JIL Webinar: Writing about Information Literacy (report)

Journal of Information Literacy logo

As well as bringing you news and updates from the library, we like to use this blog to report on some of the Continued Professional Development activities we get up to as Academic Librarians. This week several members of our team attended a webinar presented by the Journal of Information Literacy on the topic of Writing about Information Literacy, and we found it to be both useful and inspiring so we thought we’d share some of our key findings.

The session opened with a brief introduction to JIL, who they are and what they do. JIL is the professional journal of the CILIP Information Literacy Group, and if you’ve not encountered them before then they are a well respected publication in UK information literacy:

Founded in 2007, the Journal of Information Literacy (JIL) is an international peer-reviewed journal and is aimed at librarians, information professionals and academics who teach and/or research aspects of information literacy. The journal includes articles from established and new authors that investigate many different areas of information literacy, including school, academic and national libraries, health care settings, and the public sector such as the workplace and government.

A few of our team had previously attended sessions run by Editor-In-Chief Dr Alison Hicks and Managing Editor Dr Meg Westbury at the LILAC conference, so we knew we were in for an hour of useful tips, tricks and key information for submitting to this (but also any) journal.

The presenters addressed different types of submission they might accept in JIL, including Research Articles, Project Reports and Book or Conference Reviews, and briefly described the requirements for each. They looked at the submission process (and why it might feel that it takes so long!) and also suggested how to respond to feedback in a useful and concise way. There were lots of tips about how to stay focused, and a book recommendation for those of us who are worried about the best writing environment:

Sword, H. (2017) Air & light & time & space : how successful academics write / Helen Sword. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
You can find this book at the Main Library, details via DiscoverEd.

Meg also suggested writing Tiny Texts as a way to get started, which you can read more about on the slides which they presented as part of the ‘Getting Your Writing Groove Back’ session from the 2022 LILAC conference.

Overall those of us in the virtual room felt it was a really valuable hour which made academic writing seem accessible and useful to us as library practitioners. Unlike our colleagues in the States, publishing academic work is not a requirement for our jobs here. However we do engage in professional development activities to ensure we’re well informed about new developments particularly across the academic library sector, and reading and contributing to journals is just one of the ways we can do that. While it can seem difficult to make time to write and publish alongside our day jobs, the team at JIL seem to be more than willing to help develop fledgling writers and would be a great port of call for anyone looking to get started in writing about the Information Literacy initiatives in their institution. This session was presented in collaboration with the Information Literacy Group’s New Professionals team, though we would probably say it was useful for anyone considering writing up their work for publication – we certainly found it useful as not-so-new professionals!

If you’re interested in reading and writing more journal articles about library work, why not consider joining the Library Journal Club? We welcome members from any area of Library Services who have an interest in reading and critically discussing publications about libraries. We meet regularly both in person and on Teams, and have a trip to the Library of Mistakes planned for December! You can find us on Teams here.

Five reasons you should use LibSmart to prep for your assignments

Here we are midway through the first semester, and you may start to feel like you should be looking ahead to your end of semester assessments. Often students feel a bit overwhelmed before their first hand in, but here at the library we’re keen to help you feel confident from the start. Read on to find out why LibSmart is one of the best ways to prepare for your research and writing….

1. LibSmart shows you the basics of finding information in easy-to-follow lessons

Split into five simple sections, LibSmart I takes you through everything you need to find good material to base your assignments on. You’ll learn about how to search the library catalogue, how to double check your course reading, and suggestions of where to go for follow up resources.

2. You can dip in and out of it any time that suits you

One of the great things about LibSmart is all new students are already enrolled! You just need to log in to learn and click on the ‘Essentials’ tab on the left to find it. It’s there whenever you need it all year long, so if you’re feeling like you need to be productive at 11pm one evening then log on and complete a module. We’re sure you’ll either learn something new or you’ll feel more confident that you’re on the right track.

3. The whole of LibSmart I can take less than one afternoon to work through

We designed LibSmart I so that it’s not a huge effort for you to complete. We know your time is precious and that you may have classes to get to, work shifts to make or social activities that are a huge and important part of your student experience. We wanted to make the information in LibSmart as accessible as possible, and while you can take it at whatever pace you like, we know that some students like to rattle through it in just one day. Whichever route you chose, we appreciate the time you spend there.

4. You’ll learn valuable skills on how to get started with referencing

Referencing is one of the top enquiries we Academic Support Librarians receive – people are confused by it or don’t understand what, where and how to do it properly. LibSmart I has a really useful introductory module that can help you get to grips with the foundations of referencing, and offers top advice on how to find the right style and systems for you. If you’re feeling stuck with where to start then this is the place to go.

5. It’s so much more than just library stuff! 

We know it’s a lot to ask students to spend a few hours on looking specifically at library catalogues and databases especially when this isn’t prescribed reading on any particular course. However, students who’ve spent time on LibSmart believe it’s really made a difference to their experience as a student.

When I signed up, I assumed the course was just an introduction to the library but it has really been a guide to how academic research works. I wonder if more people would have signed up for this if they had realised it was not just a tour of the library to see where the books were kept. Along with the one hour “Study Skills” course I did, which was also surprisingly useful in its content, I feel I got as much learning from these free courses as the main one I paid for.

 


If you’re interested in giving LibSmart a go, you can find out more on our website.

Alternatively if you’re keen to get started straight away, just visit Learn and click on the Essentials tab on the left hand navigation. It’s all there ready for whenever you need it!

Screenshot of Learn Ultra platform, displaying the Essentials tab where LibSmart can be found

Trial access: ProQuest Black Studies

As part of Black History Month at the Library, we have trial access to ProQuest Black Studies. Developed with faculty, scholars and librarians, ProQuest Black Studies brings together award-winning content into one destination that can be used for research, teaching, and learning.

Screenshot of ProQuest Black Studies homepage.

You can access ProQuest Black Studies via the E-resources trials page.

Trial access ends 15th November 2023.

ProQuest Black Studies combines primary and secondary sources, including leading historical Black newspapers, archival documents and collections, key government materials, videos, writings by major Black intellectuals and leaders, scholarly journals, and essays by top scholars in Black Studies. Continue reading

Stories To Tell: South Asian Heritage Month

From 18 July to 17 August it is South Asian Heritage Month, a chance to celebrate and raise the profile of British South Asian history, arts, culture and heritage. This year’s theme is #StoriesToTell, celebrating the stories that make up the diverse and vibrant South Asian community.

Sometimes, to understand your own story or those of others, you have to look back and in this blog post we are highlighting just a small number of digital archives you can access through the Library that allow you to learn more about South Asian history and the stories that have shaped our present and future.

South Asia Commons (formerly South Asia Archive)

Continue reading

Library summer opening and changes to service

Although this blog mainly focuses on the work of the ASL team (who are library focused but often work remotely) we realise that many readers may associate this blog with the physical library spaces, so we wanted to highlight a few things happening over the summer in our library buildings.

Summer opening hours: Main Library

The Main Library is now operating on Summer opening hours. This means the following hours of operation apply:

Day Building EdHelp Service Desk
Monday – Thursday 24 hour opening 9am – 7:50pm
Friday 24 hour opening 9am – 4:50pm
Saturday 24 hour opening 12 midday – 4:50pm
Sunday 24 hour opening 12 midday – 4:50pm

Please note that this week new gates will be fitted to the Main Library entrance and exit, Café exit gates and the High Use Books exit gates. The works will be carried out between Tuesday 4th July-Thursday 7th, 9:00-5:00pm. You can still access the Main Library, alternate entrances and exits will be clearly marked. You can find out more about this (as well as opening hours for the Centre for Research Collections, Main Library Cafe and links to other information) on the Main Library Opening Hours page.

Summer opening hours: Site libraries

The majority of our site libraries open for reduced hours during the summer. Information can be found on the individual sites listed on the Library Opening Hours page.

The vast majority of our libraries operate from 9am to 4.50pm, Monday to Friday during the summer and are closed at weekends. Exceptions this summer are the Art & Architecture Library and New College Library, which we have detailed below.

Art & Architecture Library

Due to building works in Minto House there is currently an alternative entrance to the Art & Architecture Library. Entering Minto House either via the main reception area or the Maltings entrance, follow the signs downstairs to the temporary library entrance door in the lower ground floor (basement) corridor.

UPDATE: Due to disruption as a result of essential building works within Minto House, it will be necessary to close the Art & Architecture Library between Monday 10th July and Sunday 3rd September. Please email us at library.account@ed.ac.uk for any enquiries or if you urgently require any print resources during this time and we will endeavour to make them available within 2 working days from the Law Library in Old College. Please consult the Art & Architecture Opening Hours page for more information.

New College Library

Due to essential maintenance works all New College Library’s current services except for Special Collections were transferred to the temporary library at 40 George Square in 2020. A schedule for the move of New College Library services and collections back to New College Library, Mound Place in 2023 has now been agreed. The main expected dates are :

  • 9 August 2023 : New College Library, 40 George Square closes for General Collections moves.
  • 11 September 2023 : New College Library, Mound Place opens for access to services and collections.

Until 9 August 2023, NCL General Collections and Library services will remain fully available for students in the library at 40 George Square. For more information please see the New College Library page.


We hope this is useful for anyone wishing to visit our lovely libraries over the summer. The ASL team will be available throughout July and August, so please contact us if you have any queries, either by email or by leaving a comment on this post.

Critical Approaches to Libraries (CALC) 2023

I attended the CALC Conference on 24th and 25th May and can thoroughly recommend this annual event to other professionals interested in critical librarianship. The gathering was welcoming and introduced the day by stating “we will operate within a spirit of liberation at this conference”. If you have not heard of CALC before, their website states that “The Critical Approaches to Libraries Conference aims to provide a space to discuss all aspects of critical practice in libraries and librarianship including (but not limited to) decolonisation, critical pedagogy, equality, diversity and inclusion in library work and the representation of marginalised groups in the workforce, academia and literature.”

The 2 day conference was packed with a diverse range of topics and speakers, so I can only highlight a few here. At the end of the blog post I have included links to further reading.

Some of my key take-aways were:

  • When designing a support resource for ebook accessibility question your assumptions about students understanding of platforms, and co-design courses with students.
  • When investigating library ‘decolonisation’ initiatives there is no such thing as “neutral”. Be clear about your positionality and privileges. Find actionable recommendations to solve a problem (move beyond critiquing, to action). Look at Algorithms of Oppression book (on DiscoverEd).

In the Day 1 conference Keynote: Decolonising bibliographies, referencing and citational practices Dr Gurnam Singh shared so many important reflections for where we find ourselves right now, such as:  

  • “Enlightenment belongs to humanity not to Europe!”
  • “Colonialism is an economic endeavour and is still happening”.
  • “Critiquing the canon means exposing the othering and silencing of people”.

Dr Singh discussed the various types of colonisation to be aware of such as settler colonisation, extractive colonisation, and plantation colonisation.

(Colonialism is generally classified by one of five overlapping types according to the practice’s particular goals and consequences on the subjugated territory and its indigenous peoples. These are: settler colonialism; exploitation colonialism; plantation colonialism; surrogate colonialism; and internal colonialism.)

Dr Singh then went on to compare the fixed hierarchies of arborescent thought versus rhizomatic thought’s interconnected multiplicity and networks of thought, which rejects fixed categories and sees connections and dialogues.

Some of his comments might be challenging to some people, such as “Citation rankings are monetised and racist, and so therefore is the REF [Research Excellence Framework]”. It is true that currently citation rankings perpetuate certain dominant authors and global voices, which position Western discourse as the most “valid” or important. Dr Singh said “When an article has 10 authors you just know its gaming the citation rankings – its fraud. The publishing industry is colonial – it’s based on colonial attitudes.”

“Decoloniality is about building a new humanity not going back to a “purer” time. This isn’t a specialist subject, its about being human. Maybe AI could release us to be humans and not robots?”

Other topics covered by other speakers included multilingualism in public libraries; using reflective practices to extend the impact of teaching in libraries; developing collaborative cataloguing codes of ethics; setting up Library Decol Working Groups in academic libraries; exploring working class roots of library staff and their experiences in the mostly middle class populations of HE library staff; being a neurodivergent librarian in HE; using critical race theory in medical curriculum decolonisation work; and using the Homosaurus for cataloguing in a public library consortium.

We were encouraged to develop the attitude that everybody brings something to the workplace – a richness of their own, rather than making assumptions about the limitations of people based on their assumed backgrounds, identities, or experiences of “othering”.

I can thoroughly recommend attending this very affordable and welcoming conference!

Jane Furness
ECA Academic Support Librarian

Flyer from CALC conference which shows black text across a background of coloured circles which overlap: Decolonise the library; disrupt the library; liberate the library; critique the library; defend the library; equalise the library; open up the library; queer the library; unionise the library; diversify the library; empower the library; engage the library; subvert the library


Further reading links:

The recordings of the sessions will soon be uploaded to the CALC Conference site:
https://sites.google.com/view/calcconference

If you are interested in the topics raised at the Conference these links will be useful to explore:

Future Learn course on Anti Racist Technologies https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/anti-racist-technologies

Cataloguing code of ethics:
https://www.uwtsd.ac.uk/library/support-for-staff/collection-development-policy/cataloguing-code-of-ethics/
https://sites.google.com/view/cataloging-ethics/home
https://homosaurus.org/

Journal of Information Literacy article on working class library staff experiences: https://journals.cilip.org.uk/jil/article/view/20

Critical Race Theory book: Knowledge Justice (on DiscoverEd):
https://discovered.ed.ac.uk/permalink/44UOE_INST/7g3mt6/alma9924550010502466

Critical Race Theory definition:
https://www.britannica.com/topic/critical-race-theory

CRT awareness: https://www.uksg.org/newsletter/uksg-enews-534/navigating-whiteness-and-reflecting-identity-vocational-awe-and-allyship

Neurodivergent librarians supporting each other: https://neurospicylibraries.flarum.cloud/

One neurodivergent librarian’s experience: https://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2017/neurodiversity-in-the-library/

CALC conference on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqB_9b3mgcJ0yu8cHK9kIoQ

5 things to remember if using the Library this summer

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.

Opening hours and staffed hours will be reduced in many libraries so check the opening hours website before you visit and follow the Library on social media for any updates – Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. Continue reading

New to the Library: BFI Player

*The Library now has full 1 year access (until 30 Sept 2024) to BFI Player via a deal with JISC. You can access it from our Databases A-Z list, Film Studies databases list, Video Resources A-Z and DiscoverEd. Note if you already had a BFI Player account linked to our pilot subscription before 1 Oct 2023, you will need to relink your account following instructions given at the above access points.*

We are happy to let you know that the Library has a pilot subscription to the fabulous BFI Player, a video on demand service from the British Film Institute (BFI). Access is available to us until the end of August 2023.

BFI Player streams acclaimed, landmark and archived films. Reflecting the BFI’s wider cultural mission the focus is on British and European independent films but it does also include international releases. And it allows you to access classic and cult films from across the decades. Continue reading

E-Resource trial: Skills for study

As we’re midway through the second semester, many eyes are turning to assignments and thinking ahead to final exams. Did you know that we’ve recently secured a trial of the interactive resource Skills for Study?

Screengrab from the homepage of the Skills for Study website. An image of a student studying with headphones on is overlaid with some text which reads 'Successful study starts here! Help students build the skills for success in their studies and beyond with their own personalised learning pathway.'

Based on the bestselling The Study Skills Handbook by Stella Cottrell, Skills for Study offers an interactive and personalised solution to help students hone their academic skills while developing skills required by employers:

  • Confidence with Numbers
  • Getting Ready for Academic Study
  • Referencing and Understanding Plagiarism
  • Critical Thinking Skills
  • Group Work and Presentations
  • Research Principles
  • Employability and Personal Development
  • Projects, Dissertations and Reports
  • Time Management
  • Exam Skills
  • Reading and Note-making
  • Writing Skills

Each of the modules comes complete with exercises, activities, and module assessments along with supplementary videos, articles and blogs. We know how popular the Study Skills Handbook is for students from a range of disciplines, so here’s how to access this interactive resource:

That’s it, it’s that easy! More information about the trial is available on the E-Resources trials page. Our trial ends on the 24th April so have a good look before then, and if you want to offer any comments on this or any of our other E-Resource trials then please consider filling in the trial feedback form.

Resolving to reference in 2023

Whether you’re the type of person who makes New Years resolutions or not, we hope you’ll consider resolving to get comfortable with referencing this year. We have lots of resources available to help you with citations in your assignments, and we know it’s something many students struggle with and so can often leave to the end of their work. Some top tips for getting ahead of the referencing panic:

  1. Record the information you read as you go. You can do this using a reference manager, bookmarking tools in your browser or DiscoverEd, or good old pen and paper. Whatever method you’re comfortable with, starting off with good organisation will help you down the line.
  2. Leave more time than you think you’ll need. Do you usually give yourself a day or two before the assignment deadline to sort references? Double it! Triple it! Build in contingency time for writing up and correcting references – and for asking for help if you need it – and if you end up not needing all that time then submit early and then reward yourself with a treat for being ahead of the game!
  3. Be consistent. There are lots of referencing styles out there (you may already be familiar with Harvard, APA, Chicago, OSCOLA), but whichever one you use for your work, be consistent in how you reference. Make sure you have all the component parts of each type of reference and then style them in the same way each time – this helps you spot when information is missing as well as looking good.
  4. Use the tools available to you. This includes reference managers like Endnote, Zotero and Mendeley (or any others!), or even ‘quick’ citation engines like ZoteroBib or Cite This For Me. We highly recommend you use Cite Them Right Online which is a database we subscribe to for all staff and students to use – it will show you how to construct references for every type of material in a huge range of styles. Not sure how to reference a personal email, a blog post or a youtube clip? Use Cite Them Right to check! NOTE: Please make sure you check any reference that is created by a citation tool, as they are not guaranteed to be accurate.
  5. Get help in plenty of time! Still feeling lost at sea? We’ve got training sessions on the MyEd booking system and also recordings on Media Hopper (click on ‘174 media’ below the title card for the full list of videos) designed specifically to help you. There’s also part of the LibSmart online information literacy course dedicated to the basics of referencing, and we have a whole subject guide on the topic. If all else fails, contact your Academic Support Librarian and ask for a one-to-one appointment where we can sit down with you and work through the problems you’re facing.

Do you have any top tips for referencing? We’d love to hear them, you can leave them in the comments or tweet us @EdUniLibraries