Broaden your horizons: learn a language – info tip

Students learning languagesWhether you’re a new or an existing student, why not learn a language in the new academic year? The Library holds a variety of resources to help you learn languages, no matter what your level or preferred mode of study may be.

Choose your language

The Library’s language learning resources cover the six languages taught to degree level: French, German, Italian, Spanish, Latin and Ancient Greek; and the additional languages taught within the Institution-Wide Language Programme (IWLP): Portuguese, Modern Greek, Russian, Arabic, Chinese and Japanese. Some textbooks or dictionaries for learning other languages, including English as a foreign language, are also in stock.

Choose how to study

There is a range of material in each language to choose from:

If you want to learn a language by yourself, there are various resources for self-instruction, such as workbooks, CDs, CD-ROMs and DVDs.

If you are attending language classes, perhaps with the IWLP, then there are textbooks, grammars, dictionaries and easy readers which may be a helpful supplement to your course textbook.

Male student reading italian textBeyond the language

Of course, learning a new language also involves finding out about a different country, its society and culture. The Library holds numerous books encompassing the history of many different countries, as well as French, German, Italian and Spanish literature in the original language.

If reading the history and literature of a particular country is a bit too much like hard-work, then why not watch a film from that country? The Library holds many films on DVD, with a large number in languages other than English.

Where in the Library?

The language learning resources in the Library are located on the 3rd Floor (Arts and humanities) in the 400 call-number book sections. Remember to look in both the normal size and folio size sections. You may find some language learning resources in the Teaching Practice Collection, which is also on the 3rd Floor. Although primarily aimed at trainee teachers, this collection includes children’s literature in English, which may be used to improve English language skills.

For literature and films on DVD, the 3rd Floor is your destination once again – films at call-number 791.437, while literature is located in the 800 call-numbers. Books on the history of various countries are located on the 4th Floor.

Other language learning resources in the University

The Self-Access Centre for Language Learning (SACLL), located in HumSS 230, is a specialist language learning facility, open to international students and the wider University community. The centre includes a wide range of materials for students learning English and foreign languages, including books and DVDs. There are also computers available for students to use, some with useful online language materials.

This is one of a series of tips to help save you time and effort finding or using information

This tip was written by Charlie Carpenter, Liaison Librarian for the International Study and Language Institute.

Reading around your subject – info tip

Boy reading in sunshineDuring a busy term, there’s not much time for reflection so the long vacation is a good time to do some wider reading around your subject. You may want to catch up, build your in-depth knowledge of topics you’ve already covered, or put your previous reading in a wider context. You might want to get ahead and prepare for next year’s modules,  or you may be starting to work on your dissertation.

Whatever your reason for reading around your subject, it will be more effective if you know how to find appropriate resources and how to make the most of them once you have found them. The Library and Study Advice can help with this.

How will it help me?

Reading around your subject will help you to develop an overview of key themes and issues in your topics. You will be able to compare what different scholars think about topics, and what evidence they are using to support their ideas. To get the most out of it, you should be reading critically and thoughtfully. Start by thinking about what you expect to get out of your reading. Ask yourself what you already know about a topic. Then consider how that may be similar or different to what you are reading. Always ask yourself why: why do I agree or disagree with this? What is the evidence? Is it good evidence? See where your reading leads you; you may want to follow up on a text that is referred to, or try to find more information on a topic that you haven’t thought about before. Make sure you keep records of the bibliographic details in case you want to use the information later in your writing!

How can we help you?

The Library has plenty of tools to help you find materials that are not on your reading lists.

Start by looking for your subject on the Subject help pages. The guides list the essential things you need to know to get you started on wider reading: the numbers at which the main topics are classified; dictionaries and encyclopaedias for your topic; how to search for journal articles and the appropriate databases to use; even some evaluated web sites.

If you already know a key text for your topic, search for it in the Library catalogue (Enterprise). From the full record, you can find more books by the same author or on the same subject by clicking on the links.

Searching Summon can give you a different angle. Enter a search term and it will show you chapters within books that are available online, online journal articles, and even news items on your topic that might get you thinking.

Once you’ve found what you want to read, the Study Advice team have advice to help you make the most of it. Managing academic reading includes ideas on how to select materials, reading techniques and common abbreviations you may come across. There is also a brief video tutorial on Reading academic texts that includes targeted strategies. If you’re reading for your dissertation, watch our brief video tutorial on Starting research for your dissertation for tips and strategies. There is also guidance on Effective note-taking – so you can avoid having more notes than the book you’ve just read!

This is one of a series of tips to help save you time and effort finding or using information.

This info tip was written by Kim Shahabudin, Study Adviser and Helen Hathaway, Head of Academic Liaison and Support.


Drinks and phone policy changes

Lidded cardboard coffee cupIt’s not just the Library building that gets a makeover, our policies get them too! From 1 August 2015, hot and cold non-alcoholic drinks are welcome within the Library so long as they’re in lidded containers.

Furthermore, to minimise distractions, mobile phone calls should  be taken within CaféLibro. More information can be found in our Library Policies & Rules.

Keep a lid on it!

We’ve heard what you would like to improve your study space and we’ve done just that! You wanted drinks in the Library? Done. What better brain boost is there than a nice refreshing beverage? Hot and cold drinks in lidded containers are now allowed within the Library! So as long as it’s covered in a bottle, flask or travel mug, then drink away.

But food can be messy and smelly, and a real distraction to one another’s work. No one wants that, so we ask that food still be consumed within the café. Better to eat in the café during a well earned break, don’t you think?

We’re always seeking new ways to improve your experience here at the Library. Therefore to protect each student’s right to work quietly, mobile phone calls should only be made in CaféLibro; elsewhere mobile phones should be switched off or in silent mode.

Need to discuss your work? No problem. Try the group study areas to discuss your work in, such as the snazzy group study pods on the various floors or the Knowledge Exchange on the Ground Floor.

Joe Veale, Library User Services

Polishing up your Masters dissertation – info tip

Polished lapis lazuli stonesAs you get into the last few weeks of work on your dissertation or major project, it should all be coming together. This info tip aims to give you the tools to get everything done in time – and make your dissertation a shining success!

Editing, proof-reading and referencing

At this stage, you should be starting to think about editing and proof-reading. It’s best not to leave this till the last minute as it’s rarely just a matter of checking your spelling! There may be missing citation details to find, arguments that would be better placed elsewhere, repetition to remove, and word count to reduce. All these things take more time than you think.

Study Advice have a guide on Writing at Masters’ level which will help you to see what you need to aim at when editing your writing. There are also guides on Academic writing including tips for more Effective proof-reading. If you have five minutes, you could watch one of their video tutorials on dissertations.

Make sure your citations are all correct, complete and consistent. This can be a slow process so allow plenty of time. There is information about different referencing styles and how to reference more unusual sources in our Citing References libguide. You could also look at the Study Advisers’ video tutorials on referencing. If you’re still not sure, ask your Liaison Librarian or a Study Adviser.

Incomplete reference? What should you do?

You may find you have a key piece of information, but do not have all the details you need for your bibliography. If you have some details (for instance, author, title, journal title, date) it may be possible to find the complete reference.

For a journal article, look at one of the Library’s databases; for a book, try checking your reading list, searching the Library catalogue, or a database specializing in books such as Worldcat or Copac. Ask at a Library Information Desk for help. You can also look back through your Library account to see the titles of books you’ve borrowed over the last 6 months.

If you have a quote but don’t know where it came from, try one of our online dictionaries of quotations included in Credo Reference or Oxford Reference collections. Or type it into Google, framed with quotation marks e.g. “To be or not to be”. You may find it’s better to use a short phrase rather than the whole quote; try to find a grouping of words that stands out. What you must never do is invent details, or include things in your dissertation if you cannot be sure about the source. This may lead to accusations of academic misconduct.

For more help watch this brief video tutorial on How to find bibliographic details.

Give your dissertation an edge by including the most up-to-date information you can

The best dissertations include the most up-to-date research so, if you have time, you could check for recent publications that you may have missed in your literature review. Many databases allow you to re-run your search for an author or on a topic to find only the most recent items.

For example the Web of Science allows you to save your searches to re-run against the latest updates to its databases. You can also set up RSS feeds and citation alerts (so that you are notified when someone cites your key articles). To set up email alerts, search the individual databases within Web of Science.Female student writing

Watch the Saving your search and setting email alerts video for detailed instructions.

You could check other databases for similar features.

For more, see our further tips on keeping up to date.

Staying motivated

It can be difficult to motivate yourself to get to the finishing line, and it’s easy to underestimate how long the finishing touches may take. Breaking your remaining tasks down and setting deadlines to get each ticked off can help. Study Advice have some further suggestions on staying motivated.

Layout and binding

Find out ahead of time what is expected in terms of layout and binding and you are likely to save yourself from last-minute panic. The Study Advice website has some general principles on finishing up. More specific information should be in your course or module handbook. It may also be possible to look at past dissertations.

Acceptable binding styles include thermal binding with a hard or soft cover, spiral and comb binding. These can be done at many print shops with a little notice, including Mail Boxes Etc in the RUSU building on Whiteknights campus. You do not need to hard bind your work, but if you choose to do so, do be aware that you will have to leave considerably more time.

If you have any last-minute queries, you can always come and ask your Liaison Librarian or a Study Adviser.

This is one of a series of tips to help you save time and effort finding or using information.

This tip was written by Helen Hathaway, Head of Academic Liaison and Support and Kim Shahabudin, Study Adviser.

Essential maintenance and deep cleaning

Carpet cleaning machine in front of table with chairs on topIn order to refresh your newly refurbished Library, we are deep cleaning and checking electrical safety this summer. Floor by floor, section by section, areas will be cordoned off. Work, which involves carpet cleaners, will be noisy and you may wish to use another Library study area at this point.


  • 5th Floor: clean completed.
  • 4th Floor: clean completed.
  • 3rd Floor: clean completed. 
  • 2nd Floor: clean completed.
  • Staircases: clean completed.

We apologise for any inconvenience during this essential maintenance. Please ask at an Information Desk if you need more help.

Rachel Redrup, Marketing Co-ordinator

Make the most of our map resources – info tip

Field mapsDid you know that University of Reading Library has more than 70,000 maps and atlases and is one of the largest university collections in the country?

Geographical cover

We have excellent coverage of Britain, including detailed coverage of Berkshire and the Reading area. Coverage of Europe is also very good, at least to road map level of most countries.

Coverage of the rest of the world varies with what is available – it may not be possible to obtain recent maps of some areas, especially as many governments consider maps to be politically sensitive. However we will certainly have something for all parts of the globe.

Date range

Reading 1761Although the collection is mostly post-1900, we have many facsimiles of earlier maps, including reproductions of English 18th century county atlases.

We also have Ordnance Survey maps dating back to 1830, as well as access to Historic Digimap, so it is possible to produce a time sequence of maps of a particular place.

Older versions of atlases and maps may reveal hidden information about a place and its past.

Types of map

Field and reference mapsYou need to consider the type of map you need, and what you are planning to do with it.  Maps come in a variety of different types:

  •     Sheet maps or atlases
  •     Flat or folded
  •     Loanable or reference
  •     General purpose or thematic
  •     Paper or digital

Atlases are generally available for loan, and are mostly found in the 912 and FOLIO–912 sequences on the 4th Floor.

roam TowerMost of the map collection is non-loan, but a set of folded ‘Field maps’, including British Landranger and geology maps, are available for loan on the 2nd Floor.

Thematic maps show geology, soil types, land use, population, languages – anything which can be shown with a spatial distribution.  Many maps of this type are included in atlases, but may also be found as sheet maps.

Digital maps are of increasing importance. We have access to  Digimap (Ordnance Survey), Historic Digimap, Environment Digimap and Geology Digimap, which provides access to contemporary and old Ordnance Survey mapping of Great Britain, as well as land cover mapping from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) and geology mapping from the  British Geological Survey (BGS). A simple print out can be produced, or data can be downloaded and used in a Geographical Information System in conjunction with your own data. Look at the GIS & remote sensing section of our LibGuide to find other online sources of digital maps and data.

How to find them

The first step is to search the Enterprise catalogue. Search for the location you want, then refine using the format in the ‘Limit these results’ function to include only maps and atlases (atlases are listed separately – you may need to select ‘more’ to see all the options). Try not to be too specific – a more general search will produce better results.

For more information about searching for maps in Enterprise, and maps in general see the Maps LibGuide.

You can also see our short video presentation, Using maps for your research in University of Reading Library.

Or you can ask the Map Librarian! I am happy to help and can normally be found on the 2nd Floor.  Alternatively you can email me for an appointment.

This is one of a series of tips to help you save time and effort finding or using information.

This tip was written by Judith Fox, Map Librarian.

Adjusting to study in UK higher education – info tip

international graduatesFor international students, preparing for success in UK study means more than just learning the language. You will have many questions about the culture and expectations of universities in the UK which can be quite different to what you have been used to. Even if you’ve been successful when studying in your home country, you will need to develop and adapt the way you study to succeed in the UK. We have plenty of suggestions that can help – and you can always get in touch with the Study Advice team or your subject Liaison Librarian if you have more questions.

Understanding university study in the UK

The University Study Advisers have developed a set of webpages to help those moving up to higher education in the UK to understand what is expected through exercises and tips. There is also a series of study guides and video tutorials to help you develop the skills you will need for study success, including dedicated advice on assessment by examination in UK Higher Education. You may find the Academic Phrasebank (University of Manchester) helpful when starting out with your academic writing.

Other useful guides include UKCISA’s study tips and the Prepare for Success website (University of Southampton).

Developing effective practices for UK study

There are various books in the Library written for students on developing your study skills. Many can be found on the 4th Floor with classification numbers beginning 378. Why not have a look on the shelves to see what is available? Or search the online Library catalogue, Enterprise for “study skills”. Alternatively, you can download a free ebook, Help Yourself to a Better Degree, written by the University Study Advisers specially for Reading students.

You may find referencing and citation practices in the UK are quite different to those you have been used to. See our Citing References guide for tips on how and when to use references correctly in your writing.

To make the most of the Library, check out the following guides:

Building your cultural and language knowledge

student reading newspaperA good way to practise your language skills and, at the same time, learn something about UK culture is to read newspapers. The Library subscribes to a number of newspapers in print and online. Local newspapers for Reading are the Reading Post and the Reading Chronicle.

The Library has many resources that can help you to build your language skills, including books to help with IELTS (International English Language Test Score) and language dictionaries. These can be found on the 3rd Floor. While you’re there, you might also borrow a novel to practise your reading for pleasure, or a film on DVD to help your listening skills. Alternatively, you may prefer to improve your English language skills by using the Teaching Practice Collection on the 3rd Floor of the Library which includes an extensive collection of children’s literature in English, both fiction and non-fiction.

A useful online resource for developing your English language is Learn English (British Council). You may also find the English for Uni website helpful. This aims to make difficult grammar and academic writing concepts easier to understand.

There is also general information for International students at the University, including links to advice on visas, accommodation and budgeting.

This is one of a series of tips to help save you time and effort finding or using information

This tip was written by Kim Shahabudin, Study Adviser and Charlie Carpenter, ISLI Liaison Librarian/International Student Support Coordinator.

Web of Science: not just for scientists! – info tip

NetworkNeed to search for articles on a topic for your essay or assignment or check what a specific author has written? Web of Science (WoS) is a good place to start.

This database covers all subjects from art to zoology and includes articles from a wide range of journal titles and conference papers. It gives access to basic information about them, such as the author(s) name(s), title of paper, name of journal it was published in, year, volume number, page numbers and a summary or abstract of the paper. It MAY or MAY NOT give access to the full article.

Go to the Library’s a-z list of databases and select Web of Science from the alphabetical list. If you are on campus, select the “IP Authentication” option to log in. Off-campus, log in with your University username and password via an Institutional login.

The examples below use the ‘All databases’ search option. To see a list of all the databases included in the Web of Science, or to select a specific one, click on the orange arrow next to ‘All Databases’.

How can I…?

  1. Look for information about a topic

For example, type london 2012 olympic games in the search box

In your search results click on the title of one of the references to get more information including a summary or abstract.

WoS search result

And here it is!

WoS search results 2

  1. Find review articles

Review articles survey current research and have lots of references to other articles for you to follow up.

wos doctype

  • type your subject words in the search box
  • once viewing your results look for the Document Type section of the Refine Results panel on the left of the screen and select Review from the list and click on the Refine button


  1. Find the full text of the article

Each reference in the results will have a blue Search for Item at Reading button underneath it.Search for item at Reading button This will link to the electronic version if we have access to it (we do not have all the journals covered by this database) and if we don’t, to the library catalogue for you to check whether we have a print version.

See our useful webpage on finding journal articles.

Getting help

Our Web of Science page provides further information about access, as well as basic and advanced guides. See our guide to effective database searching for help in constructing a subject search. Use the Help tab within WoS to get more tips for getting the most out of this database.

Alternatively, contact your subject liaison librarian for help using the database.

This is one of a series of tips to help you save time and effort finding information

This tip was updated by Judith Fox, Liaison Librarian for Meteorology.

June 2015

Forthcoming changes to our online services

Over the coming weeks you will notice some changes to a couple of our online services.

New, improved Item Finder

New look Item FinderWe’ve taken advantage of some new features to improve the usability of the Item Finder.

You will probably only see the Item Finder screen if you click on the ‘Search for Item @ Reading’ button when viewing database search results, and discover that we don’t have online access to the item you require. This redesign should make clearer the options available to you to obtain the item.

The new look will go live on Tuesday 16 June.

A new look for the E-resources login screen

Online Resources Single Sign On screenThe E-resources login screen will be renamed and redesigned to reflect its adoption by other University systems. It will now be called ‘Online Resources Single Sign On’.

It works in exactly the same way as previously. Just enter your University username and password to access all our e-books, e-journals and databases.

The new look will go live on Tuesday 23 June.

Jackie Skinner, Library Web Manager



Summer Library arrangements 2015

Student studying outside with laptopThis summer we’re open Monday to Friday 08:30-17:00 and also on three summer Saturdays 11:00-17:00: 11 July, 15 August, 12 September – handy to know if you have a weekday summer job or other commitments. See our opening hours webpage for more information. CafeLibro is open this summer Monday–Friday 08:30–16:00.

We will keep you informed of alternative arrangements during essential maintenance and deep cleaning to keep your Library looking good and temporary 1st Floor room closures we make improvements.

Going away?

Remember taught students can take standard loan books out all summer under the vacation loan scheme. But you can still access good quality academic reading wherever you are via the Library website – see our Library info tip!


Finalists, your Library will always love you so much, we’ll sell graduates half-price annual Library membership! Hope to see you again!

Rachel Redrup, Marketing Co-ordinator

Reading wherever you are: using Library resources from further afield – info tip

Are you away from Reading and the UK this summer? Maybe…

  • Spending a year abroad?
  • Going on industrial placement?

Don’t worry! You will still be able to access thousands of University of Reading Library resources from anywhere in the world – all you need is your IT username and password and an internet connection. We have over 60,000 e-books and e-journals for you to choose from.

Resources you may access wherever you are

You can still access most of the e-resources provided by the Library including…

  • The Library catalogue, Enterprise – search to find e-books. Simply conduct your search and then use the limit options on the left of the screen to select ‘Books’, followed by ‘Online’ to find e-books.


  • Search Summon, the Library’s discovery service, to find full-text journal articles, book chapters, encyclopedia and dictionary entries and newspaper articles.
  • If you wish to widen your search to materials held elsewhere, you can search for journal articles and other materials using a database. Some databases contain the full-text of the item, while others provide a reference and abstract only. If only a reference/abstract is provided, you are usually able to check for full-text access via the Item Finder – just click on the blue “Search for item at Reading” link to find out if the Library has online access.
  • Online dictionaries and encyclopedias – these are a good place to start your research, and are much more reliable sources of information than Wikipedia. They can be searched individually or through Summon.
  • Google Scholar – finds scholarly literature in all areas of research. Don’t forget to set it up so that it links to the University of Reading Library’s electronic journal holdings as this will increase the number of articles you can access!

AeroplanesHow to access electronic resources from off-campus

If you follow links from the Library website, Enterprise, Summon or the E-journals Finder you will be given the easiest route to logging in when you are off-campus. Usually you will just be prompted to login with your University username and password. Occasionally, if you access an e-resource via a search engine, you may need to select ‘University of Reading’ from a list of institutions before you can login. To find out more, see Accessing e-resources.

Please note: These resources are for your personal use only (you should not use them on behalf of your placement company or your friends); for more details, see our terms and conditions of use for Library e-resources. A few databases are only accessible from the UK; consult your liaison librarian if you have any questions or concerns.

Studying a language abroad as part of your degree?

Find the Useful Websites page for the language you study. It will give you lists of, and links to, selected resources in your country of destination, such as library catalogues, listings of journals, access to the media, links to organisations and other useful tips.

Going on industrial placement in the UK?

If you go on an industrial placement in the UK as part of your course and there is another university library nearby, you may be able to borrow from there by registering via SCONUL Access.

Help in your subject

If you require further guidance about the e-resources available in your subject, remember to look at the relevant Library subject guide. You are also welcome to contact your subject liaison librarian for advice on locating resources; they are always happy to answer your email enquiries.

This is one of a series of tips to help save you time and effort finding or using information

This tip was written by YiWen Hon, Trainee Liaison Librarian (Education and Modern Languages).

Academic staff examine info literacy audit case

Speaker by large screen addresses audience seated at tablesUoR academic staff acting as Library Representatives for their school or department, other teaching and learning experts, and Library staff came together over lunch recently for their fifth annual Community of Practice meeting. Its theme was skills development within the curriculum and showcased collaborative work in one department to establish information literacy levels required at each undergraduate stage.

Information literacy skills audit: Food case study

Jackie Skinner, Liaison Librarian for Food Studies spoke about a skills audit she undertook in close collaboration with Food and Nutritional Sciences Programme Directors to identify what skills are required of students at different stages of their academic development and where these were taught (or not). Study Skills Adviser, Michelle Reid spoke about her crucial early input, based on implementing ANCIL, A New Curriculum for Information Literacy. Speaker by large screen addresses audience seated at tablesProfessor Bob Rastall added his perspective as Head of Department.

This was followed by discussion and questions. Inspired participants may use resources provided to identify any information literacy skills development gaps in their own areas with their own liaison librarians.

Read more about this on the Engage in teaching and learning blog.

Information literacy

Information literacy is defined as ‘knowing when and why you need information, where to find it and how to evaluate, use and communicate it in an ethical manner’ by CILIP, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, to which most librarians belong after postgraduate qualification and portfolio submission.

Getting the Community spirit

Speakers address audience, screen displays 'Mind the skills gap' PowerPointThe Library Representatives’ Community of Practice events are arranged by the Library’s Helen Hathaway, Head of Academic Liaison and Support to enable cross-faculty co-ordination, share good practice, explore new ideas and solutions to Library issues on an informal level. Departmental Library Representatives are academic staff who communicate departmental resource requests and other information between their department and the Library.

Rachel Redrup, Marketing Co-ordinator