Dissertation advice

One of the key responsibilities for our Faculty Librarians is to support our dissertation students, many of whom will be undertaking a substantial research project for the first time. Although we would always urge our students to consider what materials and resources they are actually going to have access to (this could be in terms of accessing a physical collection such as an archive, or being able to use, say, a particular database), this year it is more important than ever.

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The importance of being eBooks

Although academic eBooks have been around for years, current circumstances have meant that they have very suddenly become more important than ever. Reduced access to physical collections and distance learning have resulted in eBooks becoming an ever-more vital format. Earlier in the year, during lockdown in particular, our acquisitions team wrote about how things had rapidly changed for them with ordering items to support research, teaching & learning at the university.

Even well before the Covid pandemic we have seen over the last few years how increasingly accessing a key text in e-format has become the favoured option amongst taught students in some subjects. And as a result, for some time now we have been purchasing our key texts in electronic format to meet that demand, where possible.

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A warm welcome to Durham University Library and Collections 2020-2021

A message from Mike Wall, Assistant Director and Deputy Librarian in the University Library and Collections

If you are a new student joining us at Durham University this year, welcome! We’re so pleased you’ve chosen Durham for your studies and we hope your time with us is a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding experience. And to those of you who are returning at the start of a new academic year, welcome back! After such an unceremonious parting six months ago, we’re excited to be able to open the doors of our libraries to you once more.

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Coming to a living room near you…

Charlotte Spink, a Learning Assistant in our Learning and Engagement Team, reflects on transitioning Little Dragons under 5s group from a multi-sensory museum-based programme to a digital session families access from home during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Charlotte presenting Little Dragons from the Galleries at the Oriental Museum
Creating digital content in the Oriental Museum galleries

Lockdown brought with it many changes to ways of working in museums, especially when it comes to engaging with our very youngest visitors – preschool children and their families. Little Dragons, the Oriental Museum’s group for children under 5 has been running as a weekly gallery-based session for over 8 years, attracting an average of 15-20 children per session.  Each session is themed around exploring an object the children can see on display, with craft activities, songs and sensory stories. All these activities were very much based on sensory engagement, communicating directly with each individual child and personalising the session for them.

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The Bill Bryson comes back to life

As the country moves slowly back to normal, and pubs, shops, and hairdressers reopens their doors – so has the Bill Bryson Library building! A small team of staff  have been working hard onsite to provide users with the resources they need through Scan and Deliver. If, however, you would like more than one chapter of a book then over July we launched three new and alliterative services: Click and Collect, Browse and Borrow, and Stay and Study.

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Book conservation in lockdown

What do Conservators do when separated from the archives and rare books they normally work on? One answer is that they make their own! Tony King, our Senior Manager Collections Care and Conservation, describes the process of creating a historic bookbinding.

The history of Western bookbinding stretches back to antiquity and has involved significant changes in the way books are bound, sometimes leading to obvious external differences but often not. Books are complex 3-dimensional objects and working out how a book was put together several hundred years ago requires a fair bit of detective work. Very few descriptions of life in the bindery have survived so the only way to really understand the processes involved is to make a new book using what we believe to be the techniques, tools and materials of the period.

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RLUK Collections: a virtual tour of our shared treasures

Durham University Library and Collections is a member of Research Libraries UK (RLUK), a consortium of the most significant research libraries in the UK and Ireland. As many members entered lockdown in March, Dr David Prosser (Executive Director of RLUK) took a virtual tour of RLUK member’s special collections via Twitter (#RLUKCollections), including those at Durham University, to highlight just a small selection of the extensive, diverse, and unique collections held within the member libraries and archives.

We have (with permission) highlighted here Durham’s brief entry, and provided links to each of the others, as an opportunity to quickly sample some of the many treasures held within the British Isles.

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University Library & Collections Staff @home in Durham, Barnard Castle and other world famous locations.

As with so many of our colleagues across the University, over the last couple of months (has it really been that long??) many University Library & Collections staff have been getting used to saying hello to each other through a computer screen, rather than over a cup of coffee in the staff room or across a desk at the start of the working day.

Whilst we miss our conversations with staff and students within our libraries and museums, and across university sites, we hope you’ve been making use of the range of expanded online services we’ve been able to offer over this period. This post offers a reminder of some of those services we provide, alongside a sneak peak inside some of our working-from-home lives.

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Acquisitions in Lockdown – moving from print books to eBooks

Since the start of lockdown on 23rd March the way we all buy items has changed. From following social distancing rules in the supermarket, trying to find an online delivery slot or not being able to buy products we used to buy regularly. We are all adapting to this new shopping experience and this is no different for libraries and how they buy and provide access to books. Continue reading “Acquisitions in Lockdown – moving from print books to eBooks”

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