Our recent post on Decolonising and Diversifying the Library introduced the short seminar series the ASL team ran during lunchtimes in July. We’re delighted to be able to follow up that post with the news that recordings of all three sessions have now been added to Media Hopper. Please use the links below to access the videos:
We held our first of three Decolonising and Diversifying the Library lunchtime seminars last week, on the topic of Diversity in First Year Scots Law Reading Lists. The recording (39 minutes) has been uploaded and is now available on our Media Hopper Channel.
We’ve got two more sessions scheduled in this mini series, starting with tomorrow’s look at Supporting diversity through the ECA Library Zine collection and Artists Books collection with Academic Support Librarian Jane Furness. Join Jane at 1pm on Thursday 14th July to hear about the ECA Library artists’ books and zines collections and the ways in which they celebrate the diversity of makers working in these fields today. Book usingthis link to the MyEd booking system.
The following week we have a special showcase of the work of our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Digital Engagement intern, Tristan Craig: Diversifying your Reading from a Student Perspective : Digital Engagement (EDI) Internship Showcase
Promoting the use of a diverse range of sources has several pedagogical benefits. It encourages students to become more autonomous learners by going beyond their reading lists and to think critically about the types of sources they’re engaging with. It also prompts them to consider the historical biases inherent in the dissemination of knowledge and look for a variety of voices to conduct more balanced research.
In this presentation Tristan will reflect upon his experiences and discuss how staff can support students to become confident in finding and using diverse sources. To book for this session on Thursday 21st July at 1pm, use this link to the MyEd booking system.
For more information on these sessions or if you have ideas for what you’d like to see in future lunchtime seminars, please contact us by email or leave us a comment.
In our third and final post about the LILAC conference (you can find part one here and part two here) I wanted to touch on the topic of becoming better teachers. Although there was so much to take in from the conference – as you’ll have read from Ruth and Christine’s posts – one of the most impactful things I learned from the sessions was that the work we do is so important and impactful on our students, and it’s in all of our best interests that we consider that we have a powerful role to play in teaching.
The session I attended on the topic of Students, academic reading and information literacy in a time of COVID really reminded me that there can be a marked difference in the information we think our students want, and what they actually want. The panellists explored the results of the Academic Reading Format Information Study (D Mizrachi, 2021) which shows that over 70% of students prefer to use print books for academic study, with only 8.7% preferring ebooks. A later examination of student trends during the pandemic showed that 73% of students who responded in the US would not complete all their prescribed readings for their course due to their availability online. These results surprised and somewhat concerned us, particularly as many institutions operate on an e-first policy for library acquisitions now. If students don’t want ebooks, are we doing them a disservice by putting such emphasis on online access? Do we need to communicate and provide better training in order to help make these resources more accessible? Ultimately these questions could be answered by working more directly with students and not making assumptions about what information needs they have.
There were also inspiring sessions to encourage us to continue to develop as professionals ourselves, because by allowing ourselves time to write and research and read more about developments in our profession, we not only share the student experience with those we teach but we also develop better praxis for ourselves. All three of our academic support librarian delegates attended the Getting Your Writing Groove Back workshop run by the Journal of Information Literacy representatives, and I think all of us found it both fun and instructive. As a result we’ve already restarted the L&UC Journal Club, and look forward to building research and writing further into our current workplace activities in the future.
Slide from Getting Your Writing Groove Back presentation, by the team from the Journal of Information Literacy.
My final thought on becoming better teachers as librarians is that we need to seek out recognition of the work we’re already doing. The fact is that many library workers don’t consider themselves teachers, but by attending this conference I was able to hear many people from around the country talk about the impact their work has, and it reminded me that we’re already doing lots of this. Whether it’s creating subject guides or video demonstrations of resources, writing web content or blogs to help highlight useful databases, or directly providing instruction in front of hundreds of students, we are teachers too.
Ruth already spoke about the inspiring words of Marilyn Clarke and Emily Drabinski, but I must return to their keynotes as they both drove home the point for me. Libraries are important and library workers have influence. We must be intentional in the work we do. We have the power to affect great change in the lives of our students and our institutions, whether it’s including a range of examples in our work to help our students feel like they belong in their classes, or challenging them to find a wider variety of voices beyond their prescribed reading. We are supporting their learning and we need to recognise the power we have in order to use it to be the best teachers we can be.
Last month, three of our Academic Support Librarians team attended the LILAC conference. LILAC is a conference for librarians and information professionals who teach information literacy skills, are interested in digital literacies and who want to improve the information seeking and evaluation skills of library users. You may have seen our previous post about LILAC 22 here.
Much of the conference covered issues of critical information literacy, including long and slightly intimidating words such as critical pedagogy and decolonisation, and it was great to have the space to explore what these mean.
Keynote speaker Marilyn Clarke, Director of Library Services at Goldsmiths, University of London, spoke on Decolonisation as a means to creating an equitable future.
Marilyn Clarke with discussion chair Elizabeth Brookbank at LILAC 2022.
Marilyn clarified succinctly the difference between decolonising and diversifying library collections; diversifying ≠ decolonising, we need to ask the question why are these voices underrepresented?
She highlighted fantastic work at Goldsmiths to dismantle Eurocentric structures in the library and university, including funds for the ‘Liberate My Degree’ collection set aside for student book purchase suggestions to address gaps in the library collection. At the University of Edinburgh we have the Student Request a Book service which empowers students to request purchase of books and other resources to be added to the Library collections.
When cataloguing their Zines collection, librarians gather suggestions for keywords (used as a finding aid in the catalogue) from the authors themselves, to ensure the language used is representative. This is not just about addressing race, but also other systemic oppression such as LGBTQ+ and class.
In the final keynote of the conference, Emily Drabinski, Critical Pedagogy Librarian at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, explored how information literacy canreveal and challenge structures of power, and equip our students with tools to recognise and understand power dynamics.
By power, this mean the ability to change things, do things, influence things – we all have power in different ways and different situations. As librarians who help people find, use and understand information, we need to take societal values and power structures into account.
For example, who designed this database? With whom in mind? What is included in the database and what isn’t, and who makes those decisions? That feeling, where you get no results from a search, or too many, or their wrong – that’s not you, that’s the way the system is constructed with power.
Myself, I will be doing more to incorporate discussions of power into my teaching. It’s something I do when teaching literature searching for Systematic Reviews in medicine and biomedical sciences (these aim to find and synthesise all clinical evidence on a topic), where comprehensive searches and minimising bias are a core foundation of the review methodology – and as such, knowing what is included in a database, and crucially what is excluded, is crucial. But we can introduce this criticality earlier in students’ academic careers. I am not sure yet what that will look like exactly, but it’s exciting to consider.
As part of the 2022 Dissertation Festival, running from 7th-18th March and facilitated by the Academic Support Librarians, Digital Skills and IAD teams, I was invited to attend an online event exploring how to make the most out of resources related to Gender Studies in your dissertation. A recording of the event is available to watch (42 minutes):
Beginning your search with Subject Guides
Throughout my time as both a Digital Engagement Intern within Library & University Collections and an undergraduate student, I’ve become aware of just how valuable the virtual Subject Guides are for beginning your research, whatever your field of study. The Gender Studies Subject Guide provides access to databases, journals, periodicals, bibliographies and so much more, as well as initiatives and research projects conducted at the university.
Going beyond DiscoverEd
Of course, DiscoverEd is a fantastic tool for navigating the rich resources available through the university, and this event was a great reminder than you can improve the scope of your searches further through Boolean operators and considering the terminology you use. Although the terms we use around gender and sexuality have progressed, it’s worth recognising archaic terms, particularly when accessing historical databases. This event also highlighted the new Yewno service which allows you to build visual maps through cross-referencing keyword searches across library databases. All you need to do to access it is log-in via your institution and there are lots of handy instructional videos to help you get started!
Accessing the Centre for Research Collections
The second half of the event discussed some of the collections held by the university, including the Lothian Health Service Archive which contains a wealth of health-related material. A key takeaway for me was in recognising the multidisciplinary nature of Gender Studies and how much material is available in other historical archives and databases. I was a bit daunted about accessing the Centre for Research Collections at first but having a clear idea of what you’re looking for and using the support materials available online will help you get the most of it the rich resources within them.
Whatever your topic, the Dissertation Festival has a wide range of online events which will help you get the most out of the resources available to you.
Tristan Craig Digital Engagement Intern (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion)
A large part of the work that the Academic Support Librarian team complete relates to training and providing Information Skills guidance, whether that’s in our individual schools or sessions which are open to all. If you’re a regular reader of this blog you’ll already know about LibSmart, our online information skills course, but did you also know about some of the other training on offer?
Have you heard about Library Bitesize?
These short introductory sessions deal with a range of topics that we think will provide a good foundation in areas our students need to know about. They’re 30 minutes long and are run by ASLs and the Digital Skills team to help you get more information about skills and resources you might need to support your studying. While they’re aimed at beginner level and are particularly appropriate for Undergraduates, we think these are of use to students at any level of study. Just some of the topics include:
Building complex searches for systematic reviews
Choosing a reference manager
Finding historical documents online
How to reference and avoid plagiarism
Introduction to copyright
Introduction to resources for film studies
Introduction to China-related information resources
If you’re looking for advanced training sessions, you may be interested in our collaboration with the Institute for Academic Development. Together we run longer sessions which are usually attended by postgraduate students, though undergraduates are welcome too! These are themed around research and referencing. For example:
We also run ‘Getting the best out of the library’ sessions for PGT and PGR students at the start of term, and are part of the IAD’s mid-semester welcome event for postgraduate students. For more information visit the IAD’s Postgraduate pages.
If training sessions don’t work for you, what about a one-to-one appointment?
All our ASLs offer individual appointments to help students address specific questions about their work or research. A range of appointments are available via the MyEd Event Booking System – search for ‘literature search clinic’ to find available appointments with librarians from each college, or find the subject area specific to your needs.
Alternatively you can contact us directly by locating the ASL which works with your subject area. There’s more information about the one-to-one appointment system here.
We hope that with all these options for training available you will find something useful to support your studies. If we don’t offer a suitable session for your preferred learning style, why not get in touch with us to discuss?
By now we hope the name LibSmart is familiar to you. Whether you’ve seen a slide in a presentation from an Academic Support Librarian, a page on the display screens in the library, or you’re just an avid reader of this blog, we hope you know that our online information literacy course is up and running, ready for any staff or students at the University of Edinburgh to self-enrol via Learn.
You may also know that for every module you complete in LibSmart you receive a Digital Badge, issued to you by the ASL team via Badgr. We’ve been keeping an eye on the number of students enrolled and also the number of badges we’ve issued for each module, and we’re starting to see some trends emerge even though it’s still early in the academic year.
For LibSmart I, we’ve definitely seen the most badges issued for the first module Getting Started With The Library. This isn’t a great surprise as it is the first module and therefore a logical place for people to start. We’re also seeing great numbers in our Your Information Landscape module which helps students orientate themselves with the resources that are helpful for their subject area. We’ve also seen the most growth month-to-month in our Referencing and Plagiarism module, perhaps because we’re getting close to assessment time now and people are making sure they’re familiar with how to reference correctly for their assignments.
When it comes to LibSmart II, we’ve had a nice even spread of badges being awarded across all modules. The most popular so far has been Data mindfulness: finding and managing data for your dissertation, which shows a real appetite for assistance with dissertation and thesis work. This is great news as this is exactly what we hoped LibSmart II would do – help those at an advanced stage of study complete the big pieces of work! We’ve also got a three-way tie in second place for the Health Literature, Digital Images and Special Collections Fundamentals modules all having the same number of badges awarded. Because we assume these would appeal to students of quite different disciplines, it’s great to see the word is getting out to different schools!
Most researchers have heard of and understand the needs of a systematic review (SR), however the concept of a mixed methods review (MMR) can be confusing. The types of questions students and researchers ask can include:
Can I do this type of research?
How do I combine the data?
My quantitative and qualitative data are different – how do I make sense of this?
MMRs differ from the traditional model of SR as they aim to answer complex interventions and social policy type questions. They go beyond what works and look to highlight the complexity of what is happening, to explain why things make an impact and what may influence how an intervention works, offering context to interventions.
To answer such questions MMRs need to draw from both quantitative and qualitative material (Pearson et al, 2015), but this does not mean they cannot be systematic!
To be systematic they should demonstrate the same transparent and explicit approach that established SR methods require – so have a protocol, as well as detailed reporting of methods. There would need to be appraisal and analysis of the included literature. They would need to show a rigorous research process (Gough et al, 2017).
There are different review approaches included in this type of research, but it is important that the research question uses both qualitative and quantative data. If the research question does not then it may be better to use another type of review method. An overview of review types can be found in an article by Sutton et al (2019).
How the types of data are combined depends on the research objectives of the review.
The resource SAGE Research Methods (which is available to all staff and students at the University via our Library Databases pages) has lots of information and advice on the ways that the differing data can be analysed and combined, as well as an overview of this family of research methodology.
The past eighteen months have been quite isolating for staff as well as students at academic institutions, and this has meant that opportunities for networking and visiting colleagues from other universities have been in short supply. Recently I was invited to visit the University of Dundee’s Main Library thanks to Kayleigh McGarry, Digital Literacy and Service Development Librarian.
Friday's actually my day off from work and childcare. What did I choose to do with my time to myself? Go on a field trip to another law library, obvs. pic.twitter.com/zed2JYiHUB
Although Kayleigh works across all subject areas in Dundee, she and I both have a specialist interest in Law as we previously worked in the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service Library Service together. The Law collection at Dundee is housed in the Main Library and I was delighted to see a familiar face during my visit!
Bust of Lady Clark of Calton, Senator of the College of Justice and formerly Chairman of the Scottish Law Commission.
While I was interested to view the Law collection, it was also helpful to see how another institution have dealt with the challenges of the pandemic with regards their study spaces, group study rooms, and moving around the library. Most of the actions that have been taken in Dundee are very similar to our own service adjustments in the past year. Students are now able to use most study spaces on a drop in basis just like in our own libraries, and masks are worn throughout the building. The usual hand sanitising procedures and one-way systems are in place, and overall staff reported great cooperation from students during this tricky time. It was a real pleasure to see students back on campus and making the most of the available facilities. I have to confess that I’m quite jealous of the library’s podcast and recording studio, and seeing their makerspace reminded me of the brilliant facilities we have in the uCreate Studios on the first floor of our own Main Library.
Overall I found the visit to be both reassuring – the challenges we’ve faced as staff and students at Edinburgh are not unique, and knowing that other university library services have made similar choices to our own suggests that we’re all doing the best we can under the circumstances – and inspiring, because Kayleigh and I have a plan in the works to further encourage networking amongst our colleagues across HE institutions in Scotland. Hopefully this will be the first of many renewed opportunities for visiting libraries and sharing experiences to come.
SarahLouise McDonald Academic Support Librarian to the School of Law
The Main Library entrance on George Square. [Taken by Paul Dodds, copyright of the University of Edinburgh]
As the semester gets going you may be keen to visit one of our many beautiful libraries to find materials, use a study space, or generally just soak up the atmosphere.
However we know that after the past year some students may be anxious about coming on to campus, and may be worried about what to expect. In order to help with that we’ve prepared Library Orientation Guides for each of our sites so you can familiarise yourself with the building before your visit. It includes information on what’s in the collections, photos of the library, and links to other helpful resources you may want to use. You can find them here:
You’ll also find a guide to Using the Library Online, which we think will be helpful for our online or distance students, or those who are self-isolating or in quarantine.
Other preparations for visiting campus may include looking at maps. Did you know we’ve got an interactive campus map? If you visit the Maps page and use the key to select the Layers tab, and then click the eye icon to make Libraries and Study Spaces visible, you can see all our locations across the city!
We look forward to seeing you on campus soon!
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