Tag Archives: Harry Galloway Prize

Rob Challis on his Harry Galloway Prize winning dissertation

Rob Challis, winner of this year’s Harry Galloway Prize, describes his award winning dissertation.

‘I completed the MSc in Information Management at UWE on a part-time basis between autumn 2013 and spring 2016.  I had been working in Library-related roles at the University of Bristol for more than 13 years when I started the course, and – finally! – I decided to seek a professional qualification following a very rewarding experience working on two library building projects.

The seed of my dissertation topic was a suggestion from one of the UWE librarians to look at how library discovery tools are used in subjects such as Law and Business Studies, where the most important resources are commercial databases that do not interface well with them.  I was working in the Wills Memorial Library at the time (home to the University of Bristol’s Law collection), and this led me to think more widely about how Law students find their way in a digital information “ecosystem” dominated by two key databases – particularly in the later stages of their undergraduate degrees.

I approached the topic by conducting a series of “think aloud” activities, in which student participants from the University’s Law School were asked to describe their thoughts and decisions in real time, as they completed a series of information-seeking tasks.  The data from these sessions were supplemented by follow-up interviews with the participants.

I found that Library tools were used in a very limited way (primarily for finding known print items), and that the majority of “authoritative” sources were sought and obtained directly from commercial Law databases.  Equally interesting, however, was the participants’ use of non-authoritative – and sometimes avowedly “unreliable” – sources, obtained freely from the web, as a convenient way of orientating themselves within complex subjects.

Although my dissertation focused very much on information-seeking behaviours, an optional MSc unit on Designing the User Experience had a significant influence on my approach.  UX principles informed both the design and performance of my research activities, as well as the interpretation of the resulting data.  I continue to use these principles in my current role, implementing reading list software at the University of Bristol.

I‘m delighted to follow in the footsteps of my classmate Sophia Richards (2014 winner) in winning the Harry Galloway prize.  Undertaking the dissertation has been one of the highlights of my professional career so far, and it’s really pleasing to have it recognised in this way’.


Harry Galloway Prize winner for 2015 – Louise Cowan

The annual Harry Galloway award (see earlier posting here) is presented to mark outstanding achievements on the part of students on the MSc in Information and Library Management at the University of the West of England. The current award was presented to Louise Cowan at the CILIPSW Annual General Meeting and Members’ Day at Exeter Central Library on 14th March 2016. We are delighted to congratulate Louise. Here Louise gives us the background to her winning work.


I studied for my MSc at UWE part-time from 2012 to 2015. The course provided a good theoretical grounding in library management, often focusing on the knowledge and skills highlighted in CILIP’s PKSB. What I learned in the taught part of the course is continuing to prove invaluable as I now move on to Chartership.

The subject of my dissertation was ‘Social Media and Academic Libraries’; my interest in the topic had grown from my experience volunteering at Sunderland University Library in 2011 and seeing first-hand the great work their marketing team was doing to promote the services the library offered to students. I also managed the social media accounts at St Hugh’s College Library in Oxford, where I worked as a Senior Library Assistant while completing my MSc.

Louise Cowan taken by Kay Ecclestone 14 Mar 2016

Emma Wellard (left), Chair of CILIP SWMN, presents this year’s award to Louise Cowan at Exeter Library (photograph by Kay Ecclestone) 

A lot of literature is highly critical of the way libraries use social media to engage their students so I wanted to understand how users were currently interacting with academic libraries on social media, in order to highlight ways further engagement could be generated and maintained. Focusing on three academic libraries, I analysed the content of posts from their Facebook and Twitter pages that had generated user engagement. I found that, while users were much more active on library social media platforms than previously suggested in literature, more could be done to encourage meaningful conversations with students. Engagement was highest when social media content had a specific value to users; thematically, these posts revolved around Community, Feedback, Education and Enjoyment. While each library’s users prioritised different themes; strategically, libraries could look to promote posts that endeavour to build a community with users through shared interests, regularly engage with feedback to improve services, provide educational support and encourage a little fun!

The understanding of social media I gained from my dissertation helped me to prepare for my current role. Although I am primarily a liaison librarian, my work also involves supporting the management of social media for Reading University’s Special Collections Library and Archive.

I was thrilled when I received the news that I had won the Harry Galloway Memorial Prize – it has made the achievement of my MSc even more meaningful and memorable.

Louise Cowan

The Harry Galloway Prize

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’.


Post 2 Sophia Richards and Lizz Jennings

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!’


Post 2 Michael OHagan

Michael O’Hagan, winner of the 2013 Harry Galloway Prize