5 things: using the Library over the summer

It’s officially the summer vacation period at the University and our libraries remain open for business. So whether you are planning on using Library resources, facilities or services during this time or if you will be away from Edinburgh for the summer and want to forget about University as much as possible, here are five important things to remember about the Library over the summer period.

Clockwise from top left, photographs of Main Library (external), Moray House Library (internal), Law Library (internal), Noreen and Keneth Murray Library (external) and Royal Infirmary Library (internal). With an "Open" sign on top.

1) The Main Library and all 9 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/X, Facebook.

The Main Library will continue to be open 24/7 throughout the summer but EdHelp staffed hours will be slightly reduced between Friday 7 June and Friday 6 September 2024. Continue reading

Academic writing help: Royal Literary Fund Fellow

Are you a student who is struggling with academic writing? Are you a staff member who knows of a student who isn’t quite getting the hang of writing at University level?

Perhaps you need to book an appointment with our Royal Literary Fund Fellow. Mary Paulson-Ellis is a well-respected expert in the field of writing, and has been a writing mentor, workshop leader, tutor and writer-in-residence for many organisations including the National Centre for Writing, the National Galleries of Scotland and the Edinburgh International Festival. She is also a committee member for the Society of Authors in Scotland, and student feedback from her first semester working at Edinburgh has been enthusiastically positive. She specialises in helping students in any discipline hone their writing skills and she does this by arranging one-to-one appointments with students in the Main Library.

The service is free, confidential and individual to each student’s needs. To find out more about the service you can visit our RLFF page, or to book an appointment please email Mary directly. 

LibSmart: All students now automatically enrolled!

LibSmart banner, which contains the university crest in white on a black background to the left of the image. The word 'Library' is written beneath the crest. In the centre of the image is a photo of students sitting outside the Main Library on central campus on stone benches, and the Library sign is visible. To the right of the banner is the library branding which looks like geometric shapes in white and electric blue on a back background.

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!

Picture of LibSmart digital badges in a wooden picture frame leaning against a wall

Earn digital badges for every module you complete in LibSmart I and II.

To access LibSmart, simply follow these steps:

  1. Visit www.learn.ed.ac.uk
  2. Log in using your UUN (normal university username and password)
  3. On the left hand navigation, select ‘Organisations’
  4. Locate LibSmart I: Your Library Research Starts Here (2023/24) from the list, or LibSmart II: Advance your Library Research (2023/24). 
  5. 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 webpage which 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. 

Student job opportunity!

Interested in paid business experience with a global publisher? The Gale Ambassador Library Support Program may be just what you’re looking for!
The deadline for applications has been extended, so you now have until 13 August 2023 to apply.

Through the Library you have access to a wide range of digital archives and digital primary source databases to help you with your learning and research. Continue reading

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

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

Welcome! Key library resources for 2022/23

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!

Recordings of Lunchtime Seminars: Decolonising and Diversifying the Library

Our recent post on Decolonising and Diversifying the Library introduced the short seminar series the ASL team ran during lunchtimes in July. We’re delighted to be able to follow up that post with the news that recordings of all three sessions have now been added to Media Hopper. Please use the links below to access the videos:

Diversity in First Year Scots Law Reading ListsOpening slide from Diversity in First Year Scots Law Reading Lists presentationSupporting Diversity using the ECA Artists Book and Zine CollectionsTitle slide from session on 'supporting diversity with the ECA library artists books & zines collections'

Diversifying your Reading List from a Student PerspectiveTitle slide for session on Diversifying your Reading from a Student Perspective.

For more information on these sessions or if you have ideas for what you’d like to see in future lunchtime seminars, please contact us by email or leave us a comment.

Lunchtime seminars: Decolonising and Diversifying the Library

We held our first of three Decolonising and Diversifying the Library lunchtime seminars last week, on the topic of Diversity in First Year Scots Law Reading Lists. The recording (39 minutes) has been uploaded and is now available on our Media Hopper Channel.

Opening slide from Diversity in First Year Scots Law Reading Lists presentation

We’ve got two more sessions scheduled in this mini series, starting with tomorrow’s look at Supporting diversity through the ECA Library Zine collection and Artists Books collection with Academic Support Librarian Jane Furness. Join Jane at 1pm on Thursday 14th July to hear about the ECA Library artists’ books and zines collections and the ways in which they celebrate the diversity of makers working in these fields today. Book using this link to the MyEd booking system.

The following week we have a special showcase of the work of our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Digital Engagement intern, Tristan Craig: Diversifying your Reading from a Student Perspective : Digital Engagement (EDI) Internship Showcase

Promoting the use of a diverse range of sources has several pedagogical benefits. It encourages students to become more autonomous learners by going beyond their reading lists and to think critically about the types of sources they’re engaging with. It also prompts them to consider the historical biases inherent in the dissemination of knowledge and look for a variety of voices to conduct more balanced research.

In this presentation Tristan will reflect upon his experiences and discuss how staff can support students to become confident in finding and using diverse sources. To book for this session on Thursday 21st July at 1pm, use this link to the MyEd booking system.

For more information on these sessions or if you have ideas for what you’d like to see in future lunchtime seminars, please contact us by email or leave us a comment. 

LILAC 2022: Being Better Teachers

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. Slide is entitled 'Myths about writing' with a picture of a stuffed unicorn on the left. Full slide content is available via the LILAC Conference website.

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.

SarahLouise McDonald
Academic Support Librarian

sarahlouise.mcdonald@ed.ac.uk