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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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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A (Global) National Emergency Library

The Internet Archive is a huge resource, used by many students and researchers across Durham University (we suspect some without realising what a treasure trove they have stumbled upon). It provides immediate access to:

But during the current Global Covid-19 Pandemic, their services for displaced scholars globally have temporarily removed a further barrier to access to one of their services…

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Who needs Disney+ ?

So, after watching the latest Government announcement this evening I was looking for some lighter entertainment to take the edge off the rest of the day, only to realise as I tried unsuccessfully to find the Disney Plus App on the Smart TV, that I was still a day too early.

Luckily, as a University Library we offer online access to far more than ‘just’ books and journal articles, newspapers and theses. We can provide you with access to an archive of over 2 million tv broadcasts from ‘classic’ episodes of Eastenders and Hollyoaks (thats’s still a thing, right? And Tony is still in it?), through to Disney favourites including Dumbo, Bambi and The Bridge to Terabithia. Or maybe, given the times we’re living in, something a bit more cheery, like Toy Story 1,2 or 3, or all of the movies in the Halloween Franchise?

Read on…

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We are your library… wherever you are right now.

To all of our amazing colleagues across academic and professional support departments, and our wonderful students, whether you’re playing football in the field outside the Bill Bryson Library, or at home caring for family and loved ones, our thoughts and best wishes are with you at a time which many of us are trying to struggle for normalcy as everything is changing rapidly around us.

University Library and Collections colleagues are working flat out (both on campus, and working from home – we’ll be sharing pictures and experiences in the near future!) to try to ensure that our existing collections are made as accessible as possible and we are providing support wherever we can, in challenging times (see our web pages for more details and updates including click & collect services, expanded virtual library help and live chat support).

But we are also working with publishers and library colleagues at other universities to ensure we can ease access online to resources wherever we can, for both students and staff. We have highlighted some of those new developments below:

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(Open Access Week) How Open is Open?

During open access week, we have had discussions with academic and professional support colleagues at the department’s we have visited, through events organised for academic colleagues to talk about their research, and through our posts on this blog and via Twitter. We have tried to discuss open access in a wider context, focusing less on the “policy stick” (what authors have to do because their funder, publisher or university requires them to do so), and more on the actual research being made available, how that is then shared and used, and how you (staff, students and everyone else) can search for and access it outside of your usual approaches.

We’d like to close our series of posts this week by briefly highlighting that “open access” can mean different things, and carry different expectations for different content creators and content users. Essentially, when we say something is open access, how open is open?

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(Open Access Week) How can I find Open Access content?

Open Access is about ensuring that anyone anywhere (with a connection to the internet) has free, unimpeded access to the published outputs of publicly funded research. At Durham University, we pay around £3 million each year to provide access to our staff and students to journals and databases. Much of this content is not available to those not at a University – whether that is health workers, teachers, commercial companies or charities working in areas of social welfare.

Even at Durham, staff and students can not access everything they want to. In 2018/19, just under 5,000 requests were made through our Document Delivery Service for items not covered by our current subscriptions. Students and staff at other universities, without the same level resources than Durham has, will face difficulties accessing all of the published research which is out there – they may be faced with paywalls which regularly require the payment of a fee.

“Every year, JSTOR said, it turns away almost 150 million individual attempts to gain access to articles.”

‘JSTOR Tests Free, Read-Only Access to Some Articles’, Chronicle of Higher Education, January 13 2012

Rising to this challenge, policies from research funders, national governments and universities, coupled with support and action from academics across all disciplines, is making more and more research available for free. It still can be tricky however, when hitting that dreaded paywall, to see if there is an open access version of the research available to you.. so lets look at some of the options available to you, whoever you might be.


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Planning a conference – 10 thoughts

This year Durham University Library and Collections staff both presented at and attended the Northern Collaboration Conference in Hull. One of our colleagues, Rosi Jelfs, was also a member of the Conference Planning Committee. We know that each year, many of our students and professional support colleagues take on similar responsibilities for the first time, so we asked Rosi how she found helping organising the conference this year…

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Open Access Week, 21st – 27th October 2019

Celebrating, discussing, and promoting open access publishing needs to be done throughout the year but it is helpful to have a designated “Open Access Week” and use this as an opportunity to channel our thoughts and to put an extra spring in our steps.

As the blurb on the official website states:

“Open Access Week, a global event now entering its tenth year, is an opportunity for the academic and research community to continue to learn about the potential benefits of Open Access, to share what they’ve learned with colleagues, and to help inspire wider participation in helping to make Open Access a new norm in scholarship and research.”

http://www.openaccessweek.org/

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