Following an international search process, UCC’s new University Librarian, Coral Black, started in her role on Tuesday 11th April 2023. She recently did a Q&A for the new UCC Newsletter The Courier. The Courier has kindly granted us permission to reprint the Q&A in full below.
Coral, it’s officially your second week at UCC. On behalf of all staff, we would like to welcome you to Cork. Can you tell us what drew you to your new role in UCC Library?
Thank you for the warm welcome, and I extend that to my team and others around UCC, everyone has been generous with their time and very welcoming. It has made settling in so much easier for me. I have been working oversees in NZ and Australia for the past 12 years and was looking for an opportunity to move closer to home and at the same time live and work in a new country. It was a combination of the reputation of UCC and the Library, and the scope of the role coming off the back of the move away from Information Services. I felt this would be both exciting and challenging in equal measures. In addition, leading the team to build a new Library plan to support the vision and aspiration of the University.
How did you become interested in a career in libraries?
I kind of feel into this career when I left school at 18 years old back in Liverpool. My first job was as a Library Assistant at the then Liverpool Polytechnic in their Science and Engineering Library, and I think I was hooked from the start. Reflecting on why that is, I think it's being involved in something that helps others to succeed and every day seeing the value you bring In addition, being able to work a with a team highly creative, client focused, innovative people.
What role do you see the library playing in holistically supporting student success at UCC?
I see the Library has having an incredibly important role, delivering a range of information and digital skills programs and opportunities, that help students build vital employability skills and confidence. We provide information resources, predominantly in e-format , embedded within their CANVAS programs vital to their academic success.
In addition, through our physical spaces the library provides a place for traditional study, to meet and collaborate, for play and experimentation. It’s a recognised safe space, a place where all our welcome and feel a sense of belonging. Of course, we cannot do this alone and rely on strong partnerships with our colleagues across the University.
Why are libraries and librarians so critical to the open access movement?
Librarians have expertise in all aspects of open access and scholarly publishing more broadly. Worldwide they have been leading advocates for the importance of open research championing the benefits to the researcher, the University and to society. There are opportunities for our research support librarians to make a significant difference to researchers work at multiple stages in the research process, and to have a positive impact on their research outputs.
What’s one unusual thing you’ve encountered in your career?
I am not sure you would class it as unusual but when I moved the University of Canterbury in NZ, I started two weeks after the earthquake and needing to lead the team to get the Library back up and running and offering a service with no buildings (for the first few months). It gave me a crash course in emergency management, and I lived in high vis for many months. Of course, in Australia knowing that you could come across a deadly snake on campus at any time kept me on my toes!