LILAC 2022: Power structures in library and information services

Geese wandering freely alongside a canal in manchester.

Geese and goslings on Rochdale canal

Last month, three of our Academic Support Librarians team attended the LILAC conference. LILAC is a conference for librarians and information professionals who teach information literacy skills, are interested in digital literacies and who want to improve the information seeking and evaluation skills of library users. You may have seen our previous post about LILAC 22 here.

Much of the conference covered issues of critical information literacy, including long and slightly intimidating words such as critical pedagogy and decolonisation, and it was great to have the space to explore what these mean.

Keynote speaker Marilyn Clarke, Director of Library Services at Goldsmiths, University of London, spoke on Decolonisation as a means to creating an equitable future.

Keynote speaker Marilyn Clarke and chair Elizabeth Brookbanks sit beneath a screen with Manchester 2022 and a bee logo projected onto it.

Marilyn Clarke with discussion chair Elizabeth Brookbank at LILAC 2022.

Marilyn clarified succinctly the difference between decolonising and diversifying library collections; diversifying ≠ decolonising, we need to ask the question why are these voices underrepresented?

She highlighted fantastic work at Goldsmiths to dismantle Eurocentric structures in the library and university, including funds for the ‘Liberate My Degree’ collection set aside for student book purchase suggestions to address gaps in the library collection. At the University of Edinburgh we have the Student Request a Book service which empowers students to request purchase of books and other resources to be added to the Library collections.

When cataloguing their Zines collection, librarians gather suggestions for keywords (used as a finding aid in the catalogue) from the authors themselves, to ensure the language used is representative. This is not just about addressing race, but also other systemic oppression such as LGBTQ+ and class.

In the final keynote of the conference, Emily Drabinski, Critical Pedagogy Librarian at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, explored how information literacy can reveal and challenge structures of power, and equip our students with tools to recognise and understand power dynamics.

By power, this mean the ability to change things, do things, influence things – we all have power in different ways and different situations. As librarians who help people find, use and understand information, we need to take societal values and power structures into account.

For example, who designed this database? With whom in mind? What is included in the database and what isn’t, and who makes those decisions? That feeling, where you get no results from a search, or too many, or their wrong – that’s not you, that’s the way the system is constructed with power.

Myself, I will be doing more to incorporate discussions of power into my teaching. It’s something I do when teaching literature searching for Systematic Reviews in medicine and biomedical sciences (these aim to find and synthesise all clinical evidence on a topic), where comprehensive searches and minimising bias are a core foundation of the review methodology – and as such, knowing what is included in a database, and crucially what is excluded, is crucial. But we can introduce this criticality earlier in students’ academic careers. I am not sure yet what that will look like exactly, but it’s exciting to consider.

Ruth Jenkins, Academic Support Librarian

https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/help-consultancy/rm-and-consultancy/academic-support-librarians

Students’ wellbeing and ways to escape exam

Study spaces in the Veterinary Library.

Study spaces in the Veterinary Library by Zofia Matuszczyk

Yes, exams are important. We know. But we also want you to remember that at the end of the day, it is your wellbeing that is the most important. 

We all know how stressful exams can be and how they can negatively affect our wellbeing. As the Library, we try not only to support you in learning but also to support your wellbeing, especially at these times. Thus, we’ve put together some resources from the Library that you might find helpful when trying to escape your exams for a moment, get some well-deserved rest and gain the energy and strength to continue with your revisions and exams. 

Listen to music 

Did you know the Library offers you access to databases that allow you to listen to millions of songs from pop and rock to classical music? You can check them out here. 

Visit our museum and art collections 

While it’s not always possible to physically visit a museum or gallery, you can still do a lot of exploring of the University collections online. If you, however, have some time to physically go somewhere, we also recommend the National Museum of Scotland or the Scottish National Gallery. Both are free and within the walking distance of George Square! Remember that to visit Scottish National Gallery, you must book a ticket beforehand. 

Enjoy a film or drama performance 

You can access a wide range of TV programmes, documentaries, films, drama, and theatre performances through the Library. Check out what Box of Broadcasts (BoB) has to offer! 

Read some fiction 

Reading may be the perfect escape from your exams. Our databases give you access to millions of positions! 

Meditate 

Meditation is one of the best ways to relax. Have you tried mindfulness or spiritual meditation? Maybe now is the time to do so! 

And if you feel stressed because you cannot get a seat in the main library, make sure to check out the additional study spaces available. 

Zofia Matuszczyk
Communications Officer Intern

The Transatlantic Slave Trade and Slavery: primary sources

For over 400 years, more than 15 million men, women and children were victims of the transatlantic slave trade. And on 25th March every year, the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade offers the opportunity to honour and remember those who suffered and died at the hands of the brutal slavery system, while also raising awareness about the dangers of racism and prejudice today.

At the Library we have access to a range of digital resources that give you access to original primary source material from archives around the world that allow you to find out more about the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the victims of slavery. These are a few that you might like to explore:

Slavery: supporters and abolitionists, 1675-1865
(also known as Slavery Through Time: from Enslavers to Abolitionists, 1675-1865)

Continue reading

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

Mixed Methods Reviews

Most researchers have heard of and understand the needs of a systematic review (SR), however the concept of a mixed methods review (MMR) can be confusing. The types of questions students and researchers ask can include:

  • Can I do this type of research?
  • How do I combine the data?
  • My quantitative and qualitative data are different – how do I make sense of this?

MMRs differ from the traditional model of SR as they aim to answer complex interventions and social policy type questions. They go beyond what works and look to highlight the complexity of what is happening, to explain why things make an impact and what may influence how an intervention works, offering context to interventions.

To answer such questions MMRs need to draw from both quantitative and qualitative material (Pearson et al, 2015), but this does not mean they cannot be systematic!

To be systematic they should demonstrate the same transparent and explicit approach that established SR methods require – so have a protocol, as well as detailed reporting of methods. There would need to be appraisal and analysis of the included literature. They would need to show a rigorous research process (Gough et al, 2017).

There are different review approaches included in this type of research, but it is important that the research question uses both qualitative and quantative data. If the research question does not then it may be better to use another type of review method. An overview of review types can be found in an article by Sutton et al (2019).

How the types of data are combined depends on the research objectives of the review.

The resource SAGE Research Methods (which is available to all staff and students at the University via our Library Databases pages) has lots of information and advice on the ways that the differing data can be analysed and combined, as well as an overview of this family of research methodology.

https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/library-museum-gallery/finding-resources/library-databases/databases-a-z/databases-s

Book cover for SAGE handbook of Mixed Methods in Social & Behavioural ResearchBook cover for Mixed Methods Research: A guide to the fieldBook cover for An Introduction To Fully Integrated Mixed Methods Research

Donna Watson
Academic Support Librarian 

Finding Resources: Navigating the Online Library

The Online Library is a vast resource. Whatever you study, you will find what you need in the Library collections. For all that it is wide and wonderful, however, I know (from personal experience) navigating the Online Library can be overwhelming. Read on for tips on where to look for resources and how to get the best out of the Online Library… 

Subject Guides 

Subject Guides are a great place to start your search for resources. If you haven’t already, head over to the Subject Guides list and find all the most relevant library resources for your subject and more… 

Check out our blog dedicated to Subject Guides for more information, coming soon...
Continue reading

Visit to University of Dundee Library

The past eighteen months have been quite isolating for staff as well as students at academic institutions, and this has meant that opportunities for networking and visiting colleagues from other universities have been in short supply. Recently I was invited to visit the University of Dundee’s Main Library thanks to Kayleigh McGarry, Digital Literacy and Service Development Librarian.

Although Kayleigh works across all subject areas in Dundee, she and I both have a specialist interest in Law as we previously worked in the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service Library Service together. The Law collection at Dundee is housed in the Main Library and I was delighted to see a familiar face during my visit!

Image of a bust of Lady Clark of Calton, situated on a pedestal against a white wall.

Bust of Lady Clark of Calton, Senator of the College of Justice and formerly Chairman of the Scottish Law Commission.

While I was interested to view the Law collection, it was also helpful to see how another institution have dealt with the challenges of the pandemic with regards their study spaces, group study rooms, and moving around the library. Most of the actions that have been taken in Dundee are very similar to our own service adjustments in the past year. Students are now able to use most study spaces on a drop in basis just like in our own libraries, and masks are worn throughout the building. The usual hand sanitising procedures and one-way systems are in place, and overall staff reported great cooperation from students during this tricky time. It was a real pleasure to see students back on campus and making the most of the available facilities. I have to confess that I’m quite jealous of the library’s podcast and recording studio, and seeing their makerspace reminded me of the brilliant facilities we have in the uCreate Studios on the first floor of our own Main Library.

Overall I found the visit to be both reassuring – the challenges we’ve faced as staff and students at Edinburgh are not unique, and knowing that other university library services have made similar choices to our own suggests that we’re all doing the best we can under the circumstances – and inspiring, because Kayleigh and I have a plan in the works to further encourage networking amongst our colleagues across HE institutions in Scotland. Hopefully this will be the first of many renewed opportunities for visiting libraries and sharing experiences to come.

SarahLouise McDonald
Academic Support Librarian to the School of Law

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

Things I Wish I’d Known: Graduate Reflections on using the Library

Photo: Paul Dodds

As a recent graduate from Edinburgh, you can imagine I’ve spent the summer reminiscing and reflecting on my time at university. Over my four years studying Geography I spent a lot of time in the Main Library, whiled away hours on DiscoverEd, and thought I had the whole library thing down. Reader, I barely scratched the surface.

For the past few months I’ve been lucky enough to intern with the Academic Support Librarian team at the university. I have found myself learning things about the Library I wish I’d known sooner – and remembering things that I discovered during my studies that made it all a bit easier.  

This blog will cover some ideas for how to get the best out of the Library, where you can go to broaden your reading and research, and things that will make studying easier (*cough* reference manager *cough*). 

So, to save you some time, here are six things I wish I’d known sooner about the Library… Continue reading

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.