Playful Learning Conference 20/21/22

A post by Faculty Librarian Ben Taylorson

Earlier this summer I had the pleasure of attending the Playful Learning conference in Leicester. This was the second time I’d been able to attend – the last being in 2019 before everything went awry. The conference was back after a 2-year hiatus, and the organisers made up for it with a packed calendar of sessions, talks and activities.

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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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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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Improvements to come…

If there’s one thing we’ve all seen a lot of in the last couple of years, its change – new routines, new methods and new normal. And we’ll be seeing more changes for University Library and Collections in the coming months and years, but they’ll be positive ones.

One of these changes is a new Library Management System (LMS). This is the software that underpins the core functions of the library, such as the library catalogue and the circulation system. We’ve had the current system in place – albeit with upgrades in the interim – since 1996. So change is somewhat overdue!

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Tutorials and our Faculty Librarians

We’ve posted previously about the suite of online tutorials we have been developing. There are now 12 of these that are live, covering a range of different topics:

  • Introduction to dissertation research
  • Catalogue and discover
  • Basic literature searching
  • Bibliographic databases
  • Accessing full text online
  • Referencing
  • Your reading list and beyond
  • The Information Cycle
  • Plagiarism and copyright in the academic context
  • Using archives and special collections in your research
  • Research in museums and galleries
  • Palaeography
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Behind the scenes – what a catalogue record looks like!

We are about to embark on the process of moving to a new Library Management System, or LMS. This is a lengthy process, as the LMS effectively manages most core functions of a library, such as cataloguing resources, managing the loan/use of those resources and the records of our users. So transferring to a new system is a complex project, and one that we will keep you updated on over the course of the coming months. What we can say with certainty is that a new LMS will represent a significant upgrade, both for us as library staff and you as the user!

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Looking forward, glancing backwards

Faculty Librarian Ben Taylorson reflects on the changes brought about by the pandemic as we settle into a new term.

I have to say, it has been nice to see so many students back in Durham for the start of the new academic year. The building in which I work when on-campus – The Bill Bryson Library – has felt very empty with so many of its users studying remotely. As we all begin to move forward into a new normal, things that remind me of the ‘old normal’ bring some comfort. That said, we must accept that some things have changed for good.

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WOW week!

Next week is WOW week at Durham University. Which stands for ‘Welcome and Orientation Week’. Which actually means it should just be ‘WOW’ not ‘WOW week’ and that second week is redundant. Like saying ‘PIN number’ or ‘ISBN number’ (a particular annoyance for librarians) where the words number are in fact repeating the last letter of the acronym, effectively…but ‘WOW week’ sounds great so let’s just forget it and move on!

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