Blog Posts

Covid-19 Experience

I have always said that good leadership is about openness wherever possible and on that note, I want to share my personal journey of dealing with Covid-19 over the past two weeks. On the evening of the 7th of October, I started developing a light cough, and a gentle fever. Henna (my wife) was also not feeling that well since the 5th of October, although her symptoms were primarily tiredness, followed by a bit of change of taste and difficulty breathing. While we were at heightened awareness of Covid-19, we were also taking all reasonable precautionary measures (staying indoors mostly, face coverings outside, hands sanitised/washed, etc) and my immediate feeling was this must be a cold virus. By the evening of the 8th, I started feeling really tired and water started to taste bitter. At this point, both Henna and I agreed to get ourselves tested. We opted for home tests and ordered them on the 8th. Both tests arrived on the 9th morning (fantastic delivery service) and we did the tests on the 9th and posted them back on the same day. Very clear instructions by NHS on how to conduct the test and a really useful guiding video.

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Ckan basic configuration, seeding test data, and uwsgi

Aliases and sysadmin account Once you have ckan installed properly, it is time to do some basic configuration. In order to do this, the first thing is to add a sysadmin account for ckan. This can be done by running the following commands. To make it easier for me, I have created a permanent alias for ckan activation. I have edited my .bashrc file, and at the very end, I have added the following line: Now, source this file to update the current shell session and see if it works. Let’s get rid of the need to add the -c path_to_ckan_ini_file for every command. Update your .bashrc file to add the following: Seeding some test data Let’s create some test data in the system. Unfortunately, the documentation is again outdated here for the latest version. The actual commands that you need are provided below. With the latest version of ckan, we have multiple options to populate test data. You can add multiple forms of data, e.g. You can also clean all the test data by running the following commands. If you do run the clean command, it will drop all database tables in your ckan_default database. This means you will

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Setting up ckan on Ubuntu 18.04 – Python 3 and Amazon Lightsail

Step 1: Create an Ubuntu 18.04 LTS instance in Amazon Lightsail Create a new instance on Amazon Lightsail. I called mine “ckan” and initiated it on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. Once you have an instance created, go to Networking tab and create a static IP to associate this instance with. I called mine “ckan-static-ip” and attached it to the “ckan” instance. I also enabled automated snapshots at the ckan instance level. Optionally, at this time, you may want to associate this static IP with a domain name. I have associated this with in the godaddy DNS panel. Of course, there is nothing running on port 80 at the moment so your browser won’t show anything. At this point, you can go into your account, then in the SSH keys tab, and download the default key associated with your region in which you have created your instance. Mine is created in the Ireland eu-west-1 zone. Once downloaded (in my Downloads folder), copy it to a place which you will ssh from. Name it something simpler if you prefer (I named mine aws-key). The default username for an Ubuntu instance in Amazon Lightsail is ubuntu. Great, so you have an Ubuntu 18.04

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Tips for developing a successful work relationship with your new (Library) Director

A few people have now asked me about what they can do to develop a strong relationship with their new Library Director/University Librarian (from here on referred to as boss as the same tips apply more generally as well). I will jot down a few things here which might be useful, but please do note that these are my thoughts only and if you want to use any of this advice, don’t forget about your local context. Bandwidth โ€“ The bandwidth of your boss is limited and shifts significantly over time. When they start, they are likely to have more bandwidth, they will speak with staff, they will invest more time and effort with you, they will read longer reports, etc. However, once they have established their own networks and work streams, the bandwidth changes drastically. Donโ€™t expect that because they read a 40-page report when they started, that is the acceptable norm. If they have been there for 6 months or over, limit your papers to 2-4 pages at most or ask them what they would want now. Solution focussed โ€“ Your boss is interested in knowing if there is a problem, they can occasionally provide advice on how

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Early thoughts on talent development & management of BAME staff in Libraries and Archives

Lately, I have been thinking on the topic of talent development and management in Libraries and Archives. I have also been learning and discovering further the issues that BAME staff face in having a support model for career progression within Libraries and Archives. It would be fair to say that BAME staff are, generally speaking, frustrated with: lack of support; micro-aggressions; inequalities in recruitment; job descriptions that disadvantages them in a systematic fashion; lack of opportunities to develop relevant experience; lack of acknowledgement of potential; and higher expectations from them than that of white colleagues. In some cases, this frustration is growing in anger and most importantly in activism that is generating positive debate and change. Particularly organisations like DILON and individuals have played a critical role in shifting the conversation from discussion to action, and driving CILIP, SCONUL, RLUK, TNA and other organisations to take a strong note and think strategically and operationally about the core issues that led to this lack of diversity and support in the first place. I am extremely pleased that there is an active debate in the sector, and that this has brought this topic to senior leaders attention, but I am also worried

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Part two – So you want to be a Director of Library and Archives? Reflections from the first twelve months.

So where do I begin? A thank you seems like a good starting place. Thank you to everyone who gave me really positive comments on my previous post. Especially on how you could relate to the challenges that I reflected on in the first four months of my new role at that time, and how it allowed you to feel like you are not alone in this. Some of you mentioned that it was brave of me to openly say that I don’t have all the answers and how it would make others feel about me. My response on that is no body really has all the answers and if we, as leaders, can not admit that, we will not be able to listen, understand, and appreciate the comments and feedback we receive from our users and our staff fully. So what has changed in the past eight months. I would say quite a lot. Most importantly, something clicked with me during the end of my sixth month in this role. I am not sure if I can explain this very well but it is a lot to do with confidence that comes with doing things. In summary, I felt

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So you want to be a Director of Library and Archives? Reflections from the first four months.

First of all, two apologies. First one for not updating my blog for almost five months and the second one for the long title of this blog post. I have been in my new role (Director of Library & Archives) for around four and a half months now, and it has been a great experience so far. There are certain things I learnt very quickly, which I am sharing as no one really tells you about this when you make a move to a Director level role. My first reflection is on handling the initial pressure that comes with a Director level leadership position. This would vary to some degree across institutions, but basically, there is a lot more expected of you when you become a Director. There is no explicit mention of this, no one will ask you to work odd or more than usual hours. However, this will be mostly driven through self-criticism and peer pressure, both within the organisation and across organisations. Let me elaborate this further. When you join a new organisation, you realise that you took a lot of things in your past organisation for granted. Your relationships and networks develop over time, your knowledge

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Some thoughts on my leadership journey

I was going through some of my Lancaster documents, and I found this note highlighting my 6-month targets during my first year at Lancaster. Looking back at this almost five years later, I felt privileged and humbled at what I managed to achieve in the past five years and where I am today. During my first year at Lancaster, I was developing the research services team, expanding the digital innovation team, and building my leadership style and reputation. I was keen to learn from the best leaders across the educational and commercial environments, and the fantastic Bonington leadership programme allowed me to do that. I also put in a lot of my time in the programme, in reflecting on what I learnt, how it would apply to me personally, and to my team and the Library in general. I would spend hours reading about the different leadership models and what connects with me. Equally important was what didn’t connect with me and reflecting on why that is the case, why a particular leadership approach won’t apply to me, and why I don’t want to deviate from my core values as a leader. Reflection on what may or may not work

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A new chapter

I am starting a new chapter in my professional life. I will be leaving Lancaster University Library after (just over) five wonderful years and would be moving to University of York Library as the Director of Library and Archives. I am really excited, both personally and professionally, and I am looking forward to the new role and working with the wonderful team at University of York Library and Archives. Also, this is a bit of an old news now but it has taken me a while to write this blog post ๐Ÿ™‚ This would be the first time I would be working in a converged service environment, called the Information Services Directorate at University of York. My first day would be 13th of August 2018 and at the moment, I am busy finishing things off, ensuring that a good hand over happens for my successor at Lancaster, and trying to get to know the senior leadership team of the Library and Archives at York. This, combined with selling our current house in Lancaster, renting a house in York, and eventually buying a house in York makes it quite a busy but fun time. I have also been away in Australia

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So what's up?

I have been away a bit from blogging, primarily because I have recently become the father of a gorgeous baby boy (now 7 months old) but also because of the intensity of workload recently. I have been a victim of not being able to create enough reflection time in my life and I have to change that to be an effective leader. For this reason, I am beginning by reflecting and developing a digital vision which will make Lancaster University Library a global leader in digital innovation.ย  More locally, this vision will cut across all key themes of the University’s strategy, including teaching, learning, research, engagement and arts. I will post my thoughts once I have gone through some of the preliminary work.

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