LILAC 2022 : Student transitions in information literacy :  from school to HE, from learners to researchers

Ruth Jenkins, SarahLouise McDonald and Christine Love-Rodgers at LILAC 2022

Ruth Jenkins, SarahLouise McDonald and Christine Love-Rodgers at LILAC 2022

The LILAC 2022 conference in Manchester this April was a challenge and a pleasure to attend :  my first real life, in person conference for two years! I put aside my laptop with the distraction of its constant stream of email to concentrate on being present in the conference and using my LILAC notebook and pen.

Alongside my colleagues, I was there to present papers about the projects we’d delivered in the COVID years, including LibSmart, our online information literacy course. We’ve developed LibSmart I to develop student information literacy skills to support student transition into the first years of an undergraduate course, and LibSmart II to support student transition into Honours and PG dissertation research. We had lots of great questions about the courses, and interest from Uppsala and Gothenberg Universities in Sweden who are keen to develop similar projects.

Student transitions in information literacy was a key theme of the conference. I attended a session by Paul Newnham on Information literacy and the transition to university education : Reflections and initial findings from Lancaster University. This research study aimed to understand student needs for information literacy and how the Library can support students with information literacy and critical thinking skills. Using qualitative data from groups in Blackpool Sixth Form College and Lancaster University, the study found that both lecturers and teachers thought that students’ ability to find information had deteriorated over the last 10-15 years. However there was wide understanding of the importance of referencing and plagiarism.

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Dissertation Festival from the student perspective

Dissertation. A word that scares and confuses many students, including me. It seems like a difficult and mysterious concept that most of us must deal with at some point on our academic journey. I have been wondering for a long time if there is any way I can make the whole experience of writing it at least a bit easier and less scary. I must admit that this year’s dissertation festival has provided me with a lot of tools and information to do just that.

During the dissertation festival, I attended three sessions: Introduction to reference managers, Improve your research skills with SAGE Research Methods, and DataLiteracy for Beginners. They were all very informative, both for students currently writing their dissertation, but also for students like me, who are only beginning to think about their dissertation now.

The first event was an overview of four reference managers. I really enjoyed the fact that the presentation did not only cover one reference manager but as many as four. This gave me a chance to get a feel of all of them and choose my favourite one (which, I must admit, has got to be EndNote). The second event covered SAGE Research Methods database, which I was not aware of before, yet I found it to be a very useful resource. The last event I attended emphasized the importance of critical thinking while dealing with various kinds of information, especially the statistics part of it.

I enjoyed all the events a lot! The only thing I would change about these, would it be their form. I prefer to attend in-person events, especially after covid ‘trauma’ that we have all experienced – it would be nice to see all the presenters and attendees offline. But well, one cannot have everything, maybe next time!

Overall, I recommend every student to attend the next edition of the dissertation festival, whether they are in their fourth, third or second year. All events provided me with great tools that I will not only use while writing my dissertation but also other coursework.

Zofia Matuszczyk
Communications Officer Intern

Dissertation Festival: Exploring library resources for dissertations in gender studies

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):
Opening slide from the presentation on 'exploring library resources for dissertations in gender studies'. Image includes the University crest offset on the right hand side, and the title of the presentation on the left of the image.

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)  

 

Training with the ASL team

A laptop is placed, open, on a table in a living space. Next to the laptop is a notebook with pen on top. Visible on the laptop screen is the message 'Join us online'.

Image by Samantha Borges, from Unsplash.

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

For more information on upcoming sessions and information on how to register, visit the Digital Skills Resource Finder and search for ‘Bitesize’, or view the upcoming sessions directly on the MyEd Event Booking System.

We also record these sessions and upload them to our Media Hopper channel. You can view a playlist of past sessions here.


What if you need more in-depth training?

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?

Finding Resources: Subject Guides

Where to start?

Following on from my general tips for finding resources and navigating the online library, this blog post will cover why you should check out Subject Guides, and highlights some resources, old and new, that you may not already know about for studies. 

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

Decoloniality and the library (CILIPS Conference 2021)

On 7 June I attended a CILIPS conference session on Decoloniality and the library: the case at Goldsmiths, University of London, by Marilyn Clarke, Director of Library Services at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Marilyn started off with a quote from Desmond Tutu “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” What can we do as librarians to be more than neutral?

At Goldsmiths, a Liberate our library working group was set up to look at this question. They started out by asking : do students see library spaces, books on the shelves, which looks like them? Do students see themselves when they come into the library?

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