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.
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.
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!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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