Meet the Librarian

At the helm of every library are the wonderful librarians who ensure that each building is a welcoming place with opportunities for learning, wonderment and joy. A happy side-effect of a librarian’s job is that they have an incredible depth of knowledge of books and of all the great things happening in their community. We wanted to hear more about what they do…

This Month

Louise Tobin

Louise Tobin

Coolock Library

Tell us a little about your role with Dublin City Libraries and the kind of things that you do ...

I started working in Dublin City Libraries in July 2019. I was lucky enough to be assigned to Coolock Library which happened to be in the middle of a massive refurbishment. The library reopened in January 2020 and I spent the first few weeks of the year reintroducing people back into the new library space. Little did I know that we’d be closing our doors just a few weeks later due to the outbreak of Covid-19.

I spent the next few weeks attending online courses, creating online content and advertising our eResources on the Coolock Library Facebook page. We reopened to the public over the summer but we couldn’t hold our usual events in the library due to the ongoing restrictions. Coolock Library is one of 3 Creative Hub libraries in the Dublin City Library network and we work in partnership with the Dublin City Arts Office and some amazingly creative artists, authors and performers. They all very quickly adapted to the restrictions and helped to design creative and engaging online events. I helped to advertise these events to ensure that as many local children as possible had the opportunity to attend.

What is your favourite part of the job?

I love when someone walks out of the library and you know that you’ve helped make their day a little bit easier by helping them print off their CV, introducing them to one of our eResources or suggesting a new book or author that you think they’ll enjoy.

Tell us about the library section where you work? What are you most proud of?

Coolock library was unrecognisable after the refurbishment. Regular library users were convinced that we’d extended the building but the architect has just made better use of the space. We now have a flexible event area that can be quickly configured into three separate rooms for 20 people or changed into one large room with seating for about 80 people. We can also create a completely open space for larger events. We provide a projector, television screens and an AV system for any groups who want to use the space. On top of the larger events space, we have one smaller meeting room which can be divided into two if needed. It can be reserved by local book clubs or anyone who wants a quiet space to conduct skype interviews or meetings.

I particularly love the new children’s section. It’s a bright, colourful, welcoming place with a reading tree in the middle where parents and children can sit down and read together. There’s also loads of nooks and crannies where children can settle down, relax and discover a new book or author.

At the moment, I’m proud of all the staff in Coolock and how they’ve all managed to make the best of a bad situation. It’s been a strange year for public libraries and we’ve all had to completely re-envision how we deliver our services. We’ve moved to online story time & crafts and we’re assisting library users remotely. It’s been great to see everyone in the branch coming together to ensure that our library users get the best experience possible even though we can’t open our doors right now. We’re all looking forward to reopening the library at the start of December.

Who was one of the most inspirational or interesting people you have met in your work with Dublin City Libraries?

I didn’t meet her through Dublin City Libraries but I worked with Catriona Crowe when I interned in the National Archives of Ireland and she’s such an inspiration. I always try and catch her talks if she’s presenting at the Dublin Festival of History.

Tell us an interesting fact about your library ...

The recent refurbishment saw the introduction of a Maker Space with resources such as a laser cutter, 3D printer, sewing machines, animation facilities with a green screen and much more. We had big plans for 2020 before the pandemic hit. The Maker Space is a place where library users can come and create anything whether that be sewing a quilt, knitting a jumper, painting a picture or printing a 3D model of baby Groot. We had a number of local groups using the maker space before the lockdown and it was lovely to see so many creative people using the space.

What was your favourite book as a child?

I used to love ‘choose your own adventure’ stories. One in particular, The Horror of High Ridge, sticks out in my mind. It was particularly gruesome and probably not something a child should be reading but I loved it!

What are you reading right now?

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman.

Which of your books is battered from using again and again?

It’s a recent book but I’d have to say Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. I’ve read it a good few times since I bought it and I love the characters and themes in the book. It looks at loneliness and how little acts of kindness can make a big difference in someone’s life. It’s all very relevant during these strange times.

Tell us something about yourself that might surprise us?

After spending my early to mid twenties working as an administrator in Insurance and Accounting firms, I went back to college as a mature student when I was 28. I graduated from my English and History degree in 2012 and the MLIS in 2013. The end goal was to work in a public library but, upon graduating, I quickly realised that those jobs were few and far between.

I decided to continue in education with an MPhil in Digital Humanities in Trinity where I was lucky enough to intern in the National Archives of Ireland. After graduating, I worked in a number of libraries including a further education library, a Government library, a third level college library and a couple of law firm libraries. It’s been a long road but I’m delighted to finally be able to say that I’ve realised my dream of working in a public library.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

It took me a while to really get into eBooks and eAudiobooks but I’ve developed a love for them now. I especially like biographies that are read by the author. It gives you a great insight into their life. The government invested a substantial amount of money in eBooks and eAudiobooks during the lockdown and there’s some great titles available to borrow now on BorrowBox. And it’s all free!

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