5 things: using the Library over the summer

It’s officially the summer vacation period at the University and our libraries remain open for business. So whether you are planning on using Library resources, facilities or services during this time or if you will be away from Edinburgh for the summer and want to forget about University as much as possible, here are five important things to remember about the Library over the summer period.

Clockwise from top left, photographs of Main Library (external), Moray House Library (internal), Law Library (internal), Noreen and Keneth Murray Library (external) and Royal Infirmary Library (internal). With an "Open" sign on top.

1) The Main Library and all 9 site libraries remain open throughout the summer vacation period.

Opening hours and staffed hours will be reduced in many libraries so check the opening hours website before you visit and follow the Library on social media for any updates – Instagram, Twitter/X, Facebook.

The Main Library will continue to be open 24/7 throughout the summer but EdHelp staffed hours will be slightly reduced between Friday 7 June and Friday 6 September 2024. Read More

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RESP Outreach Intern – End of Internship

Written by: James Rice, RESP Outreach Intern

With the launch event completed, my internship was coming toward its end. After six months, I was surprised at how quickly it had gone by. But for now, I turned my attention to catching up on my remaining responsibilities.

My first week after the event was spent completing the writeups of the blog posts that have already been published on our site, as well as having a go at creating an updated banner for the page. Additionally, I put together and sent out a follow-up email to our event launch, notifying guests that Rebekah’s online exhibition had now been published. Alongside this, with a form put together by Rebekah, I also gave a link asking guests where possible for feedback on the event itself.

After this, I directed my focus to writing out a report reflecting on my experiences with the RESP. In doing so, I was able to also prepare a short presentation for an ‘Allstaff’ meeting where I described my achievements with heritage collections staff at the University of Edinburgh. I was so glad that I had put together a journal entry of my weekly tasks with the RESP, as that made putting together a script for this meeting, as well as the report and these blogs, so much easier!

With these responsibilities out of the way, and my final tutorial video iteration edited and completed, my time with the RESP as an intern was completed.

My internship with the RESP at the CRC over the last six months has been an incredibly rewarding experience. Applying for this role with the intention to gain practical experience working with a collection and learning more about the day-to-day operations within the Heritage Sector, I can confidently say that I achieved these goals. Additionally, I am proud of what I was able to accomplish over this period and how much I developed professionally while balancing my time with my postgraduate education.

Building on my experience already from various voluntary roles across London and Edinburgh, I have no doubt that this internship has made me a valuable candidate for roles in the future once I complete my masters. This role has given me the chance to build my competence across outreach, event management, and working closely with an archive to develop promotional materials to support the launch of an online exhibition.

While I initially felt overwhelmed with the possible routes that I could potentially take with my internship, pitching my ideas to an experienced team in January allowed me to solidify the objectives that I hoped to achieve through my work.

Throughout, I felt welcomed and supported by staff. In particular, I felt confident to ask questions to my supervisors Lesley Bryson and Caroline Milligan at the RESP, and engagement officer Bianca Packham whenever needed; with their feedback and guidance always being appreciated and contributed to a strong sense of learning and personal growth in the field.

Overall, this internship has been a significant step in my professional journey. It has reinforced my passion for working in the heritage sector and given me a clearer vision for the career path I wish to pursue going forward. I feel confident that I have been equipped with the necessary skills to succeed and thrive in this field.

I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity with the RESP. The lessons I can take away from this experience will undoubtedly benefit me as I move forward. I want to thank Lesley, Caroline, and the CRC for this opportunity, and my fellow intern Rebekah for our work together!

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Professional Recognition for Library teaching with the Higher Education Academy

Ruth Jenkins FHEA

We recently celebrated the success of the latest member of the Academic Support Librarian team to gain Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy, Ruth Jenkins. I caught up with colleagues to find out more about what this qualification means to them. Read More

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Sustainable Exhibition Making: Recyclable Book Cradles

In this post, our Technician, Robyn Rogers, discusses the recyclable book cradles she has developed as part of the conservation team’s ongoing work to make exhibitions at the University of Edinburgh more sustainable.

Read More

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Putting Theory into Practice: My Experience Volunteering with Digital Archives at the University of Edinburgh by Joshua Blackstock

Introduction from the Digital Archivist

Preservation of digital collections relies on generous help and support from Heritage Collections volunteers. The scale and complexity of the digital resources generated by the University and its wide-ranging communities poses a mammoth challenge. Without the contributions of students and others who give their time freely, these works – many critical for future research – would not be preserved or made available as quickly, or at all.

This blog post by a Digital Archives volunteer and postgraduate student at the University of Glasgow describes two important projects to support the preservation of born-digital research collections. Firstly, a large oral history project spanning multiple regions of Scotland and secondly, born-digital papers of a world-famous Climate Change Engineer. These projects represent small steps towards ensuring future generations will be able to access important primary source archives. However, without increased resource and capacity for digital preservation, many of these collections will remain only partially processed or even lost.

Sara Day Thomson, Digital Archivist


Putting Theory into Practice: My Experience Volunteering with Digital Archives at the University of Edinburgh

Photo of the author Joshua Blackstock on the Waverley paddle steamer

Joshua Blackstock, Volunteer

Hi everyone! My name is Josh Blackstock and I’ve been volunteering with Sara Day Thomson, the university’s Digital Archivist, since August 2023, whilst studying for an MSc in Information Management and Preservation at the University of Glasgow. I was recently asked whether I could write a short blog post about my volunteering experience. So here it goes…

Read More

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Archival Provenance Project: Emily’s finds

              My name is Emily, and I’m the second of the two archive interns that are currently working on the Dc and Dk collections. I’m a part-time Masters student in the History, Classics and Archaeology department, and I’m just finishing up the first year of the Late Antique, Byzantine, and Islamic Studies course, which is an interdisciplinary degree. As you might imagine, that covers quite an eclectic range of subjects, and I have a variety of different research interests coming from a History and Literature background. During my degree, I spend quite a lot of time in the History and Divinity schools, so this internship was especially appealing as it’s allowing me to put my (limited) Latin skills into practice!

Emily working on the Dc sequence in the CRC Reading Room.

              I did my undergraduate degree at the University of Edinburgh, so I’d previously used the Centre for Research Collections to look at some books related to Machiavelli and the Lothian Health Archives, but I hadn’t conducted any individual research there myself. I did have a session there in recent weeks independent from my internship as part of a seminar on Islamic esotericism, so I got to look at some of the CRC Arabic and Persian collections, which proved to be absolutely fascinating. They actually have an edition of the Quran that would fit into the palm of my hand – it’s best not to think too hard about the logistics of creating something like that – years of work and immense eye strain, no doubt. I’ve also spent a little time in various archives around Edinburgh, including the Royal College of Physicians on Queen Street, so I was fairly familiar with reading rooms beforehand.

              We’re now four months into the project, and we’ve just last week completed the Dc collection, which proved to be a fascinating look into the history of Edinburgh and of the University itself. Coming from a Literature background, I’ve been especially enamoured with some of the more famous names to be featured in the Dc collection, including Percy Bysshe Shelley, Robert Burns, and William Wordsworth. Many of the volumes we looked at include sheafs of letters, files, and correspondence, some of which were from some of the more famous names of the day. I’m sure Maddie can attest to me spending ages poring over various letters and such that I’ve stumbled across.


Some interesting letters and poems by Burns, Shelley and Wordsworth respectively.

              Thus far into the internship, Maddie and I have come across some fascinating books, including books on alchemy, science, and the history of the University, and my interest was piqued by the sheer amount of books in the collection that were written in Icelandic. However many you’re thinking, I can guarantee that there were more, including a saga on Nordic kingship. Exactly how the University accumulated so many Icelandic books is a mystery that I’m still working on, but it’s a fascinating discovery. I also stumbled across a version of Julian of Norwich’s ‘Revelations of Divine Love’ dating to approximately the seventeenth century, a woman whose life I find particularly interesting – an East Anglian anchorite and English mystic dating to the fifteenth century. Tucked away in the collection there was also a letter regarding the marriage of Mary, Queen of Scots to the French dauphin, which was, in all likelihood, contemporary. And as someone who has a particular interest in the history of medicine, I also found some interesting paraphernalia relating to the invention of anaesthesia, including a photo of the first child to be born whilst their mother was anaesthetised during the birth.

              I always like stumbling across photos tucked in the volumes, especially in collections of letters, as I feel like it gives a sense of the person who wrote them. In one collection of letters, there was a photo of an old soldier and aristocrat, alongside other personal effects donated by his family (including an invitation to the Duke of Wellington’s funeral and Queen Victoria’s coronation!). Another volume was written by a student here in the early twentieth century, and included photographs of his regiment – all of whom were fellow students at the University as well. As such, it really gives a sense of who created these volumes and what was important to them – in this case, he wanted to commemorate his friends and brothers.

              Photos and illustrations have been particularly prominent within this collection, whether it’s scribbled doodles in old textbooks (not so different from more modern student notes) to scientific diagrams illustrating different theorems. I’ve found a variety of different illustrations within the Dc collections, ranging from quick scribbles to beautifully detailed fly-leaf illustrations – so detailed, in fact, that it took me a while to figure out that it wasn’t printed.

Hand-drawn or printed? Hand-drawn, it turns out.

              With the prevalence of scientific notes in the collection, many of the volumes also featured detailed illustrations which were used to explain various biological, chemical, and physical concepts. Many of these works were by the more famous scientific names associated with the University – and at the very least, names that a visitor to the King’s Campus would be familiar with, such as Joseph Black and Colin Maclaurin. A particular favourite of mine was a volume on metaphysics that had moveable parts to help explain different concepts.

Three different scientific diagrams, all with moveable parts.

              One thing that these particular collections have in abundance is minute books from various clubs and societies associated with the University. Although seemingly slightly tedious, Dk.1.4 proved an especially interesting find, as someone had taken the time to illustrate the minutes. One such event that was recorded was an impromptu sledding session down Carlton Hill, where one of the party ended up in the University infirmary shortly afterwards.

Sledding down Carlton Hill. An age-old saga.

Minute book illustrations.

              And as a final note, there was an especially interesting aspect to these sorts of illustrations in the collection – the use of colour! Some of the volumes in particular felt like they’d been coloured in only yesterday – despite being at least three hundred years old. How they managed to keep it looking so pigmented is beyond me – and in any case, I’m sure it would be of interest to the art students.

This volume dates to 1771, if you can believe it!

              We’ve got a little over a month of the project left, and I’m excited to see what we’ll discover in the Dk collection. One thing’s for sure – it’ll be incredibly interesting!


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Edinburgh Open Research Conference 2024

Join us on May 29th for the 2024 edition of the Open Research Conference. This year we are addressing the big challenge: culture change. It is not simply enough to facilitate open access and FAIR Data. We need to embed all aspects of Open Research into our everyday practices.

Join us to consider the broad themes of culture change, along with the role of next generation metrics, education, training and skills development in this process. We will also look to other contexts in which positive shifts in culture are actively taking place: EDI, healthy working lives, and research integrity. We ask what we can learn from these contexts, and how can we collaborate to make a more equitable and open research environment?

In addition to talks on the themes of research integrity, next generation metrics, and open research education & skills, there will be rapid-fire lightning talks, a poster session, and drinks reception along with plenty of opportunities to expand your network.

Registration for in-person attendance closes on May 19th and for online it’s May 24th, full details of the conference have been published.

If you would like to keep up with Open Research news, please sign up for the newsletter, and you can also follow Edinburgh Open Research on EventBrite to find out about our future events.

We look forward to welcoming you to the conference!

Kerry Miller,
Research Data Support Officer & Open Research Coordinator


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RESP Outreach Intern – 1st May, Launch Event

Written by: James Rice, RESP Outreach Intern

With the arrival of May, my internship was close to an end, but, not before the in-person launch event for Rebekah’s online exhibition; representing the culmination of both her and most of my work so far!

Coming in on the 1st May, there were many last second arrangements for the event that afternoon. First, liaising with the team, I organised where each of my colleagues would stand to welcome and direct our guests to the CRC on the 6th floor about 20 minutes before the event itself at 4pm; each taking either an A3 or A4 stand displaying the signage for the event. In doing so, I prepared a guest checklist for the building’s security just in case any of our guests were missed by a colleague and found themselves being ID’d by staff.

After which, I ensured that the monitor in the Research Suite where the event would be hosted was functioning as intended, while the Ipads we hoped to provide guests where fully charged with the exhibition’s website accessible. While I did check on these factors the day prior, I thought it would be best practice just to confirm once again ahead of the event in case of any issues.

While the monitor worked fine, and I was able to stream my laptops screen and audio to the display, I found on the day that the provided Ipads did not work as intended. While everything else with these devices were functional without any issue, I had yet to test Rebekah’s exhibition on them until it finally launched that day. Upon testing this, I found that the Ipads (which had not been updated in several years) struggled to display the on-line exhibition as intended; instead presenting metadata and incorrect formats across several of the webpages on the site. Despite this, the RESP team came together and decided to allow guests to use our laptops to access the page instead.

Photo taken of myself reading out at the live launch event for Rebekah Day’s ‘Animal Encounters in the RESP’.

With this crisis averted, my last responsibility on the day was to ensure that our catering order was still set to be delivered between 3pm and 3:30pm ahead of the event. For whatever reason, the order confirmation was no longer displayed on the teams account history. But I was able to run downstairs and check with the catering team and confirmed that we were all set to go as the time came.

Photo of our exhibit display.

After this, the event ran without a hitch. We were grateful for the speech by our guest, David Paterson, who spoke of his brother Logan who was interviewed as part of the Dumfries & Galloway RESP in 2013. Likewise, we were treated to a wonderful performance by Dr Jo Miller, who is a singer, fiddler, ethnomusicologist, and community musician based in Stirling. Overall, despite the issues that arose this was once again a  brilliant experience. The problems that did arise were evident that in reality, there is no perfect setup to an event. Hiccups occur and you can’t predict the unforeseen. But, the key here was not to panic, be open with those around you, and focus on finding a solution ahead of time to minimise problems.




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New to the Library: Osmosis

Osmosis logoWe are happy to let you know that the Library has a subscription to Osmosis, a health education platform of 1,800 animated videos and 22,000 integrated practice questions, covering subjects including basic science, physiology, medicine and more.

You can access Osmosis from our list of Databases, where you will find information about registering and the access links.

Osmosis is also included in the list of Databases for Medicine, along with other useful tools and databases for your learning and research.

The subscription is a result of the extensive feedback we received to our trial of Osmosis – thank you for letting us know what you think of this resource! The Library regularly arranges trials to new resources. Publishers are usually willing to provide trial access to allow us to use and evaluate a resource before making a decision about purchase. You can see current e-resource trials on the Library website.

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Report from the annual LILAC information literacy conference

Between 25-27 March a host of librarians from across the globe descended on Leeds Beckett University for the annual LILAC information literacy conference. Information literacy is a key concept in the work of the Academic Support Librarians, covering all the skills that we teach, from referencing through to critical thinking. Here are our key takeaways from three days of keynotes, workshops, and poster presentations.

AI, AI, and more AI

As you might imagine AI featured heavily across the conference. The keynote on the first day was framed as a Q&A between the audience and four information professionals on the topic “Artificial Intelligence and Information Literacy: Seismic Shift or Passing Fad?”. The discussion  brought up some interesting ideas, including:

  • AI as a chance for us to take information literacy teaching to a new level, as the bias within AI generated content and training data is the same biases present in the literary canon and the majority of academic and scientific content. It’s the same challenges but at a greater amount/speed and possibly people are more aware of it.
  • We need to be aware of the “hype cycle” of AI adoption, acknowledge that we are all learning together about AI, and be more comfortable living in a messy world and working with others to find a way forward – we need to be able to adapt and apply the skills we learn to new things and we can apply the principles of information literacy to this new technology.
  • AI can only be a great leveller if everyone is digitally literate. Should libraries subscribe to AI models to increase access for all students?
  • It’s important to consider the context in which AI is being used and the existing digital skills of the students and staff using it. It may be necessary to establish a foundation of digital literacy skills first and then layer additional skills building up to using AI. Also, there may be significant disciplinary differences in ways of using AI, so support and guidance may need to be tailored.
  • In response to a question about the potential of AI to disrupt traditional research practices, the power of AI to make sense of unstructured research data, e.g., transcribing audio data, translation and providing metadata summaries, was mentioned, along with the need to open up support structures in universities to enable AI specialists to train researchers. A good question to ask yourself: Are you using AI to help you work better or using it to cut corners? This is a key question (although not the only one) when considering whether use of AI is cheating or not.


Additional sessions on the first day also focussed on AI and information literacy and libraries. We heard from Emily Dott and Terry Charlton from the Library and the Learning and Teaching Development Service at Newcastle University who presented their work in developing the University’s approach to AI literacy. They spoke about the institutional AI journey over 2022 to 2024, including: growing awareness about the potential impact of AI on education; the launch of guidance resources; developing and running workshops; editing their existing information literacy framework to align with AI literacy; launching new resources; and planning future developments. They highlighted Newcastle’s principle-led approach to AI and work on developing collaborative models for working with academic staff and students and defining AI literacy alongside IL literacy. Guidance and learning materials for students and academic colleagues were also showcased, including the AI and Your Learning website and AI for Learning Canvas course.

Erin Nephin from Leeds Beckett University gave an overview of the Library Academic Team’s work over the last year in playing a key role in developing the University’s guidance and principles on AI. Erin outlined how the team have updated their academic integrity module and referencing guidance and developed sessions for professional services and academic staff. The collaborative nature of this work with colleagues in Academic Quality Enhancement, Academic Integrity Leads, the Centre for Teaching and Learning, Library and Student Services, and the Students’ Union Advice Services was emphasised.

Erin highlighted the University’s pragmatic view of AI technologies as here to stay and needing a user education that focusses on ethical and responsible use. The focus of information literacy (IL) teaching at Leeds Beckett is very much on how AI tools work, particularly in information IL contexts such as misinformation, privacy/IP, and ethics, rather than how to use them. The success of teaching and guidance has been largely measured through post-session feedback. Key impacts of the work so far have been in incorporating IL more overtly into all teaching sessions and materials, improving staff understanding of IL and AI, information sharing, and building collaborations. Erin also recommended several sources of support, including the JISC National Centre for AI, ALDinHE AI Forum and Community of Practice, ILFA AI Special Interest Group, and AI4LAM community. On the Tuesday we had a keynote from the inspiring Maha Bali. She focused on critical AI literacy and what this might look like. For her, critical AI literacy will also be contextual, differing depending on the student, the discipline, the location etc. That said, her basic model argues that everyone should:

  • Understand how it works
  • Asses appropriate use
  • Craft effective prompts
  • Recognize inequalities and biases
  • Examine ethical issues


She provided lots of links and resources to investigate further but we will definitely be incorporating some of her ideas into the teaching we do around use of generative AI in HE. A commitment to Open Educational Resources and sharing of material was also prevalent throughout the conference (and the librarian community more generally). For example, instructional designers from Ohio State University shared details of their online course around AI and information literacy, particularly how they used scaffolded assignments, and we will be considering how we can deliver something similar.


Topics other than AI still exist

Despite the prevalence of AI, there were plenty of sessions on other topics. Examples include a discussion of information literacy links with employability and how this can help encourage engagement, consideration of how we could deliver more staff-focused training on information literacy and using an informed learning design model for teaching.  There were also some interesting talks about new-to-me research methods, such as photovoice and narrative inquiry, which can be used to understand individual’s experiences in a more experiential way.

A really interesting talk from the final day related to encouraging help-seeking behaviour at the same time as supporting students through transition periods at university. Beth Black of Ohio State University talked about the creation of an innovative online course aimed at new undergraduate students. The course uses scenarios based on the real experiences of other students to help students understand the support available, to encourage them to access it, and also to help them see that they are not alone in the issues they face. When they analysed retention rates, they saw that students who had completed this course were more like to stay on at university, showing the value of this approach for students and the university.

If you would like to see the slides from this and previous year’s conference, they are available on the LILAC Slideshare account.

LILAC Slideshare

Anna Richards & Robert O’Brien, Academic Support Librarians


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