#uklibchat

Instant Ideas and Collaboration

Feature #23a. A recent interview with a Librarian and his experience of collaborating outside libraries.

Our feature article this month is Martin O Connor an academic librarian from UCC Library in University College Cork, Ireland (UCC).

Martin collaborated on an exhibition featuring an iconic bar and nightclub in Cork called Sir Henry’s. This exhibition documented the history of this music venue, from 1978 – 2003. The club was internationally  renowned for its music scene – both rock and dance.

Below is a short interview with Martin on this wonderful and exciting collaboration with colleagues outside of the academic library where he is based.

Join us for the chat on April 7 at 6:30pm – 8:30pm GMT, April agenda is now up to add your questions to.


 

1.What gave you the idea for this collaboration project?

The initial spark for the project came via Twitter. There was a tweet about a particular club / dance night (Sweat) at the venue and I replied stating that all the nostalgia about Henrys seemed to be ignoring the rock side. Discussion ensued, and the idea of holding an exhibition to deal with the full story of Sir Henrys emerged. So the idea for this collaboration project was literally sparked by Twitter.

2. Who did you collaborate with and why?

On the most basic level it was a collaboration between myself (a librarian), Stevie G (Cork DJ / Promoter / Producer / writer) & Eileen Hogan (an Academic from the Applied Social Studies Dept. in UCC whose PhD is on the Cork live music scene).

1But for me the main collaboration was with the Sir Henrys ‘community’, ‘Henrys Heads’ as we call ourselves – those who owned the club, worked there, clubbed there, drank there, ran the club, played there. In short, those who were connected with Sir Henrys in any way. (Picture Right: “Sir Henry’s Exhibition, Cork City, Ireland”, Credit: UCC Library)

2a. Why the collaboration? With the curators – because of the particular skills, knowledge base and expertise we each had and brought to the project.

2

Picture Above: “Stevie G – Cork DJ, Eileen Hogan – Academic from the Applied Social Studies Dept, Martin O Connor – Librarian UCC” Credit: Clare Keogh & UCC.

2b. Why the collaboration with the Henrys Community? Simply – we needed them. We needed to gather material for the exhibition, artefacts to do with the club. Photos, Flyers, Ticket stubs, Set Lists, Items of Clothing, vinyl records, a guitar, items belonging to the Lucey Family pertaining to the setting up of the club, etc. [Stevie G did have his own personal material –which he kept  but in the 25 year scheme of the club this was very narrow in that it focused solely on the dance side] So, without this aspect of the collaboration we would literally  not have had an exhibition, or certainly not the full rounded exhibition we ended up having.

34

Above pictures:”Sir Henry’s Exhibition, Cork City, Ireland” Credit: Tomas Tyner & UCC

We also needed to collaborate with the Henrys Heads as we wanted to gather information, stories, narratives, personal tales etc about all 25 years of the club.

This collaboration we did through Social Media – particularly Twitter, Facebook and our Blog

3. What reaction did you get when you brought this collaboration project idea to others?

In one word – excitement.

The other curators were very excited.

Cronan O Doibhlin – head of Special Collections, Archives & Repository Services, UCC Library was excited. So was Colette McKenna – UCC Library Director. They both saw the potential of this exhibition from the library perspective – PR, Access, Advocacy, Marketing, collaboration with other areas of the University, and with the town.

4. How did the group dynamic facilitate the project?

The group dynamic was essential. Stevie, Eileen and I were ‘buzzed up’ to be working on this project and we worked so hard on it. The energy we had bounced off each other and made it such a joy to be part of. There was an awful lot of work involved and many hours of work, most of it extra, on top of our regular work. The enthusiasm that we all brought to it was essential to keeping us going.

The Henrys community also created a dynamic – through our interaction with them via social media we built a sense of community that created a buzz and interest around the project. This love for the project on behalf of the project was so uplifting and it meant it wasn’t an inconvenience to be on Social Media at 06.30 in the morning or 12.00 at night.

5. How did it benefit the library?

First off we got massive national media coverage – RTE Television, TG4, RTE radio, RED FM, 96 FM, Youghal Local Radio, The Irish Times, Hot Press, Irish Examiner, Evening Echo, Journal.ie, Daily Mail all had interviews, pieces, features on the expo.

It was our most successful ever exhibition – we had nearly 200 people at the opening night. We had people in every day of the exhibition. People travelled home from abroad. Parents brought their children to see the expo honouring where they had met.

It brought people into UCC Library who had never even been on UCC grounds before.

6. Were there any barriers and how did you overcome them?

Not really. Perhaps there were some library staff members who were ‘wary’ of the idea of the library, an academic library, holding an exhibition on a nightclub but this wasn’t something that worried me or the other curators. We very much had the courage of our convictions. We knew that this project was a good one. It would benefit the library, it would benefit UCC and we felt it was giving something back to Cork city and the people who had spent part of their lives in Sir Henrys.

One thing that the three curators were very aware of was the possibility of this being a nostalgia project – this we did not want. This we overcame by treating Sir Henrys as an objective academic phenomenon and studied it in this way. I have a Sociology background  and Eileen of course is a Social Scientist. This background of two of the three curators helped us move beyond the nostalgia.

We also had to overcome our own personal subjectivities and Henrys Identities. I was rock of the early 90s, Eileen was rock of the late 90s early 00s and Stevie was a dance head. The fact that we all had different backgrounds meant that we were aware that there was more than one side to the story and all our meetings, discussions and decisions were marked by this awareness.

7. What advice would you give to anyone when building a project like this?

Make sure you choose the correct people, the correct team, for the project, to collaborate with. Talk to all potential team members before hand. If you don’t all gel, then think of other members.

Make sure you are collaborating with the correct people. Personality types need to be able to work with each other.

Make sure each collaborator brings something different to the project. There is no point in all the members having the same skills and some skills being lacking.

There needs to be a project manager with an overall vision. They need to be able to make decisions independently if need be. And the other team members have to trust the judgement of the leader.

Set yourself deadlines. Set up a project timeline and stick to it.

Call on the help of people. Don’t be shy of asking for help from people. One of the big lessons I learned is that people usually love to help.

8. Would you do it again, and is there anything that you would do differently next time?

I would be happy to do an exhibition again, if I found the right project.

9. What advice would you give to anyone when building a project like this?

Make sure you choose the correct people, the correct team, for the project, to collaborate with. Talk to all potential team members before hand. If you don’t all gel, then think of other members.

Make sure you are collaborating with the correct people. Personality types need to be able to work with each other.

Make sure each collaborator brings something different to the project. There is no point in all the members having the same skills and some skills being lacking.

There needs to be a project manager with an overall vision. They need to be able to make decisions independently if need be. And the other team members have to trust the judgement of the leader.

Set yourself deadlines. Set up a project timeline and stick to it.

10a.Would I do anything differently?

I don’t think so. I would try to find people who are as passionate about their work as Eileen and Stevie are. And I would love for any future projects to be another crowdsourced one, heavily reliant on Social Media. I loved all the interaction with everybody. It was the interaction, the collaboration, with the Sir Henrys community that made the exhibition the success that it was. Without this collaboration it wouldn’t have worked.

 

Advertisements

About siobhanmac

Loves Libraries, Books, and Sunshine!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Information

This entry was posted on March 31, 2015 by in Feature and tagged , .

Categories

%d bloggers like this: