Sustainability

We are rather proud of our new Sustainability Guide, created in collaboration with one of our quite brilliant SAgE PhD students, Georgios Pexas – actually he did all the hard work by providing all of the content!

This guide looks at Sustainability regarding the key resources available from the Library around the three main pillars of sustainability: Environment, Economy and Society. We particularly like Georgios’ opening paragraph for our guide explaining what sustainability is and its relation to these three pillars:

“As defined by the “Brundtland Commission” in 1987, sustainability is the ability to “meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. In other words, it describes living within the limits of available natural, physical and social resources and in ways that allow our environment to thrive in perpetuity; a concept that can be summarised as: “enough, for all, forever”. Sustainability approaches the issue of resource depletion holistically, unifying Environmental, Economical and Social concerns.”

The Guide also points to researchers on campus that are focusing on sustainability. It has a useful RSS feed of ‘sustainability’ in the news and invaluable links regarding careers and development in sustainability: professional associations, funding opportunities, where to look for jobs, and some upcoming events.

You will find the Sustainability Guide in the SAgE section of the Subject Guides, as it focuses on natural sciences and engineering side of sustainability, however we would love to have a section on how we as individuals can be more sustainable. We are trying to keep this Guide concise, yet useful, yet we welcome any new ideas for this guide, so please contact lorna.smith@ncl.ac.uk if you think of anything worth adding.

Resource in focus: ACM Digital Library

ACM Digital Library is a full-text, online collection of all publications by the Association of Computing Machinary, including journals, conference proceedings, technical magazines, newsletters and books. Publications run from 1936 to present day, with 2,807,672 publications and 576,689 of these available for download.

Top topics include:

  • Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Computer Vision, Natural language processing.
  • Networks and Communications.
  • Society and the Computing Profession
  • Human Computer Interaction.
  • Data science.
  • Applied computing.
  • Security and Privacy.
  • Hardware, Power and Energy.
  • …plus much more.

Though the topics are primarily computing, it would definetly be a collection worth having a look at if you are in Electrical Engineering or studying/researching an interdiciplinary topic which contained elements of computer science.

ACM have just recently updated it’s interface and search function (thanks goodness!), making it much easier to search and discover a range of invaluable resources.

You can now browse by topic or type (book, journal etc.), search by simple keyword or use its advanced search:

Loving their ‘Search tips’ on the right hand side in Advanced Search – wish all databases had this. Would help us all so much!

So, go and explore ACM – a definite ‘must’ for all Computing students. You can either find the ACM eJournal collection in your Computing Subject Guide (under Journals and Databases/eJournal Collections) or you can search for ‘ACM Digital Library’ in Library Search. Remember, if you find anything that doesn’t have full text, first check Google Scholar, then if still no luck you can request an interlibrary loan. If you need further help with any Computing or Engineering resources, please feel free to make an appointment with your Librarian.

Summer professional readings

Looking for something to read this August – whiling the time away with your toes between the sand, the sound of waves splashing, and the sun warming up your bones? I know a summer read is normally something a bit fluffier, however you might want to read one these top reads that were recommended at two conferences I attended recently here on campus (Professional Services Conference and the SAgE PGR Conference).  All three books are conveniently available for you to loan from Newcastle University Library…click on the book cover to take you to the library catalogue entry:

Book cover of 'Good to Great' by Jim Collins

Book cover of 'where good ideas come from' by Steven JohnsonBook cover image of 'Creativity, Inc.' by Ed Catmull

Bubbles and echos: are you surrounding yourself with fake news?

Librarians have been warning people about ‘Fake News’ for many, many, many, many years – how to find and select reliable, authoritative, quality resources is at the heart of any good library teaching session.  In a way we librarians have to thank Mr Trump for making Fake News a popular term; he has made everyone aware that there are fake stories out there and that there has been for centuries (see our historical time-line of Fake News).

2019 is NU Library’s third year of promoting awareness of Fake News, and by looking at the large number of visits to our Fake News Guide over these three years (4,672 visits in total), and again thanks to Mr Trump, it’s not something that’s going away anytime soon.  So we Librarians will continue our quest of highlighting all information that is fake for the greater good.

Until I went to Librarian’s Fake News conference last year, I hadn’t heard of the terms ‘Filter Bubble’ and ‘Echo Chambers’ in relation to Fake News.  However, once explained hopefully it will make you more aware of what information/news stories you read via the likes of Google, Facebook and Twitter, and how they could potentially be fake.  So here is the low-down on what these terms mean and how you can avoid falling into their traps; we’ve also offered the alternative view that they’re a load of old nonsense so you can decide for yourselves…

What is a ‘Filter Bubble’?

A Filter Bubble is when you are in a virtual bubble on social media – you only encounter information and opinions that agree with or reinforce your own beliefs.  Your ‘personalised’ online experience is the result of algorithms that work away in the background and dictate what you see/read online. Google, Facebook, Pinterest, Netflix, YouTube and many more all do this.

These Filter Bubbles in turn create Echo Chambers…

What are ‘Echo Chambers’?

When information within a closed system online is only giving you (‘echoing’) back your opinion and beliefs and establishing confirmation bias (only accepting information that confirm your own opinion and beliefs).

What are the dangers?

As much as I enjoy Facebook fuelling my love of funny dog videos by suggesting similar videos and articles, being aware of why and how Facebook is doing this helps when it comes to more serious topics such as the news, social issues and politics.

Regarding Fake News, confirmation bias is particularly worrying as you will start believing fake news stories that confirms your opinions and beliefs. I know I have done this, which is really scary to realise.

Watch this short TedTalks video from Eli Pariser on the dangers of Filter Bubbles:

You could argue that this type of ‘personalisation’ is editing the web – only showing you one half of the story.  So what can you do to pop the bubble?

What can you do to stop the bubbles and echoes?

There are a few simple things you can do to stop this and open yourselves up to a wider web:

  • Read news sites, websites and blogs that offer a wide range of perspectives, such as the BBC.
  • Use Incognito browsing, delete search histories and try and resist the temptation of logging into your accounts every time you go online.
  • Deleting or blocking browser cookies – these cookies hold the algorithms that determine what we see.
  • Turn off your curated feed in Facebook.
  • Click ‘Like’ on everything! – This will tell the AI that you are into everything – all politics, all news etc.
  • Don’t clink on links, especially politics and social issues – will stop fuelling the algorithms.
  • Tell everyone else to turn off their curated feed!

Is it all a myth?

Below are a few articles that claim Filter Bubbles and Echo Chambers are myths and that it’s not the technology at fault, but rather the user. I’ll let you decide:

Dubois, E. and Blank, G. (2018) The myth of the echo chamber. Available at: https://theconversation.com/the-myth-of-the-echo-chamber-92544. (Accessed: 27 March 2019).

Robson, D. (2018) The myth of the online echo chamber. Available at: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20180416-the-myth-of-the-online-echo-chamber. (Accessed: 27 March 2019).

Schwab, P. (2017) Academic research debunks the myth of filter bubbles. Available at: https://www.intotheminds.com/blog/en/academic-research-debunks-the-myth-of-filter-bubbles/. (Accessed: 27 March 2019).

Don’t burst my bubble!

Or maybe you like being in your own little bubble? The safety and comfort in knowing what information you are going to be presented with – nothing that offends or upsets your online world. I know I will carry on being fed humorous dog videos.

There are some interesting thoughts and opinions on the Social Network Bubble – the pros and cons – on this Radio 4 programme:

BBC Radio 4 (2017) Bursting the social network bubble. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b083p4lw. (Accessed: 27 March 2019).

References:

BBC Radio 4 (2017) Fave ways to burst your social media bubble. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/3n9yf0D5WxRZJGclBMtFGwK/five-ways-to-burst-your-social-media-bubble. (Accessed: 27 March 2019).

Farnam Street (2017) How filter bubbles distort reality: everything you need to know. Available at: https://fs.blog/2017/07/filter-bubbles/. (Accessed: 27 March 2019).

Grimes, D. (2017) Echo chambers are dangerous – we must try to break free of our online bubbles. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2017/dec/04/echo-chambers-are-dangerous-we-must-try-to-break-free-of-our-online-bubbles. (Accessed: 27 March 2019).

The Student Text Collection

The Student Text Collection (or otherwise known as the STC) is the Library’s collection of high-use/popular texts, located on level 2 of the Philip Robinson Library…just on the left as you come in the main entrance:

These texts are normally titles that are popular, core readings, recommended by academics or they are rare texts that we only have one copy of in the whole library.  Either way, there should be one copy in the STC for you to consult or borrow (if not, contact your Liaison Librarian).

Student Text Collection (STC) items are usually issued for 4 hours, and you can borrow a maximum of 3 items at any one time. If the item has already been booked (see below re booking STC) then it might be issued for less than 4 hours – always check the receipt!

At the Philip Robinson Library, STC items can be borrowed until the following morning after 6pm (Monday to Thursday), after 5pm(Friday) or after 4pm (Saturday & Sunday).

At the weekends Walton STC overnight loans start at 5pm. Walton STC items cannot be booked.

Remember, if the only copy left in the library is the STC copy, look to see if an eBook version is available, or an older edition (there is normally very little difference between editions), or maybe a similar text.

Why book an item in the Student Texts Collection (Philip Robinson Library only)?

Booking an item allows you to reserve it for a particular time, then you can borrow it for four hours (or overnight, see above).

To book an item in the STC login to Library Search and follow the Request link next to the item you are looking for (remember to sign in to LibrarySearch first): 

Overdue charges

There is an immediate overdue charge of £1 plus £1 per hour or part hour after that.

Self-issue/return

Philip Robinson Library has a self-service unit in the STC so you can issue your own books (either STC or General loans).

Walton Library has a self-service unit in the STC room for the loan and return of STC items only.

Please remember to take the receipt from the machine which shows the date and time the book is due back. All STC books should be returned on the unit in the STC area (not on other self-issue/return units in the library).

Help on Student Text Collection

Check out our FAQs on the STC or contact us via Library Help if you have any further question.

New resources: Natural and Environmental Sciences

This summer we have been very busy buying new journals, databases, eBook collections and print books in hot topics of interdisciplinary interest across Science, Agriculture and Engineering. Here is what we have purchased for Natural and Environmental Sciences:

JOURNALS
EBOOKS AND DATABASES

Click here for a list of all of the new resources we have purchased for the SAgE faculty.

New resources: Mathematics, Statistics and Physics

This summer we have been very busy buying new journals, databases, eBook collections and print books in hot topics of interdisciplinary interest across Science, Agriculture and Engineering. Here is what we have purchased for Mathematics, Statistics and Physics:

Mathematics, Statistics and Physics

JOURNALS

Geophysical and Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics

EBOOKS

Click here for a list of all of the new resources we have purchased for the SAgE faculty.

New resources: Engineering

This summer we have been very busy buying new journals, databases, eBook collections and print books in hot topics of interdisciplinary interest across Science, Agriculture and Engineering. Here is what we have purchased for Engineering:

Engineering

JOURNALS
EBOOKS AND DATABASES

Click here for a list of all of the new resources we have purchased for the SAgE faculty.

New Resources: Computing

This summer we have been very busy buying new journals, databases, eBook collections and print books in hot topics of interdisciplinary interest across Science, Agriculture and Engineering. Here is what we have purchased for Computing:

JOURNALS
EBOOKS

Click here for a list of all of the new resources we have purchased for the SAgE faculty.

How to be a Fake News Ninja

As a University student it is imperative that you arm yourself against the barrage of fake news that can be found in today’s media.  To produce academically sound assignments and research, you need to be able identify and evaluate information quickly and with authority.

Here are 10 tips on how you can be a Fake News Ninja:

  1. Be aware: just simply knowing that not all information is created equal is the first step.
  2. Check the source: Where did the information come from? This can be tricky, especially on social media.
  3. Read more: don’t just rely on the piece of information that’s in front of you… go an find another reliable source and see if the facts are the same.
  4. Check the author: Do a bit of Google stalking to see if the author is credible.
  5. Check the references: does the item have references? What sources have they used? Are they credible?
  6. Check the date: watch out for re-posts old news items.
  7.  Check your biases: You own beliefs and prejudices can have an affect on how you accept information.
  8. Is it a joke?: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
  9. Ask a Librarian: Librarians are the original Fake News Ninjas.  Come and ask us about any reference that you aren’t too sure about and we can help you make an authoritative decision on  the information you use for your research.
  10. Knowledge is power: Read more about Fake News and how you can win the fight. Everything you need to know is in our Fake News Guide.

Read our other blogs on Fake News to be aware of the consequences of Fake News and the history and growth of Fake News.

References
IFLA (2018) How to spot fake news. Available at: https://www.ifla.org/publications/node/11174 (Accessed: 23 March 18)