The summer vacation period officially started this week! And while many of you are probably thinking the last thing you want to do is use the Library over the summer break, there will be a large number of students who will need to (or just want to) use the Library during the summer vacation period to continue with their studies or research.
So if you are one of the many who is planning on using Library facilities or services over the summer then read on. And for those of you who are not planning on doing this, we’d recommend you read on anyway (particularly if you have not returned books you have borrowed from the Library).
1) The Main Library and all our site libraries remain open throughout the summer vacation period.
It’s been a bit quiet here on the ASL blog for the past couple of months and that’s because August and September are always spent preparing for the start of the new semester. Now that we’re well underway we’ve been busy doing inductions and welcome sessions to highlight some of our excellent services to new and returning students. In case you’ve missed any of the vital information we like you to have, here are some helpful links!
Library pages: You can find loads of helpful information about our services and library sites here. Look for opening hours, information on borrowing, and how to request resources here.
DiscoverEd: what we call a ‘library discovery tool’ is really what you might call the library catalogue. Look here for readings and research or just to explore the library collections! There’s a great guide on using DiscoverEd here. It’s a Microsoft Sway document but if you need a more accessible version please get in touch with us.
Resource Lists: online reading lists to help you find the core material for classes. Your course organisers have curated these to make sure you can easily access what you need. This link will take you to guides and videos for using Resource Lists too.
Library Subject Guides: these are curated pages of information that our team make up to help you with your studies. There are guides available for a huge range of subject areas and topics of interest.
LibSmart: this is our online information literacy course that you can enrol on any time throughout your time at University. We know not everyone comes to uni feeling confident about finding information, especially online, so this course has been built to guide you through some foundation skills. Follow the five modules in LibSmart I to help you get used to finding information and using the library’s collections, and dip in and out of LibSmart II’s modules on any subject that interests you!
These are just some of our top tips to help you get started during your time at the University of Edinburgh, but if you have questions at any time you can contact our team of librarians to help you get what you need. There’s a list of who deals with each subject on our website so please do get in touch, or leave us a comment on this post.
Check in with our blog regularly as we’ll be posting throughout the year about the upcoming Dissertation Festival, top features of LibSmart, new training sessions we offer, and much more!
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)
When you are looking for resources, remember not everything in the Library collection is on DiscoverEd, so it’s best to check out your Subject Guide.
Subject Guides bring together all the most relevant library resources for a subject or topic. These guides, put together by Academic Support Librarians (ASLs), are always a good place to start when you’re looking for resources. Continue reading →
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.
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
Referencing and avoiding plagiarism
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.
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 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!
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!
It’s time for the second blog! These dissertation festival blogs are an opportunity for me to share my thoughts on the Dissertation Festival Events I have attended. For those who don’t know, the Library’s Dissertation Festival is a collaborative effort from the Library, Digital Skills department and Institute of Academic Development (IAD). They have shared a series of virtual events to provide students with the knowledge and resources to make the most out of their dissertations or theses. To find out more about the festival, click HERE, and you can see my previous blog HERE.
Hopefully, you should all be aware of the University Library and its associated buildings. Something you may not be conscious of are all the online and offline resources they have on offer. I must admit, even I (a student intern within the Library and University Collections department) am not 100% sure what “RaB” means or that you could easily filter your results on DiscoverEd (see the image below). I learned that and more in the “How to use the Library remotely for your dissertation” event.
How to limit search options on DiscoverEd
The session began by covering the basics of accessing resources. For online materials, that meant a comprehensive tutorial on how to search on DiscoverEd and a discussion as to why you may need to use the University’s VPN to obtain specific resources. Print was a little bit trickier to communicate (understandably), but directions were given to regularly check the Library Services Update page for the latest information in response to Government Guidelines.
For finding resources about a particular research area, Library Databases are a great place to go. They can give you a window into the literature you are interested in and contain specialist resources produced by experts. If you are unsure what you are looking for, the Library has made searching easier as you can browse databases based on by subject or as a complete A-Z list!
Now, I am sure at this point you are wondering what is “RaB”? During the session, I learned that if the Library doesn’t have the book you require, or it is only available as a print version, you can … Request a Book (RaB). It is such an excellent service that I am sure be beneficial for anyone, not only those completing their dissertation. Another valuable service feature offered by the Library are Inter-Library Loans (ILLs) which enable you to request digital copies of articles and book chapters from other libraries!
Thoughts and Conclusion
If I were to summarise this session in just one saying, it would be “It’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks”. During the event, I was pleasantly surprised by all the new knowledge I gained, especially about DiscoverEd – a service I have been regularly using over the past 4 years! I was also reminded about other fantastic resources and features supported by the Library, which would help you with your dissertation, thesis, and even general studies!
If you are interested in the session and want to check it out, you can find it HERE!
Thanks for checking out the blog, see you at the next one.