New library engagement system incoming!

A post by Dr Richard Pears

On 1st August, the new library management system (which provides the catalogue and the means to borrow and renew books) will be available. Our current system, called Millennium, was introduced in 1996, so it’s older than most students. It will be replaced with a much more up-to-date system called Alma, which is used by many UK and European university libraries. We already use the Discover search engine from the same company, and introducing Alma within Discover will make it much quicker and simpler to see live information on books in the library, place reservations and renew books. 

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Open Days

A post by Faculty Librarian Ben Taylorson

Welcoming and introducing people to the University Library during open days is one of the most enjoyable parts of my job. It’s always nice to see so many prospective students (and their families) coming onto campus for the first time, and looking to get a feel for both the university and the city. And being able to offer them guidance, information and – in some cases – reassurance (“don’t worry, you won’t have to read all of the books!) is particularly satisfying.

Earlier this month Durham hosted a couple of open days which were easily the biggest since Covid stopped such things. As always seems to be the case on open days, the sun was shining and Durham was looking particularly welcoming as 1,000s of people descended on Durham to take in as much as they could in the few hours they were here.

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Learning about ULC’s Learning and Engagement Team

By Kelly Hetherington, Repository Officer at University Library and Collections.

On Wednesday 11 May, the University Library and Collections Learning and Engagement Team invited staff from the rest of our vast department to come and learn about what they do on their team.

Seeing as my role involves so much computer work, I jumped at the chance to have a trip out for the following reasons:

  • The session was held at the Oriental Museum – a lovely change of scene from home working / Bill Bryson Library office because it is full of fascinating artefacts.
  • Our colleagues there regularly hold sessions for school children.  This means they are fun, engaging, and lovely so I knew the session would be interesting and I’d learn something new.
  • This was a session about ‘object centred engagement’ – we’d be able to touch real life old artefacts! (More on this later).
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#DULibIntroducing Kate Williamson

In the next of our series introducing members of staff, #DULibIntroducing meets Information Assistant Kate Williamson.

Kate Williamson (and Archie!)

Please tell us your name, full job title, and a brief description of your role.

Kate Williamson, Information Assistant. I work at the Bill Bryson Library in a customer service role. You will usually find me at the Help and Information Desk helping with queries, finding books for people, fixing printers, and passing out the ever so popular staplers and pens. I am also part of the team that processes resource requests, which is our service to help provide staff and students with Scan and Deliver requests, Postal Loans, Inter-Library loans, and book purchases through our Acquisitions team.

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Celebrating Buddha’s Birthday

A post by Learning Coordinator Charlotte Spink.

On Sunday 15 May the Oriental Museum hosted Buddha’s Birthday celebrations. This event was particularly special after a two-year break owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. It was wonderful to welcome back our visitors and see the museum full of people.

Buddha’s Birthday, also known as Vesak or Wesak, is celebrated around the world and commemorates the birth of Buddha in around 563 BCE. Born a prince, Buddha went on to renounce his privileged royal life and become a holy man, ultimately reaching Enlightenment. 

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Delightful dogs visit the Billy B

Promoting student wellbeing is always high on the agenda for us (see previous blog about self-care and wellbeing 😊). Particularly during Easter term, where pressures, anxieties and stress levels increase for many, thanks to the impending exam and assessment period. Planning study time, revision, getting enough sleep, eating well, taking breaks – all massively important but we know that sometimes, it can feel quite overwhelming to fit everything in.

To try and help with this, we’ve developed a schedule of wellbeing events and activities throughout May, kicking off with a visit last Wednesday during Deaf Awareness Week from the wonderful Hearing Dogs for Deaf People.

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Study skills guidance

We have a wide range of guides available to help our users get the most of what Library and Collections offer. These include:

  • Subject guides
  • Site guides
  • Service guides
  • Archives and Special Collections guides
  • Museum guides
  • Research skills guide

The research skills guide offers advice and support on finding and managing information, keeping up-to-date, and the subject guides point to the different resources available for staff and students working in particular disciplines.

Until recently, one area we felt we were not offering specific support for was study skills – but that has change now, with our newest guide!

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Oddy Testing in Conservation

I’m Susan Hull, Graduate Intern in Book Conservation at Palace Green Library. I have been working with Katie Brew, Assistant Conservator, investigating the materials we use for long term storage of our collections.

Recently we received items packaged in unidentified materials. This is a cause of concern; the rate of deterioration of an archival object can increase by way of the substances surrounding it, including packaging. Unsuitable packaging can expose paper archives to volatile substances, which migrate to the object and ultimately contribute to its degradation.

To assess the materials suitability for long term storage, we contacted Archaeological Conservator Vicky Garlick who runs Oddy testing in the Dawson building, for the students of the Conservation of Archaeological and Museum Objects MA.

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Graduate intern update: Beth

Graduate intern Beth Hall updates us on what she’s been up to recently…

Hello! It’s Beth, back again with a long-awaited intern update. I’m glad to have the opportunity to sit myself down and reflect on these last few hectic and varied months. It’s been a busy year so far – just how I like it!

One of the largest and heaviest books I’ve ever had to retrieve – the Hartlepool Antiphonal, yes that is the size of an entire trolley!
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Bishop Tunstall: The man who survived the Tudors by calculating the odds

On the International Day of Mathematics, a post by Dr Elizabeth Biggs (Trinity College Dublin/TNA Postdoctoral Research Fellow) Dr Danielle Westerhof (Rare Books Librarian) and Gemma Lewis (Castle Curator).

How many of us who have lived, worked or explored Durham Castle have ever heard about the man who built the Tunstall Gallery and Chapel?

Cuthbert Tunstall (1474-1559), bishop of Durham from 1530 until his death, was a survivor.

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