Tell us a little about your role with Dublin City Libraries and the kind of things that you do.
I’ve been working in Dublin City Libraries since 1995 in various different roles but for the last eight years I have been working in the Dublin UNESCO City of Literature office, which is based in Dublin City Library and Archive in Pearse Street, Dublin, was designated a City of Literature in 2010 so we are celebrating the tenth anniversary this year. It’s a permanent designation and we were the fourth city in the world to be awarded this status. Dublin City Libraries’ staff administer the designation. We organise reading campaigns such as Dublin One City One Book and the Citywide Reading Campaign for children, administer the International Dublin Literary Award, and we collaborate with the other Cities of Literature around the world.
What is your favourite part of the job?
My favourite part of the job is organising events for the Citywide Reading Campaign and Dublin One City One Book as well as the once-off events with writers – both Irish and international. I’m missing that real-life connection with readers and writers at the moment. I love the buzz on the day of an event and seeing people connect with the writer and chatting about books afterwards, and reading the gorgeous feedback from children when they meet an author in real-life at their local library during the Citywide Reading Campaign.
Tell us about the library section where you work? What are you most proud of?
I am based in Pearse Street Library – in an office above the public library. I’m lucky to work with a great team and we bounce ideas off each other all the time. There is a lovely atmosphere in the building with staff working in areas such as Finance, Staff, and IT who provide different types of support to us.
At the moment we are working part-time in the office and part-time at home so there are some people that I haven’t seen since March. I miss their smiles and banter!
I’m very proud to be part of the Dublin City Libraries team that brings books and literature into the lives of so many people. It’s wonderful that get to provide access to books and literary events for free so that everybody can enjoy them, regardless of their wealth. We’ve organised some amazing events over the years including a special event with Edna O’Brien in the Round Room of the Mansion House during One City One Book in 2019 and Dublin City’s tribute to Seamus Heaney in conjunction with Poetry Ireland in 2014.
Who was one of the most inspirational or interesting people you have met in your work with Dublin City Libraries?
I am incredibly lucky in my job that I get to meet fascinating people – some of these are writers, others are event organisers, publicists, journalists, critics, library staff and book lovers. Their passion for reading and books really inspire me.
But if I was to pick one person I would say Elizabeth Day. She took part in our Words on the Street event in 2018 as the British Embassy guest author and after it we had a long chat about friendships, relationships and the Repeal the 8th Referendum. She told me she was selling her wedding dress to fund a podcast series about failure. That podcast series How to Fail with Elizabeth Day was launched a few months later and by this summer had over 10 million downloads. I really admire her for openly sharing her own experiences of IVF, miscarriages and divorce thus encouraging other people to open up about things that haven’t worked out for them. I’m constantly recommending her books and podcasts to everyone!
Tell us an interesting fact about your library.
The head from Nelson’s Pillar lives in the Reading Room on the second Floor of Dublin City Library and Archive.
What was your favourite book as a child?
I have so many as I was an avid reader. Myself and my sister were regular users of Capel Street Library and the Mobile service in Stoneybatter and my Mam used to buy second-hand copies of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, Malory Towers and Secret Seven series which we used to fight over and then we’d act out the stories in our bedroom. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame was one of my favourite books and also the Run with the Wind Series by Tom McCaughren.
What are you reading right now?
At the moment I am reading There There by Tommy Orange which was shortlisted for the 2020 International Dublin Literary Award. It’s brilliant. I have been making my way through the shortlist over the last few weeks and finding new writers that I have never read before. I’m also reading Failosophy by Elizabeth Day which is a handbook for when things go wrong, based on interviews from her brilliant How to Fail podcast series.
Which of your books is battered from using again and again?
At the moment my most used book is 100 Poems by Seamus Heaney. My friend Cormac started a reading challenge on Twitter encouraging people to read one poem each day from the collection so I’ve have been doing it for the last two months. I read each poem aloud three or four times and it’s a lovely way to start the day. My oldest book is probably Awareness by Anthony de Mello. My mam bought a copy for me when I was in my twenties because she loved it and knew I would too.
Tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?
I’m a huge fan of The Frames and have loved them since 1991. In 2016 myself and my husband went to New York to see Glen Hansard play in Carnegie Hall. I have made lots of friends through the band from all around the world - including Ireland, Scotland, Australia, Czech Republic and America. Earlier this year I wrote an essay called Glen’s Gift which was broadcast on Sunday Miscellany on RTÉ Radio One.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
My mother left school at 14 to work to help support her nine siblings but she always said that the library was her education. She always says that getting the adult membership card for Charleville Library at 14 years old was the best birthday present she ever got. My parents instilled a love of reading from an early age and I’m so grateful to them for that.