Tips from Aaron Tay

Q) What are your top tips to increase visibility & impact?

In terms of visibility to the profession, there are many ways to do so. One way is to contribute to the profession by producing useful content by blogging, tweeting etc. It’s not always easy to come up with fresh original content, but one possible strategy is to study non-librarian things in depth and think about how they can apply to libraries . For instance, I have recently become enchanted by machine learning and have been putting in lots of efforts to learn R via free ebooks, tutorials and MOOCS, and my mind is now swimming with ideas on how to apply them to libraries.

Alternatively try to read widely in different areas of librarianship and see if you can connect them together for fresh insight. While it’s tough to become the best library technologist in the world or the most knowledgable and capable Scholarly communication librarian in the world, it’s possibly easier to be a good library technologist with good working knowledge of discovery technologies AND be well versed in scholarly communication knowledge which may allow you to see ideas and concepts that specialist in either areas might miss due to lack of awareness beyond specific areas. Almost everything is connected, so be curious about different areas of librarianship, even though areas that are ostensibly “not your area”.

Aaron Tay

Aaron Tay is Library Analytics Manager , Singapore Management University. His Blog is full of useful and informative tips.

What is your favourite thing about being a librarian?

My favourite thing about being a librarian is that the range of things you can be called upon to do can be very diverse. You could be in the front lines, teaching classes, helping a professor with research, or you could be working in the back end, troubleshooting broken links in discovery services or working on lean sigma projects improving the efficiency of document delivery. Where do you learn to do all that? Luckily you also happen to be working in the library with access to the best source of information, so you can learn practically anything you desire as long as you have the passion and time”.

Changing roles in changing times: the academic liaison librarian in flux

Guest Post by Alexander Kouker Dublin Business School Library

I ventured out to Maynooth University Library last week for a full-day seminar, which explored the changing role of the subject librarian. The day was structured around two keynotes – the first one by Stephen Pinfield, Professor of Information Services Management, University of Sheffield; the second one by Rosie Jones, Director of Library Services, Open University – and, very interestingly, several practice synopses by representatives of various Irish academic libraries, as well as that of the OU Library.


Participants’ overall consensus on the day was that there is no consensus, whether here in Ireland or indeed the UK, over what constitutes “best practice” in the realm of library organisational structure and, crucially, the status of subject/liaison librarianship.


Given the fast-moving changes in today’s information environment, libraries are expected to stay ahead through re-envisioning  organisational structures and cultures and, arguably, moving away from static management of print and digital collections towards providing user-focused services.


Hoodless and Pinfield investigated this idea by trying to find out about the actual state of library organisational structures and management practices. They did this by means of conducting eleven semi-structured interviews with senior library managers from a range of different UK based higher education institutions. Their maximum variation sampling approach aimed to cover as broad a spectrum of perspectives and practices as possible.


Before highlighting the results of Hoodless’s and Pinfield’s study, it makes sense to identify the typical responsibilities of the traditional academic liaison librarian. They include, among other things, development, management and delivery of information literacy training for their constituent library users. Linking up with appropriate staff and students to maintain awareness of new research and teaching in their subject areas, as well as developing and fulfilling potential information needs. Liaison librarians also tend to manage information resources budgets pertaining to their allocated subject fields.


Debbie Morrow contends that effective embeddedness is the key ingredient to successful liaison librarianship: “My responsibility became to explore and nurture relationships within my liaison departments, and per chance to become what Olivia Olivares has aptly described as “sufficiently embedded.”


An example of a classic, subject-based liaison support structure is UCC Library


On the other hand, an example of radical change to the above approach is the University of Manchester Library. Manchester switched over from a previously subject-based support structure (Arts, Social Sciences, Business & Management, Engineering & Physical Sciences, Medical, Human & Life Sciences) to a functional support structure (Research Services, Teaching & Learning, Academic Engagement). Academic Engagement is now faculty based: Faculty of Science and Engineering, Faculty of Humanities, Faculty of Medicine, Biology and Health).


Hoodless and Pinfield learnt through their inquiries that, increasingly, libraries are replacing subject-based teams for functional teams. However, views on this were divided along the lines of actual current or anticipated practice: libraries that will/have adopt(ed) the functional approach see this very much as the way forward; libraries that maintain, and intend to maintain into the future, the subject-based model were unconvinced of the efficacy of functional teams.


Essentially, the following opposing drivers for both, functional and subject-based, library structures were identified (see Hoodless and Pinfield, 2016, p.12):


Drivers for function-based structures Drivers for subject-based structures
Ensuring a consistent approach to services and support Tailoring services and support
Linking to the overall university strategy of teaching and research excellence Reflecting the university discipline-based structure
Instigating cultural change Retaining the effectiveness of traditional structures and the support of library staff


Building visible and distinct areas of expertise and ensuring focus Maintaining the integration of services supporting teaching and research
Creating partnership and links with other university teams Strengthening partnerships and links with academic departments


The day concluded with a lively discussion around different institutional organisational and cultural library practices.


Further reading on this subject:

Organizing the liaison role. A concept map / Judith E. Pasek

Transforming Liaison Roles in Research Libraries /  Janice M. Jaguszewski & Karen Williams (thanks to Jack Hyland for pointing out this report)



Solo Librarians share tips

Solo Librarians share tips from their experiences of how best to increase their visibility and impact.

– Grace Hillis, Librarian, Daughters of Charity Disability Support Services / Mental Health Commission, Dublin, Ireland. (2 part-time roles)


How did you increase your visibility/value/impact?

“In the Daughters of Charity I increased my visibility by joining committees. I’m on three – Journal Club, Health & Safety and Information Transformation. I’m Secretary of the Health & Safety one. As well as increasing my visibility it enables me to learn about what is going on in my organisation. In Information Transformation I work with people in other disciplines and in other parts of the service to make information more accessible for people with intellectual disabilities. There is great energy in the group. I also do a little bit of work directly with our service users – people with intellectual disabilities. We enjoy it, people know me and I learn a lot.

I am fortunate to be friends with clinical staff. As well as it being great socially, it means I learn a bit about what they are focusing on which gives me ideas for how I can contribute.

In the Mental Health Commission, I started in September 2015 and did a survey at the end of the year. A finding that came out was that people wanted Question & Answer sessions. I ran 2 which were well attended. They created more work for me (in a good way, of course!)! I am feeding back to the staff on my progress made in implementing their suggestions via the library newsletter“.



  • ‘Draw out aspects of your service which you see are key for your users
  • Actively go outside the library and link in with other departments/groups to make people aware of what resources are available
  • Keep users up-to-date on a regular basis by e-mail about new library resources, websites etc.
  • Creating and updating a library website or blog about changes or news that your library may have is  also another beneficial way to promote the library service.
  • Get involved in collaborative projects, library and other organisational committees, discussion lists etc. This is a good way to keep in touch and it also enables you to share your knowledge and expertise with other people
  • If possible, take the opportunity to get involved in undertaking and disseminating some library research.  This can play an important part in increasing the visibility of the library both inside and outside the organisation.

There’s a wide variety of day to day tasks to undertake working as a health sciences solo librarian so flexibility, having a willingness to learn and engage with other people and to remain positive I think is key to this job!’

-Fiona Lawler, Librarian, Our Lady’s Hospice & Care Services, Harold’s Cross, Dublin, Ireland.

‘For librarians who do thrive on adapting to meet the environment they are in there is opportunity to shape the job around your skills and to meet the needs of the organisation around you. More librarians in non-traditional settings (as solo librarians often are) are working as almost specialist consultants in organisations and learning to leverage and market their unique skills. So the first step in increasing visibility is marketing your skills.
As solo librarian you have to try to balance the need to be visible with the reality of only being able to stretch so far, usually easier said than done. So once you have marketed your skills you have to be strategic in the projects you commit to. The best way to do that is to try to keep your activities aligned with the organisational focus. Be aware of what the key goals of the organisation and of the different departments are and what you can bring to help achieve these goals. This can come back to marketing and sometimes it means keeping your ear to the ground and being ready to jump in to projects where you see a benefit. Hopefully though the more you work in across the organisation the greater the opportunity for visibility’.

Laura_Rooney_FerrisLaura Rooney-Ferris, Information & Library Manager, Therese Brady Library, Irish Hospice Foundation, Dublin, Ireland.


Solo Librarians

Librarians & information professionals may often work alone without any additional staff.  Working alone, regardless of the profession, presents its own unique challenges.  Solo librarianship is common in school and special libraries.  When you work alone, it becomes even more important to reach out and connect with others who are in similar situations.  Librarians are generally good at helping people, sharing ideas, collaborating with each other and developing best practice.  Here I’m gathering thoughts from solo librarians who are happy to share their ideas on the profession.  Please contact me if you would like to contribute.

What is your favourite thing about being a librarian?

Photo~2“The variety, plus where I work I get to know so many people well. As a solo librarian I am in a position to make changes. There are opportunities to do new things. I have been working as a solo librarian for 7 years and I’m learning all the time. Also, I have worked with some wonderful library volunteers, including one who has stayed for many years. I often seek her opinion before implementing changes; it’s great to have another person’s perspective!”

  • Grace Hillis, Librarian, Daughters of Charity Disability Support Services / Mental Health Commission, Dublin, Ireland.

‘I enjoy helping library users find the information they are looking for and also showing them how to use the library resources.

It is also very rewarding to receive feedback from users letting you know the help which was provided to them benefited their work.

I also enjoy the variety of tasks involved working a solo librarian – each day there is always something new to learn.

Working as a solo librarian has also provided me with the opportunity to personalise the service and I think by doing this it has resulted in users coming to the library more regularly requiring assistance with their information needs’

Fiona Lawler, Librarian, Our Lady’s Hospice & Care Services, Harold’s Cross, Dublin, Ireland.

Continue reading “Solo Librarians”

Health Science Librarians share tips

What are your tips for increasing visibility and impact?
Not to be repetitive, but it is important to identify the needs and opportunities that employees and the institution faces, and then provide services and products that fill the gaps.   I have worked hard to identify “influencers,” key leaders in the hospital. The administration, of course, is the obvious department to find influencers, but each department in the hospital has people who go above and beyond their job description to truly know the issues their peers face and lead them to improve. Influencing the influencers is a powerful method of increasing visibility and impact. If you can get them on board by showing them what you have to offer, they will take care of spreading the word.
Also, I cannot overestimate the power of “Tell-a-Friend.” Word can spread if you can make it easy for people to recommend the library to their peers. For example, I write emails explaining library resources and invite users to forward it to those who they think would be interested. People are more likely to use resources if people they identify with recommend it to them.

Sheryl Ramer, Director, Health Sciences Library, NYC HEALTH + HOSPITALS / Elmhurst, USA.  T: @podcastlib Blog:

What are your tips for increasing visibility and impact?

“A comment from Annie Mauger (CILIP HLG, 2014) hit the nail on the head – something along the lines of ‘it’s not what we do, it’s what we’re for’.  If we can get a fix on where our services are of most benefit within our organization and build our role around that, then we’ll make a positive impact and promoting these services will raise our profile for all the right reasons”.

Anne Madden, Assistant Librarian, Library & Information Services, St. Vincent’s University Hospital,Dublin, Ireland.


Bernadette Colley is a solo Library Administrator at Temple Street Children’s University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland.  She shares her thoughts on being a librarian.

What are you top tips for increasing visibility and impact?

“The answer is two-fold really: Join the dots for people. As you say in your book, ‘Cherry on the cake service’. If people come looking for a book, push them to Athens and your current awareness service. If someone is looking for an ILL and you find the author has made all their articles available on Research Gate, point your user to that site and give them a potted explanation of open access, Lenus, social media and how things are changing. Push twitter and relevant hashtags in your library blog or current contents so that people are not so distrustful. Above all, make friends with your users: people talk!”

Health Science Librarians

Sheryl Ramer is the director of a small, busy hospital library in a large, busy hospital at NYC HEALTH + HOSPITALS / Elmhurst, USA.
What is your favourite thing about being a librarian?
“We serve doctors, allied health professional, nurses, students, volunteers, and Other Staff — anyone with an ID is eligible to use the library.  I like identifying problems or opportunities that employees face, choosing products or services that fit the need, and then promoting the resources to those who need it.
For example, physicians and nurses are responsible for taking Continuing Education credits to maintain their licenses and certifications, and, of course, to improve patient care. I identified CE Direct (​), an online product that could fit their needs and I am promoting it to all hospital employees.
Even the distribution of the product interests me because necessity is truly the mother of invention: I really learned how to use Google forms because I needed an effective way to handle registrations for CE Direct. The best part of these products, though, is to hear how the product is really helping to continue education and improve patient care”.


Bernadette Colley is a solo Library Administrator at Temple Street Children’s University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland.  She shares her thougths on being a librarian.

What is your favourite thing about being a librarian?

“Finding the ‘golden result’ – the article/search strategy that is exactly what the user was looking for, whether they knew about it or not”.


What do you like about being a librarian?

“I get a great deal of satisfaction from matching research to its intended audience – there’s a lot of relevant research that isn’t getting “found” and this is a shame.  I also like that it is an evolving profession and therefore challenging – no chance to ever become complacent”.

Anne Madden, Assistant Librarian, Library & Information Services, St. Vincent’s University Hospital,Dublin, Ireland.

The Guiding Textbook

Look out for my book which was published in November 2015.  It is called “The Invisible Librarian  – A Librarian’s Guide to Increasing Visibility And Impact”.  Available from Amazon or Elsevier.  Contact me to get 30% off.

This is the guiding textbook for librarians/Information professionals working in any type of information setting today.  It contains strategies for increasing visibility, value and impact.  It will also encourage people to see libraries and librarians in a new light.