Connecting Libraries to the Semantic Web

After finishing my MLIS in 2015 I briefly worked as a research assistant in the area of Human Computer Interaction at the iSchool in UCD. This experience, in addition to my love of libraries, inspired me to pursue a PhD in Computer Science, with a focus on the use of Linked Data in the library domain, with the ADAPT Centre in TCD.

In this post I’m going to give a (very) brief introduction to the Semantic Web and Linked Data, and discuss how these technologies can be used for the benefit of libraries. I’m then going to discuss my research in the hopes that it may inspire some of you to participate in my research and also to collaborate with a computer scientist near you!

What is the Semantic Web and Linked Data?

The Web contains a vast amount of information presented in the form of webpages linked together via hyperlinks. In order to find specific resources on the web, search engines are used to rank webpages based on relevancy via keyword searches. While this is done to great effect, unlike humans, computers have very little understanding of the meaning of data on the web, nor do they understand the relationships (links) between them.

The Semantic Web (SW) is an extension of the current web in which information is given well defined meaning, e.g. person’s name, book title. Linked Data (LD) involves creating identifiers for web resources and then linking them together by meaningfully describing their relationships, e.g. author of, in a common machine-readable format. Therefore, the sentence ‘JK Rowling (name) wrote (author) Harry Potter (title)’ is not only meaningful to a human reader, but also to a machine. This data can then be linked to endless amounts of other related resources, e.g. publisher, year, illustrator, other works – thus creating a Web of Data!

In essence, the vision of the Semantic Web and Linked Data is to transform the web into one large interlinked and searchable database rather than a disparate collection of documents.

Why Should Information Professionals be Interested?

From the perspective of a library, participating in the SW could greatly enhance information discovery. By freeing metadata from library databases and sharing it on the SW, libraries could make their resources more visible on a global scale. Publishing to the SW would also allow libraries to share their metadata with greater ease which could lead to a reduction in time spent cataloguing, reducing library costs. In addition, the process of interlinking LD resources with those emerging from other cultural heritage institutions would allow researchers to be directed to a web of related data based on a single information search.

Despite these benefits, relatively few libraries are participating in the SW. In my view, one of the main reasons for this is that current LD technologies are not designed with the workflows, needs or expertise of librarians in mind.

My Research

One of my research goals is to explore how LD technologies could be made more engaging for librarians, with a particular focus on the process of interlinking LD datasets. I decided to focus on this area due to the fact that, although increasing numbers of libraries are publishing LD, few have successfully interlinked their data with other LD resources – a central aspect of the SW.

I’m currently in the process of collecting data from information professionals in relation to their views on LD for libraries, archives and other cultural heritage institutions. I’m also gathering data on the types of interfaces information professionals like to use. I’m doing this so that I can design an interface that is easy to use, and that will also meet librarians’ requirements in relation to interlinking LD datasets. If you would like to participate in this research, I would be most grateful if you completed my questionnaire at

Finally, another one of my goals is to inspire future collaborations between computer scientists and information professionals. I believe that both these groups have so much to offer each other in terms of ideas, expertise and data, and that there is huge potential for some really interesting and unique research. So please, get collaborating!


  1. Berners-Lee, T., Hendler, J., & Lassila, O. (2001). The Semantic Web. Scientific American, 284(5), 1-5.
  2. Bizer, C., Heath, T., & Berners-Lee, T. (2009). Linked Data – The Story So Far. International Journal on Semantic Web and Information Systems, 5(3), 1-22.
  3. Hastings, R.: Linked Data in Libraries: Status and Future Direction. Computers in 
Libraries, 35, 12–16 (2015)
  4. Gonzales, B. M.: Linking Libraries to the Web: Linked Data and the Future of the 
Bibliographic Record. ITAL, 33, 10–22 (2014)
  5. Ryan, C., Grant, R., Carragin, E., Collins, S., Decker, S., Lopes, N.: Linked Data 
Authority records for Irish Place Names. IJDL, 15, 73–85 (2015)
  6. OCLC: Online Computer Library Center, (2017), 
  7. Hallo, M., Lujan Mora, S., Trujillo Mondejar, J. C.: Transforming library catalogs into Linked Data. ICERI (2013)
  8. Mitchell, E. T.: Library Linked Data: Early Activity and Development. Libr Technol Rep, 52, 5–33 (2016)

About the authorpicture of lucy mckenna

Lucy McKenna completed her MLIS in UCD in 2015 after which she worked as a research assistant in the area of Human Computer Interaction with Benjamin Cowan of the UCD iSchool. She is currently a student in the ADAPT Centre, Trinity College Dublin, where she is working towards a PhD in Computer Science.



Prison Libraries in Ireland

In Ireland, prison libraries are a recognised group within the Library Association of Ireland (LAI) and receive their funding through the Local County Council (Development Plan for Dublin City Public Libraries 2012-16, p. 14). In this context, a prison library is defined as a service ‘provided in partnership with the relevant local authorities. Prison officers have a key role in facilitating the availability of services in the evening and at weekends. The library service tries to reflect the material available in the wider community, including books available in languages other than English, audio books and easy reader materials’ (Irish Prison Library Service, Para. 1). An understanding of this service is essential to how we ascertain the information needs of both the employees and patrons within the prison library service. However, despite the recognition that prison libraries receive from the LAI and the important contribution they make to the prison service, there is a distinct lack of scholarly research concerning the prison library service in Ireland. As a result, there is very little factual data available concerning the operation of prison libraries or how librarians engage with this unique working environment.

International Studies

Research on the Scandinavian Prison System reveals that prisoners generally had lower educational attainments, no significant work experience, reading or learning difficulties and had suffered from some form of substance abuse (Ljodal & Ra, 2011). The Penal Reform Trust UK states that ‘half (51%) of people entering prison were assessed as having literacy skills expected of an 11 year old’ (Prison: The Facts, Bromley Briefings Summer 2016, The ability to obtain employment post-imprisonment is significantly hindered by low literacy levels. Recent statistics from the UK reveal that unemployment among prisoners directly affected their likelihood of re-offending. See chart below:

Statistics and graphs from the UK on unemployment among prisoners and how it directly affected their likelihood of re-offending. Test reads: Half of prisoners had been in employment the year before custody. People are less likely to reoffend if they had a job before being sent to prison, 65% unemployed and 40% employed. 15% of prisoners were homeless before entering custody. People who were previously homeless have a higher reconviction rate. 79% previously homeless, 47% previously had accomodation. Source Minitry of Justic 2010 Compendium of reoffending statistics. From Prison Reform Trust UK, Summer, 2016:

(Prison Reform Trust UK, Summer, 2016:

Prison libraries, therefore, play a vital role in promoting prisoners education and learning. Inclusive training programmes and literacy groups have tackled development needs and promoted a positive reading culture. Germany and Scandinavia provide some of the most progressive library services in Europe (Peschers & Patterson, 2011 & Ljodal & Ra, 2011).

Irish Prison Libraries

Recent studies acknowledge that there should be little differences between a ‘public and prison library service’ (Conrad, 2012, p. 414). As previously outlined, Irish prison libraries seek to provide a service similar to that of public libraries (Irish Prison Library Service, Para. 1). One existing challenge within Irish prison libraries is the inadequate level of technological resources available. In 2015, the Cloverhill Visiting Committee stated that despite the ‘wide variety of books… it would be very beneficial to introduce modern technology, that can offer a higher quality of education and a better understanding of learning to prisoners that may have impairments such as deafness and other physical difficulties’ (Report of the Prison Visiting Committee, Cloverhill, 2015, p. 6). The provision of such a service would provide additional supports for prisoners with learning difficulties or those with specific information needs. It is accepted that ‘the internet- is an important resource in modern life… Public libraries provide electronic catalogs and computers for searching the Internet as part of their core services’ (Ljodal & Ra, 2011). However, Irish Prison libraries provide an invaluable service to the prisoner community. In recent years, Prison Visiting Committees acknowledged the diverse range of literature available in the country’s prisons (Reports of the Prison Visiting Committee Mountjoy, 2015; Arbour Hill, 2015; Cloverhill 2015; Wheatfield 2015). In Mountjoy, books were seen as a necessary learning aid for prisoners and these items should made be available as part of the rehabilitation process (Report of Prison Visiting Committee Mountjoy, 2014, p. 8).


To date, there is little research available on Irish prison libraries and prisoners’ information needs. Each prisoner has a unique and individual need or requirement and educational training/work experience in the prison library service would be immense benefit to prisoners during their sentences. Future research could assess the information needs of prisoners and how the library service contributes to the education and training of prisoners Ireland.


Bowe, C., (2011) Trends in UK Prison Libraries, Library Trends, 59(3): 427-445. DOI:

Conrad, S. (2012) ‘Collection Development and Circulation Policies in Prison Libraries: An Exploratory Survey of Librarians in US Correctional Institutions’, The Library Quarterly: Information, Community, Policy, 84 (4), 407-27. Retrieved 21 Sept. 2016,

Cramard, O. (2011) ‘The Long Development of Prison Libraries in France’ Library Trends, 59 (3) 544-562. DOI:

Fought, R.L., Gahn, P & Mills, Y., (2014) Promoting the Library

Through the Collection Development Policy: A Case Study, Journal of Electronic Resources in Medical Libraries, 11:4, 169-178, DOI: 10.1080/15424065.2014.969031

Hayes, M. & Cassidy, A. (2012) Development Plan for Dublin City Public Libraries 2012-16, 1-54. DOI:

Huffman, R.D. (1976) Robert Palmer, Prison Librarian: Guys tell me: “If I couldn’t read, I’d go bugs”, American Libraries, 7 (6), 351-351. DOI:

Irish Prison Library Service, 2016,, Retrieved, 27 October 2016.

Johnson, P. (2009), Fundamentals of Collection Development and Management, Chicago: American Library Association.

Lehmann, V. (2011) ‘Challenges and Accomplishments in US Prison Libraries’ Library Trends 59 (3) 490-508. DOI

Ljodal, H.J., & Ra, E., (2011)’Prison Libraries the Scandinavian way: An Overview of the Development and Operation of Prison Library Service’ Library Trends, 59 (3), 473-489. DOI:

Peschers, G., Patterson, A. (2001) ‘Books Open Worlds to People Behind Bars: Library Services in Prison as Exemplified by the Munster Prison Library, Germany’s “Prison Library of the Year 2007”, Library Trends 59 (3) 520-43. DOI:

Reports of the Visiting Committees to Arbour Hill, Cloverhill, Dochas, Mountjoy and Wheatfield, 2014-5. Retrieved 29 Sept. 2016,



Irish Prison Library Service:

Penal Reform Trust Ireland:

Renal Reform Trust UK:

About the AuthorPhoto of Anne-Marie McInerney

Anne Marie McInerney is presently studying for a MLIS at UCD 2016-17. She completed a PhD in Modern Irish History entitled ‘Internment of the Anti-Treaty IRA 1922-24’, in Trinity College Dublin in 2015. Anne Marie previously worked as both a researcher and a teaching assistant at Trinity College Dublin. She is presently employed by Dublin City Public Libraries. Her major research interests include the Irish Revolution 1916-1923, penal history, prison reform and civil wars.

Spotlight on John Stearne Medical Library

PC's in the John Stearne medical library.

The John Stearne Medical Library (JSML) is located in the Trinity Centre for Health Sciences on the campus of St. James`s Hospital Dublin. Established in 1973, the JSML was relocated to its current location in 1992. In 2006, the library received extensive refurbishment to create additional space to accommodate both readers and the physical collection held here. Up to 100 readers can currently be accommodated comfortably in the reading room. It is a very open and vibrant physical space finished with wood panelling, and the vaulted glass ceiling allows lots of light to enter into the room. There are also three bookable rooms within the JSML to facilitate students who prefer to study collaboratively and work on group projects.

In term-time, the JSML is open Monday-Friday from 9am-10pm, and on Saturdays from 9.30am-1pm. It is intended to serve as the primary reading room for medical students in the latter yejs2ars of their training, along with occupational, physical and radiation therapy students at all levels, and nursing students. However, all registered students and staff of Trinity College Dublin are entitled to use the Library facilities. It is also used by postgraduate students, researchers and staff of both the Trinity Centre and St. James`s Hospital throughout the year.

The clinical portion of Trinity College’s medical collection are housed at the JSML. This collection includes textbooks and journals relating to the clinical disciplines. In addition, other periodicals and textbooks in fields allied to medicine and surgery – primarily physical, occupational and radiation therapy – are also housed here. The physical collection is divided into two categories. Undergraduate students are entitled to borrow from the SJ collection, while staff and research postgraduates can borrow material from the SJR collection. Patrons can also submit requests to have materials held in offsite storage to be delivered to the library, along with inter-library loan requests.


Occupational therapy section

The reading room is enabled for wireless internet connection and has a number of live points which allow access to the College Network. There are currently 6 PCs available in the reading room, 1 PC in each group study room, and 1 guest PC to allow students, hospital staff and visiting researcher’s access to the online resources available through Trinity College. The Library subscribes to a wide variety of electronic journals and databases including, the Cochrane Library, Scopus, Web of Knowledge, PubMed, AMED, CINAHL, BIOSIS and PsycINFO. Furthermore, the library provides access to an assistive technology computer/scanner in group study room 2. This computer is wheelchair accessible and equipped with the latest assistive technology software, including; Zoomtext™, Duxbury™, JAWS™, Kurzweil 1000™/Kurzweil 3000™, Hal™, Lunar™ and Supernova™.


Group study room

Regarding future developments, we are currently making space in a section of the library by relocating some of the infrequently used or outdated items in the collection to offsite storage. When this section is emptied and the shelving has been removed completely, (subject to funding and permission) we hope to use the space to create additional group study rooms or to house more PC`s.


Area currently being cleared for repurposing

About the authorPicture of Jesse Waters in front of library shelves.

Jesse Waters is a 2015 graduate of the MLIS at University College Dublin, and also holds an MA in History from Mary Immaculate College. He is currently working as a library-assistant in the John Stearne Medical Library (Trinity College Dublin) on the campus of St. James`s Hospital. Previous to this role, he worked as a library-assistant at the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, the James Joyce Library (University College Dublin), and volunteered in the library at Limerick School of Art and Design and the Glucksman Library (University of Limerick).

Thank you UCD School of Information & Communication Studies


The SLIP Ireland second annual student conference is tomorrow and we would like to thank our gold sponsor, University College Dublin School of Information and Communication Studies. Both Clare and Helena of SLIP Ireland are graduates of UCD ICS (then SILS) and are very grateful for the continued support from the school and staff.

A special thanks to Prof. Kalpana Shankar, head of school, who will be giving the sponsor presentation on Saturday. Her presentation is entitled Why Information Professionals are Needed More than Ever.

Thanks also to Lai Ma, Claire Nolan, Lisa Gaffney and Jane Burns of UCD ICS.

You can visit the ICS website here and follow the school on Twitter @UCD_iSchool

Thank you Library Association of Ireland


The SLIP Ireland second annual student conference is just two days away and we would like to thank our platinum sponsor, the Library Association of Ireland. The LAI have been so supportive of SLIP and we really appreciate all the help they have given us.

A special thanks to Dr. Philip Cohen, president of the Library Association of Ireland, who will be giving the sponsor presentation on Saturday. His presentation is entitled The Library Association of Ireland: What’s In It For Me? The LAI have also accredited this year’s conference for Continuing Professional Development.

Thank you also to Lorna Dodd, Betty Codd, Mary Murphy and Gillian Kerins at the LAI.

Visit the LAI website here and follow them on Twitter @LAIonline.

Register now for #SLIP2017!

Registration for the SLIP Ireland Student Conference 2017 is now open! Head over to our Eventbrite page to register for your free ticket.

The theme this year is “Connecting the Dots: From Study to Practice” and we have a great line-up including presentations and posters from current students and recent graduates, not one but two panel discussions about library school, research and practice, and of course time for tea, coffee & refreshments.

We look forward to welcoming you to Dublin City Library on Saturday 25th, tickets are limited to please book early to avoid disappointment!

Check out our event page on the blog to keep up to date with the conference schedule and read more about our presenters and sponsors.

Image of exterior Pearse street library.

Image credit Dublin City Public Libraries


SLIP Student Conference 2017 Guidelines

Image of hand holding a microphone. Text reads: SLIP Student Conference 2017. Connecting The Dots: From Study to Practice

On the 25th of February 2017 SLIP Ireland are delighted to be holding our Second Annual Student Conference. Submissions are now open for current students and graduates of the last three years from any library qualification (UCD, DBS, Ulster University, distance learning). This year we are extending submission to students and graduates of Archival Studies, Archives and Records Management and Digital Humanities.

The theme of the conference is “Connecting The Dots: From Study to Practice”. We are open to a broad interpretation of the theme and welcome presentations on topics including (but not limited to):

  • Comparing the theory and practice of librarianship
  • Management
  • First professional jobs
  • Balancing education and work
  • Networking
  • Presenting
  • Communities of practice
  • Transferable skills
  • Working in non-traditional libraries
  • The job market/emigration


  • Should be no more than 10 minutes
  • May have a PowerPoint, Keynote, Google Slides, Prezi of PDF visual presentation format. If you would like to use another format please check with us by emailing


  • Should be A1 size
  • Professionally printed (at your own expense)
  • For help with designing your poster take a look at this excellent blog post written by Jenny O’Neill for the Library Association of Ireland Career Development Group.


Sign up with the submission form here!

Designing Library Spaces

Image of a modern white library. Text reads: designing library spaces.

The “library as space” is a pervasive and attractive theme in the sphere of library and information studies (LIS). In an article (User-Experience Design and Library Spaces: A Pathway to Innovation?) in the Journal of Library Innovation, MacArthur and Graham1 argue for the role of design theory in library planning. Drawing on the work of Donald A. Norman, co-founder of the Nielsen Norman Group, the authors map his user-experience design framework2 onto physical spaces rather than physical objects or products. Norman’s theory is explained very clearly and case studies are presented to illustrate each point.

Norman’s theory is hinged upon the emotional response to objects, or as the authors argue, physical spaces. The visceral level is the immediate response to sensory input and this immediacy is said to be “innate for humans” (McArthur & Graham, 2015, p. 3). The authors discuss successful uses of visceral design in the Queens Library in Far Rockaway New York where a dedicated Teen Library was set up separate to the main library. This space was designed specifically for the target users with services to match, including a $70,000 recording studio and editing suite, forty computers and magazine subscriptions. The teen library pushes the boundary of what is traditionally considered a library as it does not circulate books and has no librarian. It is run by director Kim McNeil Capers, a mental health counselor and the rest of the staff is made up of youth counselors. You can read more about the teen library here3

Image of woman (Kim McNeil Capers) standing smiling in teen library in Far Rockaway New York. Text of quote from Kim: When they come in here, we're going to get them the help they need.

The authors succeed in suggesting a number of jumping off points for exploring visceral designs in libraries. These include considering bringing “the outside in” and “creating visually stunning entry points” as well as more unorthodox design elements, such as different audio environments for various sections of the library and the tactile and olfactory aspects of design (McArthur & Graham, 2015, p. 4).

The emphasis on usability and universal design is welcome and important. As public spaces libraries and librarians have duty to provide accessible services to all patrons beyond what is legally mandated. We have an opportunity when designing these spaces and services to push the boundaries of what accessibility and usability look like for the 21st century. If you want to learn more about accessible design for libraries have a look at the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) Access to Libraries for Persons with Disabilities Checklist or Emily Singley’s site, which showcases public and academic libraries that demonstrate exceptional usability. 

While this article does a solid job in introducing the topic of design in libraries, there are certain aspects that are somewhat problematic. Most of the libraries featured are public libraries and little mention is given to other types of libraries. Discussion of how to fund these expensive designs is neglected, which leaves less privileged libraries to the wayside. The authors also seem to support a project run by the Sno-Isle Libraries in Washington State that recruited “Community Ambassadors” to advocate for the library by discussing their positive experiences with the library. The use of unpaid labour is exploitative and the idea of recruiting well-meaning individuals to proselytise in their communities should strike librarians, at the very least, as inappropriate. Cheryl Telford of Sno-isle Libraries said of the ambassadors:

“This is a much warmer, softer role than being perceived as someone who is an agenda-pusher and who overwhelms others using philosophical debate, facts and figures.”  (Telford, 2012)4

The fact is libraries are under-funded and under-supported and it is our duty as librarians to advocate for our libraries. And I don’t think it’s that radical an idea to use evidence to back up our claims.

The article ends with more suggestions on how to engage in reflective practice, including a nice idea to record the oral history of the library. The authors suggest capitalising on emerging social media trends as a way to target specific user groups, which is advice I would take with a very large pinch of salt. Social media for brands is very difficult. When done right it looks very easy but finding the right tone and platforms can be very challenging. Adam Koszary runs the social media for Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries and wrote an incredible piece in Medium about his experience5. If you have one library as your Twitter idol, make it the Bodleian. 

Brands using memes can fail spectacularly, here are a few examples (warning NSFW!). So consider making a robust marketing plan incorporating social media that is relevant to your target user group before pulling out all the stops to make a Harlem Shake video.  

Overall, this article is a good introduction to the concept of “library as space” with lots of scope for further research within the examples given. While the article suffers from a narrow focus on public libraries, readers can gain enough of an understanding of the underlying design principles to apply them to other types of library environments. A similar article discussing academic or special libraries would be a welcome follow-up. This article is relevant to students and those who want to learn more about library design. It is freely available in the open access Journal of Library Innovation here

Written by Clare Murnane. When Clare isn’t tweeting for SLIP @SLIPIreland she spends too much time on her other account @Clarebrarian.

If you have an idea for a blog post and want to write about it for SLIP contact

  1. McArthur, J.A. & Graham, V.J. (2015).  User-Experience Design and Library Spaces: A Pathway to Innovation? Journal of Library Innovation 6(2), 1-14. 
  2. Norman, D. A. (2004). Emotional design: Why we love (or hate) everyday things. New York, NY: Basic Books.
  3. Gilbert, K. (2014). What is a library? Retrieved from Narratively: 
  4. Telford, C. (2012). Community ambassador: Sno-Isle Libraries. Retrieved from Urban Libraries Council website:
  5. Koszary, A. (2016). Social media is stupid and museums should be too. Retrieved from Medium: 

Spotlight on St.Michael’s Hospital Library and Information Service

Image of three computers and potted plants on desks with chairs in foreground. Location: St. Michael's Hospital Library.

Image courtesy of St. Michael’s Hospital

The hospital was opened on 12 June 1876 and is celebrating its 140th anniversary this year. It is a general hospital providing a range of acute and specialised hospital services. It is a small hospital with 130 inpatient beds incorporating 7-day, 5-day and day care facilities. The hospital cares for both medical and surgical patients, as well as providing outpatient clinics and services such as Cardiac Rehabilitation, Diabetes Treatment, Heart Failure Treatment, Pulmonary Rehabilitation and an 8am – 8pm Emergency Department. St. Michael’s is part of the St. Vincent’s Healthcare Group and has strong clinical links with St. Vincent’s University Hospital and is a medical and nursing teaching hospital affiliated to U.C.D.

The Library & Information Service (LIS) is located in the old conservatory in what was formerly St. Michael’s Private Hospital. The service is for staff and students only and is not accessible to the public.

The LIS is a shared service with St. Vincent’s University Hospital, which means that although we report to separate management teams and operate in different hospitals, we have a shared library catalogue and shared electronic resources collections. I actively engage with the librarians in St. Vincent’s University Hospital, who are a wonderful source of support and inspiration.


The fact that the library is located in the conservatory means that it has one of the best views of the sea in the entire building. I made a lot of changes to the physical layout when I took over, opening up the main space, moving around shelving to create more light and getting additional computers installed so that there are more resources available to staff. It is a small room, but the changes have helped create a feeling of space and make best use of the natural light. There have been lots of compliments about the look and feel, although I do get the occasional request to put in some beanbags!

Image of St. Michael's Hospital Library interior, bookcases and desks..


The Library & Information Service is staffed 9-5, Monday to Friday. The Library is open to all staff of St. Michael’s Hospital, St. Vincent’s University Hospital and any staff or students on placement in either of the hospitals. Staff use their staff ID swipe-cards to gain access to the Library.

Visit the Library website here and follow on Twitter @svhglibrary.

Image of desks and bookcases in St. Michael's Hospital Library

About the Author

Image of Caroline RowanCaroline is a latecomer to the world of information management. Prior to completing her MLIS is 2013, she worked in financial services for 13 years, in a variety of roles including branch and business banking, legal and compliance, business strategy and website development.  After graduation, she worked as a librarian in the University Hospital in Limerick and then in the University of Limerick. She has been a solo librarian in St. Michael’s Hospital since November 2014.

Caroline is an active advocate for the information profession. She has been a Communications Officer for the Health Sciences Library Group of the LAI, working with fellow officer Diarmuid Stokes to publish HINT: Health Information News and Thinking, the HSLG newsletter, managing the HSLG website and organising a number of the HSLG conferences.

She is part of the team which established HEAR: Health Evidence Awareness Report, a national health newsletter designed by a collaboration of health librarians, which delivers useful content for both patients and healthcare practitioners.  She was also actively involved in the development of Rudai23, a 23 Things Collaboration. This is an online course designed to teach information professionals about web technologies and skills they need to succeed in modern librarianship. The course can be viewed at The course went live in July 2015 and had 185 participants from a variety of countries. Her role involved researching and drafting several of the course modules as well as moderating participant blogs, providing encouragement and feedback. The course was certified by the LAI for CPD purposes and is being used by some participants as part of their ALAI associateship and CILIP chartership paths.

She is currently involved in a number of internal hospital projects, including the installation of a new library management system.

Week 3: Job Interviews

This is part three of a three part series on Job Searching. Check out part one Job Searching and part two Applying for Jobs.

image of a woman being interviews by two women, text reads: week 3 job interviews.Congratulations you’ve got an interview! Over the past two weeks we have reviewed looking for and applying for jobs. This week we’re tackling the part that most people are apprehensive about. So we have some of the best advice resources out there to help you along the way.

Be Prepared

Just like you did for your application, research the organisation you’re interviewing with. They will either ask you a direct question about how much you know about them or you can incorporate it into your answer. If they don’t ask you directly, you can show off your due diligence and use relevant information in your answers to other questions.

Prepare answers to common interview questions. Lots of interviews start with being asked to walk your interviewers through your CV, so take some time to prepare a good answer for this. Each point should have a specific example to back it up. Use the STAR method: 

Background image of stars in space. Text reads: STAR Method: Situation: Describe the challenge or situation giving context and relevant background information. Task: What was your role? What was required of you specifically in this project? Action: What did you do? This is the most important part. Describe what you did using “I” statements in some detail. Say why you chose a certain course of action over another. Avoid using jargon. Result: What was the outcome? What did you achieve? What did you learn? Be as specific as you can.

That might sound like quite a lot but remember you can prepare this ahead of time. It’s also a good thing to have in your mind during an interview if you’re asked something unexpected as it helps you to structure your thoughts in a logical manner. Often it’s easier to do things we find difficult when broken down into small, manageable chunks. Come up with STAR examples for each of your previous jobs and for common questions and themes like:

  • Tell me about a time you worked as a team/group/collaboratively?
  • Tell me about a time you experienced conflict at work?
  • Give me an example of a time you succeeded.

Now practice your answers. Out loud. Yes, it might feel embarrassing but it really works. Get together with friends or classmates and practice interviewing each other. If you can’t do that then practice your answers out loud to yourself, you need to hear how they sound and see how you feel speaking the words you’ve written. You could try recording them on your phone and listening back. Careers advice services in universities often have mock-interview services. All of these techniques are designed to make you more comfortable and confident during the real interview. Who cares if you feel a bit silly talking about “a time you had to work to a tight deadline” while alone in your bedroom? It will be worth it when you walk out of that interview happy that you represented yourself in the best possible light. 

The Big Day

Aim to arrive early, but not too early. About ten minutes is fine. If you’re very nervous arrive in plenty of time and find a nearby coffee shop (except if you really are that nervous maybe stick to chamomile tea!). Your interviewers are probably doing interviews all day and arriving 45 minutes early may make them feel pressured (just don’t do what this person does and show up 15 minutes late to “test” your interviewers). If you’re unsure what to wear to your interview err on the side of business/formal. Your interviewers will ask if you have any questions at the end and it’s usually a good idea to ask something. But don’t ask just for the sake of it, it needs to be something you are genuinely curious about.  You could ask to clarify something they mentioned earlier if it wasn’t clear, ask them about a typical day in the role, ask about their jobs or something about the organisation. Once the interview is over make a note of the questions they asked you, you will forget very quickly but it’s good to know so you can practice for the next one.

After everything it is as simple as that. If you’re not successful this time please don’t be too disappointed. It is a very competitive market, so try not to take their hiring decision personally. If you don’t get the job you can ask for feedback on your interview. Sometimes they will refuse, largely due to time constraints. However, often they will provide valuable feedback to you. This isn’t just pointing out your faults, they will point out your strengths too. For example, they may say they were very impressed with your technical skills, when you didn’t realise you were particularly strong in that area. A lot of the time it comes down to just a few minor points, such as more experience or greater familiarity with the organisation. Don’t be too disheartened, getting an interview is such a positive – you are likely in the top 5 – 10% of applicants.

Further Resources

I cannot recommend enough the website Ask A Manager. Alison Green answers reader-submitted questions from a hiring managers point of view. Always entertaining and insightful she has also written a free guide on preparing for interviews.

GradIreland has a wealth of resources about what to expect from job interviews and how to prepare.

If you have a disability and are concerned about applying for jobs, check out the National Disability Authority website for guidance. James Gower describes his experience of job searching as a graduate with a disability in The Guardian.

Note: SLIP has not received sponsorship to promote any of these resources, they are all used and recommended by the SLIP committee. If you have a resource you would like us to take a look at send us an email here, tweet us @SLIPIreland or leave us a message on Facebook.