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:
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.
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 canreveal 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.
The Subject Guides are a useful tool in getting started with your research. Whether you’re an Engineer or a Classicist, they contain a wealth of information for navigating library resources, including journals, databases, and bibliographies, available to students here at the University of Edinburgh. Part of my role as Digital Engagement Intern involves reviewing and creating guides within the remit of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, and I’m delighted to share our newest Subject Guide in Disability Studies.
This guide has been created to both assist students in the academic study of Disability and highlight ways the University can support you with any additional learning needs you might have. We’ve included access information for students using the Main Library, advice on how to make your device more accessible, and details of several groups and societies for students to get involved with. As well as supporting students, we’ve also included various materials to assist staff in creating more accessible learning environments, signposting additional training and resources available at the University.
We hope that this guide will serve as a helpful tool for students and staff to access the support that’s available by bringing these resources together in one guide that will continue to grow over time. If you have any feedback or suggestions on ways this guide can be improved, then we would love to hear from you!
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):
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)
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 →
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 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…
It is once again Conference Season, where academic librarians would usually be collecting a variety of colourful lanyards, discussing who had the best snacks with mid-morning coffee and which exhibitors had the best swag. It’s a great time to network with colleagues from other institutions or sectors, and to make new contacts and finally put a face to the name of those twitter accounts. However, as we rounded the bend on a year of online working, we’ve all become quite well versed in the pivot to not only online teaching but also online events. Although we’re used to communicating through a screen – and the related Zoom Fatigue – CALC was an event to get excited about. The speaker list was diverse and exciting. The topics felt relevant to the work we’re doing, or want to be doing. The days looked well thought out and not too overwhelming. The ethics of the conference organisation included an optional additional fee to allow the organisers to provide bursary places free of charge to those from marginalised backgrounds. Continue reading →
One of the key parts of our role as librarians is to help staff and students find the things they need to complete their work. One way in which we do this is to create subject guides, which are like mini websites which collate all kinds of useful links and information we think will be helpful to those working and studying at the University.
You can find a full list of the subject guides we’ve made here, but some of our most popular during 2020-2021 have been the guides for Law, Business, East Asian Studies, English Literature and Engineering. As you’ll see from this list we have guides dedicated to each School and sometimes very specific guides which deal with subjects within those schools.
However we’ve also created guides which we believe are helpful resources for all students in any subject. For example our Exam and Revision guide is aimed at any student looking for top tips and news on the help that’s available from the library and university services to help make their studying more successful.
A screen capture of the Exams and Revision subject guide
Our Dissertation Festival guide contains loads of useful resources for students based on the events that took place in our recent Dissertation Festival (March 2021). Check it out if you’re looking for advice on how to get started with your dissertation research, or are interested in finding out more about some of the collections available from our library suppliers. Just like a face-to-face event you can also pick up your Festival Bag from this page, jam-packed with videos, information and helpful tips. You’ll hear more about the Dissertation Festival from one of our student interns in the coming weeks so watch this space!
Over the summer we’re working on guides relating to Disability and Open Resources which will be published in the coming months.
Did you know we take requests?
If you think that there’s a previously untapped topic we should make a guide for, please let us know by leaving a comment on this post or emailing your Academic Support Librarian using the links on this page. We’d love to hear from you!