5 things I wish I had known about library e-resources as a student

By Customer Service Advisor and postgraduate student Gracie Sharp

Navigating the vast array of physical and electronic resources offered by the library can be a daunting task for many students, and it can be hard to keep track of where to find this information in the ocean of university emails we receive on a daily basis. I know from personal experience that as a student sometimes you just don’t have the time or mental energy to devote to finding these resources, and that’s okay.

Since becoming a Customer Service Advisor at the Bill Bryson, whilst also studying for a master’s degree, I have become more aware of certain, very helpful, e-resources offered to us by the library. Which is why I’m writing this blog post as a low down of some online resources that just might make your life a bit easier.

  1. ‘How to…’ videos

I have met several students who put off using the library as long as possible throughout their degree (I’m looking at you, mathematicians) because they were overwhelmed by how to navigate our resources, and unsure as to how our services could help them. If this is you, here is the solution! On the library website you can find simple instructional videos on how to navigate our catalogue, including how to find specific books, electronic and printed journals, and the parameters by which you can use to search for them. If you need further assistance after watching these videos, the library staff are always more than happy to assist both in person, over the phone or through our website. We are committed to making your library experience as smooth as possible.

You can find information on the online support we offer here: https://www.dur.ac.uk/library/onlineservices/

This includes a live chat, a virtual enquiry desk where you can ask questions and see FAQS, and an overnight support service from 8pm to 8am.

How to…

2. Searching for e-resources

Working at the library I see so many students struggling to find electronic copies of a physical text, or who simply aren’t aware of the wide range of electronic journals and subscriptions offered by the library. All of our eBooks and other e-resources can be found and accessed via the catalogue. Also, you can browse all of our databases or look specifically for those related to your subject.

Browse all databases!

3. Requesting ‘More Books’

We love receiving recommendations for new books and resources from our users! Should you find an electronic resource that the library does not have access to, you can always request it through the document delivery service, or request a physical copy for the library via our MORE BOOKS Request Form

Document Delivery Service

4. Reading lists!

The library’s new reading list system! You might already be familiar with this feature, but in case you’re not, the search function is easy to use and finding your particular module or course is straightforward. What is particularly good about this system is instead of having to manually type out the title of a book into the library catalogue, a direct link to the library catalogue is provided.

Find this resource here: https://durham.rl.talis.com/index.html.

A reading list showing availability of an item

5. Online tutorials!

Last but not least, I wish that when starting at university I had known that the library offers tutorials on helping students with many of the things we are likely to struggle with when first writing essays and beginning to conduct our own research.

Online tutorials

The tutorials include how to reference and how to use referencing software, how to search for relevant literature and access full online texts, how to use bibliographic databases and how to begin your dissertation research.

Also, whilst you’re here…

This is a difficult time for all. We understand that, for students, library e-resources will be vital for those unable to return to Durham this term. As such, we would like to highlight some new services we have developed in response to the current situation:

  • Free postal loans service (available to final year undergraduate, PGR and PGT students and academic staff who are not currently residing in Durham) This allows students to request items held in the University Library and Collections to be posted first class to a UK address outside Durham City.
  • We have reintroduced our Scan and Deliver serviceavailable to current University members who are not currently residing in Durham (and those that are in Durham who are shielding or self-isolating). This allows you to request scans of chapters and articles available in print, in the Bill Bryson Library, for individual research only (normal copyright restrictions apply).  
  • Free postal returns service to all UK-based staff and students, allowing books to be returned to the Library by those who are not able to access us in person in the current situation. Please continue to renew books you are not returning, as automatic renewal reminders will continue to be sent. 

We urge our University community to stay where you are. This is now the law. Visit gov.uk to find out more about the national lockdown announced on Monday 4 January 2021. Please read the UK Government guidance on When You Can Leave Home before deciding on any travel.

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