Share, inspire, connect: Library related Twitter hashtags

Twitter is an outstanding tool for gaining inspiration  with whatever turns you on and engaging with people of similar interests. For me Twitter has been a major boost for my professional life in terms of insights, inspiration, debates and network with the global library community.

I slowly started using Twitter in 2012 when I was on the TICER Summer School in Tillburg and it took me a while to crack the code and come to a place where I got the full potential of this great tool. A part of it was related to the size of the network; where do you even start to build your professional learning network on Twitter? Well, a good place to start is via hashtags that binds various topics and discussions together. So if you are library newbie to Twitter or just want to go exploring on library and library related hashtags here is a list (got additions to the list please write them in the commentary section):

Mobile Hashtag Horizontal Concept

Everyday library life

There is a number of hashtags that a great for sharing and get inspiration on what’s going on in everyday library land.


A quiet broad hashtag which is often used in tweets related to the daily experiences librarians do in there job around the world.

#libraryproblems or #librarianproblems

You often find broken staplers or jammed printers under this hashtag


A hashtag to unite all the happiness and sorrow of librarians working the weekends


On of my fave hashtags that contains all the awesome socks, cardigans, glasses and cat sweaters out there – librarians got style yo!


Twitter chats are excellent for discussions on various subjects with a quit broad and diverse group of people, get inspiration and connect with others. Some chats is organized with questions on topic published in advance, moderators and suggested readings. Others are more casual organized.


Chats on technology within education and instruction. The hashtag is both used in actual chats but also appears in Tweets disconnected to a chat.


Monthly chat hosted by Radical Librarian Collective about an article or research paper relevant to the principles upon which Radical Librarians Collective operates: challenging, provoking, improving and developing the communications between like-minded radicals, to galvanise our collective solidarity against the marketisation of libraries.


To my knowledge a hashtag started by Hack Library School but I’m not sure it’s currently function as an actually hashtag for live chats (but I might be mistaken) but it got some fair use on relevant content.


A monthly discussion group on library related issues and topics. The organization and participation of #UKlibchat is always great – read more here: 


Critlib is short for “critical librarianship,” a movement of library workers dedicated to bringing social justice principles into our work in libraries. The Critlib chats are always really well prepared with suggested readings on the current chat topic, well moderated and with a lot of great thoughts and discussions on librarianship. Read more: 


Chat hosted by Australian Library and Information Association’s New Graduates Advisory Council (ALIA NGAC) on different topics related to libraries and librarianship. Even though it’s hosted from Australia I find the topics of chats relevant for the global library community. Read more:


Chat on broad trends and topics in the library and information industries including education and job search. Read more:


Mashcat is a mashed library event / community focussing on cataloguing data and is for cataloguers, developers and anyone else with an interest in how library catalogue data can be created, manipulated, used and re-used by computers and software. They got a very cool archive with all previous chats + link to Storify:

This hashtag also function as a subject specific hashtag for tweets on cataloguing data. Read more:


Chat for librarians working with teaching and instructions. Hashtag is also used regular on tweets relevant to teacher librarians. Check  for info an chat dates.


Quarterly chats on healthcare topics like health literacy, health information and data mangement within the healthcare industry. Started by The National Network for Libraries in Medicine, NNLM:

Subject specific hashtags 


Things involving data services and working with data in libraries

#UXlibs and #libux

All things User Experience and Libraries – very active hashtag with lots of great content.


All things library web services


The hashtag for tweets involving activities connected to International Librarians Network (ILN). ILN is a peer-mentoring facilitated program aimed at helping librarians develop international networks. Read more about ILN:  


An extremely broad hashtag with everything related to Open Access. Much is the stuff is not from a library point of view but I only find that valuable and of inspiration.


Great hashtag on all things scholarly communication


A evidence-based library and information practice reading group / chat


Stuff on technology in libraries but also holds some noise because it’s used by a snowboard company…


Great and very active hashtag about all things related til information literacy and libraries.


Very active hashtags for health librarianship and  medical librarians. There are also regional hashtags in extension to the main one: #canmedlibs and #ukmedlibs are pretty active.


Tweets on law librarianship. The hashtag #lawlibs is sometimes also used for tweets on this subject.


Great and active hashtag on gender issues in library leadership. Important input and discussions taking place here.


A great hashtag for libraries and librarians supporting and working towards justice for asylum seekers and refugees.

Keep ’em coming

I’m positive that the above list of library related hashtags is far from comprehensive but hopefully it can get some library folks new to Twitter going and be of inspiration for some Twitter old timers. If there is any Hashtags that should be added to the list please write them in the commentary field

Happy sharing, inspiring and connecting


Press the button in favor of open research

In November 2013 the World got a button to press when denied access to scholarly research – a button in favor of open access and open research. I had a talk with The Open Access Button Communications Lead, Chealsye Bowley, about the Button, libraries role and the importance of open access to research. A shorter version of the talk is published in Danish LIS-journal REVY.

What is The Open Access Button?
The Open Access Button ( is a student and early career professional run project that works to connect people to open research. The project has two apps: the Open Access Button and the Open Data Button. The apps allow users to find, request, and share both research papers and research data.

How it is organized?
The Open Access Button is primarily volunteer run by the student and early career professional team, and was founded by Joe McArthur and David Carroll who were both undergraduate students in the UK at the time. Presently Joe McArthur, Georgina Taylor, and David Carroll run the project as co-leads and the rest of the student and early career professional team (presently 6 active members) work on communications, advocacy, and technology. Our developers are Cottage Labs and we are supported by SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), which is where our legal home is.

What’s the purpose of the Open Access Button?
The primary purpose of the Open Access Button is to get people legal access to the research they need, and to support advocacy efforts for open research. We know there are so many people that get denied access to research through paywalls, but at the time that the Open Access Button was conceived there was nothing to track paywalls. The Open Access Button was originally developed to track the impact of paywalls and collect user stories that could be used to advocate for Open Access, but since then the Button has grown. Now we have in place an “email the author” request system that allows a user to request an author’s paper or data. We contact the corresponding author and publicly track requests and authors can either send us a link to their research in any Open Access repository, or deposit their paper or data through, Zenodo, or the Open Science Framework. Of course an individual can directly contact an author and the author may send them a copy of the paper, but this only benefits the one requester. The Open Access Button provides a solution to encourage archiving and connect any future requests instantly with the openly archived version after a successful request.


Why is the Open Access Button important?
I think any initiative that advocates for open research is important, but the Open Access Button is particularly important, because it’s a grassroots initiative run by an international team of students and early career professionals from various disciplines. Joe and David had an incredible idea and had the guts to make it possible. I’m still in awe of that! I joined the team six months after the idea was originally conceived and there was a beta version of the Open Access Button developed by volunteer developers. The team we’ve had throughout the last three years have been incredible — people have come and gone from the project, but everyone has made wonderful contributions and collaborating with such passionate people continually renews my love for the open movement. There are so much good students and early career professionals can do to support open research, contribute their perspective, and use their voice to advocate, and the Open Access Button is a fantastic example of student contributions to the open movement.

Additionally, I think it’s important that we are working on providing a legal option to get access to research, that we promote historical archiving, and now an option for users to request data through the Open Data Button.

Why is Open Access important?
Open Access is important because not everyone who needs access to research has it. People have the misconception, particularly in wealthy countries, that everyone who needs access has it and this simply isn’t true. This includes researchers around the world that contribute to scholarly knowledge but don’t belong to wealthy institutions that can afford publications, patients and doctors who need to learn about conditions, and even just those are simply curious. Knowledge should be accessible to all.

I came to Open Access from a human rights advocacy background and I would go as far to say that access to research is a human right. Article 27 from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.” The knowledge we gain from research and that we publish in scholarly journals contributes to scientific advancement and everyone – regardless of the reason they want to read it or where they live or what university they attend – should be able to benefit from the research.


What’s the Open Access Button’s relation with libraries concerning Open Access?
We’re working on a library outreach project and would love to partner with libraries, but we’re still in the development stages for this project.

How can the Open Access Button use libraries / librarians?
This is a great question, Christian! We’re thinking hard on this. Both as a librarian myself and an Open Access Button team member, I think libraries and librarians can be fantastic partners for the project.

One initiative that I’m thinking about is having librarian partners who we contact when we get a paper or data request for an author at their institution. This would allow us to have a partner in speaking with the author about sharing their research openly, and further support library efforts and institutional repositories.

Could libraries promote the Open Access Button more and how / where should they do it?
Absolutely! There are librarians that promote the Open Access Button in their library guides, include it within presentations, or even advertise it on the library or university Open Access website. This promotion is a great first step. I’d also recommend promoting it during your Open Access Week events, sharing that there is a tool available to find and request research papers and data. One of our team members could speak virtually during your event, or in person if one of our team members are nearby about the project and/or student involvement in the open movement.

An additional step is to actively promote the use of the Open Access Button and Open Data Button by installing the plug-ins on library computers. This option is simple to implement on computers, but requires a commitment to educate and outreach to the university community in order to make them know the tool is there in the browser. We’re going to be working on a library that will be useful for libraries that want to promote the Open Access Button.

How can libraries use the Open Access Button?
Two of the greatest benefits of the Open Access Button to libraries is the promotion of institutional repositories through our request feature, and ILL cost savings when used by university researchers and students.

When the Open Access Button beta launched I remember a negative comment from an ILL Librarian in the United States commenting people could just use ILL. This may be the case for many students at institutions in the United States, but ILL does not exist in all universities or in the same way. For example, when I studied in the United Kingdom my ILL request would require a portion of the fee being paid by me. Then in other countries ILL simply isn’t an available option. The Open Access Button has the potential to help lower ILL costs for a library if students and researcher uses the Open Access Button to find or request an openly archived version.

When does Open Access Button become needless? (because that’s the purpose in the end I guess?)
The Open Access Button would become needless when all research is Open Access, when academic culture changes to researchers by default sharing their papers and data openly. As much as I love working on the Open Access Button, we’d love for us not to have to exist! I think it’s doubtful that that *all* research will become Open Access, as that would take a huge amount of historical archiving, but I do believe there will be a future where the majority of scholarly research is being published openly.

Could the concept of the Open Access Button be applied on other subjects – e.g. like the Open Data Button?
I suppose it could, but at this moment I cannot think of another subject that would readily apply. The Open Data Button was a natural direction, but the Open Access Button concept could not simply could be copied to the Open Data Button. Some of our Open Access Button requests can be instantly fulfilled thanks to already archived research, but this isn’t as possible with data. There are technical and cultural limitations. It’s far easier to share a PDF online than a dataset that takes time to clean and curate, and there isn’t a data sharing culture in academia. The Open Access Button advocates, but the Open Data Button faces a greater threshold for successful open research data sharing advocacy. The same concept can be applied, but it does require tweaking the approach.

What’s your thoughts on national and international initiatives that aims to measure Open Access?
The Open Access initiatives that we are seeing at the national and international levels are what are going to make Open Access a widespread reality. We saw this with the NIH public access policy in the United States, which has now expanded to all US federal agencies with over $100 million in research and development. We’re seeing this with the policies coming from the Research Excellence Framework in the United Kingdom, and now the Netherlands’ push for open access in their country and in the EU. All great policies that create tangible change… but I sometimes do worry about these initiatives. In many ways they are an extension of of the audit culture in academia that has played a huge role in contributing to negative cultural aspects of academia. Audit culture monetizes academic and changes the values, it wants “value for money” and in many ways I see funding bodies, particularly in the case of the UK’s REF, seeing Open Access as a value for money, getting more return on their investment. This is OK. It’s fine and understandable, but it isn’t quite the global good aspect of Open Access and in some ways just another extension of how universities are audited for efficiency, performance, and value for money.

Could the Open Access Button play a part in this?
Hmmm. That’s a very interesting question. I want to say perhaps. It would be great to partner with more people whether that be libraries, universities, institutions, funding bodies, or governments. Sander Dekker, the Netherlands’ Undersecretary for Education, Culture and Science, who has been doing fantastic work toward Open Access in his country has made incredibly kind comments on the Open Access Button. I cannot think of a specific example of a national or international initiative that we could readily plug into, but I think it’s a potential and we certainly would embrace another partnership to support the open movement.

What’s in the future of the Open Access Button?
We recently entered a new partnership with Jisc, the United Kingdom’s higher, further education and skills sectors’ not-for-profit organisation for digital services and solutions. This partnership will support further development on the Open Access Button and Open Data Button through July 2017. This partnership has enabled us to update the plug-ins, build new features, and we’ll be expanding our advocacy work. Additionally, we’ll be putting a heavy focus on partnering with libraries in the upcoming years. I think the future of the Open Access Button project will be rooted in collaborating with libraries and librarians.

What do you think is in the future for Open Access?
Oh, big question, Christian! I think the future of Open Access is rooted in collaboration, more shared repositories at regional and national levels, and innovative funding models for Open Access publishing.

So many of us, particularly in libraries, are doing our own thing, building programs, and having so-so repositories. Collaboration between libraries and also within the whole Open movement can provide more beneficial solutions. I would love to see more paper and data repositories at the regional, state, national levels. I’m a huge fan of the Open Library of the Humanities and I think the future of Open Access lies in an innovative funding model like this, allowing everyone (and every library! affordably) to participate in Open Access, and importantly flipping existing journals from a subscription model to Open Access.

About Chealsye  Bowley:
Besides her involvement in the Open Access Button, Chealsye works as a Scholarly Communication Librarian at Texas Woman’s University. She holds a Master in Library and Information Studies + an MSc Science, Technology, and Society. She’s a big fan of the Danish specialty flødeboller.

Chealsye Bowley with The Little Mermaid in Copenhangen.

In case you wonder what a ‘flødebolle’ is




MOOC’s and SPOC’s in Libraryland

I remember a few years back when the jungle drums went on how the rise of MOOC’s would transform the educational landscape. I haven’t seen that yet but it doesn’t mean that Massive Open Online Courses can’t create meaning and value in education and learning.

And in libraries.

Is the skill of information literacy a universal skill? I think it is. The core skill of information literacy is not necessary hooked up to any specific users, libraries, databases, search techniques etc. It’s a skill that’s gives you the ability to identify, locate, evaluate, and effectively use that information for the issue or problem at hand. The skill has always been relevant but the Internet’s entree and the rapid growth in accessible information has only made information literary more crucial.

At Copenhagen University Library we are supporting information literacy of students and employees through a variety of courses, workshops and instructions. The face-to-face information literacy sessions is in my opinion one of the most valuable services we provide to the academic community. So when we are looking at alternative options like e-courses, online tutorials and MOOC’s it’s not a resource reduction maneuver (we are struggling on the budgets but the starting point is something else) – it’s to get the best from both worlds.

First Library MOOC in the World

To explore the possibilities of MOOC’s in this context we joined forces with The Library of The Technical University of Denmark to create the first library produced MOOC in the World. The result is Academic Information Seeking which is published on the Courcera platform:


The aim of the MOOC is to make participants proficient information seekers. They will learn how to carry out comprehensive literature searches based on their own research assignments and will be guided through the various information seeking steps: generating search terms, identifying information sources, taking advantage of reference management tools, how to avoid plagiarism and to cite correctly. To check comprehension the lectures include small assignments and quizzes. The MOOC also contain a log book template that participants can use to log there experiences during the course.

The course target is undergraduate students or students who are about to begin working on an academic paper. It contains 21 videos and is a self paced course that can be completed in one stretch or in three blocks over three weeks. To this date 3.500 have signed up and 200 has completed Academic Information Seeking.

The MOOC has been a part of a larger national project under Denmark’s Electronic Research Library focusing on e-learning, information literacy and library services and has been carried out by project heads Birgitte Munk (Copenhagen University Library) and Thomas Skov Jensen (DTU Library). Myself was in the steering committee representing Copenhagen University Library.

In the slipstream of the MOOC the project also created a Small Private Online Course (SPOC) which function as local version of a MOOC targeting on-campus students. Our SPOC serves as an introduction to Copenhagen University Library:

So know you got a MOOC. What’s next?

I personally find our MOOC, Academic Information Seeking, very cool, professional and capable of supporting information literacy on both a global and local level. The question is how?

Stand alone: The MOOC can be followed out of context and you will gain from it. The feature where you bring your own assignment to the virtual classroom creates context for the individual but even without that it still holds basic introductions to information seeking that almost any scholar would gain from on some level. However this is not the strongest way to get the full benefit of a library MOOC.

Blended learning/flipped classroom and integration with curriculum: Library instructions separated from curriculum obvious has value but to my experience, they have far the greatest impact when they are somehow connected – that goes for both face-to-face and online instructions. To set the scene for a MOOC (or any other online instruction content) in the most powerful way it needs to be connected to students reality on campus. Getting it hooked up on curriculum when students really need the basic skills for information seeking (in this case), e.g. before their first major paper, both creates the best outcome from the course but also grabs the students when they have the need and – very important – the motivation.

Easy to say but how does this come about? Faculty members often sees their curriculum as a sacred fortress where it takes a firestorm to shake things. The way I find most useful is advocacy through coffee. Most faculty members and teachers are very reasonable people who wouldn’t turn down a cup of coffee and a chat about how there students – and their course – can benefit from an online library instruction supporting information literacy. In most cases the coffee chat result in an agreement on a pilot on the upcoming term. Remember, it’s not about selling a library course – it’s about creating value for the students on campus.

All that coffee and talking is obvious a cost full way but teachers talk to each other and when just one or two of them sees the point I often find, that we are the ones being invited on coffee and not the other way around.

At Copenhagen University Library we have just started the coffee talks. Since the MOOC in it’s nature is a global course, Academic Information Seeking can be implemented into most curriculum’s around the world so start booking those coffee dates.

Coffee – a powerful tool when it comes to integrating library services 

Final note on library support of information literacy: Connecting the dots from primary school over high school to university 

I hang out with public librarians from time to time. It seems like they are pretty much on the same page as academic libraries when it comes to supporting information literacy. Their target are just not university students – it’s kids in primary school. Many of the same kids that moves on to high school and eventually university. Does the libraries talk to each other about this. Do they coordinate this very important job? The answers is no. At least in Denmark

It seems to me that public libraries and academic libraries has an obligation to coordinate this effort in order to create a red line in educating information skilled members of community.

I’ll suggest we kick it off with a cup of coffee



Librarianship across borders: The value of connecting

This post is a slightly modified parallel publication of an interview I did with Alyson Dalby for The Danish Research Library Associations journal, REVY. 

Is there such a thing as global librarianship? Copenhagen-based Australian librarian Alyson Dalby believes there is, and with the creation of International Librarians Network she is working on bringing librarians of the world together. Why? Because great ideas come to life when different perspectives meet, and libraries and people in libraries stand stronger in advocacy, professional ethics and development of librarianship when they are connected.

I hook up with Alyson on a Friday evening in my office at the Faculty Library of Social Sciences in Copenhagen. Alyson has only been living in Copenhagen for 5 months but have already learned what makes a Dane happy, so she has very kindly bought a bottle of snaps for the rendez vous and with a cheers on librarians of the world Alyson kicks of our talk with a story I find utterly fantastic:

“Let me tell you a story about a woman named Jenny. Jenny manages a public library network in a rural area of south-eastern Australia. She has participated in every round of the International Librarians Network (ILN, red.) which means she has been in the program 7 times and connected with 7 different people from around the world. One of Jenny’s partners was Hamid from Afghanistan, who had been recently employed as the new Director of Public Libraries for Afghanistan. What Jenny realized was that Hamid didn’t have a library background, he was a historian, and she found herself giving him lots of technical advice about libraries. Hamid was sharing his plans for building a new National Library of Afghanistan with Jenny, who was sharing it with her staff, and suddenly you get a connection between a rural library in Australia and the upcoming National Library of Afghanistan – a connection that carried benefit to everybody involved. It’s pretty amazing that you can connect the world like that.

The ILN opens our community up to new ideas from people who are in different situations. That could be in a different country or a different kind of job or a different sector. Different people have different perspectives, and sometimes value comes from new ways of looking at your own work. Sometimes value comes when you help someone else, and sometimes that value comes from someone you develop a friendship with – someone who says hey I know you had that important meeting today, how did it go? We are giving people a platform to develop that on an international level with a fairly low commitment besides their time. The program is free and open to all in libraries, so we get a really wide range of people”.

The first time my path crossed Alyson’s was in a Twitter introduction from a common friend: “Christian, meet Alyson. She is a librarian and has just moved to Denmark. You two should drink coffee…” which, of course, we did. A 121-character Twitter introduction which leads to a chat, and later a REVY interview, is a great example of how small the internet has made the world and how easy it has become to connect if you are open to those opportunities. Alyson is on a crusade when it comes to connecting librarians of the world. As one of the founders of ILN she puts lots of her free time and energy into facilitating this global program with the aim of helping librarians develop international networks.

From Twitter intro to REVY interview on International Librarians Network and global librarianship 

From Sydney to Copenhagen

Alyson moved from Sydney, Australia to Copenhagen in late 2015. She is employed at LEO Pharma as Team Manager for Data Readiness in Regulatory Affairs, managing a team that is analyzing and restructuring regulatory data about a suite of pharmaceutical products recently purchased by LEO Pharma. Alyson has been around the library block: from the History of Medicine Library at Royal Australasian College of Physicians to The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia, while directing her career towards management by studying for a MBA. Alyson served on the Board of Directors of the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), and most recently worked at the University of New South Wales Library in Sydney.

Why does an Australian librarian move to Denmark?

“Denmark is like the Goldilocks country; it’s not too hot, it’s not too cold. It’s so nice with the changing of the season; I was excited when it snowed and now you can feel that things are coming to life again, everything is starting to bloom and I’m looking forward to the summer for the first time in my life – Sydney is just too hot for me. Denmark has a slightly more socialist political system which suits my own values, and Denmark is different to Australia but not so different that we didn’t feel confident we could live here. Copenhagen has a number of large global companies so our chances of getting a jobs as English speakers were good. And of course the appeal of living so close to the rest of Europe is very high!”

In her work with ILN it doesn’t matter if Alyson is located in Sydney, Copenhagen or Nairobi – the ILN management team operates remotely. Alyson has never met many of the people behind the scenes of the program, and the only fundamental condition for her ILN work is a reliable internet connection and a drive to connect librarians of the world.

Connecting librarians of the world

The ILN is a peer mentoring program which helps librarians around the world build networks and develop an international perspective on the profession. Participants in the program are matched with others outside their country, based on the information they provide to the ILN. Partnerships are made for a fixed term, and during this period the partnerships are supported by regular contact and discussions led by the ILN. The vision is that participants develop a widening network of ongoing, independent professional relationships.

How did the ILN begin?

“It started when my friend and colleague Kate Byrne went to the IFLA conference in Helsinki in 2012. When she returned to Sydney we had this conversation in her kitchen where she talked about how fantastic it was to meet people from around the world and get this global perspective, but how most people can’t afford to do this. She had this kernel of an idea about an international mentoring program, which we fleshed out and brought, as one of our crazy ideas, to another library friend Clare McKenzie. The three of us decided this was worth exploring.

What we wanted was not a traditional mentoring program, but more like a peer mentoring program where both participants would share and learn. We really wanted to deconstruct existing ideas around mentoring and use only the bits that are actually effective when it comes to learning from other people. There’s a lot of baggage attached to traditional mentoring; the belief that mentoring must be face-to-face, and that it must be a hierarchical relationship with a mentor and a protégé, is heavy baggage if you’re trying to set up a new program. We scoured existing literature around mentoring and found that research did not convincingly demonstrate the need for these elements, that sometimes they actually got in the way of what it’s really about: sharing knowledge and ideas. We set up the ILN without this baggage, which makes it sustainable, scalable and able to be run internationally.

Our underlying principle is that everyone has something to teach and something to learn, and this can happen across borders, across sectors, and across career stages. So we can learn from people who are junior to us, we can learn from people in other sectors, and there is probably something that those people can learn from us. We really want to challenge the idea that, for example, people in academic libraries can only learn useful things from other people in academic libraries. We’ve developed a model to support that principle of open collaboration, and our community has been very receptive to this egalitarian approach.”

How do you connect people in the program?

“We use the information provided by applicants to match them with other participants, which forms a partnership. We will look at things like the sector that they work in, their location, career stage, and areas of professional interest. It’s important to note that we don’t automatically match people who are similar. If you work in an academic library but want to be connected with someone in a public library, we can make that happen. We then take all the data and run a programming script which finds the best combination of matches. It’s a bit like a dating site algorithm”, Alyson laughs.

Revy Alyson DalbyAlyson Dalby: Chair and Director of Business Operations with the International Librarians Network

To make things happen: three women with an idea and a website

Alyson describes the first round of ILN as pretty hectic; like many start-ups it was characterized by both a great will to make things happen, and doubts about how to carry it through.

“We were aiming to launch the first round in the early part of 2013 and we realized that the BOBCATSSS conference (an annual symposium organized by students of library science) was coming up. We were saying ‘wouldn’t it be great if we could tap into that event, because there’s a whole bunch of new LIS graduates, and they are not from Australia, which would be a great market for us’. We quickly created a free website using WordPress, created the program structure and website content, and then highjacked the BOBCATSSS Twitter hashtag to promote the ILN program. So we got a pretty good start in promoting the program. Then we did planned promotion at the ALIA New Librarians Symposium (NLS), which is a conference in Australia for new librarians, run by new librarians. Kate did a presentation at NLS on creating your own professional community, which served as a formal launch for the ILN concept. We honestly thought that we might be able to convince 20 people to sign up for the first round, and we thought they would all be people we knew from Australia, which would really not help with the goal of international mentoring! We were not a part of an established professional organization, we were basically just three women with an idea and a website – low cost and low key”.

Despite the rather unorganized and low key start, the ILN team were pretty sure they were on to something with the ILN concept: “We ended up getting 92 applications to our pilot round, and we got enough international applicants, so everybody was matched with someone from another country”.

In March 2016 the ILN launched the 7th round of the program with 1.162 participants from 95 different countries. By then there had been 4.500 participants in the program, from 133 countries, making it the largest librarian mentoring program in the world.

Moving from fiery souls to a solid organization

As the ILN program grew in popularity Alyson, Clare and Kate realized that they needed help to run the ILN on top of their existing full-time jobs. The organization around ILN needed to be strengthened and consolidated.

ILN founders: Clare McKenzie, Alyson Dalby and Kate Byrne

“In 2015 we incorporated as a non-profit association in Australia which gave us a legal structure. We now have a board of directors, a financial advisor and a legal advisor – all volunteers, for which we are intensely grateful! Beyond that we have a network of 40 volunteers from about 30 countries. An important part of those are what we call ambassadors. I have no idea how librarians in, for example, Poland talk to each other; is it via email lists, Facebook groups or LinkedIn groups etc.? So I don’t know how to tell librarians in Poland about the ILN. But Magda Gomulka can do that. Magda is our ILN Ambassador in Poland and is doing an amazing job promoting the program through her professional network. There are about 30 of these ILN Ambassadors around the world, representing the program in their country. We also have volunteers running our social media platforms – we’re on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn – because we realized early on that we just couldn’t keep up with both running the program and constantly pushing information out through those channels. Our Social Media Coordinators are in Canada and Australia, and it’s really cool to run this group of volunteers all over the world. Most of the people behind the scenes we’ve never meet face to face, and they haven’t met each other, which of course is a shame because it would be really nice, but it’s amazing to me that people we’ve never met believe so strongly in what we are doing that they are willing to volunteer both their time and their professional reputation to help us out.”

From local to global librarianship

There’s no doubt that the ILN connects librarians of the world, but do we as a profession have a global identity?

Is there such a thing as Global Librarianship?

“Yes I believe there is. To reference a true global librarian, Jan Holmquist from the Guldborgsund Libraries, global librarianship is about seeing your professional network as a global one, that there are people you can learn from and work with beyond your own country. On top of this there are professional issues about librarianship that are global, such access to information, intellectual property rights, issues in our profession that can’t be fought on an individual level but have to be fought on a collective and often international level.

It’s a cliché to say that change is happening in and to the profession, but it’s also the case that sometimes it feels like it’s not happening fast enough, at least in your immediate environment. If you can connect with an international network it can help you realize that if change isn’t happening where you are, it could be happening elsewhere, and it also help you get involved and shape the direction of that change, or even lead it locally. Social media has of course created a unique and powerful platform for individuals to easily connect with the rest of the world. But most important is the desire to share and learn with librarians around the world – we are simply trying to make that easier for people”.

Applications for the next round of the ILN program will be opening in July 2016. Participation in the program is free, and open to anyone working or studying in the library profession. More information can be found on their website at 

The impact of ILN was recognised by the American Library Association, which recently named the program founders as part of their Library Journal Movers and Shakers for 2016 – a special honour, given that only 3% of winners of this award have been from outside the US.

Revy Alyson DalbyAlyson Dalby: On a crusade, connecting librarians of the world