advocacy states:

CILIP undertakes a number of advocacy activities including a library fund and various advocacy campaigns.


The Australian Library and Information Association annually outlines its advocacy campaigns.

The Library Association of Ireland also carries out a range of advocacy activities including Libraries Ireland Week.


There is strength in numbers. Join your professional library body and help to make its voice stronger. Click here for information on membership of the Library Association of Ireland. Jim Rettig, ALA past-president and University Librarian at the University of Richmond states that:

“What happens to one type of library affects all of us. Library communities around the country need to become a unified voice, ready to advocate for all libraries.”

Library Buildings

Investment in library infrastructure is an extremely potent form of library advocacy and one that needs to be considered by library managers in all types of libraries. Run down and outdated library premises do not advocate or augur well for the profession. It is encouraging to see a number of infrastructural library developments in Ireland over the last few years such as the new library building in Maynooth University, the Lexicon Library; the new library at RCSI and the impending Parnell Square development. These developments are a testament to the advocacy and negotiating skills of the library managers involved.


Library Advocacy Campaigns

Professional bodies, library services and organisations often run advocacy campaigns. These leverage social media platforms, slogans, hashtags, celebrity support, signatures, posters and more.  A particularly powerful example of this was the My Library, By Right Campaign conducted by CILIP


Your Vision and Passion

To evolve the library profession it is also critical that we advocate for change in relation to new practices, new roles etc. For example at Dublin Business School, Library staff are interested in the Librarian as Publisher movement. Other bodies such as the Library Publishing Coalition also advocate for developments in this area. DBS Library has also been a huge proponent of the open source movement.


Other advocates for particular areas of library practice are Andy Priestner of Andy Priestner Training Consulting with ethnography and Helen Fallon, Deputy Librarian, Maynooth University with academic writing librarians. Helen has a blog devoted to academic writing librarians and speaks on the topic at various conferences and seminars. Andy also travels the world speaking on ethnography.




Educating librarians to advocate

In CILIP’s Public Library Skills Strategy 2017-2030, skills in advocacy are listed as a future skill for public librarians for example.


Advocacy skills need to be a core competency for all library graduates. Library schools and professional bodies are increasingly focusing on the soft skills of librarianship. If you look at the resource list at the end of this course, a number of professional bodies and organisations have advocacy pages/resource lists for those wishing to brush up on these skills.


Incorporating debating into library education is also a really useful way to teach librarians how to mount a robust defence of a position. In 2017, library debates included: The Professor John Dean Annual Debate organised by the School of Information and Communication Studies, UCD and a debate between Helen Fallon and Jane Burns at the DBS Library Annual Seminar.


See also:



Finally when advocating on behalf of your library service, it is extremely important to be specific. What are the specifics of your advocacy campaign: (goal, audience, what data you need etc.). The American Library Association has a wonderful frontline advocacy toolkit which helps you to focus on the specifics of your advocacy plan.


Your tasks for Thing 20:

There is no better time than the present to start on the path to becoming a successful library advocate. To help you get going we have complied a list of 9 exercises to engage with. Your contribution to library advocacy is up to you, as are the amount of exercises you complete. However they are all designed to get you to really think about advocacy, giving you the opportunity to start right now!  

Exercise 1: Name three detrimental effects to a local community when a public library is closed.
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.
Exercise 3: Name three ways in which you can demonstrate the impact and value of the library service that you work in or use.
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.
Exercise 5: Write down in 200 words or less an idea for Library Ireland Week for a library you work in or use.
Exercise 6: In your opinion what are the three best features of the My Library, By Right Campaign and why?
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?
Exercise 8: Choose an area of library practice that you feels requires debate.
Exercise 9: Open up the ALA Frontline Advocacy Plan. Complete the plan for a real/fictional advocacy campaign.

Web Resources

Library Advocacy Toolkits

Professional Bodies Advocacy pages

Library Advocacy Campaigns


Thing 20 was written by Marie O'Neill

Marine O'Neill

Marie O'Neill is the Head of Library Services at Dublin Business School. In 2006 Marie founded the MSc in Libraryand Information Studies at DBS which has since become a very successful programme. Marie's interests include institutional repositories and library services for academics publishing or undertaking research. Marie takes a keen interest in library innovation and the shape that academic libraries will take in the future.

Academic Articles

Blee, G. (2016) ‘Demystifying Political Advocacy,’ An Leabharlann, 25 (2), pp. 7-11, edepositireland, (Accessed: 8 February 2018).

Ewbank, A.D. (2015) 'Library advocacy through Twitter: a social media analysis of #savelibraries and #getESEAright', School Libraries Worldwide, 2, p. 26, Literature Resource Center, EBSCOhost [Online]. (Accessed: 8 February 2018).

Goulding, A., Walton, G. and Stephens, D.  (2012) 'The importance of political and strategic skills for UK library leaders', Australian Library Journal, 61(2), pp. 105-118. Library & Information Science Source, EBSCOhost [Online].  (Accessed: 8 February 2018).

Moreillon, J. and Hall, R.  (2014) 'Digital advocacy stories: a pedagogical tool for communicating and strengthening library values', Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, 55(2), pp. 100-111, ERIC, EBSCOhost [Online]. (Accessed: 8 February 2018).


The Calendar of Things