New to the Library: African American Studies from Oxford Bibliographies

Thanks to a request from staff in History I’m happy to let you know that the Library now has access to Oxford Bibliographies: African American Studies.

You can access Oxford Bibliographies: African American Studies via DiscoverEd, the History subject guide or via the entry to Oxford Bibliographies on the Databases A-Z list.

Oxford Bibliographies: African American Studies provides bibliographic articles that identify, organise, cite, and annotate scholarship on key areas of African American Studies—culture, politics, law, history, society, religion, and economics. Regularly updated and expanded with new content, this module is one of the first places you should turn to if you are interested in authoritative references to African American Studies. Read More

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New! African Studies – Oxford Bibliographies

I’m pleased to let you know that following a request from staff members in the Centre of African Studies (CAS) the Library now has access to Oxford Bibliographies: African Studies collection.

You can access Oxford Bibliographies: African Studies via DiscoverEd, the African Studies LibGuide or via the entry to Oxford Bibliographies on the Databases A-Z list.

Since the literature on African Studies is diverse, fast moving, controversial, and scattered among unfamiliar sources, Oxford Bibliographies have asked leading scholars to identify the most significant themes and areas of study in their fields, recommend the best sources for exploring them, and discuss these works conceptual and empirical significance to provide a series of guided studies through the diverse approaches to a wide array of complex subjects. Read More

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On trial: Prosecuting the Holocaust: British investigations into Nazi war crimes

I’m happy to let you know that the Library currently has trial access to the brand new digital primary source collection, Prosecuting the Holocaust: British investigations into Nazi war crimes, 1944-1949, from British Online Archives. Drawn from the UK National Archives, this collection contains a wealth of information regarding the British government’s efforts to investigate and prosecute Nazi crimes.

You can access Prosecuting the Holocaust via the E-resources trials page.
Access is available both on and off-campus.

Trial access ends 30th April 2019. Read More

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New! Resource Lists quick guides for course organisers

We’ve just published a couple of new quick guides to help course organisers edit their Resource Lists and manage course reading:

Edit your Resource List

This guide will show you how to:

  1. Add a new resource to your list
  2. Delete resources on your list
  3. Move resources on your list
  4. Send your list to the Library for review

Manage your course reading

This guide will show you how to:

  1. Add a new resource to your list
  2. Request a book purchase
  3. Request book moves to HUB or Reserve
  4. Request a copyright-compliant digitisation

We’ll be creating short videos and adding more quick guides to the website over the next few months, so keep an eye out for those!

For more information about Resource Lists, you can have a look at the other user guides on our website.


We’re also running Resource Lists workshops over the next few months – full details in our earlier blog post.

If the dates don’t suit and you’d like to arrange a school-based workshop, demo, Q&A or 1-2-1, please get in touch with



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Resource Lists Workshops

We run Resource Lists workshops for academic staff, learning technologists and course administrators.

In preparation for 2019/2020 we are running a series of two workshops; one for beginners and another for more experienced users of Resource Lists.

Getting started workshops

Getting started workshops are aimed at new users or Course Organisers who would like to refresh their knowledge of Resource Lists. By the end of this workshop you will:

  1. Be able to set up your own Resource List
  2. Know how to use your Resource List to:
    • Manage the purchase of new or additional copies of books
    • Request copyright compliant scans
    • Request book moves to HUB/Reserve

Beyond the basics

Beyond the basics. This workshop is aimed at Course Organisers who already have a Resource Lists and focuses on how to edit a list and use it to request Library materials for teaching. By the end of this workshop you will:

  1. Understand how the Library uses Resource Lists to provide access to key texts
  2. Be able add, delete and move items on your Resource List
  3. Know how to use your Resource List to:
    • Manage the purchase of new or additional copies of books
    • Request copyright-compliant scans
    • Request book moves to HUB/Reserve
  4. Be aware of the key Resource Lists features for students


Workshops will be held April– July either in the Main Library or in Argyle House and can be booked via MyEd.

Resource Lists (Leganto) Getting started: how to set up a Resource List for your course

Resource Lists (Leganto): Beyond the basics: How to edit your list and use it to request new books and copyright-compliant digitisations for teaching

School-based sessions, one-to-ones and refresher training

We’re also happy to come to you and can arrange school-based workshops, Q&A sessions, one-to-ones or refresher sessions to fit around Course Organisers’ schedules.

If the dates don’t suit and you’d like to arrange a school-based workshop, demo, Q&A or 1-2-1, please get in touch with

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Board Games at Break

                                                  Playful Engagement by Madeleine Leisk CC BY-NC

The UCF is always a fun place to work, but this past month, we have had the opportunity to add even more fun, excitement and teamwork to the UCF with the help of the Playful Engagement box. The box, a treasure trove of games, colouring books and creative materials, was created as part of the ISG commitment to Playful Engagement and the Innovation Fund project. We had the honour of being the first site location to receive the travelling box, while another box is located at Argyle House. These activities have been carefully curated so that they can be used during a short break, as part of a team building exercise, or as a way to relax individually. Some of our favourite objects in the box were: Hanabi, Perudo, One Night Werewolf, and an animal colouring book.

We dove right in with a game of One Night Werewolf, a quick game whereby players are randomly assigned characters and must discover which player is the werewolf. We were also able to practice our poker-faces with the dice game, Perudo, and made some goofy cartoons for our lunch room.

This month, we have also welcomed two new Library Assistants to the UCF and a game of Hanabi was a great introduction to the team. The game required teamwork to build the best fireworks display from a set of cards. It was simple enough to complete a game during our tea break but it was also challenging as it required players to rely on each other to provide clues to reach the communal goal of building a vibrant fireworks display.

These activities have been a great way to continue our development as a team and to add some more fun to our work. The individual activities, like the Animal Kingdom colouring book and the art supplies, have also been a good way to relax individually during our lunch breaks.

We will be sad to see the Playful Engagement box leave, but we hope that whatever team receives the box next enjoys it as much as we did (and does not mind the completed colouring pages). I would also recommend that you visit the Playful Engagement website, and play some of the metadata games at

Madeleine Leisk, UCF Library Assistant

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Open Access Scotland Group meeting

Photo by @hblanchett :

On 27th March the Scholarly Communications Team at the University of Edinburgh were delighted to host the 6th regular meeting of the Open Access Scotland Group at the impressive Paterson’s Land building (pictured above).

The Group aims to provide a voice for open access in Scotland, allow the sharing of best practice, facilitate opportunities for networking between stakeholders, and lobby on behalf of Scottish organisations. It is an open group and comprises members from Scottish HE institutions and other allied organisations, like academic publishers, software vendors, local and national government agencies and research funders. The group also has honorary members from Iceland and Northern Ireland.

The event on 27th March was attended by 40 people representing over 20 organisations.

Photo by @hblanchett

The first speaker was Pauline Ward who gave a well received talk on Open Science Approaches – including the fantastic Research Data Service at the University of Edinburgh.

During the main session we had a facilitated discussion around issues such as the use of research notebooks, how to do open access for Practise-led Research, and updates on Plan S, UK-SCL and Jisc Support.

The draft notes from the event are available online here:

If you are interested in Open Access and are based in Scotland then I would heartily recommend joining up to the Open Access Scotland Group. The next meeting is pencilled in for September and will probably be hosted by the University of the Highlands and Islands in Inverness. Hope to see you there!





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What’s New in DiscoverEd – March 2019

DiscoverEd has some useful new features.  Read on for full details…

1. Lockable Filters

It is now possible to lock a set of filters which you have applied to your search results, in order to make them active for the remainder of your DiscoverEd session.   For example, you may wish to lock the Full Text Online Show Only filter and the Books Resource Type filter.  This would result in subsequent searches being limited to electronic books.

To lock filters:

  1. Run an initial search in DiscoverEd and apply the filter(s) you wish to use.
  2. In the Active filters section, click on the opened padlock icon next to the filter you wish to lock – the icon will change to a closed padlock icon.  Repeat this process for each of the filters you want to lock for the rest of the session.

These filters will remain locked for any subsequent searches that you carry out during the session.  If you want to unlock the filters at any stage in your session, simply repeat the above process, this time changing the closed padlock icon back to the open padlock icon.


2.  Personalised Search Results

It is now possible to alter the order of the results of a search, so that material that is more relevant to your preferred subject disciplines appears higher up the results list. To do this:

Run a search and then select the Personalise your results option:

You can now select up to 5 preferred disciplines from the available options.  When you have finished making your selections, click on APPLY:

The order of your search results will now change, according to your preferences, and material which is more relevant will appear higher up the list of results.  Your preferred disciplines are now shown to the left of your search results:

Please note that only the order of articles will change when you personalise your results, with the most relevant articles appearing nearer the top of your results list.  The positioning of books from the University Library will not change in the list.

Your personalised preferences will remain in place for the remainder of your session, unless you switch them off by clicking on the red Personalised option:

You can also change your preferences at any time by selecting Edit Disciplines:

If you are signed in to DiscoverEd when you set your preferences then they will be  retained and will be automatically applied to your search results in your next session, unless you change them or switch off the feature.


3.  Citation Trails on Results List

DiscoverEd allows you to view journal articles which have cited, or were cited in, other journal articles.  This “citation trails” feature was previously only available when viewing the full details of an article, but it is now available directly from the results list.

Articles which have cited or were cited in other articles can be easily identified by the citation trails icons which appear in the brief results display:

Click on the first icon (with the two upward arrows) to retrieve articles which have cited the article you are viewing.  Click on the second icon (with the single downward arrow) to find articles that are cited in the article.


4.  Renew Selected Items in My Account

It was previously only possible to renew borrowed items one at a time, or else to renew all the items you had on loan.   It is now possible to select a group of items from your Loans list and renew only those selected items.

Click on the numbered boxes to select the items you wish to renew, then select the RENEW SELECTED option:

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A New Profession

From 1 October 1928 The Edinburgh School of Social Study and Training, established in 1918, was to be incorporated into the University. Students at the school had been entitled to a university qualification since 1922 but they were now to become students in the newly created Department of Social Studies and Training with Miss Nora Milnes as it’s director and also lecturer in Social Economics. Professor Kemp Smith at the University’s AGM said the move recognised that “a new profession was coming into existence”.

Who were the students who wanted to pursue this new profession? Where did they come from and what became of them? And how, in the first 20 years, did this new university course develop?

Some answers to these questions can be found in the collection of student admission files belonging to the department and covering the period from 1929-1956. As with any records containing personal information they are subject to Data Protection regulations, however the earlier files can provide a wonderful insight into the interests and progression of some of the department’s very first students.

Why social work?

On their application forms, each potential student was asked to explain why they had chosen this career path.  It is quite remarkable how the answers to this question, although varying in detail, all allude to the overriding wish to work with people and not things, and not just to work with people, but to help them overcome whatever difficulties they may be facing.  Being of use to the community and pursuing a worthwhile career also frequently appear as reasons. One student showed particular dedication by stating they wanted a career that “did not finish on leaving the office”.

The files include details of practical placements and serve to demonstrate some of the careers the students hoped to pursue – almoning, personnel management, child welfare to name a few:


Who were the students?

“I enjoyed my two years at Edinburgh and how much I value the broad lines of the course before plunging into a more specialised portion of social work”

Enrolment form for Jean Inglis, one of the last students to graduate from the School of Social Study and Training before it became incorporated into the University

Despite all sharing a goal to pursue a career in social work and welfare, the files show that the students were an interesting mix of young and old, British and overseas, male and female. Below are just a few examples of the diverse body of students who enrolled:

Marlene Kwok b.1932 d.2013

Marlene Kwok

Students came from India, Singapore, Australia, USA, Burma and all over Europe. Marlene Kwok hailed from British Guyana and attended Edinburgh University 1955-1956 graduating with a Certificate in Social Study. She returned home and wrote to Marjorie Brown in 1961 saying she was awaiting the general elections in August that year when the country’s new constitution would come into effect. Marlene wrote “Scenes from the History of Chinese in British Guyana”, a copy of which she presented to the University Library.

Cedric Mays

Cedric Mays b.1907

One of the department’s mature students, Cedric “Spike” Mays was 45 years old when he enrolled on the course in 1952. His application includes a letter of reference from Edwin Muir in his capacity as warden at Newbattle Abbey College where Mays was a contemporary of George Mackay Brown.

Originally from Essex, Cedric’s memoir “Reuben’s Corner: An English Country Boyhood” was first published in 1969 and subsequently re-issued as “The Only Way Was Essex” in 2013. He kept in touch with staff in the department and refers in one of his letters to his association with Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Wintle, subject of the book and biopic “The Last Englishman”, for whom he was organising a lecture tour of the USA following the Colonel’s six month imprisonment. The pair had met while convalescing in a military hospital.

Zbigniew Leszczynski (Les) 

Les was one of a number of Polish students who enrolled on the course.  Originally from Warsaw, Les arrived in Britain during the Second World War and graduated from the University with a Certificate in Social Study in 1948. A gifted artist he went on to study at Edinburgh College of Art and finally became an art teacher in the north of England. He also exhibited several works at the Royal Scottish Academy. He died in 2003 and his obituary can be read here.

Enrolment form for Marjorie Alice Brown who became Director of the School of Social Study in 1951

Students with Disabilities

It is also worth noting that at least four blind students studied at the department during this period. While attitudes of the staff varied as to the department’s capacity to cater for their needs, there was a general consensus that students with disabilities could be particularly suited to a career in social work. William Oliver, Professor of Organisation of Industry and Commerce, was especially enthusiastic, writing that he believed blind students “had a wonderful capacity for visualising the spoken word”.

Keeping it in the Family

The Ogilvy Wederburn sisters Janet, Katherine and Elspeth all gained their Certificates in the 1930s while Helen and Hilda Noble were both approaching 40 years old when they graduated with Diplomas in the same decade. In addition six other sets of sisters gained qualifications from the department during this period, including one set of twins, perhaps showing that a predisposition to follow a certain path can run in families!

Sylvia Perera came to study in the department from Singapore and graduated with a Certificate in 1957


The students went on to have varied careers; teachers, managers, almoners, ministers of religion. The correspondence of those who kept in touch with staff are full of wonderful details of their journeys both within and outwith the field of social work. One former student who went into personnel management wrote about her position:

“It is a complete contrast in every way to the Glasgow factory – that one had about 2000 workers – this one considers itself very large with about 700 workers. Here they have as yet no trained nurse so I pull out splinters and plaster up burns etc. as well as interviewing, engaging, follow-ups, absentee, health and personnel records, supervising canteen……..I visit our girls who are out sick too and the only difference between slummy bits in Glasgow and here seems to me to be that here they are rather more cheerful, they drink more and there are infinitely more religious devices on all the walls”

Yolanda Vitolins b. 1930 d.2006. Originally from Latvia, Yolanda gained a Certificate in 1955 and went on to work at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital where she supervised students from the department on their placements.

Of those that stayed in the field of social work there are some notable alumni, a few of which are listed below:

Dr Alexina McWhinnie (1923-2017) graduated from the department in 1943 and was awarded a Carnegie Scholarship to do her PhD which was on the subject of adoption. Her first book, “Adopted Children, How They Grow Up” was published in 1967. As a Senior Research Fellow at Dundee University Dr McWhinnie conducted research into IVF and Donor Insemination families and also edited Who Am I? a collection of essays written by DI adults. She was an advocate for the rights of adopted people and the donor conceived and was awarded an MBE in 2010.

Kathleen Kufeldt (nee Galvin) would go on to have a very distinguished career, earning a PhD in child welfare, publishing many books and articles on the subject and teaching at the Universities of Newfoundland and New Brunswick.

Mary Neilson and Margaret Adams

Former students Mary Neilson (Certificate 1937) and Margaret Adams (Certificate 1951) co-authored the following publications which can both be found in the University Library:


Read about more alumni at

These files are so much more than simple application forms; they can tell us so much about the beginnings and subsequent development of social work education at the University of Edinburgh and the personalities of those who taught and studied here.

They can also tell us about the progression of this “new profession” and as an added bonus can often give us first hand accounts of social history – the evacuation of school children to Brighton, the journey of WAAF members to Australia via Africa and Hong Kong are just two examples. As such they are a really invaluable and unique resource.


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Referencing Tutorial

Cite Them Right online, which is in the Databases A-Z list, is a comprehensive guide to referencing almost anything you will come across in the course of your studies or research. It has just launched a Referencing Tutorial.

Direct access to the Tutorial is here. You will have the option to create an account to sign in as an authenticated user so that the Tutorial can remember your progress, or to explore freely without signing in and therefore without remembering your progress.

This tutorial is made-up of 11 short, self-contained topics, which you can explore and revisit at any time.

Content includes:

  • What is referencing and why it matters
  • What sources are appropriate to reference
  • How to avoid plagiarism
  • How to insert citations into your text
  • Incorporating the work of others into your writing
  • Documenting the full reference details
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