Visiting our campus libraries… virtually!

Image outside the Main Library entrance on George Sqauare

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:

Library Orientation Guides

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!

Screen capture of the interactive campus map. The image shows a map of the central part of the Edinburgh campus with several small icons denoting the locations of campus libraries.

We look forward to seeing you on campus soon!

Note: The Microsoft Sway platform uses moving images in their templates, and each of the above Sways use one moving image at the top of the page. If you require the information in an alternative format please contact us by email: library-academic-support@mlist.is.ed.ac.uk

What is LibSmart II?

You may have read our recent article about LibSmart I, the foundation of our online information literacy course hosted on Learn. If you haven’t, check it out here.

Where LibSmart I provides a solid start in the library and information landscape, we think that LibSmart II offers a great next step for those a little further in their university career.

Picture of LibSmart digital badges in a wooden picture frame leaning against a wall

Earn digital badges for every module you complete in LibSmart I and II.

So what does LibSmart II offer? 

You can pick and mix from ten subject specific modules to develop knowledge of a wide range of digital resources. You can also learn specialised or advanced digital search techniques and develop the skills to manage your research literature and data effectively. We recommend you complete LibSmart I before moving on to LibSmart II, as you will build on the foundations developed in the first level of the course as you complete each of your chosen modules.

A brief overview of LibSmart II and its learning objectives 

The ten modules which are currently available to study are:

  • Business information
  • Data mindfulness: finding and managing data for your dissertation
  • Digital news sources
  • Digital primary sources and digital scholarship
  • Finding and using digital images
  • Government and Policy Research
  • Health information
  • Legal information
  • Special Collections fundamentals
  • Systematic reviews

We estimate each course will take a maximum of 3 hours to complete, and you can select as many or as few as you like. You’ll earn a digital badge for each module you complete to show off your new achievement!

LibSmart II banner

Ready to get started?

Visit the LibSmart webpage to find out more about how to self-enrol for this course.

If you have any questions or concerns about LibSmart you can contact us via the EdHelp portal.

What is LibSmart I?

LibSmart I is designed to give you an introduction to library resources for your study and research! The course enables you to take control of your learning as you self-enrol (click here to find out how) and choose the modules you cover. I personally love the flexibility of the course as you can recall the information provided by LibSmart easily on Learn.

Image of Students studying in the library.

Students studying in the library [Paul Dodds copyright of the University of Edinburgh]

So what does LibSmart I review? 

In short, by completing LibSmart I you will develop your information literacy skills and understand what library support is available to you. For a more detailed overview keep reading or better yet check out the course for yourself!

A brief overview of LibSmart I and its learning objectives 

Within the LibSmart I course there are five modules that cover key areas:

  • Introduction to using the library
  • Your information landscape
  • Finding and retrieving information
  • Managing information
  • Referencing and avoiding plagiarism

LibSmart I banner

With each topic, you will gain the confidence and knowledge to effectively research and use resources provided by the Library. My favourite module would be “Finding and retrieval”, I found the tips on research strategy construction and explanation to Boolean operators have been extremely useful when exploring a topic area. 

The course has clear goals that you can use to guide your learning and ensure you are finding the support you need. There are also activities and reflective quizzes to help you consolidate your learning to discover the subject matter you need. When you’ve completed the course you’ll also be awarded a Digital Badge, which you can use to show off your newfound expertise. 

Ready to get started?

Visit the LibSmart webpage to find out more about how to self-enrol for this course. If you’ve completed LibSmart I, you also read more about how to build on these skills with the next level of research support in LibSmart II!

If you have any questions or concerns about LibSmart you can contact us via the EdHelp portal.

5 Reasons to check out LibSmart I and II

(text) 5 Reasons to Check out LibSmart I and II

Introduction

If you haven’t heard about LibSmart I and II yet – then what have you been doing?! 

To quickly summarise, LibSmart I and II are fully flexible, self-enrol Learn courses designed to help you get started and advance your library resource knowledge. If the description has got you intrigued and you want to know more, do not worry! In this blog, I will give you five reasons why LibSmart I and II can be beneficial to your studies, general university knowledge and digital skills development.

1. Builds awareness on library offerings

Edinburgh University’s Library and University Collections (L&UC) has a range of awesome resources – I am sure you will be aware of  DiscoverEd, Special Collections and physical library locations like the Main Library. Well, the department has two new assets by the names of LibSmart I and II. They will help you discover other library-related services that will help you build your information literacy skills.

Image outside the Main Library entrance on George Sqauare

The Main Library entrance on George Square. [Taken by Paul Dodds, copyright of the University of Edinburgh]

2. Increases your knowledge: LibSmart helps you be more productive

The information contained in LibSmart will not only boost your awareness of library resources but also guide you, so you can use these resources effectively! Throughout the modules, there are activities and quizzes to help you consolidate your knowledge and test yourself.

 

3. Supports subject specialism 

With LibSmart I you build a foundation of knowledge so you can confidently use library resources when researching for a report or topic. LibSmart II enables you to “advance your library research”, supporting you as you complete your thesis or dissertation. The modules in LibSmart II are subject-specific so you can tailor your learning to your project needs. See the image below of the 10 different modules tackled in LibSmart II. 

 

4. Fully-flexible 

As mentioned earlier, LibSmart has been created so that you can work independently and interact with the modules as and when you wish. By working at your own pace, you can make the most out of the courses, ensuring you understand the content available. You can still interact with others who are completing the course and Academic Support Librarians (ASLs) using the discussion board whenever you want, so you gain thoughtful insights into the material you are learning. 

 

5. Earn Digital Badges 

The final reason you should enrol onto LibSmart is because you have the opportunity to be rewarded for the work you complete with Digital Badges! After finishing a module and subsequent quiz you will be notified that you have earned a LibSmart eBadge that you can share on various digital platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or a website. 

Image of all LibSmart Badges with text "Choose the modules relevant to you and earn digital badges to recognise your achievement!"

LibSmart badges

Library Bitesize Session Review

Introduction

Despite being in my fourth and final year, I am still constantly discovering resources offered to students by the University! Most recently, I attended a Library Bitesize course for “Online Resources for Literary Studies”.

In the past, I have completed Bitesize courses. However, they were in person and not subject-specific. For those interested, it was on referencing and avoiding plagiarism (and I would highly recommend it)! Therefore, this was a bit of a new experience for me and I did ask myself when signing up how learning about literary resources would benefit me. However, by the end of the session, I was extremely glad I went! Reading this blog you will understand why and hopefully be encouraged to attend a session for yourself.

The Session

The session was hosted on blackboard collaborate by Academic Support Librarian (ASL) Shenxiao Tong.  It was easy to follow and informative – and fortunately, there were no technology issues during the event!

 

The session began with a helpful introduction to the online library resources made available to university staff and students. It is easy to forget that the Library has such a vast collection of e-books, databases, streaming videos and e-journals. The definitions of primary and secondary resources were also provided! This allowed the rest of the presentation to flow as I was shown which databases to use for primary and secondary resources, with demonstrations given on key resources. Other online resources were also covered including internet resources like google scholar, bibliographies and book reviews. Throughout the session, the usefulness and drawbacks of the different materials were highlighted meaning you would be able to draw your own conclusions to what resource would be most effective for you. This tied in well with the conclusion of the presentation which covered next steps such as how to construct your own research strategy!

 

Conclusion

You can never go wrong learning new digital skills and resources that can help you with your work! Even if you don’t explicitly need to know about these literary resources for your studies – they may be useful for your extracurricular activities! Plays, poems and novels can all be found using the resources covered in the Bitesize session I attended. If you still aren’t convinced, why not look at what other topics Library Bitesize sessions cover, and I am sure you will find a subject that information needs!

Dissertation Festival Blog: Engineering Village resources for dissertations

Introduction

The day has finally arrived, the end of my Dissertation Festival Blog series. To recap, the Library’s Dissertation Festival is a collaborative effort from the Library, Digital Skills department and Institute of Academic Development (IAD). They united to host a series of virtual sessions spanning over two weeks to provide students with the knowledge and resources required to make the most out of their dissertations. The Festival is a fantastic opportunity to learn tips and tricks to help you write, reference and uncover what support is available to you at the University. In this blog series, I review sessions I have attended and share my thoughts.

The Session

For my final event, I went subject-specific, as I attended “Engineering Village resources for dissertations” hosted by a staff member from Elsevier.  The session began with an explanation of Engineering Village and how it can help with your dissertation. To summarise, Engineering Village is a powerful search platform that provides access to multiple engineering literature databases. These reliable sources range from journals to conference proceedings and trade publications to press articles. It is essentially a one-stop-shop for all things engineering literature. If you are confused about how you could have missed such a powerful platform, don’t worry – you may already be aware of some of the databases found within Engineering Village; these include Knovel, Compendex and Inspec!

During the session, short tutorials of Knovel, Compendex and Inspec were given with their key features highlighted. I found Knovel to be most interesting as the database provides you with the opportunity to search materials’ properties, pulling this numeric data from handbooks, manuals, and databanks so you can access what you need quickly. It also allows you to search for equations and contains tools such as a unit converter and interactive graphs to aid your research.

Screenshot from Knovel website taken to illustrate Material Property Search

Screenshot from Knovel website taken to illustrate the Material Property Search feature

Both Compendex and Inspec are comprehensive bibliographic databases of engineering research covering engineering and applied sciences. Compendex is more holistic and is the broadest, most complete engineering database in the world. On the other hand, Inspec provides engineering research information on physics, electrical engineering and electronics, computers and control, production engineering, information technology, and more. Using Engineering Village, you can search both databases simultaneously, ensuring you are getting the most relevant and up to date information.

Thoughts and Conclusion

The session was highly informative and helped me understand how to use the unique search features and specialised Engineering Village tools to improve my research productivity.  I believe Engineering Village is a resource relevant to all STEM students or students whose work requires reliable scientific data. For dissertation use, the database can have a range of applications, so it is well worth further inspection. You can directly access Knovel, Compendex and Inspec from the University Library Databases page!

Thank you for reading this blog, and I hope you enjoyed it. Unfortunately, a recorded version of the session is not available, so you have to wait until the next Dissertation Festival to see the event live! However, you can access other Dissertation Festival recordings from a dedicated playlist HERE and read previous blogs in the series HERE and HERE.

Five things ASLs have been doing to help students since lockdown 2020

When coronavirus restrictions began in March 2020, the University of Edinburgh had to close some libraries and change some library services. But Academic Support Librarians haven’t gone away. We may have been working from home, but we’ve been busy helping students to get the best out of the library. So what have we been doing?

  1. Keeping you updated

From the start of lockdown the Library Academic Support team web editors have maintained the Library Updates page to provide an overview of the library services available to you during coronavirus restrictions.

  1. Helping you to get the books and journals you need

Coronavirus restrictions made it difficult to access the print library collections for your courses. We listened to what you needed and worked with our Library Acquisitions colleagues to purchase new digital versions of texts you could access remotely. We couldn’t get everything we wanted – sometimes publisher prices were just too high (see this reported in the press) and sometimes what you needed simply wasn’t available as a library e-book. But we worked to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on new digital content to meet student needs.

  1. Giving help and advice for your dissertation research

We understand that researching your dissertation during coronavirus restrictions is a huge challenge. We’ve offered you help and advice on your library research by email and, if you needed it, a chance to meet online for a chat, with multiple librarian appointments available every week (we’ve met over two hundred students so far this academic year). Plus, we’ve run online Dissertation Festivals in October 2020 and March 2021 with events highlighting the wealth of digital resources available from the library and beyond to support your dissertation research.

  1. Writing an information literacy online course

We want every student to have the digital skills they need to use online library resources, so they don’t miss out on any of the resources and support that’s available to them. So we’ve written an online course, LibSmart, to help you develop key information literacy skills to navigate the library landscape for your studies and succeed at university.

  1. Making videos

We’ve delivered over two hundred live information literacy classes to students this academic year, but during coronavirus restrictions we know that you can’t always make it to a class when it’s happening. That’s why we’ve created over a hundred videos, many of them bitesize, so you can find out what you need to know about the library, when you need to know it.

Christine Love-Rodgers, Academic Support Librarian