Studying for resits? We’re still here to help!

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If you’ll be studying for resits this August, there’s lots of help available from your Library during the summer vacation. Even though the Library buildings have yet to fully open, there’s still a lot of services ‘on hand’ to assist with your studies. Read on to find out how we can work together to ensure you have the best possible revision and resit experience.

What’s available

First and foremost, Library services are still operational during the lockdown summer vacation, they’re just functioning differently right now. You’re still able to organize an online one-to-one appointment with your Liaison librarian or request that the Library purchase an e-book to assist your revision.

Your subject-specific guide also contains links to useful journals, databases and eBook collections that are tailored for your course. There are a number of MCQ (multiple choice question) books available to read online to complement your revision. They cover subjects including: paediatrics, neurology and physiology.

If you’re in Newcastle, you may also like to use the Library’s new click & collect service. Request up to 10 books from the shelves, book a collection slot and then pick up your desired items from the Philip Robinson Library foyer. How good is that?

If you’re looking for online resources via Library Search, you might like to filter your search to show results that are ‘full text online’. This will limit your search to eBooks, journals, databases, e-theses and other electronic resources.

To find electronic resources, change your search to “Full Text Online” in the ‘Availability’ section of the filters bar.

You can also search for electronic articles by changing the search parameter from “Everything except articles” to “Everything” on the Library Search bar (see below).

Changing your search to “Everything” will bring up electronic articles for you to browse.

Virtual appointments via Zoom are still available with tutors from the Writing Development Centre (WDC). Their website also contains tons of helpful advice about preparing for exams, and what to do during them.

Library Help remains available 24/7 to assist with your queries – you can send them in via email or live chat, or browse the Library’s FAQs.

The Academic Skills Kit (ASK) is full of helpful advice, covering all aspects of study from how to manage your time effectively to reading and note-taking. There’s also guidance on exams and revision, including where to go for academic advice or personal support. ASK also has lots of resources covering online examinations. These are broken down into helpful categories: how to revise for an online exam, what to do before an online exam and exam technique.

Helpful hints

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We probably sound like a broken record by now but you’re unlikely to revise successfully without establishing positive habits. These include:

  • Working in an area of your home that’s best suited to your needs. If possible, choose to work in an area that has plenty of natural light and is well-ventilated.
  • Building a realistic revision planner with plenty of breaks factored in.
  • Practising good self-care, such as getting plenty of fresh air, staying hydrated and eating a balanced diet.
  • Getting plenty of sleep.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, please contact the University Student Health and Wellbeing services or the Student Union’s Mental Health & Wellbeing site. These services are still available despite the University being physically closed.

From all of us in the Library, good luck and study well!

Exam revision: tips and support

A wooden desk with a Mac laptop, cup of black coffee, notepad and pen and mobile phone.
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

This time of year is normally one of the busiest for the Libraries on campus. Instead, the Libraries are currently physically closed and both revision and exams are taking place at homes across the country (and possibly further afield!). While this ‘new normal’ might seem overwhelming at first, in many ways, it’s business as usual. Read on to find out how we can all work together to ensure you have the best possible revision and exam experience.

How the Library can help

First and foremost, Library services haven’t stopped while the University is closed, they’re simply operating differently right now. You’re still able to organize an online one-to-one appointment with your Liaison librarian or request that the Library purchase an e-book to assist your studies.

Your subject-specific guide also contains links to useful journals, databases and eBook collections that are tailored for your course. You may also find it helpful to browse through a list of newly-acquired online resources that the Library have purchased to better enable your studies from home.

There are a number of MCQ (multiple choice question) books available to read online to complement your revision. They cover subjects including: paediatrics, neurology and physiology.

You may also like to look into the services offered by the Writing Development Centre (WDC). Their website has helpful guidance on preparing for exams and what do to during an exam. You can also arrange a one-to-one consultation with a WDC tutor via Zoom to discuss exam and revision strategies.

Library Help remains available 24/7 to assist with your queries –  please send them in via email or live chat. We are also regularly updating Library FAQs to bring you the most up-to-date information. (Hint: if you filter the FAQs to show ‘remote services temporary FAQ’, you’ll only be shown the newest Library FAQs.)

How the University can help

The Academic Skills Kit (ASK) is full of useful advice, covering all aspects of study from how to manage your time effectively to reading and note-taking. ASK also has useful guidance on exams and revision, including where to go for academic advice or personal support.

Following the announcement of lockdown, ASK have made some new resources to assist with online examinations. These are broken down into helpful categories: how to revise for an online exam, what to do before an online exam and exam technique. While you will get details from your School about the specific changes to your exam(s), these pages have really helpful advice on preparing for and succeeding in online assessment.

Before taking an online examination, you may want to look at Newcastle University IT Service’s (NUIT) remote working toolkit. This website contains loads of helpful information, including how to access your University email and documents away from home, as well as how to download a copy of Microsoft Office 365 Professional Plus for your home device.

How you can help

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Choose an area in your home to work in that’s best suited to your needs. This might be a bedroom, kitchen or office space. You may want to consider making some adjustments to your existing desk (or kitchen table!) to avoid causing an injury. If possible, choose to work in an area that has plenty of natural light and is well-ventilated.

Build yourself a realistic revision planner, with plenty of breaks factored in. You won’t be able to revise everything in one day so breaking down topics into manageable chunks is essential. Regular exercise, a balanced diet and a good night’s sleep are also key to revision success.

Remember to take regular study breaks to stay hydrated, get fresh air and clear your mind. You’re unlikely to revise effectively without regular breaks and time away from your work. There are a number of activities and resources on the Library’s website for things you can do while taking a break. These include seated desk yoga, colouring in sheets and mindfulness exercises.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, please contact the University Student Health and Wellbeing services or the Student Union’s Mental Health & Wellbeing site. These services are still available despite the University being physically closed.

From all of us in the Library, good luck and study well!

The Research Reserve and Desktop Delivery Service (DDS)

The exterior of the Research Reserve facility in the Team Valley.

The eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed a curious thing on Library Search. Where normally you would expect to see the name of one of the libraries next to an item’s shelfmark, occasionally you’ll see “Research Reserve”.

If you’ve ever wondered just what exactly the Research Reserve is, this is the blog for you, discover here exactly what the Research Reserve can offer you and your studies.

Before an item’s shelfmark is its location. This book is held off-site at the Research Reserve facility in the Team Valley.

The Research Reserve is the Library’s stores, located throughout campus and including a state-of-the-art storage facility in the Team Valley. These facilities allow the Library to keep less-used material for much longer than other academic libraries. These combined storage facilities provide over 29 kilometres of storage space, which is used to house old editions of journals and books which are consulted infrequently.

If you’d like to request items from the Research Reserve facilities, click the “Request Scan/Borrow” button once you’ve located the item on Library Search.

You can loan a variety of materials from the Research Reserve, including: books, theses and journal volumes. These can be requested from Library Search. Simply log in using your campus ID, find the item you are looking for and then click the blue “Request Scan/Borrow” button. You’ll get a choice of pickup locations (either the Walton or Philip Robinson libraries).

There are request forms to complete if you’d like to borrow a thesis or an entire volume of a journal.

Requests can be viewed by going to “My Account” in Library Search and clicking on “My Requests” from the drop down menu. If you’d like to cancel your request, simply click the blue cancel hyperlink (as seen below). You’ll receive an email confirming your cancellation shortly afterwards.

You can cancel requests for Research Reserve items by clicking the blue ‘Cancel’ hyperlink, as shown above.

There is a collection service that runs between the Research Reserve and the various libraries (weekdays only, not on bank holidays) and your request will be generally be fulfilled within 24 hours. Anything requested on a Friday or over the weekend will be delivered on the following Monday afternoon.

Once your item has arrived at your chosen library, you’ll receive an email letting you know it’s available to loan. The item will be kept on the reservations shelves for five days before being returned to the Team Valley, or passed on to the next person in the reservation queue. Items from the Research Reserve are issued in the same way as standard long loan items, either using the self-issue machines or at the service desk. Once you’ve finished with the item, simply return it as normal.

The Desktop Delivery Service (DDS)

The Desktop Delivery Service can also be reached at: http://dds.ncl.ac.uk

The Desktop Delivery Service (DDS) allows you request a scanned article from a journal held in one of the Library’s stores. Articles can be requested via Library Search (same as a book) or by filling out the relevant request form. Please try and include as much detail as possible on your request form. This helps Library staff locate your article and fulfil your request quicker.

You are only able to request one scanned article per journal issue. The scanned article will be delivered to your University email address, where it can be downloaded and printed off. Requests are generally fulfilled within 24 hours, although this may take longer over the weekends or on bank holidays. You have 30 days to download your article before it is ‘archived’ and no longer available.  

We do not scan items that are available electronically or can be borrowed.

If you have any other queries about the Desktop Delivery Service, read the FAQs.

Just some of the amazing treasures held at the Research Reserve facility in the Team Valley.

You can also visit the off-campus Research Reserve facility in the Team Valley. Daily access is available by appointment only with the Research Reserve team, weekdays between 10AM and 4PM. Access outside of these hours can be organised given sufficient notice. There is a large car park available at the facility and buses stop nearby.

Full contact information, directions and opening hours for the Team Valley facility are available via the Library website.

Study Well @ NCL – What’s going on in the Walton Library

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Returning to University in January means one thing: it’s time to start revising for your exams. Study Well @ NCL is a campaign run by the Library, NUSU (Newcastle University Students Union) and NUIT (Newcastle University IT Service) advocating a responsible approach to studying and encouraging positive behaviours in study spaces. We all know it can be stressful at this time of the year – but we’re here to make things easier. So, what exactly are we doing?

Extended Opening Hours

Here in the Walton Library from 6th – 24th January, 2020 we’ll be extending our opening hours opening from 8:30 until midnight, Monday to Friday and 10AM until midnight on weekends. You can check our extended opening times here on the Library website.

Noise Alert Service

We’ll be monitoring our Noise Alert phone very closely during this time. Wherever you are in the Walton, you can text us at 07891 484764 and we’ll investigate the source of the noise issue as soon as possible. You can also contact us on Library Help to report a noise complaint.

Housekeeping

During busy periods staff will be checking to see:

  • where seats are available (and clearing unattended desks after 30 minutes of inactivity).
  • that bins are emptied.
  • that bathrooms are clean.
  • that walkways are kept clear.

How you can help

Choose a study space suited to your preferred choice of study. There are silent, quiet and collaborative study spaces to choose from. Please be considerate of fellow Library users.

Do be mindful of the food and drink policy within your chosen study area. Remember, you can only eat hot and strong smelling food in the café area.

Let staff know if there’s something that’s been missed. It’s not always possible for us to know if there’s a shortage of towels in the bathroom or if a waste bin needs emptying. Please contact us if you notice something and we’ll do our best to fix it straightaway.

Looking after yourself

We encourage all Library users to take regular study breaks. Taking the time to get a drink of water or some fresh air can make all the difference to your study session. Why not stop by our display table (located near the main entrance) and pick up a Sudoku puzzle or desk yoga instructions? However, to be fair to all Library users, we’re asking that breaks away from your study space are no more than 30 minutes.

Colour your Campus

On lighter note, we’ll be providing pens, pencils and colouring sheets for you to relax and unwind with. Hand your completed sheet in to a member of Library staff with your name or Twitter handle on the back and we’ll display it in the Library and enter your masterpiece into a draw to win some fabulous Library prizes.

Off The Shelf

Sue Spencer returns to the Walton Library on Thursday 16th January (3-5PM) to dispense personalised poetry pick-me-up’s designed to soothe and inspire. Take a study break, chat with Sue and receive your own poetry prescription. You can find out more about Off The Shelf here.

We hope that Study Well @ NCL provides you with a peaceful and productive study environment and allows you to achieve maximum studying satisfaction. We welcome feedback on how we can change or improve Study Well @ NCL. You can ‘Tell Us What You Think’ online or get a form in the Walton Library.

Finally, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, please contact the University Student Wellbeing Team or NUSU Student Welfare. They’re there to help.

We wish you every success with your exams – study well!

Walton Library – MCQs and Clinical Skills Equipment

These DNA models are part of the Walton’s clinical skills equipment collection. Ask at the desk to loan one today.

While exams may seem a long way away, it’s important to be prepared for them. You can minimise stress and maximise efficiency with a good revision timetable and organised notes.

You can also find helpful material to aid your revision at the Walton Library. Your subject support guide is full of information and resources, tailored to suit your programme of studies. There are boxes of flash cards covering a number of subjects available to borrow from our long loan collection – ask at the service desk if you are interested in loaning a set. You may also find it helpful to broaden your revision from notes and textbooks to include clinical skills equipment and books from our MCQ (Multiple Choice Question) section. This could be the difference between a good and a great exam result! You’ll find more information about both of these collections in this blog post, as well as where to find them and how to loan them.

Multiple Choice Question (MCQ) books

Books in the MCQ collection are located in the quiet study area. You can identify them by the green stickers on the book spines.

There are a variety of topics covered in our Multiple Choice Question (MCQ) section. Within the collection, you’ll find books to on a number of subjects from anaesthesia to surgery. There are also books to aid revision for specific exams – including OSCEs, PACES and MRCS.

If you’d like to browse the MCQ collection, go to Library Search. You’ll need to click the ‘Advanced Search’ link and then change the “Any field” drop down menu to say ‘Collection’. In the text space, enter “MCQs” and you can view the entire collection. You can narrow down your search by adding a subject, author or title if you’re interested in a specific topic.

You can search the entire MCQ collection by changing the search filters to “Collection” and adding MCQs in the text bar.

You can find the MCQ collection in the quiet study area of the Walton Library. They’re easily identifiable by the green stickers on the book’s spine.

The books are long loan – meaning you can have them for up to 20 weeks, providing they’re not requested by another Library user. If the MCQ book is already on loan, follow these instructions to place a request.

If there is a book you think would help your exam revision, use our Books on Time service and recommend it. Find out more about this service here.

Clinical skills equipment

At the Walton Library, there is a wide selection of clinical skills equipment available to loan. There are medical tools, like tendon hammers, sphygmomanometers and otoscopes. Anatomical models, such as skulls and teeth. Plus eye charts, DNA models and even a spine! (A model one, that is.)

You can borrow a skull from the service desk or the STC room at the Walton Library!

The main bulk of clinical skills equipment is located behind the service desk at the Walton Library. Ask a member of staff and they’ll retrieve it for you. You can have up to three clinical skills items on loan at any time. Unfortunately, you can’t place requests on the items if they’re all out on loan.

There are also a small number of skulls available to loan from the Student Texts Collection (STC) room. You can loan them using the self-issue machine in the STC.

You may have also noticed a collection of anatomical models on a table in the collaborative study area. These models are free to use within the Library for as long as you like – but they can’t be taken out of the Library.

Clinical skills equipment items are available as a next day loan. This means that if you borrow a skull at 9AM on a Monday morning, it needs to be returned before the Walton Library closes on Tuesday. Items in the clinical skills equipment collection are non-renewable.   

Beyond the Walton, there is exam and revision assistance available from the wider Library services and the University. You may find it useful to check out the Academic Skills Kit (ASK) to learn more about different revision strategies and exam techniques. You can also use ASK to find out about available counselling and chaplaincy services to help combat exam stress. Follow this link to ASK!

Self Care Week: Top Tips

Self Care Week is the 18-24th of November. It’s an awareness event that focuses on embedding support for self care across communities, families and generations. We’ve compiled a list of services, resources and recommendations from Newcastle University to help manage your wellbeing and establish positive habits.

Student Health and Wellbeing

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Based on Level 2 of King’s Gate, Student Health and Wellbeing work with local and national organisations to help to maximise your academic potential and allow you to have the best possible experience while you’re studying. They offer advice and assistance on many topics, from spiritual support to mental health counselling. You can find self-help resources and information here.

iNCLude

iNCLude is a new free app aimed at helping develop positive behaviours to ensure you’re focussing on more than just academic studies. The app centres on several themes: Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning and Give. There’s space to record your feelings in a mood journal and information on campus wellbeing events through your personal feed. To find out more (and download the app) click here.

Silvercloud

Silvercloud is a suite of online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) programmes, which can be tailored to your specific needs. It is free and can be accessed anywhere on a PC, tablet or mobile phone. The modules on Silvercloud can be worked through at your own pace and a practitioner from Student Services can help you navigate through the programmes. To start Silvercloud click here.

Be well@NCL

Be well@NCL is a collection of books designed to help manage and understand common mental health conditions and wellbeing. Reading a book by someone who understands what you’re facing can help you start to feel better. The books within the collection are recommended by professionals and are available to borrow from the Phillip Robinson and the Walton libraries. You can find out more about Be well@NCL here.

Responsible studying

The Academic Skills Kit (ASK) helps develop positive study habits, from note taking to exam revision. Visit their website for available support and resources.

Rosie, a Library assistant at the Walton Library, is a fan of the Pomodoro Technique when studying. She says:

“This technique has changed my life! If you are a procrastinator and/or you’re easily distracted, you need to try it – you set a timer on your phone for 25 minutes, work hard on your task for that period and then reward yourself with a 5 minute break. After you’ve done that 4 times, take a longer break.

Breaking work up into chunks with rewards in between means that you get more done than if you try to work non-stop for hours, and it’s easier to start an assignment when you know you only have to work at it for 25 minutes at a time. This technique is better for your stress levels and mental health than beating yourself up for leaving assignments until the last minute.”

Creative activities

Image credit: James Fish

We’ve got creative activities available on our Self Care display in the Walton Library. Taking a break from your work to do desk yoga, colouring in or origami is beneficial in the long run – it’ll help you increase focus, retain information and maintain top performance.

There’s a variety of activities on campus you can do while taking a break from studying, for example:

Stacey, a Library assistant at the Walton Library, likes to knit to improve her mental wellbeing. She says:

“The health benefits of knitting have been known for a while. A 2007 study conducted by Harvard Medical School’s Mind and Body Institute found that knitting lowers heart rate by an average of 11 beats per minute and induces an “enhanced state of calm,” as the repetitive movements release serotonin which can lift moods and dull pain.

Knowing this and gaining the ability to watch your toddler running around wearing clothes you’ve made is a wonderful feeling, as if you are covering your loved ones with wool and love – the only downside is cost (and explaining a million times it isn’t just for old ladies!) Knitting gives me that ‘enhanced state of calm’, or the ability not to be totally radgie ALL of the time, which is essential for my wellbeing.”

Walton Library: Reading Lists and the STC

Hopefully you are feeling settled at the Walton Library and finding your way around.  During your induction session you may have heard Library staff mention reading lists and STC books. This blog post breaks these terms down to help you get the most out of the Library.

What are reading lists?

When it comes to reading lists, the clue is in the name. They are materials your lecturer(s) have selected to help you understand your subject – and are not necessarily books! Reading lists can contain journal articles, websites and other media, such as podcasts and videos. The material on your reading list is broken down into essential, recommended or background reading for your convenience.

Not all reading lists look the same. Some lists are divided into the above categories, and some are divided into weekly or even daily reading. Speak to your lecturer if you have a query about the content on your module’s reading list.

Where are they?

There’s more than one way to access your reading list. If you use the Medical Learning Environment (MLE), you can access your reading list from the “Reading” tab on the “Learning Materials” window. These are embedded in each Case. See below for reference:

A reading list on the Medical Learning Environment (MLE).

You can click on the items within the reading list and it’ll take you directly to Library Search, where you will be able to see the item’s location and availability.

If you use Blackboard, once you’ve logged in, you will see that the “Reading Lists” link is on the “Overview” page for each module you’re registered on. See below for reference:

The location of a module’s reading list on Blackboard.

You can also access your reading lists from the Library homepage. Follow this link and click the green “More information for students” button.

If you’re having a technical problem when using your reading list, email: med-reading-lists@ncl.ac.uk and we’ll investigate the problem for you.

What is the STC?

The Student Texts Collection (STC) at the Walton Library.

If you’ve been to the Walton’s service desk asking for a stapler, you may have heard the staff directing you to the STC. STC or Student Texts Collection is a separate room, located next to the printers and the self-issue machine, which contains our high demand texts. Many of these will be essential on your reading lists. These books are available for short loan only – four hours during the day, unless you take them out four hours before the Library closes, when you can loan them overnight (providing you return them before 9:30AM the next weekday and 10:30AM on weekends!)

These short loan books are perfect if you’re on the go. You can issue one before a lecture and then return it just after! They’re also ideal if you only need to use a short section of a book: you can copy up to one chapter or 10% of a book (whatever is greater) using the photocopier.

How does it work?

Just like long loan items, STC books are on Library Search. However they can’t be reserved if all the copies are out on loan. STC books need to be checked out and returned from your account using the self-issue machine in the STC room.

STC books are listed separately on Library Search.

If you have any further queries about the STC, you might want to check out our Library FAQs here. Desk staff at the Walton can also be called upon to lend a hand if you’re stuck.