We’re very excited to let you know that from this year onwards all students at Undergraduate and Postgraduate level will automatically be enrolled in our LibSmart online information literacy course! If you’ve not encountered LibSmart before, it’s a great way to get to grips with finding and using information available to you via the Library. It’s asychronous which means you can dip in and out whenever suits you across the year, and we tend to find people use it either at the start of term when they need to start looking reading material up, or right before they start research for their assignments.
LibSmart I is our foundation level course, helping students get a good baseline in using our library catalogue, searching for reading materials for courses, and understanding the best places to go for help. We also talk about referencing and plagiarism, something students will need to understand at every level of university life.
LibSmart II is a bit more specialised – it takes a subject-specific look at different topics that people find tricky to work with, such as systematic reviews, data mindfulness and digital news sources. We walk you through different types of resource and processes for working with this information, and hopefully leave you feeling confident of where to start with your assignment or research project. We recommend you complete LibSmart I first, but if you’re feeling confident and ready to dive in to LibSmart II then you’re welcome to start wherever you like!
And if the achievement of completing a module alone doesn’t bring you joy, we also award you some lovely digital badges for each module you complete. You can save them and use them as evidence of the self-directed learning you’ve completed via LibSmart – something that could look very attractive to future employers!
Earn digital badges for every module you complete in LibSmart I and II.
Log in using your UUN (normal university username and password)
On the left hand navigation, select ‘Organisations’
Locate LibSmart I: Your Library Research Starts Here (2023/24) from the list, or LibSmart II: Advance your Library Research (2023/24).
Click into the course and start working your way through!
If you would like some further information on LibSmart you can find out more on our LibSmart webpagewhich includes information about the modules available and a look at what previous students have found most useful about the course. Of course if you have any questions please leave us a comment or email us.
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.
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!
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.
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 →
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?
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
Employability and Personal Development
Projects, Dissertations and Reports
Reading and Note-making
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.
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:
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Welcome back to all staff and students! This blog has been a bit quiet of late due to high workload and some understaffing in our team, but we wanted to start off the new year with some good news and thought we’d alert everyone to some of the excellent e-resource trials we have going on!
Did you know? Before the library subscribes to a new database we often arrange for a trial free of charge and link them on the E-Resources Trials page. We then ask anyone who’s tested the resource out to fill in a short feedback form to let us know their thoughts so we can decide how useful it will be for our users. Some of the trials we have ongoing at the moment are listed below.
Radical Irish Newspaper Archives is an extraordinary collection of over 115 Irish radical and political newspapers, journals, pamphlets and bulletins. Fully searchable and consisting of more than 11,000 editions with a total page count of 102,755 these newspapers, according to Dr Ciarán Reilly of Maynooth University, ‘hold the key to understanding Ireland in the turbulent decades of the early twentieth century’. Spanning one of the most important periods in Irish history, from the Home Rule debates of the 1880s to Ireland on the eve of the Second World War, these somewhat obscure titles provide an insight into a myriad of opinions on Irish life.
Trial access until: 08/01/2023 (so have a look this weekend!)
SAGE Research Methods: Doing Research Online
This new multimedia collection has been designed to support novice or experienced social science researchers who are conducting research online. Whether conducting their first or their hundredth study online, users will find support to employ a variety of digital methods from online surveys, interviews to digital ethnography, social media, and text analysis, as well as learn how to manage, store and archive digital data. Privacy and other ethical considerations specific to conducting research online are also covered. Researchers will also get support with how to navigate the challenges of being supervised online.
Content & Features:
‘How to Guides’ (providing practical help with using digital research methods);
Videos (tutorials, expert interviews, video case studies, etc.);
Case studies (focused on challenges of designing and conducting research online);
Teaching sets of data with a guide (suggesting a method to analyze both digitally created and existing online data, plus a step-by-step guide to how to do it so that students can practice data analysis);
Trial access until: 26/02/2023.
Archives of Sexuality and Gender: International Perspectives on LGBTQ Activism and Culture
Archives of Sexuality and Gender: International Perspectives on LGBTQ Activism and Culture examines diversity in underrepresented areas of the world such as southern Africa and Australia, highlighting cultural and social histories, struggles for rights and freedoms, explorations of sexuality, and organizations and key figures in LGBTQ history. It insures LGBTQ stories and experiences are preserved. Among many diverse and historical 20th century collections, materials include: the Papers of Simon Nkoli, a prominent South African anti-apartheid, gay and lesbian rights, and HIV/AIDS activist; Exit newspaper (formerly Link/Skakel), South Africa’s longest running monthly LGBTQ publication; Geographic Files, also known as “Lesbians in…” with coverage from Albania to Zimbabwe; and the largest available collection of digitized Australian LGBTQ periodicals.
NB The Library has purchased access to three other modules of the Archives of Sexuality and Gender database – these can be found on the A databases page.
We’re midway through the first semester now, and many students will have settled into the routine of lectures, seminars and practical class preparation. You may even be thinking ahead to the end-of-module deadlines moving ever closer, and beginning to consider how to research and write assignments. For some students this can be stressful or confusing as they realise they don’t really know where to start with looking up resources to back up their work. Don’t panic though, we’ve got you!
Enter, LibSmart! This is our online information literacy course which you can access via Learn at any time throughout your studies. It’s self-enrol and open to absolutely everyone, and will provide you with a great grounding in how to access resources online and via the library, and how to reference your research correctly. There’s five modules in LibSmart I and although we recommend you work through them all, you can dip in and out of the bits you feel you need a bit of help with.
If you’ve completed that, you may find that you want to go a step further. In that case, check out LibSmart II which has ten modules on a variety of different topics all designed to help you get to grips with a specific focus. Unlike LibSmart I we don’t ask you to work through all the modules here, just pick ‘n’ mix your favourites! You might be interested in health information and systematic reviews, or legal information and government and policy research. Maybe you’re unsure of what’s in our Special Collections and you’d like to explore that more fully. Students who’ve completed these modules before have said that they’re extremely useful and relevant to their work.
If this sounds interesting to you, you can find out more on the LibSmart webpage. Remember you can access LibSmart any time you like throughout the year, and for each module you complete you get a digital badge!
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!