Weird Library of Congress Subject Headings

For my official farewell party I prepared a special round about weird LCSH for my library colleagues. It was great fun above all because my manager had troubles recognising most of them. To be honest it was difficult but we laughed a lot!

Feel free to take inspiration from my round.


  • Weird Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH). Test your cataloguing level…for fun.
  1. Chickens in Religion and Folklore
  2. Marijuana in Motion Pictures
  3. Bondage and discipline (Sexual behavior)
  4. Feet in the Bible
  5. Sex customs–Communist countries
  6. Spontaneous combustion–Periodicals
  7. Boring–Mathematical models
  8. Odor effects in theaters
  9. Dentists in Art
  10. Flapjacks

If you are a cataloguer try to answer and then check the results in the first comment.


Knitting club as collectivist information practice


Today I chaired my last Knitting club meeting in the library. The idea behind this club is that everyone is welcome to come along, have a go at knitting or crochet in a relaxed friendly fun environment of all ability. We hold it every Thursday lunchtime on the ground floor of the library and it is open to staff and students.

I set up this initiative after having organised the Get Creative Event. I discovered that a lot of students and staff people love knitting and they asked me to set up a regular meeting just to relax and discuss current projects.
I enjoyed spending time showing people how to knit and crochet the basics, and share hints tips and patterns, even though we end up just laughing and chatting. I think it is a very good time for networking with staff coming from other departments (HR, IT, Marketing, Registry) and use the library spaces for creative initiatives.

Our weekly meeting helped fostering network connections. I had the opportunity to interact with and learn from others colleagues sharing a common interest in a craft. People also came to the library at the invitation of friends and I can proudly say that working relationships begun during the knitting meeting are extending beyond it. Plus crafting is therapeutic and create common information ground.

I firmly believe that, as Prigoda & McKenzie (2007) really well stated, “group participation can be seen both to fill information gaps and to fulfil participants’ need to socialise, form a caring community, and participate in craft, and the knitting group is a site for collectivist information practices”. Let me just give you some examples: a Portuguese student joined our group and she was knitting in a completely different way by keeping the thread around her neck, my Syrian colleague was stitching with her fingers and I taught how to chain bind off along a straight edge in my Italian way. In this way experienced knitters served as expert information sources for staff/students with less experience.

You don’t have idea how much I love the spontaneous and serendipitous sharing of information (I am a librarian at the end!). Go knitting!

Ivi0397[1] Ivi0398[1]

Prigoda, E., & McKenzie, P. J. (2007). Purls of wisdom: A collectivist study of human information behaviour in a public library knitting group. Journal of Documentation, 63(1), 90-114. doi:10.1108/00220410710723902

Happy working

What does make you happy in your working place? I was reading Daniel Fujiwara’s essay (2015) about happiness related to well-being and quality of life and I found particularly interesting the fact that government policymakers are trying to measure its level.

Does your University’s management team or manager investigate/review the level of employee happiness?

Let’s start from the point that happiness makes people more productive. However it’s quite difficult to define what happiness is first because it’s a subjective feeling and secondly as human beings we experience a momentary happiness or a long-term one.

If I had to prepare a survey in order to assess the level of happiness I would explore the following key points:

  • Motivation contributes to improve the performance of organisations. Motivated employees are more likely to promote their organisations as a positive place to work, “thus attracting more dynamic and high calibre staff” (Baldwin et al.,2014). As a driving force it increases the employee’s sense of self-efficacy and creates “sustainable and enduring change through people, because it’s people who deliver results, not programs or emotions” (Pryce-Jones & Lindsay,2014).
  • Life work balance.  As time, energy and money are limited resources we are asked to rationalise them in a balanced dance. Koubova and Buchko (2013) explored the nature of this balance. Are balance work and family roles two goals contradictory or complementary? “Managers with well‐developed emotional intelligence (EI) will be better able to understand employees’ family problems, tolerate personal needs and find solutions to meet these needs in order to reestablish employees’ balance and job performance” (Koubova and Buchko, 2013).
  • Understanding as acquisition of knowledge, skills and competences.
  • Healthy working environments

Working it’s an important part of our life (we need money!) but how we measure the actula level of happiness? Do we base it on data such as income? Debate still open.


Baldwin, C., Jose, A. G., Kumar, V., & Luis Rocha-Lona. (2014). Personal development review (PDR) process and engineering staff motivation. Journal of Manufacturing Technology Management, 25(6), 827-847. doi:10.1108/JMTM-01-2013-0001

Fujiwara, D. (2015). Happy economics. in Lauson, C. History is now: 7 artists take on Britain, exhibition catalogue, London: Hayward Gallery.

Koubova, V., & Buchko, A. A. (2013). Life‐work balance: emotional intelligence as a crucial component of achieving both personal life and work performance. Management Research Review, 36(7), 700-719. doi:10.1108/MRR-05-2012-0115

Pryce-Jones, J. & Lindsay, J. (2014). What happiness at work is and how to use it. Industrial and Commercial Training, 46(3), 130-134. doi:10.1108/ICT-10-2013-0072

Red Nose Day 2015


Who said libraries are boring? Comic Relief Cake sale on took place in the library today. All of the cakes were made by our staff. We raised the magnificent sum of £350. What a fun!

DSC_4456 DSC_4452

I am so lucky to have such amazing colleagues who put their hearts, creativity skills, and commitments into events like this. It was such a collaborative occasion and we celebrate our team effort. In particular a colleague, who was not on duty today, still come and give us support.

My three marketing event tips:

  1. Networking with key staff member across the university. I have been talking about this event for a week to colleagues and students = create hype.
  2. Promote it across the departments. Yesterday I literally visited all the university departments inviting staff to come to the library and leaving leaflets around their offices. Going in person is 10x more effective that sending an email, because you show your face and you are going to invite people personally = it’s like a wedding!
  3. When it’s all over… don’t stop! Continue to add value to the community you’ve built. Thank all the people involved for attending because this will help when you come to repeat the event. You’ve got a captive audience, there waiting for you…so what’s next?

An unusual meeting about the format of our meetings

This morning I led a meeting about the format of our team meetings. Thanks to my open-minded manager I had the opportunity/freedom to run a session composed by practical exercises in order to let my team reflecting on our current format of our meetings.

I am proud of the way I run it because I used bits of ideas and inspirations from workshops I attended and readings about how to interact with students. I blended them together, shifted the focus on the main purpose of the meeting and hoped for the best.

In this post I am documenting how I have structured it, I’ll discuss the outcomes in next one.

Here is my recipe.

Uses: Getting my team reflecting on how we can improve our meetings.

Materials required: Flipchart, sticky notes in three colours (preferably green, red and yellow), pencils and scrap papers.


  • Brain-warming exercise (3-4 min.): As warm up I asked my team to write their names down, vertically, on scrap papers (Francis, 2009:127-129). They had to create a sentence (even surreal) about the desirable outcomes of the session. I was impressed by the results. I was sorry for colleagues had to use “K” or “Y”, even if one came up with “Yes!” (I liked it!). My personal statement was:
    This brief session is absolutely beneficial for activating synapses that generate ideas, thoughts on the topic, needs and personal opinions.
  • Brainstorming (3 min.): The team had to write on a blank paper whatever was coming in their minds about the topic. In order to facilitate it I offered two general questions to reflect on:
    – What makes a meeting successful and worthwhile for you?
    – What are the problems and barriers that get in the way of effective meetings for you?
  • Stop, start, continue exercise (5 min.): This was the core exercise of the session, I followed Andrew Walsh’s tips (2010:33). I asked my team to identify the most important concepts they wrote on the paper and classify them using the sticky notes as follow.
    – Red = Stop doing (things done badly or inappropriately)
    – Yellow = Continue doing (things that are good)
    – Green = Start doing (things that we want to introduce or ideas)
    They wrote down their concepts/ideas and then stick them on the flip chart.

Cataloguing part (3-4 min.): Good time for a break while my manager and me sorted out and grouped ideas together. Basically our cataloguing job. Look at the result.


I’ll discuss the outcomes in the next post. Just to say that my manager’s manager asked me to run this session also for another team. So exciting!


Francis, P. (2009). Inspiring writing in art and design : taking a line for a write. Oxford, Intellect Books.

Walsh, A., Inala P. (2010). Active learning techniques for librarians : practical examples. Oxford, Chandos.

What should we ‘start, stop and continue’?

I have recently been to a workshop about how to organise effective meeting and I am going to suggest some ideas for the tomorrow meeting about the structure of our team meetings. I am glad that my team come to the conclusion that our meetings need a review. Tomorrow I am going to facilitate the meeting and the discussion. This is how I am going to structure the exercise review:

  1. Ask each person to identify 5 parts/qualities of our meeting (i.e. communication chairs, updates, actions, AOB, length, effective actions…). Write them on post it.
  2. Group similar parts/qualities together on the wall.
  3. Evaluate each group by asking: What should we ‘start, stop and continue’?

It’s just an idea but I think it will be good to visualize how the meeting is perceived, and then review what isn’t working, and (eventually) celebrate success.

Results are expected tomorrow.

Credentials in the email signature

Today I am reflecting on the need or not of adding degrees in the email signature for internal communication within a company.

Adding accomplished suffixes shows people you are dedicated and competent in your chosen profession. I perfectly understand it but not for internal communication. I find this habit slightly cheesy and it creates more disparities than bonds between colleagues.

My thought is based on two consideration;
1) Does the fact of showing off the list of degrees to colleagues upgrade the status and the content of a message?
I always start from this point: it’s more important the content of the message rather than how many degrees the sender possesses. Maybe it’s just me, but I evaluate messages, ideas and opinions from what they are and not from the sender educational status. Furthermore the level of education could be inversely proportionate to the actual intelligence (I am very mean sometimes). I grow up in a culture where people do not get more respect because they have a MA and PhD after their names but for their actual actions and results.

2) Is this practise a good habit to the unity of a department?
Again I disagree because it sounds like a battle of credentials. Who does have more MAs or PhDs to show off? So pretentious and unnecessary within a team, plus it doesn’t help the value of inclusivity.

I do not mention any credentials on any internal email. I am really proud of my achievements but I don’t feel the urgency of showing off them to colleagues that work with me everyday.

BA (Hons), MA [buahaha]