COVID-19 update: Library services move fully online

Silvery-gold clad University of Reading Library buildings in distance, surrounded by green trees, green grass in foregroundIn line with the University’s move to online teaching, the University Library moved services fully online with effect from Monday 23 March 2020.  Please be assured that we will continue to provide you with our services.  We will ensure that all online resources and additional online help are available to you during the current, unprecedented public health situation.

Using Library online services

A significant proportion of our resources are already available online. There will be no change to this service and everything that you previously used will continue to be available. A simple way to find existing and new resources in your subject is to check our online subject guides: the new COVID-19 tab lists extra resources provided to UoR during the lockdown period.

Online resources

Undergraduate and post-graduate taught course students: you can still access UoR online reading lists directly and via Blackboard. Many of the items on your reading lists are accessible online, with some lists fully available online.

For your research, you can still access e-resources through the Library website, to find our extensive collection of e-books, e-journals and databases. The following tools will help you:

Online Library help and assistance

All Library staff are still available to help and assist with your studies and research.

Library materials currently on loan

Whilst the Library building remains closed the printed book collection will not be available.  If you currently have books on loan that are due back do not worry!  We will automatically renew them for you so that you do not get fined.  And if you incur any fines during this period of online working you will not be charged.  Books that you currently have on loan will not be recalled and you will not be expected to return them whilst the building is closed.  If you want to place a reservation (hold) on a book you can continue to do so and we will seek to satisfy your request.  For loan and general enquiries, please email library@reading.ac.uk

Interlibrary loans

You can still request Inter-Llibrary Loans in the usual manner, completing the online request form.  If you currently have Inter-Library Loans (books) from another library do not worry, we will arrange for the return date to be extended for you.  For Inter-Library Loan enquiries, please email ill@reading.ac.uk.

Other enquiries

If you have any other enquiries or require any additional support, please email library@reading.ac.uk.

Look out for further Library service updates on the Library websiteUniversity Library News blog, Twitter and Facebook.

Stuart Hunt, Director

5 tips for starting your dissertation

So, you may have just finished your exams but now you have to turn your attention to your dissertation. Where do you begin and how can you ensure you stay on track? Below are our Study Advice and Library tips to help you get started and stay focused.

Tip #1: Have a plan

Having a plan not only helps you to stay on track but weekly goals keep you motivated. Work backwards from your hand-in date and remember to build in extra time for proof reading and final touches. Our videos on managing your time offer some tips to get you started.

Tip #2: Start with something small

To help you get going, start with a task that you can get done easily. This might be something simple, like setting up a Word template or printing off a couple of key articles. Being able to complete one task can give you a sense of achievement and motivate you to tackle more challenging ones.

Tip #3: Think about the information that you need…

….and how to access it! If you are carrying out a literature review, or analysing documents or literature, make sure that you are familiar with the key online resources in your subject area. You can find out more about what’s available to you, as well as contact details for your Academic Liaison Librarian, on your Library subject guide. Look at the COVID-19 page in the guide for top tips on how to access resources when off-campus.

Tip #4: Think more, read less

It’s important that you think critically about you’re reading. This requires you to see the links between various theories and consider what they mean for your research question. So, when taking notes remember to not only record a summary of your reading but more importantly note what you think about what you have read. This will help you when you come to write up. Our video on critical note taking offers some advice on this.

Tip #5: Attend our webinars

In Week 7, the Study Advice and Library teams are offering a series of webinars just for Master’s students. These will help you to get to grips with:

  • developing your research question,
  • planning your literature review,
  • finding information, and
  • managing your references.

Our short webinars run at 11:00 and 14:00 each day, Monday 1 June – Friday 5 June. To find out more and join the webinar check out our Master’s Dissertation Fair guide.

Study Advice and Academic Liaison Teams

Online Master’s Dissertation Fair: 1-5 June

Web page screen shotWondering how to start researching and writing your dissertation? Why not drop into the Master’s Dissertation Fair, run online by the Academic Liaison and Study Advice Teams!

Choose from a selection of different webinars at 11:00 and 14:00, Monday 1 to Friday 5 June offering advice on all elements of your dissertation planning, searching for literature, and writing. From choosing a research methodology to using reference management tools, these friendly webinars provide tips from the experts to put your dissertation on track for success.

​No need to book, just follow the links in the Master’s Dissertation Fair guide. Please connect 5-10 minutes prior to the session to ensure your access is working correctly.

More help available

Alternatively, you can also book a 1-2-1 session with a Study Adviser or Academic Liaison Librarian.

If you prefer self-paced online resources from Study Advice, try their suite of guides and video tutorials on literature searching, dissertations and major projects,

Discover key resources in your subject area in the liaison team’s guides: note the new COVID-19 tab showing additional relevant resources made available online during the lockdown period.

Study Advice and Academic Liaison Teams

‘Library recommends’ … fun productions and healthy walks

Feet in trainers and grey trousers walk on grey wooden path

Fancy treading the boards inside or out this Bank Holiday with Library online access?

Need something enjoyable to relax with this weekend? Why not take up these suggestions from Library staff, who point out that you can also use Library resources to enhance your wellbeing, not only for serious research!

Entertainment for staying in

We can all access some excellent film, theatre and television resources with our University username and passwords to take our minds away from worry. Particularly good are Box of broadcasts and Drama Online, the latter also giving us COVID-time access to National Theatre productions. Below, Sarah and Kim review their favourite productions.

One Man, Two Guvnors (National Theatre)

In this play by Richard Bean, recorded by National Theatre Live, 15 September, 2011, Tony Award-winning James Corden plays Francis Henshall in the hilarious West End and Broadway hit. I recommend this play as one of the funniest things I have watched in ages. James Corden gives the role 110% as the play descends into a chaotic, high energy farce. With various members of the audience on stage, James’s character, Francis, tries to serve dinner to his two guvnors without either catching sight of the other and with the ‘help’ of the waiting staff, who keep falling down stairs, popping up at the wrong time and generally providing a perfect spectacle of mishaps! If you enjoyed ‘The Goes Wrong Show’, you’ll love this.

Go to: https://www.dramaonlinelibrary.com/plays/one-man-two-guvnors-nt-iid-190503 Select ‘Log In’ at the top right of the page, then ‘Log in via your institution’, search for ‘University of Reading’ and log in with your University or Reading username and password.

Sarah Hatcher, Library User Services

Good Omens (BBC Radio adaptation 2014)

Good Omens is a surreal and insightful story about the end of the world, written by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman and with a host of supernatural and incredibly human characters. You may already be aware of the recent Amazon Prime-BBC television adaptation which aired last year (and can still be streamed online). But BBC Radio 4’s radio dramatisation starring Mark Heap and Peter Serafinowicz as Aziraphale and Crowley was broadcast a few years earlier, and is a really great adaptation – including not only some excellent performances (Heap is brilliant) and cameos (Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, notably), but some great scenes from the book which didn’t make it to the television adaptation.

You can listen to the radio adaptation (and find the BBC television broadcasts too) on Box of Broadcasts – a TV and radio archive service, that includes a whole host of fantastic programmes, great for researchers and those of us wanting to catch up on favourites alike. I find listening to the radio while working from home really helps my concentration, as I’m not a fan of silence, and so I’m enjoying discovering and re-discovering programmes using Box of Broadcasts. For the next few weeks, you can also enjoy the service from across the EU, so if you’re not based in the UK at the moment, you can still listen and enjoy!

Go to: Box of Broadcasts. If you’re a new user you may need to register using your University username and password. Good Omens Episode 1 is here.

Kim Coles, Academic Liaison Librarian

Guidance for going out

A valid reason for going outside during lock-down is for health-giving exercise. Judith and Jackie advocate making use of online map resources to search out a new local experience.

Digimap

Getting bored walking the same old route every day? We all know how important it is to get regular exercise, but after a while you want a change from the routine. Jackie was fed up with her usual local walks so decided to see if she could find some alternative routes with Digimap to explore more widely without getting lost! Digimap is an online collection of maps of Great Britain, including current and old Ordnance survey maps, geology and aerial photographs.

You too can use Digimap Ordnance Survey to create and print a map of your local area – take it on your daily walk to discover new routes, whether you’re in an urban area or the countryside. If you’re feeling adventurous, print out a map from Digimap Historic to discover the area as it was in the past! Using the Roam service, search for your town or village, then zoom in. You will need to register the first time you use it but then the (lockdown) world is your oyster! Enjoy exploring!

Judith Fox, Academic Liaison Librarian/Map Librarian;
Jackie Skinner, Academic Liaison Librarian

More about Library resources

Look out for further Library information on the Library website, University Library News blog, Twitter and Facebook.

Kim Coles and Rachel Redrup, Academic Liaison Librarians

 

Online reading lists update: report broken links

There’s a new online reading lists feature – you can now report a broken link to an e-book or online journal article directly to the Library from your reading list. A report is sent to the Library E-resources Team who will investigate the issue.

How to report a broken link 

If the link fails when you click the ‘View Online’ button on an online resource included on your reading list, return to the reading list and click the menu option on the right to see the ‘Report broken link’ option. 

You can choose to provide more information about the error message and, if you want the E-resources Team get back to you to let you know the resolution, leave your contact details. If you prefer, you can click ‘Report’ without leaving your email address.

Further information

You will find your online reading list in your module information in Blackboard.

Please be aware that not all items on online reading lists are available as e-resources.

Kim Coles, Academic Liaison Team Manager

EndNote and Mendeley workshops – book your place now!

There are still places available on our final reference management system workshops for EndNote and Mendeley this term. These will take place online via Blackboard Collaborate.

  • Desktop EndNote workshop – Wed 20 May 2-3pm
  • Mendeley workshop – Wed 27 May 2-3pm

Book your place through the Actions tab on RISIS.

Desktop EndNote

Desktop EndNote is a comprehensive reference management system. You can download accurate references from many databases, such as Web of Science. Use the ‘Find Full-text’ feature to automatically download and attach PDFs for those references. Use the Word plugin to insert in-text citations and watch the bibliography grow automatically. Select from thousands of referencing styles or create your own – great if you’re writing for publication. Download it free on your own computer via the IT Self-Service Portal.

See our EndNote guide to find out more.

Mendeley

Mendeley is designed to make storing references and PDFs as simple as possible. It has a nifty ‘watched folder’ feature – any time you add a PDF to a selected folder, Mendeley will automatically retrieve the details. You can also drag and drop PDFs directly into your library or use its Web Importer to capture details of websites and other sources. If you work a lot with article PDFs, Mendeley is a good option for you. It has both online and desktop versions – both are free to use, but only the desktop version works with Microsoft Word.

See our Mendeley guide to find out more.

Book your place

Sign up to either of these workshops through the Actions tab on RISIS. On booking you will be sent a link to the Collaborate session. If you can’t make any of the specified sessions but would like to know more, take a look at our reference management guide or contact your Academic Liaison Librarian.

Jackie Skinner
Academic Liaison Librarian

New Digimap service – Pilot Digimap

Pilot Digimap logoYou may already be aware that Digimap have launched a new service, Pilot Digimap.  This is a space where they can trial datasets to evaluate their potential.  The datasets available will change regularly so keep looking! They currently have two types of data available, one provided by Geomni and another with ESA satellite data, and they can be accessed through Roam to create maps, or Download to use with ArcGIS or QGIS software. However access is limited – these datasets will only be available until July 31, so should not be relied on for teaching or research.

Rate usefulness

Users can give each new dataset a star rating to indicate it’s usefulness – doing this will help Edina to make a decision on how valuable it is, and will also help us to decide if it’s worth getting if it becomes available as a permanent dataset.

Data available

Infrared ESA data

ESA infrared satellite data

The satellite data includes a colour near infrared set, useful for analysing plant density and health, and a natural colour cloud free mosaic dataset, both from the European Space Agency’s Copernicus Sentinel 2 satellite.

Geomni creates and maintains a range of spatial databases, and  we have access to

  • UK Buildings Use and Age – shows the use and age of commercial, public and residential buildings across the UK. Particularly useful in urban areas
  • UK Land – land classification dataset similar to Environment Digimap, but with more detailed breakdown of urban areas
  • UK Map (London only) has several parts:
  • UK Map base map – similar to OS MasterMap
  • UK Map Aerial – more detail than Aerial Digimap
  • UK Map Upper Floors – shows retailers on upper floors of shopping centres
  • UK Map Tree Canopy – shows indicative canopy of trees
  • UK Map DTM and DSM – available only in download
Geomni UK buildings

Geomni UK buildings use & age

Access

To access Pilot Digimap just click on the tab on the Digimap home page – the first time you use it you will be asked to agree to the End User Licence, as you did for other Digimap collections.

Judith Fox, Map Librarian

A wealth of primary sources – trial access to British Online Archives

Shelves with boxes of documentsThe Library has trial access to all 88 collections from British Online Archives until 31 May.  The archive contains over 3 million records drawn from both private and public archives, which are organised thematically.  Collections include ‘The British Union of Fascists: Newspapers and Secret Files, 1933-1951’, ‘British Labour Party Papers, 1906-1969 and 1968-1994’, ‘Slavery: supporters and abolitionists, 1675-1865’, ‘Zimbabwe under colonial rule, in Government reports, 1897-1980’, ‘British officers’ diaries from World War I, 1914-1919’, ‘British women trade unionists on strike at Bryant & May, 1888’ and much more.

Access to British Online Archives is available off-campus via an institutional login until 31 May.

Help us to decide

Feedback about any of the collections would be appreciated.  Please send this to Charlie Carpenter, Academic Liaison Librarian for History: c.a.carpenter@reading.ac.uk.

Sophie Dorman, E-resources Team

American Meteorological Society platform change – check your saved searches

Open laptopThe American Meteorological Society will be moving to a new platform on Thursday 7 May. All links should redirect automatically, and we will be on hand to make any needed changes to authentication at our end.

Unfortunately, custom saved searches cannot be preserved during the migration. Therefore, we recommend you check your settings now and make a note of the criteria for your saved searches, so that you can rebuild them once the platform migration has taken place.

If you have any questions, please contact us at eresourceshelp@reading.ac.uk or submit a Problem Report Form.

Sophie Dorman, E-resources Team

COVID-19: Focus on study with digital tools

Staying focused when studying and revising can be challenging at the best of times, and likely to be more so under the current conditions. If the home environment is proving distracting, why not investigate apps designed to keep you focused and working productively? Alternatively, you could save time by checking out the Study Advisers’ favourite digital tools and selected guides:

Tomato Timer

Based on the Pomodoro technique (working for short, focused periods, followed by brief rest-breaks), tomato timers aim to promote productivity while maintaining mental alertness. A multitude of these apps are available – for simplicity try Tomato Timer and, for extra features, try Pomello.

Flora and Forest

Apps like Flora and Forest help you resist distractions from your phone while you study. Simply ‘plant a seed’ in the app, and watch it grow from sapling to tree – if and only if, you don’t touch your phone. Yield to the temptation of using your phone and the sapling dies! Successful repetition results in a forest, which, if you are using the Forest app, can earn you points towards planting a real tree with the ‘Trees for the Future Scheme’.

Written? Kitten! and Focus Writer

Overcome writers block with Written? Kitten! Write 100, 200, 500 or 1000 words and get rewarded for your efforts with a picture of a cute kitty. Alternatively, try Focus Writer, which enables you to set a daily target for the number of words you write on a blank screen; you can then measure your progress against this target.

Online planners

While there are no real substitutes for having a clear time-management strategy (see our Time managment guide for help with this), some apps can help you manage your workload more efficiently. Try  Microsoft to-do, for organising tasks and managing deadlines, and Trello for monitoring your progress.  Trello can be synched with Pomello, enabling you to see how much time you’ve spent on individual tasks.

Turn off notifications and pop-ups

Minimise interruption and distraction from unwanted notifications and pop-ups by disabling them on your devices – temporarily or permanently. Do this for android and iPhone via the ‘Settings’ function on your phone, and see this brief guide on how to disable web notifications.

Blocking social media sites

Manage social media sites that vie for your attention, with the help of social media blocking apps. Specific websites can be blocked at set times of day, or the entire internet switched-off while you work. See 10 best apps to help you stay focused for a quick guide to help you decide on a blocking app that’s right for you. That said, if you’re a fan of social media, use it as a motivational aim by saving it for a reward at the end of the day.

Study Advice

Linda Schroeder, Study Adviser

COVID-19: studying at home with young children

White speech bubble to left, yellow background to rightYou may have got used to studying at home in the last few weeks, but then younger family members had homework to do too. Now that it’s the Easter holidays, how can you maintain the same momentum with your studies when you have children or younger siblings to occupy? It’s going to be more challenging, but here are some tips from your Study Advisers – who are also like you, trying to work and study at home with families.

Tip #1 Be patient. Give yourself and your family time to adjust to your new circumstances.

These are extraordinary times. Up until now, it has not been the norm for families to be together all-day, every-day. Don’t worry if things don’t run smoothly to begin with. Be patient and give yourself and your family time to adjust to the new set of circumstances you find yourself in.

Tip #2 Find a routine that works for you and your family. Resist the urge to compare yourself with others.

Studying at home with younger members of the family means that you not only have to get yourself into a routine, but you may also need to establish routines for your family, this comes with its own set of challenges – especially if children get bored easily. At this stage, you may find it tempting to compare yourself to others – especially those who appear to have things under control. Resist the urge to do this. Remember, there are no right or wrong routines.

Tip # 3 Designate study/activity spaces for children

Just as you would for yourself, designate study or activity spaces for children; get them to create timetables and set themselves goals for things they’d like to achieve, this gives them a sense of ownership which can be motivating.

Tip # 4 Make the most of technology

Make the most of technology by tapping into the plethora of available apps, games, and websites, which are both educational and entertaining (TED-Ed and Duolingo are popular in our household). Also, don’t forget, children can connect with school friends online too.

Tip # 5 Be realistic about how long things take

When planning your workload for the day or week ahead, try to be realistic about what can be done in the time available and don’t get discouraged if things take longer than anticipated.

Child with a painted faceTip # 6 Ringfence study periods – this could be when children are occupied by a partner or siblings

Set aside fixed times in the day and week for study and make a commitment to stick to them. Try to avoid interruption/distraction during these times by enlisting the support of a partner or family member to keep children occupied.

Tip # 7 Make study active!

There are likely to be many competing demands on your time, so make study periods count by making your learning active. Avoid passively reading through or copying-out course notes and other texts. Instead, do something with the material you are learning – such as applying it to solve problems and answer questions.

For individual help on managing your time and meeting deadlines contact us at studyadvice@reading.ac.uk or book a 1-2-1 appointment.

Linda Schroeder, Study Adviser

COVID-19 update: additional online resources for homeworking

Open laptopTo support students temporarily unable to access their library’s print holdings during the Covid-19 situation, several publishers have responded by temporarily making certain resources free or extending access over the next few months. We’ve been signing up to many of these offers to provide you with extra material, in addition to our usual e-resources.

To explore resources relevant to your subject, go to the new ‘COVID-19’ tab in your own subject guide. This is provided by your subject’s Academic Liaison Librarian and will be regularly updated.

Alternatively, browse a list of items already set up below:

New resources and extended access

New resources

We now have access to the following new resources (please note that some content on these resources already falls within our subscriptions):

Please log into these via the institutional login, and check your subject guide for details on how long they are active for.

Extended access

Extended access is also available for the following platforms:

  • Box of Broadcasts is now available anywhere in the EU, not just in the UK!
  • Many books we have bought through Ebook Central are providing access to more users at once for e-books which previously were limited to a few users at a time

Further information

For further information, please contact us online:

Look out for further Library service updates on the Library websiteUniversity Library News blog, Twitter and Facebook.

Sophie Dorman and Lindsay Warwick, Collections Team 

COVID-19: Preparing for take home exams?

Hand holds penciel on paperPreparing for take home exams? Follow our top 5 study tips.

Like many students, you may be experiencing a new type of exam this year: the ‘take home’ exam. In due course, you’ll be given more details about what this means for your course and we urge you to follow the advice your lecturers give you. Below are our Study Advice tips about revising and preparing for this form of assessment

Tip #1: Revise as you would normally

Right now, you should be revising as you would normally for your modules. Make a revision timetable and start going over the content. You won’t have long between having the paper and submitting your answer; the exam will be available for 23hrs in most cases but you are strongly advised only to spend the normal exam duration actually working on it. So now is the time to reflect on what you’ve learnt. It’s also important that you revise according to the type of exam you’re taking, we have videos covering all types of exams, from MCQs to essay based exams to help guide you.

Tip #2: Practice active revision

Make your revision as active as possible using a variety of techniques; make an online study group with friends, mind map the content, use post-it notes and revision cards to test key concepts. Whilst your exams will probably take a different form to previous years, you can still make effective use of past exam papers to test your understanding and application of knowledge. Above all, don’t waste time re-writing out your notes or just reading through content; these are passive techniques and are unlikely to help.

Tip #3: Be organised

It’s likely that you won’t have long to submit your answers, once you are given the paper. Make sure you create a system for organising your notes on any particular subject; you’re going to want to access the most relevant information as quickly as you can.

Tip #4: Watch for unintentional plagiarism and collusion

It’s OK to revise with others (in fact this can be an effective way of testing yours and your friend’s understanding) but once you have been issued with the paper, it’s important that you work on it alone. You will be asked to submit your work through Turnitin, which will match your work with others that have been submitted, as well as information from the internet, books and journals. Make sure it’s all your own work, as you would any other assessment.

Tip #5: Prepare for the day

You may be given a set time to sit the exam and submit your answers. Make sure you are fully prepared beforehand by:

  • Ensuring you have somewhere quiet to work, where you won’t be disturbed
  • Checking you have the technology you need: access to Bb, Turnitin and Wifi
  • Having access to all the material you need. I’d also suggest a clock to ensure you’re keeping on track
  • Ensuring you fully understand the format of the exam, how you are being asked to submit answers and have done any trial runs that have been made available to you

Good luck!

Dr Sonia Hood, FHEA
Study Advice Manager, Study Advice & Maths Support