The Harry Galloway prize was established as an ongoing tribute and memorial to the eponymous Harry Galloway (1946-1996), a prominent public librarian in the West Country. Harry was Senior Area Professional Librarian at Woodspring for seven years following his appointment in 1989, a long-serving Membership Secretary of the Public Library Journal and is on record as having served in almost every office of the Association of Assistant Librarians. Following Harry’s untimely death in 1996, the prize was set up in recognition of his service and commitment to the profession. Harry’s widow Jean Galloway presented the award to its first recipient, Sarah Hemings. The award has since been presented annually to mark outstanding achievements on the part of students on the MSc in Information and Library Management. First based at the University of Bristol, the prize followed the course when it later transferred to the University of the West of England.
Here the two most recent prize winners, Sophia Richards and Michael O’Hagan, give an account of their experiences studying for the professional qualification and their award-winning dissertations.
2014 winner, Sophia Richards writes:
‘I did the MSc in Information Management at UWE during 2013-14. This was to gain a professional qualification, as I had been feeling stuck in my job for several years. I was a public library supervisor in Bristol Libraries, first at Cheltenham Road, then later at Bedminster and Marksbury Road Libraries. I did the course full time and found the stimulation and challenge of learning new skills very rewarding. I was also freshly enthused by the scope of libraries and IM as a field, and gained a huge amount of professional insight and awareness through doing the course. This helped me get my current job, Community Librarian at North Somerset libraries, with responsibility for children and young people’s services.
My dissertation investigated the help given by public library staff with government online services such as Universal Jobmatch [an initiative to match jobseekers to vacancies] and Home Choice [a gateway for social housing applicants]. This is in the context of the move towards providing services via websites rather than face-to-face, which has an impact on people who don’t have adequate computer or internet skills. Public libraries often find themselves filling the gap. Through questionnaires and semi-structured interviews I found that one in five front-facing staff helped people with these websites at least twice a day. 80% helped at least once a month, with most giving help at least once a week. A significant proportion, more than a quarter, felt that it was not their job to help these people, and many felt they didn’t have the right skills to do it. Events have overtaken my findings, as a new training programme for public library staff, the Universal Information Offer, which provides online training, has now been rolled out. I have completed this training and it covers many of the issues raised by the participants in my research.
My work on digital literacy is continuing at North Somerset, where I am currently involved in a project to help people get online and gain digital skills through providing help with mobile internet devices – called Gadget Club. We attracted over 50 people to the first drop-in session, which shows the need for this kind of assistance’.
Sophia Richards (left) proudly receives the Harry Galloway prize from Lizz Jennings, Chair of CILIP SW
Michael O’Hagan, winner in 2013, also speaks of his experiences leading up to the prize:
‘I began the UWE MSc in Information and Library Management in 2011. This was a great course that provided a wide-ranging introduction to current librarianship. We covered core library skills such as cataloguing, but were also introduced to key developments in the information world such as the evolution of Web 2.0 technologies.
Once I’d finished the taught part of the course, I took on the role of leading a project to improve the catalogue representation of the printed collections at the Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies. This was a great way to use technical knowledge of bibliographic work gained through a previous role at the Bodleian and to develop further skills in staff and project management.
Whilst working on this project I completed my MSc dissertation, investigating the use of Twitter by UK academic libraries. From my work experience it was clear that many libraries were using Twitter as a means to engage and communicate with their users, but there was little quantitative evidence to evaluate impact or to inform best practice. I analysed the content themes that were prevalent in a sample of tweets from academic libraries across the country, and looked to see how these affected the visible level of engagement from library users, such as retweeting and conversation.
Following my original plan to add a scientific component to my role, I now work as the knowledge coordinator for chemical biology and medicinal chemistry at Oxford University. This role supports the development of a new data management platform for chemical biology that will help further internal and external collaboration.
I was delighted to find out I had won the Harry Galloway Memorial Prize – certainly a proud addition to my librarianship CV!’
Michael O’Hagan, winner of the 2013 Harry Galloway Prize