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ELCOS session 22/4/08 April 22, 2008

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Here are a couple of documents from today’s session which might be useful:

Session Plan

Database Search Examples




Peniel College: a couple of documents March 31, 2008

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Here are a couple of additional word documents from today’s session which could come in handy. Just click on the links to open or save the files:

Database search examples

Web of Knowledge handout

Using Endnote Web

man and machine February 13, 2008

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So there I was, driving back in my Peugeot 207 hire car on the Woodhead pass between Sheffield and Manchester, having just been to an enlightening RSP Repositories event in Sheffield Hallam University (where, incidentally, the library provides water fountains on each floor).

Suddenly a harsh beeping sound is emitted from somewhere on the dashboard. Having lost control of the car temporarily I recover myself and look across to the central display panel to where the temperature gauge is flashing: 2 degrees C: RISK OF ICE!

Now, is it me or is this another example of the world having gone mad? Have computers seen a gap in the market and sought to take over the area formerly referred to as ‘common sense’. When I cross the road should I have a device installed upon my person which beeps and says ‘Risk of being run over by a lorry’. Should the warning I received in my trusty Peugeot have been preceded by another warning which said ‘Risk of being distracted by the forthcoming warning to the extent that you might crash’?

The previous week I was in contact with far more ice and indeed snow in the Cairngorms, renewing my relationship with ‘the great outdoors’. I had a great time walking up hills, along coasts and through woods. There were a couple of notable bird sightings including capercaillie and crested tit, but the elusive ptarmigan proved to be far too…well, elusive.

“I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.” Umberto Eco

it’s been a while.. January 11, 2008

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I had to look up my login details just now, that’s how long it is since I was last on here. I’m fairly certain that what small readership I may have garnered in the previous months has long since found other more interesting things to look at. Like paint drying.

So what’s happened since September 11th? Well the semester started of course and with it came the usual flurry of activity. In Welcome Week we did lots of introductory library presentations and tours, and we had our usual spot down at the Fresher’s Fair where we shipped over 2000 free lollies and forced raffle tickets on anything that moved.

In the following months up to Christmas I did a number of workshops for postgraduate students both to groups and one-to-one, covering things like Endnote and search strategies for eResources. I also went to a very interesting conference on eLearning (or ‘technology-enhanced learning’ as it’s now known) in Wales’ premier spa town Llandrindod Wells, which interestingly has a ‘Spar’ shop.

On a personal note, I finished an album, and did a gig at the Anglesey Arms in Menai Bridge which was (like many things that cause apprehension) ok in the end. I was also plagued by long-term ankle injury which threatened to end my 5-a-side football career, but like a (slightly hobbling) phoenix from the flames I have made a tentative return and although inevitably some of the magic has gone, I still feel I have something to contribute to the football world.

Happy New Year one and all.

“We can be absolutely certain only about things we do not understand.” Eric Hoffer

information commons September 10, 2007

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Last Friday I was lucky enough to visit the Information Commons at the University of Sheffield. It was one of a series of Open Days organised by the University to promote the new facility. The morning was taken up with a tour of the building, and in the afternoon we had a series of presentations which provided a refreshingly honest appraisal of the occasionally bumpy road from the conception and design of the building to the opening day.

I already knew that the exterior design of the building would be impressive, having looked at photos beforehand, but what impressed me more was the functionality and flexibility of the space, and the pleasantness of the environment – optimizing natural light, and using bold colour schemes. The promotional literature describes the building as the ‘Ultimate Flexible Study Environment’, and it’s hard to disagree. Some spaces are given over to silent study, others to PCs, there are plenty of dedicated group study rooms, and there are also literally flexible work spaces with interactive whiteboards where users can do what they like (within reason). The technology is also impressive – so called ‘business centres’ on each floor provide a swipe-card system for the combined printing/photocopying account and also a phone from which to request IT or library support from one of the dedicated roving helpers. Oh yes – there are some books as well!

All in all I went away feeling slightly envious but also full of good ideas. If our rumoured new build combined University/Public library does ever actually reach fruition, I just hope the library staff will get an input right from the early stages. I also hope we can invest in commercial architects and interior designers and actually build something of which the University and city can be proud.

To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism, to steal ideas from many is research. Anon.

walk on the wildish side August 15, 2007

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On Saturday I embarked on a sponsored ascent of Wales’ premier mountain: Snowdon/Yr Wyddfa. I have to admit to feeling a little bit of apprehension since I’m not an experienced mountain walker and the forecast was poor. However in the event the rain held off for most of the day and the Miners and PYG tracks proved to be perfectly navigable. In fact I was mildly disappointed by just how straightforward it was, especially when I saw children as young as 5 scampering down from the top in their white trainers.

This is me on the way up the Miner’s track with Martin and Helen. We were all walking in aid of the current Career Development Group International project. On the way down we discussed what ‘Yr Wyddfa’ might actually mean. I surmised that if it refers to ‘gwydd’ : ‘goose’, that it might mean ‘place from which to view geese’, or ‘place to meet geese’. But that’s only a guess.

Over this period previously referred to as ‘the summer’ I have been experimenting with Endnote Web. This is a stripped-down version of the desktop Endnote (available on the University network) but has more or less the same functionality. The big advantage is that you can use Endnote Web anywhere with web access, via the Web of Knowledge database. You can access Web of Knowledge from the General resources link on our Databases menu. First of all you need to register with Web of Knowledge in order to create an Endnote Web library. You can then go ahead to save your references (from Web of Knowledge and most other databases), organise them into libraries, create bibliographies in your chosen referencing style, and use the ‘cite while you write’ feature whilst writing in Word. If you’d like to know more just get in touch.

Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.” Zora Neale Hurston

free, quality eResources from the NLW July 12, 2007

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Good news, the National Library of Wales has recently launched its Higher Education Learning Page.

Online registration to the NLW is now available, so you don’t have to go all the way to Aberystwyth (although on a nice day there are few more pleasant drives). By registering online you can join the Library and register for a NLW Athens username and password at the same time. You will receive an Athens username and password by email which will give full access to the NLW’s electronic resources without any charge. Bear in mind that this Athens username and password is your personal set for the NLW only. You will still require a separate Athens username and password to access some of Bangor’s electronic resources.

For a list of what is available from NLW using Athens have a look here, there are a lot of quality resources, some of which Bangor doesn’t currently subscribe to.

It’s been a damp summer so far I think it’s fair to say. Even the ducks I’ve spoken to have been saying ‘well don’t get me wrong I like a spot of rain but it’s starting to get on my nerves now’. My football team (the mighty Sheffield Wednesday FC) currently have over a foot of water at their Hillsborough ground – if we invest in some flippers and goggles over the summer we could significantly improve our home advantage.

“What is research but a blind date with knowledge?” Will Harvey

conference crazy! June 21, 2007

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That’s me. I am glad to be back in the office after recent conferences in Manchester, Gregynog (near Newtown) and Galway respectively.

In Manchester it was all about Institutional Repositories. No-one really knows which way open access is going – the publishers will ultimately set the agenda I suspect. If you are a researcher and you have had your paper accepted for a peer-reviewed journal think carefully before you decide to sign the ‘copyright transfer agreement’, it may be possible to retain some or all of your rights. It’s funny you can go through a whole 2 days of metadata, advocacy, mandates, copyright etc and I came away with just a single quote in my head:

“Paths open up because we follow them”.

That’s a nice philosophy I think. As for Bangor’s Institutional Repository ‘BaRA’? Still a work in progress I’m afraid, but we have a bit of momentum and a ‘live site’ is not a milion miles away.

Last week I was in Galway for the INULs conference . I gave a presentation which was called “From adversity comes strength? Raising a new profile for the library at the University of Wales, Bangor”. I think it went ok. It was a really interesting conference with a good social programme, and I joined the walking tour around the city which was very informative and included the story of James FitzStephen Lynch who tried and executed his own son (this is one of several possible derivations of the term ‘lynching‘). There was also a traditional Irish band Ardvarna who played ‘Stealaway’, a top tune if ever there was one. During the stay I met a great number of interesting and friendly people all of whom helped make the stay a really special one.

“Money won’t buy happiness, but it will pay the salaries of a huge research staff to study the problem.” Bill Vaughan

hello Galway! June 8, 2007

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If you’re currently witnessing my presentation at the INULs Conference in Galway, well I hope it’s been interesting so far. If I’ve just mentioned my Blog then I’m pretty close to the end, so a cup of tea (or coffee) will be available shortly.

If you’re not at the INULs Conference, well I’ll tell you all about it next week!

“Thinking is the hardest work there is. Which is the probable reason why so few engage in it.” Henry Ford

access (in the first and second life) May 24, 2007

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I’m pleased to be able to relate that my hand is healing well.

Nothing ever stands still in the world of research information – this week details of the UK Research Reserve (UKRR) Project were announced. The purpose of this project is to protect and enable access to low-use printed research journals. These kind of journals (often in niche areas and by small publishers) are at risk of disposal as space and cost pressures in HE libraries increase. The British Library will store and maintain printed copies of the identified journal titles, and provide quick and easy access to the material for researchers regardless of location. Researchers will have the choice of accessing journals in printed or electronic format.

There’s a lot of discussion at the moment about Second Life. It’s somewhere I haven’t yet had the pleasure of visiting (it’s on my ‘to do’ list), but apparently there are a lot of librarians hanging around on Infoisland, which has just celebrated it’s first anniversary. I’m not sure yet if there’s a bridge over to Infoisland or if you have to travel over by boat – either way surely there’s an issue of access? In the Second Life (as in the first) prime real estate in desirable areas would seem to be beyond the average library budget.

Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing. Werner von Braun