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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#OpenAccessWeek2020: Open Access articles and teaching

The current situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has brought with it the (even more) urgent need to provide online access to journal articles and books.  This is not always easy or possible to do via subscriptions, and it is certainly not always affordable.  It makes it more important than ever that we look to those high-quality resources that are openly available and consider how these can be utilised successfully for teaching purposes. 

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Going beyond your reading list…

Last week we introduced a range of new Guides available for staff and students across the University, and yesterday we highlighted some of the features you may have missed in our new Reading Lists platform. Today we’d like to highlight the support available to you on our Research Skills Guide to help you navigate the collections and resources available to you beyond your reading list. Read on to find out more…

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Making the most of your reading list

As term is now underway, many of our new and returning students and colleagues will have been exploring our new Reading Lists. We thought we’d take this opportunity to highlight and explore some of the additional functionality they offer to you – from adding notes, to managing your reading progress and references for your bibliography.

To help, we spoke to one of our Faculty Librarians, Richard Holmes, who was part of a team of colleagues across the service who got this up and running in record time for the start of term.

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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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Robert Chapman and his plea to the bishop of Durham

Simona Martorana is one of a small group of intrepid Durham University students wrestling with medieval handwriting. They are guided by Michael Stansfield, Senior Manager of Archives and Special Collections, normally in person, but over the last few months online. During these palaeography sessions, students catch a glimpse of a past world through the many stories that surface in our archival sources. Simona discusses a document from the Durham Cathedral Archive, which our staff look after at 5 The College.

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From “webinarghghgh!” to “webinaaaaaah…”

Last week the Faculty Librarians presented 3 webinars via Zoom on trial e-resources, one for library staff and a further two for staff and students across all 4 faculties. The aim of the session was twofold: firstly to promote the vast number of resources we currently have on a temporary basis. And secondly, to use this as the first step in delivering a range of webinars across the coming months on other topics. Considering this was our first foray into webinar hosting there was a decent attendance and the feedback received was very encouraging. We also learned a fair bit about the do’s and don’ts of presenting a session like this via Zoom! Continue reading “From “webinarghghgh!” to “webinaaaaaah…””

Having issues accessing articles off campus?

We all have those moments, having found 5 minutes where we can actually read that journal article our friend/colleague/supervisor/lecturer/mum sent us. We might be nestled in our nice comfy chair, laptop at the ready. Or we may be perched uncomfortably between the washing machine and fridge; the safest place to steal a few moments peace and quiet from the increasingly feral children running rampant through our homes.

And then it happens. That journal article, in the journal we know we could access at the click of a mouse when we were on campus, tells us we have to pay $38 to have 24 hours access. Why can’t it be easy? Why!!?

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Working on webinars

Over the course of the past few weeks, we’ve all had to adapt to a rapid change in working circumstances. With our physical Library and Collections sites closed, the support we offer for our users has shifted firmly online. In previous blog posts we have looked at the realities of working and learning from home, and how we’ve introduced services such as the virtual enquiry desk to help our users remotely.

Looking further ahead, we are now planning as to how we can continue to offer some of the other training and support we regularly provide, but now in an online environment. As a Faculty Librarian, a large part of my role is user education and support. This can be support for 1-2-1 queries, and it can be delivering sessions to cohorts of students related to particular topics, disciplines or resources. As we are currently unable to see our users face-to-face – and it may be some time before classrooms/lecture theatres can be used to see groups en masse – it’s important to plan for alternative delivery methods. Continue reading “Working on webinars”

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