In search of

So the other day I can across this Pin. Isn’t it beautiful? I have two similar coloured yarns in my stash that I bought in Loop in search of a project. But then I realised that there was no link associated with the pin so I couldn’t find the pattern. I tried tracing the pin back to the source through Pinterest but got bored with that. Then I tried asking on Facebook and Twitter and it was here that I found my answer. Which in itself is quite amazing, that I can post a picture of a knitted shawl and someone will recognise the pattern. Thanks April!

giniew's L'envoléeBut. That would make a relatively boring and short blog post. I remembered that you can search Google by image and wondered if this type of search would find the pattern for me (had someone on Facebook not recognised the pattern). The video below explains how to do this better than I could.

I had never noticed the ‘search Google for this image’ option when right clicking an image before (I use Chrome, but this option is apparently available in Firefox too). So I right clicked on the image in Pinterest and looked through the search results. It took a little bit of digging (i.e. clicking through to the second page of results) to find what I was looking for before finding a link to the original blog post featuring the image. Bingo! The blog post then linked to the pattern on Ravelry. So just a few clicks I had what I was looking for – the pattern for the shawl in the original image.

As well as showing matching images, the search for the images service shows visually similar images. A few immediate uses (as well as finding knitting patterns, naturally) for this service jump to mind. I could use this search to see if my images had been used on other sites without my permission. But I could also see my mum, who is fascinated by botany, using this type of search to find the names for flower and trees that she comes across. You could use it to do all sorts of research that just isn’t possible using text searching. Can you think of any other uses for this kind of search? The librarian, as well as the knitter, in me is fascinated by my new discovery.

Knitting in the Library

I wrote a guest blog post recently for my LYS This Is Knit about a feature I noticed on Ravelry. If you’re browsing knitting books on Ravelry you can now search WorldCat, a library catalogue aggregator, to see if any libraries need you have the book. In case you didn’t know I qualified as a librarian about a year ago. So this link was very intriguing to me.

Knitting in the Library


I’m not sure how many Irish public libraries have signed up to WorldCat, but Irish library users can search, and in some cases use inter-library loans to get a book sent from another library to their local library.

This is exactly why libraries exist – to give everyone equal access to information and education (and knitting patterns). […] If you are not a member of your local library then why not? You can find a full list on the Ask About Ireland website. Think of all the money you can save on knitting books that you can then spend on more yarn. See? Genius.

Now, off you go to read my original post on This Is Knit’s blog, then come back and let me know what you think.

A faux library card catalogue

I posted recently about my top gifts for librarians. The top item on that list was a card catalogue. When I posted about my desire for a card catalogue on Facebook a few months ago a friend sent me this link to an Ikea Card File Drawers Hack from The Painted Hive. What I really want is a real, live card catalogue that was actually used in a library. But until I can get my hands on one of those I decided to make my own one.

The next time I was in Ikea I picked up a Moppe set of drawers. I can’t find them now on the Ikea website just now, so I’m not sure if they’ve been discontinued. Maybe I got mine just in time. Anyway, I had some leftover stain from my shawl display, some teak oil that I use to annually oil the kitchen table you can see in the photos and some sandpaper in the shed so I set to work.

Crafty Projects April14 077I bought the drawer pulls on Etsy. For my purposes these are a little small, I would have preferred them to be a bit bigger, but they’ll do. I followed the instructions on The Painted Hive pretty closely, except that I glued the drawer pulls on. They didn’t come with nails and I couldn’t be bothered trying to find tiny nails to match. Overall, I’m pretty happy with the result.

My bead stash now lives in the drawers. It previously lived in (cleaned) plastic takeaway trays stored in a large Tesco bag, so this is a big improvement. I still want a real card catalogue, but this will do for the moment.


Library Tourism – The British Library

Over the summer I spent a weekend in London. It was kind of a last minute thing and I have to say I really enjoyed the trip, even if I was exhausted when we got home again. We got a flight to London City Airport at stupid o’clock and got the tube straight to St. Pancras station. After a double espresso to keep up going we headed to the British Library to do a tour of the library starting at 10.30am.

wpid-20140710_124140.jpgI was a bit skeptical about spending £8 each on a tour, plus I’d been up for half a day and it was only 10.30. But. I was wrong to be skeptical – the tour was fascinating. It was led by a real librarian who was really passionate about his topic and there were only 6 of us in total on the tour. We were all clearly library nerds so I was in good company.

wpid-20140710_123333.jpgThe building itself is a bit underwhelming from the outside, particularly if you compare it to the New York Public Library or our own National Library. But inside it’s quite beautiful. Our guide talked us through the building of the library and the controversies surrounding it, the beautiful King’s Library and we got to have a look at one of the reading rooms from a gallery. We finished the tour in the Treasures of the British Library permanent exhibition.

As a librarian I really enjoyed the tour, but even if you’re not a librarian the exhibitions at the library are worth the trip. So we spent the morning indulging my interests. The afternoon was spent on a brewery tour of Fuller’s Brewery indulging R’s interests.

10 Gifts for Librarians (curated by a librarian)

The other day on Twitter I spotted a link to a list of gifts for librarians. Well of course I clicked through but as often happens I was underwhelmed with the list I found. So I decided to create my own list. I already have a Pinterest board that I pin library related stuff to and I also looked on Etsy, which is my absolute favourite place to look for quirky, unique and handmade gifts. So without further ado….

1. Vintage Library Card Catalogue from Prosser Bros Vintage

ProsserBrosVtg Vintage Library Card CatalogueAnd I mean a real, actual card catalogue. I want one. I want one so bad. If you love the librarian in your life this is what you will get them.

2. A vintage glasses necklace from Vector Cloud

Vector Cloud Vintage Glasses NecklaceVector Cloud don’t have this necklace in their shop at the moment, but you can do what I did and ask Amelia to make a custom necklace for you. I *love* mine.

3. Leather Book Necklace from Nicopapergoods

Nicopapergoods Leather Book NecklaceSwoon!! Have you ever seen anything so lovely? It’s a real actual book, with a lovely leather cover and blank pages inside – as a necklace. Stunning.

4. Love Your Librarian Womens Pullover from Alison Rose

AlisonRose Love Your Librarian Womens Pullover,I want one. That is all. They also do the same motif on a tote bag, a women’s tshirt and a men’s tshirt. But I really love the look of this jumper, as I don’t really wear tshirts.

5. Stitching in the Stacks from Cooperative Press

Stitching in the StacksI’m a knitter and a librarian. This book was written for librarian knitters just like me. The book is available as a print book or a pdf.

6. Embossing stamp from Exlibris

ExLibrisShop Embossing seal or round stampIf you own a book it’s nice to put your name on it, provenance of books is very important as every librarian knows. This stamp allows the recipient to emboss their books with their very own ‘Ex Libris’ seal. Fab! (‘Ex libris’ means ‘From the library of’ in latin. You’ll find it written inside a lot of antiquarian books.)

7. Vintage Inspired ‘From the Library of’ Personalised Self Inking Stamp from Rosso Stamp Co.

RossoStampCo Vintage Inspired From the Library of Personalized Self Inking StampIf you don’t want to shell out for an embossing stamp, why not get an ‘Ex Libris’ ink stamp. There are lots to choose from on Etsy and this one is personalised with the recipient’s name.

8.Library Card Notebooks from Meow Kapow

MeowKapowShopHow about these cute library card notebooks? There are a lot of versions on Etsy but I particularly like these ones because the pages inside are blank.

9. Personalised pencils from Nevina & Thom

NevinaandThom customised pencilsIt’s not nice to write on books in pen (library patrons are you listening!?), so why not get the librarian in your life some personalised pencils. This is also a nice idea for archivists, who also use pencils daily in their work. Myself and a librarian friend got these for our archivist friend and boss and I’m pretty sure she liked them.

10. Old Books Scented Soy Candle Frostbeard Studio

Frostbeard Old Books Scented Soy CandleEvery librarian loves the smell of books. Fact. I think it’s in out genes or something. I haven’t actually smelled these candles but I love the idea of them.

PS. Caroline from Libraries and Labyrinths has also suggested fabulous faux book covers for e-readers from the British Library.

If you have any further suggestions leave them in the comments please.

Never Stop Learning – Library Camp 2014

Wood Quay VenueLibrary Camp took place yesterday in the Wood Quay Venue and I had so much fun nerding out with my fellow librarians. The unconference was organised jointly by the LAI Career Development Group and the Academic & Special Libraries section of the LAI. An unconference involves librarians pitching ideas and then facilitating a conversation around that topic. It’s all very relaxed and informal and people are encouraged to move from pitch to pitch if they want.

I had so much fun at the first Library Camp that I really wanted to get involved this year. But what could I pitch? What do I know about? Well, I know about job hunting so that’s what I went with. I was pretty nervous standing up to talk, I’m relatively newly qualified, would people take me seriously? But I was only talking to a group of about 15 people and there were a few familiar faces so I relaxed pretty quickly.

I started with a quick introduction to the topics I wanted to cover, a few sentences about me and my journey so far and then I asked about the audience – anyone thinking of joining the profession? anyone currently studying? 5 years out? 10 years out?

Job huntThe first topic we tackled was the job hunt itself. I recommended and University Vacancies Ireland. From the floor we added, although the hiring embargo was recognised and the issues around this discussed. For those interested in technology courses related to social inclusion National Adult Literacy Agency (Nala) was recommended. And of course Linkedin got a mention. This is a great way to showcase projects you’ve been involved in and showing employers how you stand out from the crowd. Recommendations are also really important, as well as showing employers that you are comfortable with social media. Twitter is another really useful resource for making those all important contacts and finding jobs. New pros, if you’re not on there you should be!

InternshipsNext up we talked about the elephant in the job hunting room – Internships. From my point of view, I wouldn’t have gotten my current job without the experience I gained during my internship. I was surprised that overall we decided that they could be positive given certain conditions. It’s important to be selective about which internships you do and to communicate your learning needs to your employer. Ask questions during the interview to get a sense of how seriously the employer take the internship. There has to be a two way benefit. Also ask your employer to put you in contact with other librarians who you may be interesting in talking to. If you can’t find a suitable internship, you can propose a project to an employer and create your own internship. We also discussed whether you should put the word Intern on your CV? It was felt that is could be explained somewhere on your CV/Cover letter to avoid it seeming like you’re a job hopper.

If you are doing an Internship, the LAI run an accreditation program.


The next topic we tackled was Networking & CPD. My advice was to go to all the LAI events you can and get onto any of the mailing lists of the groups within the LAI that you’re interested in. DRI also run great events that are mostly free. I also wanted to make the point that anyone with an interest in IT should try to evolve their skills as I see a gap in the skillset coming straight at us. And I don’t just mean someone who is ‘good with computers’, I mean we are going to need librarians who can manage a web presence from start to finish, can set up and manage an OPAC, small digital repository or online catalogue.

It’s also never too early to get involved with LAI committees, they’re always looking for new people and ideas. And Associateship of the LAI and Chartership of CILIP can really help increase your confidence in your skills.

Never stop learningAs time was running quickly out I asked for any final thoughts, pearls of wisdom, advice from the audience. Jane Burns, who is a huge inspiration to me, summed it up nicely by advising that we NEVER STOP LEARNING. Isn’t that brilliant? What a perfect message. Never stop learning. I’ll just let that sink in…

Other areas that important for Info Pros to develop include IT skills, sociology, social media and marketing. If you’re looking to expand your skills and make yourself even more employable these are areas to consider.

Thank you to the organisers of what was another great event. I had a great day and I’m already looking forward to next year,

Library tourism – New York Public Library

Library Way

Our recent trip to New York was part of a band trip to play in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York so we travelled  as part of a large group. When I asked on the first morning if anyone would like to join us for a tour of New York’s public library I was met with confused looks and polite ‘no thank yous’.

But I didn’t care. I was excited. The tour took just over an hour, which isn’t a surprise when you consider the sheer size of the library. The library came into being when the Tilden Trust and the Astor and Lenox libraries were consolidated on May 23, 1895. The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building was built in 1911 and is a simply stunning piece of architecture.

NYC 2014 029Fun facts that I learned on the tour include that there are 88 miles of shelf space in the library itself and a further 40 miles under Bryant Park to the back of the building. They also use their own classification system for shelving the books,  designed by the first Director, Dr. John Shaw Billings.

We found out about the main collections held by the library as well as the building itself and even R, who is not a librarian, found it really interesting. One thing that struck me during the tour was that the library only receives a small amount of their budget from the government and relies on donations to provide the rest. This is in sharp contrast to public libraries here. Does this say something about the importance of libraries in US culture?

One of the historic benefactors mentioned on the tour was steel baron Andrew Carnegie, who is probably more famous for building Carnegie Hall. Andrew Carnegie also donated a lot of money for the construction of public libraries in Ireland, which is something not many people may be aware of so I plan on exploring his influence on the Irish public library system in a future post.

NYC2014 007I also got waaaay too excited when I realised librarians get a discount in the gift shop. It was one of the highlights of the trip to be able to say out loud “I’m a librarian”.

I would definitely recommend a trip to the library if you’re visiting New York and I also plan on making library tourism a feature of our holidays in future. Do you have any recommendations to start me off?

Documentation Discoveries

MayoAug13 010As mentioned in a previous post, our trip to Mayo coincided with Heritage Week. I’m really interested in our Heritage so I quickly scoured the Heritage Week website and booklet to see what would be on in and around Westport. One event immediately caught my interest. The National Museum of Country Life at Turlough was inviting members of the public to “tour behind the scenes, see and hear about some of the exciting and puzzling discoveries uncovered in the Museum’s collections.”

I think this was made for me, having just finished a Masters of Library and Information Studies and being fascinated by our heritage. The date and timing also meant that this was the perfect event to finish our week away on the way home. Before the tour kicked off we had a good look around the Museum as we had never visited before. The exhibits focus on the traditional way of life in Ireland and I am very pleased to say that knitting featured, but more on that in a further post.

As part of the tour the group of around 20 of us were taken into the back of the Museum to see where all the objects are stored. It was absolutely fascinating. The Documentation Officer who showed us around explained that they were finishing a stock take of all their objects, creating an online catalogue that would then be made available to the public.  It was great to be able to ask about cataloguing standards used, the collection development and acquisitions policy and their preservation policy.

The Documentation Officer said that they use a museum cataloguing standard, that they actively seek objects where there is a gap in the collection and accept donations based on the age and rarity of the object. He also described how objects are deep frozen when they arrive on site to kill any potential insects/mites/bacteria. He described how preservation is carried out where necessary but that objects are not restored. They are kept in the condition they arrive in, unless they are likely to deteriorate.

He also described how they put exhibitions together, linking objects that are interesting or come with an interesting story. They were in the planning stages of an exhibition of the history of the police in Ireland and we got to see close up some of the objects that would be displayed. We also got to see a selection of sliotars and hurleys from the Museum’s collection that are going to be used in an exhibition of sport.

The Museum are considering running similar tours in the future and I certainly hope they do, as for me, it was absolutely fascinating to get to see behind the scenes. And if you happen to be passing Turlough I highly recommend you pop in to the museum as the exhibitions are really beautiful (and it’s free!).

Digitisation in a Day

About three weeks ago I took a workshop with An Foras Feasa at NUI Maynooth called Digitisation in a Day (and have been planning ever since to write about it but never quite got around to it). I’ve always been interested in technology, my undergrad was in Computer Science, Linguistics and French, and during my studies this year I found myself drawn to the more techie side of librarianship and the digital humanities. So when the most recent Digitisation in a Day workshop was announced I jumped at the chance to attend.

The course was fantastic. It was designed to give a brief overview of the process and the whole day was a bit of a whirlwind as we attempted to pack in as much as possible. I particularly liked that we were working with real documents, in a semi-real project so we got some hands on experience, as well as learning best practice. We digitised a Guest Book from a cafe.

I was surprised at first that so little of the day focused on the actual digitisation (capturing the image) process. But there is so much to digitisation than just taking a picture. The first lesson I took from the day was don’t digitise for the sake of it. Our digital libraries lecturer had already drilled into us that digitisation is not preservation. Let me say that again – digitisation is not preservation. Digital copies also need to be preserved.

The fist session descirbed An Foras Feasa’s digitisation process, then we moved on to user requirements. This was a total lightbulb moment for me, and also clarified a few issues in terms of our Capstone (group thesis). How can you do anything without knowing what your users might need!?!? So before you digitise your resource you need to know WHY you are doing it, and what research questions your users may have. This makes so much logical sense to me, and is something we had discussed in my Information Architecture class in our first semester. But unfortunately users don’t always seem to be at the core of many projects.

We also looked at some software, which only slightly went over my head. And that’s ok, if working on a large project there would be a software engineer on the team. But at least most of the terms used (such as Fedora, XML, XQuery, Apache web server) were familiar to me. This is yet another theme I keep returning to. Although I studied Computer Science I’m not, and never will be, a developer. But as a librarian I don’t need to be. I only need to be able to communicate with the developer, and I feel I have sufficient competency in that area to be able to do just that.

Next up: we actually took our digital images of the guest book, and got to have a look around An Foras Feasa’s labs, which was very exciting. Once the image was taken we had to segment them using software and created a map so we could tell the XML encoding where each bit of transcription was on the page. We used Map Edit and the online version available at

After lunch we encoded our transcription in XML. Having said I’m not a developer, I do love a bit of coding. The logicality of it all appeals to me. XML looks quite similar to HTML, which I studied in Web Publishing, so that really helped me understand what was going on in our very brief introduction to this encoding standard. I’m also writing about XML for my Capstone and firmly believe that an open standard is the way to go. Using XML also means that once your data are encoded (and yes, data are plural) you can transfer them from one system to another, making sharing of your resource easier.

A question was asked later in the day about TEI, which is another encoding schema used in digital humanities. However our facilitator vehemently defended XML as being superior. We didn’t cover TEI in our course, so I won’t attempt to regurgitate her defense of XML, except to say I was totally convinced by her.

At the end of the day we got to see our live, online, digitised guest book. So much of this day strengthened for me that I want to be working in the digital aspect of libraries, in some capacity at least. Speaking to one of the facilitators during a break he also mentioned that my linguistics qualification could come in useful with the natural language analysis in these types of projects. And so many of the themes from our lectures cropped up here again, particularly the focus on the user and the use of open standards.

I drove home feeling exhilarated and motivated by my new (and reaffirmed) knowledge and excited about what the future holds for me and my new skills.