Change is coming to the Philip Robinson Library

This summer will see the refurbishment of key features of our main Level 2 space as we make it more welcoming, attractive, and efficient for all library users.

Work will be taking place between June and September 2019, during which a temporary service desk will be in place, and the Student Text Collection, exhibition space, book bins, and self-service units will be relocated. Drinks and snacks will still be available from a coffee cart whilst the café is being refurbished.

Library services will continue as normal.

  • The PC cluster, Your Space and silent study areas on Levels 3 & 4 of the library will remain accessible.
  • Student Text Collection texts and book reservations will be available.
  • Inter Library Loan and Research Reserve requests will be processed as normal.
  • You will still be able to issue and return items yourself.
  • Laptop, headphone, and short-term locker loans will be issued as normal.

However, there will be building work in progress during library opening times and there will be some noisy periods. Free disposable earplugs will be available at the Service Desk.

Alternative study spaces are available in WaltonLaw and Marjorie Robinson Library Rooms, and you can use the Find a PC on the University app to locate alternative cluster PC’s and check availability.

Building a better library experience

The modernised Level 2 space includes these new features:

  • a redesigned ‘Welcome’ point and ‘Library Help’ desk.
  • a reconfigured social learning space
  • an automated book returns sorter and new self-issue machines
  • a relocated exhibition space
  • a fully refurbished cafe

The works are due to begin week commencing 17th June. If you have any queries please speak to a member of Customer Services staff at the Service Desk or via Library Help.

Brush up on your search skills

A pot of paint brushes

Searching should be easy, right? We do it all the time in our day to day lives and with Google so ingrained into our existence, we don’t give it much thought. We type some words into the search engine and most of the time we find what we are looking for. Nothing to it!

However, while this approach certainly works for checking out cinema times or booking flights, it lets us down where research is concerned. We have high expectations that information will be quick and easy to come by and that it will be neatly organised in one place, rather than having to search in multiple locations, using different techniques. We imagine that the time consuming part of our research will be the analysing, synthesizing and the writing of it and we often don’t even think about the searching side of things.

The reality though is quite different. Without investing in our searching techniques and the development of a search plan, we can often find ourselves overwhelmed by information and not being able to see the wood from the trees. Our stress levels rise and our frustrations explode. Surely finding information shouldn’t be this hard!

The good news is, is that there is help to be had. Our job as Liaison Librarians is to equip you with the skills you need to create that all important search plan and to encourage you to pause and stop before you dive straight into finding information for your research.We have a fantastic range of online tools for you to do this, not least an interactive search planner that you can keep adding to throughout your search and which you can even email to yourself, supervisor or us as a Liaison team for feedback. And our ‘Finding Information’ academic skills guide has lots of advice on how to start a search, including how to break your concept down into manageable chunks and how to identify keywords and synonyms.

You can also check out this short video to get you started…….

Keep your eyes peeled for our next blog installment of how to find particular resources. See you then!

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

Everyday life and Mass Observation

Mass Observation. Wow, sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? It should!

This resource offers revolutionary access to one of the most important archives for the study of Social History in the modern era. You can log in using your Newcastle University Campus ID and password to explore original manuscript and typescript papers created and collected by the Mass Observation organisation, as well as printed publications, diaries, photographs and interactive features dating from 1937 to 1972.

If you’re interested in learning more about the topics currently influencing our lives, it would do no harm to research the social history topics available within Mass Observation such as anti-Semitism, the economy, austerity, education, women at work, religion, mining, news, the Government, smoking, drinking, sexual behaviour, propaganda, unemployment and writing (to name just a few!).

Mass Observation home page

Mass Observation Diarist maps

If you want to know more about Mass Observation and to see some samples from the collection, then you could take a look at the Mass Observation Twitter feed, or there is a recorded webinar available for you to watch via YouTube in order to get the best out of the resource.

Put Your Skills to the Test: Escape Room Mini Game

Time to put your skills to the test!

As part of our ‘Level Up Your Academic Skills’ event we will be running an exciting ‘Escape Room’ mini challenge across three different locations this week.

In teams of 2-3 people you’ll be tasked with solving a series of puzzles against the clock, with the fastest team set to win a prize!

To take part, drop by our Academic Skills displays at the following times:

Walton Library – Tuesday 19 March from 13:00-14:30

Philip Robinson Library – Wednesday 20 March from 10:00 – 12:00

Marjorie Robinson Library – Friday 22 March from 10:30-12:00

Taking you to the next skills level

Have you heard about ASK? It’s the University’s one-stop-shop for academic skills.

Are you concerned about being accused of plagiarism? Having some difficulty with statistical analysis? Struggling to write a persuasive argument in your essay? Feeling like you’re not able to manage your lecture, seminar and assignment workload? Or perhaps you are a master procrastinator who needs to just crack on with some work. The ASK (Academic Skills Kit) can help!

Signposting you to the services, resources and support available across Newcastle University, it will help you identify where to go for advice and support to improve your study habits and develop skills that are invaluable for University and what comes after.

ASK directs you to the correct place for support and includes online resources such as quizzes and videos, to help you better understand where you may need to grow.

Why not start with the myth busting quiz developed by the Writing Development Centre for some quick tips on how to study well?
Image of study myths quiz

Library liaison team: get the lowdown

Who are we?

As you may guess from the name, the Library’s liaison team role is to 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. There are over twenty of us, and we’re a friendly bunch: you should get to know us!

What do we do?

Broadly speaking, our remit falls into three main areas:

Collection development

In other words, making sure the Library’s information resources are suitable for current research and teaching needs. So we’ll liaise with Schools about reading lists,  discuss resource requirements for new modules and programmes, and arrange and evaluate trials of major databases. We’ll also help you get the best out of our resources, via our subject guides and resource guides, and of course, this blog!

Help and guidance

We’re here to help you get the best out of the Library. Every year, we deliver several hundred hours of teaching to students from all Schools and at all levels: from big lectures to small practical workshops, covering topics such as literature searching, subject resources, reference management and more. We’ve also developed a wide range of high quality online learning resources, including guides, videos and quizzes, to help you develop your academic skills.

We can also answer individual queries (see our contact information below). The Library’s excellent Library Help service will probably answer most of your questions, but for more specialist subject queries, we’re happy to help. You can also book a one-to-one appointment with us for more in-depth guidance (for example, to discuss your dissertation literature search).

Relationship management

No, that doesn’t mean we’re marriage guidance counsellors or agony aunts! It simply means keeping in touch with staff and students in our Schools: finding out what’s going on, and keeping you up to date with what we’re up to. We do this in various formal and informal ways, including attending meetings and events in the Schools (everything from Student Voice Committees to PGR student conferences); producing regular newsletters; using social media; and just generally being nosey!

How can you get in touch with us?

You can find the contact details for the liaison team for your subject area here.  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.

How to use flashcards for effective revision

Build your bag of tricks and special skills

Image of pixel people student with subject support url

We’re probably all familiar with the fact that the library is where you find the books, but this month, why not explore all of the other types of information that can add to your academic skills bag of tricks. The library’s Resource Guides draw together the best resources available, organised by the type of information rather than subject area.

So if you are trying to find historic newspapers, company financial data, market research, standards or images you will find a resource guide for all of that!

Market research resource guide homepage

The guides are updated all the time as we add new subscriptions to our collection or identify online resources that we think will be useful for teaching and research. You’ll find the Resource Guides on the library website and as quick links on every Subject Guide.

Resource guide quick links from the subject guides

We’ve also highlighted the Resource Guides that are most commonly used for your subject area in the Specialist Resources section.

Specialist resources quick links image

So next time you need to find a newspaper article, a government paper or some statistics to analyse, visit the Resource Guides to help you identify where to look.

Level up your searching skills

Pick up more tips and tricks for searching on our skills guides.

Future proofing your employability

“What would you guess is the most common job?” Michael Lai, Outreach Lead at KGI, asked an audience of students at his Columbia Heights TEDTalk back in 2016. His audience members offer a few suggestions. “Engineer?” “Fast food workers?”  After several failed attempts, Michael puts them out of their misery,

“3.5 billion truck drivers in the United’s States” he tells them. “Experts predict that in the next 12-15 years, most of the cars on America’s highways will be self-driving… so what’s going to happen to the most common job?”

The future of the job market – and it’s inherent uncertainty – has been receiving a lot of attention in the international press in recent years, with Universities UK analysis predicting “65% of children entering primary schools today will work in jobs and functions that don’t currently exist.”  In previous generations, new graduates could expect to work with the same company for several years, steadily climbing the corporate ladder in a predictable, but reassuring linear way. In the 21st century however, the face of the job market is changing, and once you graduate, you may find yourself looking at a “portfolio career” over traditional career progression – something Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg described as more akin to a career “jungle gym” than a career ladder.

But what does all this talk of truck-driving and emergent markets mean for you, the UK Graduate? Well, if the gig economy becomes the norm in the next 10 years, one of the key challenges for new graduates will be the perpetual need to upskill yourself, and market your own skill base to different employers. This puts the spotlight on what have traditionally been referred to as “soft” transferable skills that are required across many different roles and sectors – skills such as resilience, team-working and critical thinking. Here at the Library, we’d argue that information and digital literacy falls under this bracket (well of course we would, we’re librarians!). The ability to find and use information and make considered use of digital tools is an important capability in any graduate job. Don’t just take our word for it – we spoke to several students returning from placement who told us their information skills had helped them get ahead.

The good news though is that your degree programme offers you the chance to work on and demonstrate all of these skills. Employers will know that you may not have extensive work experience as a new graduate, but make sure you cherry-pick prime examples from your University work, part –time jobs and any voluntary experience to exemplify the skills employers are looking for (and remember, the Careers service can help you with interview preparation.) Make the most of the workshops and sessions open to during your time at University so you are in a great position to articulate these important skills. For more information on how the Library can help, check out our Employability Guide

References

  1. TEDx Talks (2016) Four Key Skills to Lead the Future. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djHTcES2ATg
  2. Universities UK (2018) Solving future skills challenges. 6th August 2018. Available at: https://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/policy-and-analysis/reports/Documents/2018/solving-future-skills-challenges.pdf
  3. Sandberg, S as quoted by Lebowitz, S and Campbell, D (2019) “Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon shares his number one piece of advice for millennials who want to get ahead in their careers.” Business insider, Jan 13th 2019. Available at:  https://www.businessinsider.com/career-advice-millennials-goldman-sachs-ceo-david-solomon-2019-1?r=US&IR=T