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CILIP Ireland committee members


Samantha McCombe - Chair

I am Librarian of the Linen Hall Library in Belfast. Founded in 1788 the Linen Hall is the oldest Library in Belfast and the last subscribing Library in Ireland. I am the custodian of the Linen Hall’s collections and am tasked with collecting, conserving and making them as accessible as possible. I am a member of the Senior Management Team with operational responsibility for running the library service. I set the strategy for the library service and engage with stakeholders and partner organisations, and support the Linen Hall’s Director in sourcing funding and demonstrating value to our Members and funders.

I came to the Linen Hall from global elite law firm Allen & Overy, where I was Library & Research Manager and part of the management team of their Belfast office. Previously I was Assistant Librarian at the Bar Library and the Northern Ireland Assembly Library. My early library career was in the academic libraries of Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Strathclyde. I began my library life in a public library in North Belfast.

I attended the University of Glasgow, gaining an MA in English Literature, and undertook my MSc in Information Management at Queen’s University Belfast. I have been a member of CILIP for over 20 years and recently registered to undertake CILIP Fellowship. I am also a member the British and Irish Association of Law Librarians (BIALL).

I am an avid reader, enjoy music, going to gigs, Northern Soul nights, vegetarian cooking and I have an ambition to hike the Inca Trail in Peru.

Having worked in a wide range of library and information sectors I look forward to representing you all, understanding the challenges you face, listening to your professional needs and insights, and supporting CILIP in providing their full membership offering to you as CILIP Ireland members.

Alex Mcllroy - Vice Chair

I am the User Services Librarian in both the Medical and HSC Library, and the Biomedical Library, Queen's University Belfast.

I graduated from University College Dublin with a Masters in Library and Information Studies in 2001, and started my early library career as a library assistant in the school library of Wellington College Belfast. I moved from the school sector to the voluntary sector by taking up a position as Information Officer in Age Concern NI. I then jumped to the government sector by working as the assistant librarian in the departmental library of the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety. I stayed there for 3 years and took the opportunity to start the chartership process. In 2006, I moved to the academic sector by taking up a subject librarian position in the Medical and HSC Library, Queen's University Belfast, before moving to my current position within the same library in 2010. I was awarded chartership of CILIP in 2007 and am currently going through the revalidation process.

I was divisional secretary for the Career Development Group (Northern Ireland) for many years and initially joined the CILIP Ireland committee as an academic representative for Queen's University. In 2016, I took on the role of Candidate Support Officer, and in late 2016 was elected to take on the Vice-Chair position.

As a CILIP Ireland committee member I look forward to meeting you at some of our events, listening to your professional issues and what is happening in your workplace, and encouraging and supporting you through your professional registration journey.

Gerardine Blee - CILIP Ireland Relationship Manager

I am the Relationship Manager for CILIP Ireland. I graduated with an Information and Library Studies Degree from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth in 2004. Since then I have worked in a diverse range of job roles spanning the academic, government and voluntary sectors. I gained chartered membership of CILIP in 2010 and recently revalidated. I commenced my role with CILIP Ireland in 2015.

It is my aim to represent and support all members of CILIP who live or work in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland. I firmly believe CILIP Ireland can act as strong united voice of the Library, Information and Knowledge Management community advocating on behalf of all our members. I am working to increase visibility and build influence among key decision makers in Government at the Northern Ireland Assembly. By producing briefings, responses and policy statements we are contributing to National Policy Development.

It is one of my key aims to develop a strong sense of community amongst members in this region. I work closely with the CILIP Ireland Committee to organise events including conferences and training opportunities. These events are aimed at providing support for members in continuing their professional development. I welcome any suggestions for future events, please contact me by email at

I am also working to build value with employers by supporting CILIP members to enhance their professional skills and standards. Finally, I encourage you to get involved and I look forward to meeting you at upcoming events.

Joy Conkey - Secretary

I am the Deputy Librarian at Union Theological College, Belfast. After training as a Teacher I taught in various Primary Schools in Northern Ireland for six years. Having always had an interest in libraries, I decided to pursue a career in librarianship after having thoroughly enjoyed volunteering in my old school’s library. My first paid library job was working as a Library Assistant in a Public Library. I enjoyed this so much that I applied to do a Masters in Information and Library Studies at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen. I graduated in 2013 and won the CILIPS (CILIP Scotland) Annual Student Award. I began working in my current post in October 2013. In August 2015 I achieved chartered librarian status and hope to revalidate soon.

I have been actively involved in the Committee’s work since September 2016. I took on the role of secretary in December 2017. This has provided me with numerous professional development and networking opportunities and given me a greater appreciation of all the invaluable work the Committee and CILIP do to represent the profession and raise its profile. I am looking forward to playing my part in this advocacy work in future and learning from other information professionals from various sectors.

Louise Wasson - Social Media Officer

I am currently an academic librarian at Queen’s University Belfast providing research support to AFBI users in the Veterinary Sciences Division. Customer engagement across user groups is also a significant part of this role. After completing a PhD in Medieval Studies I gained experience in various library sectors (public, academic, special collections and archives and healthcare), and completed my library qualification with the University of Sheffield iSchool. As current CILIP Ireland Social Media Officer, I enjoy the chance to interact with diverse audiences, attend CILIP Ireland events and keep up-to-date with all things library! CILIP membership has provided me with welcome support at various stages and I would highly recommend becoming a member as a route to learning from peers and colleagues at all professional levels.

Ross McDonald - Treasurer

I am currently Library and Information Services Manager at Belfast Metropolitan College and treasurer on the CILIP Ireland Committee.

I began my career in public libraries as a part-time library assistant in 1999 and have also worked in legal and school libraries prior to commencing my current post. I qualified as a Librarian from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth in 2004 and am currently undertaking Chartership. The best job I’ve ever had was a temporary posting in a mobile library on the Ards Peninsula.

I am passionate about the role that libraries have in our society and joined the CILIP Ireland committee to help develop and promote the information sector to our members and wider afield. I have a particular interest in school and further education college libraries. Outside of work I enjoy baking, hill walking, photography and try to find the time to read as much as possible.

Louisa Costelloe - Candidate Support Officer

I am Assistant Librarian, Special Collections in the McClay Library, Queen’s University Belfast. I graduated with an MSc in Information and Library Studies from the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, 2008 and chartered in 2013, a process which greatly helped my professional development. In the summer of 2007 I began working as a summer Library Assistant in Aberdeen City Libraries and worked in most of the 16 city community libraries. I then moved to a permanent Library Assistant position in Aberdeen Central Library. In 2009 I was successful in applying for the post of Team Librarian, Local Studies, also in Aberdeen Central Library. Following restructuring my job title changed to Local Studies Librarian. While in Aberdeen I became Secretary of the local CILIPS North East Committee.

I moved to Belfast in 2013 and began working as a Development Officer for CILIP Ireland. My responsibilities included raising the profile of CILIP Ireland, managing the CILIP Ireland Committee and organising the Joint Conference for CILIP Ireland/ Librarian Association of Ireland. In 2015 I moved to my current post, Assistant Librarian, Special Collections in Queen’s University Belfast. I decided to stay on as an Ordinary Member of the CILIP Ireland Committee.

I have recently taken up the role of Candidate Support Officer and look forward to assisting you in your professional registration enquiries and journeys. I also aim to organise regular Professional Registration events in Northern Ireland. .

Victoria Archer - New Professionals and Student Liaison Officer

My name is Victoria Archer and I am a Library Assistant in the McClay Library at Queen’s University Belfast. I’m currently studying my MA part time in Library and Information Studies via distance learning at Aberystwyth. I’ve found it tough with no one to chat to about studying related topics (mostly moaning on my part), so I’ve been delighted to discover CILIP and others who want to chat about the same things. I became a member of the committee late last year and I’m really looking forward to meeting many new people in the library sector and interested to learn about other areas of library work through CILIPs wide network. Previously, I worked for Libraries NI in various public libraries and my move to the Borrower Services team in an academic library has been challenging, motivating and increased my passion for following my career in the library and information sector. I’d love to speak to anyone who is currently studying or has recently completed their course about your experiences, opportunities to meet up, and ways that CILIP can enhance your career and your studies.

Eimear Evans - North-South Liaison Officer

I am Faculty Library for Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences in Queen’s University Belfast. I graduated with a Masters in Library and Information Studies from University College Dublin in 2011, following a library studentship at the National Library of Ireland. I worked as a Library Assistant with Bord Bia (The Irish Food Board), and then with All Hallows (a college of DCU), before moving to Belfast for a Library Assistant post in the McClay Library at Queen’s. I have worked in a variety of roles at the McClay including Subject Librarian and Institutional Repository Officer, to my present day post as Faculty Librarian.

I have been North South Liaison Officer with CILIP Ireland since 2018. I aim to strengthen our collaboration with the Library Association of Ireland by sitting on the North South Liaison Committee, and through involvement in the Annual Joint Conference. I am also on the editorial panel of An Leabharlann (The Irish Library).

Tatyana Malinova - Activities Officer

I am Assistant Librarian in Bibliographic Services in McClay Library, Queen’s University Belfast. Originally I am from Bulgaria. My academic background is in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science. While working as a part-time Library Assistant in various academic branches in Northern Ireland, I was fortunate to meet information professionals, whose expertise and devotion to their work inspired me to pursue a career in Librarianship. I graduated from Aberystwyth University with MSc.(Econ.) in Information and Library Studies in 2011.

I found my ‘dream job’ when I started work at my current post four years ago. I enjoy the challenge and take great pride in the bibliographic records I create. To support my professional development and to keep up-to-date with the progress in cataloguing, I signed up for a membership in CILIP’s Cataloguing & Indexing Group. Last year I joined the CILIP/BL Committee on RDA, where I have a chance to contribute to the development of this new edition of the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules.

I joined CILIP in my first year as a student in Aberystwyth University and became an active member of CILIP in 2010, when I joined the Career Development Group Committee Northern Ireland Division (CDGNI). After the merge of CDGNI and CILIP Ireland I continued to contribute to the work of the committee as an Events Support Officer. My role involves participating in the creation of an on going plan of events and assisting the Development Manager in co-ordination of these events. Over the years, my CILIP membership has given me an opportunity to undertake various career development courses, to gain experience in events management by voluntary work, to meet and exchange experiences with information professionals throughout UK and Ireland.

Cath Skipper - Ordinary Member

Cath Skipper is a School Librarian at Campbell College, Belfast. I have always been a keen reader, and was a pupil library assistant during my school years, so becoming a school librarian was perhaps always my destiny! Following a stint as a bookseller at Aberystwyth University after I finished my undergraduate degree, I completed an MSc Econ in Library and Information Studies there and have been the librarian at Campbell College, Belfast since 2009. I feel very fortunate to have a job I love; it is a great privilege to be able to help the young people I work with develop their love of reading and become information literate citizens.

I have been a member of CILIP since 2008, and am a member of the ILG, YLG and SLG special interest groups, and was a member of the judging panel on the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards in 2014 and 2015. I am also the Secretary for the Northern Ireland branch of the School Library Association in Northern Ireland. I am a keen advocate of school libraries and librarians, and I am looking forward to working with the CILIP Ireland committee to help further promote the value of our sector.

Seána McAuley - Ordinary Member

Seána McAuley is a Librarian at Allen & Overy LLP.

My career in libraries began in Trinity College Library, Dublin, where I spent a year in the Inter library loans department. Following my stint at Trinity I moved across town to University College Dublin where I completed my Masters in Library and Information Studies.

Over the years I have worked in the academic, public, and voluntary and community sectors and am currently working as a Librarian in a multi-national law firm based in Belfast. Throughout my career I have been involved in various professional bodies and have been a committee member of CILIP’s Career Development Group Northern Ireland division, a committee member of the Association of Information Managers NI, and a member of the British and Irish Association of Law Librarians (BIALL).

I have been lucky to have met and worked with some really inspiring librarians who have pushed me to take on opportunities which were entirely out of my comfort zone. I enjoy the sharing of knowledge and experience that comes from connecting with librarians and information professionals working in different sectors to my own. I very much look forward to expanding this through my involvement with CILIP Ireland.

Claire Milliken - Ordinary Member

My career in libraries began in Northumbria University, Newcastle, where I spent a year working in the Circulation department. I enjoyed this so much I enrolled to study for a Masters in Library and Information Studies at the university. I undertook this part-time so that I could continue to work in Library and Learning Services. This practical experience very much informed my learning.

I graduated at the end of 2008 and joined the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2009. This work is extremely varied. While I initially worked in the Electronic Services team, I am now embedded the Research Service. In this role, I use my transferable information management skills to respond to research enquiries from Members of the Legislative Assembly, their staff and the secretariat in an impartial, objective, timely and non-partisan manner.

Throughout my career I have been involved in various professional bodies and have served as Secretary to the CILIP Ireland committee. Through this engagement I have met and worked with some really inspiring information and library professionals from a variety of sectors.

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