Digital Scholar Lab: find out more, and book your training slot

The Library has purchased Gale’s Digital Scholar Lab: a digital humanities platform with potential uses for students, researchers and module leaders, whatever your previous experience. It enables you to:

  • create and clean customised content sets, using our Gale Primary Sources collections (which include a wide range of historic newspaper, periodical and book archives)
  • analyse and interrogate the data, using the Lab’s text analysis and visualisation tools
  • manage and share content sets with others.

For those who regularly use digital techniques or methods, you can use the Lab to dramatically reduce the time needed to compile, curate and clean datasets, either using Gale data or locally held data, which can be uploaded into the Lab.

For those interested in teaching using the Lab, it contains a comprehensive Learning Centre that you can use to introduce students to basic and advanced concepts, with worked examples that can form the basis of a lesson plan.

Finally, for those new to digital humanities, and intimidated by thoughts of coding, the Lab provides a way to produce sophisticated, analytical research that requires no coding skill and allows you to make discoveries in archives that would otherwise be impossible.

To help you find out more about Digital Scholar Lab, representatives from Gale will be running two online training sessions for Newcastle University staff and students via Zoom on:

  • Monday November 16th, 14.00-15.30 and repeated on
  • Thursday November 19th, 10.00-11.30

The session will introduce you to Digital Scholar Lab, and its interface and workflows. It will cover text mining in general, search queries, curating and managing datasets, using analysis tools, and reviewing results. There will be plenty of opportunities for questions.

Any Newcastle University staff and students are welcome: you don’t need any previous knowledge of Digital Scholar Lab. However, if you have previously used Digital Scholar Lab, you may also find the session useful as a refresher, and to find out about recent enhancements.

To book your place on one of the sessions, please fill in our booking form.

If you are interested in more bespoke training (for example, for a specific cohort of students, or at a more advanced level), please contact Lucy Keating, and we’ll discuss with Gale representatives.

COVID 19 – Impact and Response; welcoming our new themed guide

As well as compiling Subject Guides for each School across campus, your friendly Library Liaison Team also put together Resource Guides on topics of interest and significance. While you might currently feel like you’ve read more than enough on the Covid-19 pandemic to last a lifetime; bear with us!

COVID-19: Impact and Response

“What does the future hold in the coming months and years? The pandemic has the potential to make its effects felt for years to come.”


More than ever, it’s been difficult to keep ahead of the pace of change and updates. Our team of library staff and student volunteers have been sorting the current affairs wheat from the chaff on behalf of our Library colleagues and users. Focusing on the impact and response to the crisis, both here in the UK and globally, the resource guide takes in a wide range of interdisciplinary fields, from sport to society, and transport to technology.

The guide also offers a Scopus feed of some of the most recent NU research outputs on corona virus and its implications.

We think this might be of particular interest to those of you who may be considering a topical COVID 19 angle for upcoming dissertations or assignments. If you’re aware of any updates or new resources that you think our readers should be aware of, we’ve incldued a contact box so you can send us your suggestions.

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Resource in focus: Perdita Manuscripts

The Perdita Manuscripts is an excellent resource for those interested in Early Modern history, Women’s Studies, and the History of the Book. It provides access to digital copies of little known manuscripts written by women, together with helpful notes and essays by experts in the field.

The database holds over 230 digitised manuscripts created and compiled by women in the British Isles during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  These previously ‘lost’ (perdita) female authors produced a diverse range of content such as account books, calligraphic writing, culinary writing, diaries, medical writing, prayers, prose, translations, travel writing, verse and more. The collection also includes writing in English, French, Greek, Italian, Latin and Spanish.

Screenshot of a Perdita Manuscript scanned document

Document detail pages include a scan of the original document, which you can enlarge to read or download as a pdf, alongside bibliographic details of the manuscript. Links below provide further details, sometimes including physical descriptions of the manuscript, additional information on the repository holding the item, notes and searchable keywords.

Some manuscripts also include section details for each page of the scanned document, which have details such as genre of a section, first and last lines and folio information.

Screenshot showing the section detail tab and search results tab in Perdita Manuscripts.

Where you have accessed the document via a search query, you’ll also find a Search Results tab, which provides an overview of where your search terms can be found in the document.

The manuscripts can be explored and accessed in three ways:

Browse Documents Section

Under the Browse Documents tab, you can browse the manuscripts by alphabetical listing, genre, repository, date, language or by particular primary authors (Perdita Women).

Search Directories

The Search Directories, available under the Research Tools tab, allow for browsing using subject terms lists (metadata). You can select from a list of Perdita Women (primary authors of manuscripts), Names in general (key names included in the database, excluding the Perdita Women), Places, and Genre.

Screenshot showing the terms lists within the Search Directory of Perdita Manuscripts.

In the Research Tools tab you’ll also find an index of the first lines of both poetry and prose texts.

Search Tool

The search tool located in the top right, provides options for a basic keyword search and an advanced search.  While BOOLEAN operators, phrase searching, and wildcards can be applied in both search options, advanced search allows for a more complex query to be constructed by searching particular fields (e.g. title), limiting by date, and selecting specific terms from lists of Perdita women, languages, genres or sources.

The Help section provides further useful advice and guidance on searching the database and using the digitised images in your study, research or teaching.

British Online Archives: new collections now available

The Library has purchased access to several new collections in the British Online Archives series:

BBC Handbooks, Annual Reports and Accounts, 1927-2002

This collection contains handbooks, annual reports and accounts published by the BBC between 1927 and 2002. It also includes a review of each year’s public service broadcasting, with detailed schedules, audience research, performance and objective tables, commentaries, and editorials. A great opportunity to examine the social and cultural forces that shaped Britain in the 20th century.  

British Officers’ Diaries from World War One

These diaries reveal what life was like for the average British soldier in the Battle of the Somme and later battles of Ypres. The battles of Loos, Arras, Vimy Ridge, and Bethune are also covered. The letters home will have been censored by the army: how much was removed depended on the censor. Tactical information and details of military training often remain, as the main concern was morale.

British Union of Fascists: Newspapers and Secret Files 1933-1951

This collection charts the rise and fall of fascism in Britain during the 1930s and 1940s, with a particular focus on Oswald Mosley’s blackshirt movement. 

The bulk of the documents are official BUF publications, including Fascist Week¸ The BlackshirtThe East London Pioneer, and Action. In addition, there are hundreds of Government documents relating to Mosley’s internment during the Second World War, including Cabinet Office, Home Office and Prime Ministerial papers.

Paris Peace Conference and Beyond, 1919-1939

This collection contains archival material relating to this tumultuous period in European and world history. The documents cover the treaties of Versailles, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Neuilly-sur-Seine, Trianon, Sèvres, Lausanne, and Locarno, as well as the foundation of the League of Nations. Most of the files are drawn from the UK National Archives, while the British Library provided the personal papers of Lord Robert Cecil and Sir Arthur Balfour.

These new resources add to the Parliamentary Labour Party Papers 1968-1994 collection, which we had previously purchased.

Drama Online: new films and playtexts now available

The Library has recently added several new collections to its Drama Online portfolio. Drama Online provides access to over 2,300 playtexts and books, and we have now bought access to the following film collections, featuring leading actors such as Gillian Anderson, Simon Russell Beale, Adrian Lester, Mark Rylance, Stephen Fry, Tamsin Greig, Roger Allam and many more.

In addition, we have also bought the 2020 updates of the Core Collection and Nick Hern Books, adding another 90 playtexts to our collection.

All the films and playtexts are individually catalogued and searchable via Library Search, or you can search/browse them all in various ways on the Drama Online site.

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For example, using the options at the top of the screen, you can browse by title, author, genre and time period, or if you click Find Plays on the home page, you can add in other search filters, such as number of roles or scenes. Select Context and Criticism for access to a wide range of e-books about drama.

When viewing a playtext, click Play Tools to analyse the speaking parts and appearances of different characters throughout the play.

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We hope you enjoy exploring the exciting new content!

New ebook collections for arts and humanities

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

The Library has invested in thousands of new ebooks since March, to help widen our collections and enable access for students, wherever you are based.

As well as purchasing individual titles, we have also bought several specialist collections of particular interest to arts and humanities, including the following:

  • Bloomsbury collections in Education, Film and Media, Law, Linguistics and Literary Studies (535 titles in total)

In addition, we have leased access to multidisciplinary academic collections from the following publishers:

All the new titles are individually catalogued on Library Search, or you can browse the books available to us on the publisher’s platform (make sure you are logged in with your Newcastle University username and password).

Meet the Liaison team

By now some of you may have already met us in your Canvas modules or in online sessions, but if not you may be wondering who we are and what we do. As the name suggests, the Library’s liaison team liaise with the academic schools at Newcastle University, to help us plan and deliver excellent Library services which meet the needs of staff and students. We’re a friendly bunch: you should get to know us!

What is a Liaison Librarian?

Let Lucy, the Liaison Librarian for Arts and Law, give you a taste of what our role involves. 

How can you get in touch with us?

We’re here to help you get the best out of the Library, so if you need help it’s easy to get in touch. Use Library Help to get in touch 24/7, contact the Liaison Team for your subject area or visit your Subject Guide to find out about the resources and help available for you. We recommend you use the subject team email addresses, rather than emailing an individual person. That’s because some of us work part-time, or may be away:  emailing the team will ensure you’ll get a prompt answer.

Resource Guides: it’s all in the name!

Last week, we let you in on the secrets of Library Search. This week we want to introduce you to our Resource Guides.

Library Search is a great starting point for any piece of research or essay, but there comes a time, when you need some extra help in finding a particular type of information. And that’s where our Resource Guides come in.  We have a range of guides to suit your information needs including: company information, market research, government publications, newspapers, maps, statistics, patents, standards, theses and dissertations, plus much more.

The guides group together all the main library subscriptions we have for that specific type of information, as well as linking out to key external links and resources too. Wherever possible we also include guidance and help on how to get the best out of the databases and links and group the information together into a logical and helpful way. We know how busy life is and we simply want to save you time!

So what you are waiting for, go and check out our fabulously named Resource Guides, because they do exactly what they say on the tin!

Getting the most out of e-books

Woman reading on an eReader device.

We have over 6 million e-books accessible through Library Search, including titles that feature on your reading lists, or those that have been recommended by staff and students. Sometimes we buy them through large bundle deals with specific publishers so we gain access to lots of research titles all at once.

Why use e-books?

e-books are incredibly useful resources as they are available 24/7 from any location, work with most devices and some come with snazzy features such as keyword searching, annotation options, links to other relevant information, and reading aloud facilities to name but a few.

How do e-books work?

As we get e-books from different platforms and providers you might see a different layout each time you access one of our titles but the logic is the same. You can navigate using a toolbar, you can normally turn pages using little arrows at the top or side of the page, you can jump to specific chapters and in some cases, print or download all or some sections of the e-book to read offline.

Unfortunately, one thing you can’t do with e-books is download and save offline a copy of the book to keep forever, there are usually some download restrictions. This is because we have subscriptions or licence access to titles but we don’t own the title. There is something called Digital Rights Management where publishers can control the copying, pasting and downloading of their content, this is linked to issues with privacy and copyright.

How do I access e-books?

Simply navigate to Library Search and enter your keywords to look for a book title as usual. Library Search is the best way to access resources whether you’re on or off campus as it makes sure you’re logged in correctly and can access resources simply and quickly.

Watch this short video to begin searching for books and e-books.

From your search results, choose an e-book which looks relevant e.g. Essentials of Business Research Methods by Hair, which we know is popular book for Business students doing dissertations. If you are off campus, you will need to sign in with your University ID and Password.

Once the e-book has loaded on the screen, hover over the functionality buttons to see what they do. For example; the search option will be useful if you’re looking for specific topics; use the Table of Contents to navigate straight to a chapter you’ve been told to read, or select the paint pallet to change the colour of the background to help with your reading.

Not all titles are available in eBook format for an institutional library to purchase, but if you’d prefer a title in electronic format we can certainly investigate. Just let us know by recommending a book.

Library Search: top search tips

Library Search is a powerful tool that can help you find good quality, relevant information quickly.  Using Library Search is pretty intuitive but there are some useful search tips that can help you improve and get the most out of your searches:

Keywords and Subject Terms

When you’re searching for information it’s important to use a range of related keywords to ensure you find everything relevant to your topic.  For example, if you’re searching for information on ‘Climate Change’ you might also want to search for ‘Greenhouse Effect’ or ‘Global Warming’ too.  Thinking of related keywords can sometimes be difficult but Library Search can help!

From your search results page, click on the title of a resource to open the resource record and scroll down to the ‘Details’ section.  Here you will find a list of ‘Subjects’, also known as subject terms, used to describe the topics and themes this particular resource discusses.  Take a look at this list and add any relevant words to your search string.

Screen shot of Library Search subject terms for climate change

There are some other useful features in the resource record page that can help with your searches too:

Browse the virtual shelf

At the very bottom of the record you’ll find a virtual bookshelf, a visual list of the books that can be found next to this one if you were looking in the physical library.  As the library is organised by subject some of these titles might be useful for your research too.

Screen shot of virtual shelf on library search

Read the abstract

A quick way to tell if a resource is going to be relevant and useful for your research is to read the abstract, a summary of the contents of the resource.  On the resource record in Library Search, you’ll find this under the heading ‘Description’.

Advanced Search

The Advanced Search function in Library search allows you to create a search that will produce more focused results.  It does this by providing a range of search fields and drop down lists that help you build up your search.

Screen shot of advanced search

Select from the options to:

  • Limit your search field to the title, author, subject, collection etc.
  • Apply BOOLEAN operators (AND, OR, NOT) to your keywords
  • Filter by specific material types, languages and dates to focus your search results to the most relevant resources.

Take a look at the Advanced Searching page on our Finding Information Guide for more on how to combine your keywords, create a search string and improve your search results.