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.

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12 Activities of Christmas: Library Staff Challenge

As we lead up to Christmas, we’ve given over this post to Sarah Hyland and Katie Skellett, who have been forcefully injecting Christmas cheer across Library and Collections staff, who have worked hard across 2020 to get services up and running, buildings back open and reading materials available online.

“We probably don’t need to say this but what a year it has been! Normally we would be decorating the offices and you wouldn’t be able to see people or books for tinsel and Christmas trees.  We would also be having staff parties, Christmas cracker relays and sharing delicious Christmas treats that the bakers amongst us had whipped up.  This year is obviously a bit different but the University Library and Collections Staff Development Group still wanted to try to do something to bring colleagues together.  We wanted to share a bit of Christmas cheer and help to make people feel festive – wherever they are just now.  So, we came up with the “12 activities of Christmas”.  It started on Monday 30th November and ran until Tuesday 15th December – culminating in a virtual Christmas quiz party!”

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On the first day of WellBEEing @dulib shared with me…

Feeling festive and being acutely aware of the stresses and uncertainty the festive period holds for many this year, we embarked on a wellbeing campaign for December, named ‘12 Days of WellBEEing.’

Read on to find out more (and check back next week to hear about Library and Collections Staff own ’12 days of Christmas’ festive challenges…

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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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