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Archive for September, 2009

Bangor University has a few libraries, and I’m normally based in the Main Arts Library, where the arts, humanities and social sciences books are kept. As a result, the focus of my blog posts and the enquiries I’ve helped with have tended to cluster in these subject areas; but my post in User Support (Bangor’s equivalent of Subject Librarians) is supposed to cover all the subjects (excepting Health and Law which have their own specialist subject librarians).

As a result, I decided recently to work an afternoon a week in the University’s Deiniol Library, where the science and psychology books are kept, for two reasons: 1. To offer user support to the students based mainly at that library, and 2. To get to know the science library resources better.

I did my first Friday Deiniol session just over a week ago, and enjoyed a quick browse around the shelves, getting an overview of the collections. So, finally, here is a blog post focusing on a library resource from the Deiniol Library.

Dancing at the Dead Sea: Journey to the Heart of the Environmental Crisis is a sobering, informative book by Alanna Mitchell, written in a very readable style. The book is a series of essays focusing on different places in the world the author visited to see the impact of environmental change (see also Mark Lynas’s High Tide for a similar approach), comparing the current oblivion of many people in the world to the “sixth extinction” of species with the disbelief Darwin encountered when he first presented the theory of evolution to a Vistorian public accustomed to a Christian belief system about creation.

I learnt a lot from the book, being new to the term the “sixth extinction” for starters, and being horrified to realise a little more about the extent of the crisis the planet is facing. Madagascar, I discovered from Dancing at the Dead Sea, is home to many of the most unique species in the world, but is losing forest at an alarming rate and therefore many of the animals and plants which lived in these habitats are also waning and vanishing. Lemurs (which live in Madagascar) are apparantly seriously endangered, as are one in three primate species, and the really worrying thing here is that this book was written in 2005, so the situation is potentially even worse today.

Alanna Mitchell also travelled to Suriname, a country in the Amazonian rainforest, which I had only vaguely heard of, which she describes as “the mirror opposite of Madagascar” (Mitchell, 2005, p.173) where, due to efforts to preserve the rainforest, 90% of the forest still remains, some protected by the Central Suriname Nature Reserve which was created in 1998. In addition to finding her account of the situation in Suriname interesting, I was intruiged to read about the Bush Negro people, who are descendents of African slaves brought to Suriname by the Dutch. I have been reading a bit about slavery recently, and it was incredibly sad to read a little about the Suriname slaves, as apparantly the Dutch were extremely cruel slave owners; with the book comparing some figures: apparantly around 330,ooo African slaves were brought to Suriname, a similar number to those taken to the United States, “By the time of emancipation, the United States had 1 million slaves. Dutch Guiana had only 25,000 left…” (Mitchell, 2005,  p196).

Another chapter in the book describes the situation in the Arctic, which I have read a little about in other sources (including Mark Lynas). The Arctic is on the forefront of climate change, and entire ways of life are changing, both for the humans and animals who live in the Arctic, as the snow and ice recedes. It’s an incredible loss in so many ways, and unsurprising that the polar bear, fast losing its snowy habitat, has become one of the emblems of climate change, and one of the ways people who know about these things use simple but powerful symbols to try and reach the rest of humanity and make them aware of the seriousness and severity of climate change.

I have no answers, I am only amazed by my own ignorance, and hope to read, learn and do more. I recommend this book as an interesting and worrying read, and hope to get hold of the author’s newer book: Seasick, about the crisis facing the oceans and marine life (unfortunately we do not currently have this one in the library).

Dancing at the Dead Sea is kept at the Deiniol Library (Bangor University), shelved at GF75.M58 2005, and can be borrowed as soon as I’ve returned it to the library.

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Welcome Week at Bangor

Last week was Welcome Week at Bangor University, which is when all the new students arrive. It’s a frantic week for lots of people at the university: staff are really busy, and students are dealing with a whole new environment, unfamiliar faces, and an overwhelming amount of new information.

As a librarian, I had two main duties in Welcome Week: helping with the library stall at Fresher’s Fair, and giving presentations to groups of new students about library resources.

Fresher's Fair 001

Here’s a picture of me and Chiara on the library stall at Fresher’s Fair, with library leaflets, lots of nice freebies for students, and a tombola (that’s the funny looking box!). I’m the one with the long hair.

I’m currently pregnant (18 weeks now), so was quite anxious about my energy levels for Welcome Week, especially as there was a lot of very active things to do during the week: walking up and down stairs and steep hills, standing up, presenting, talking to lots of people, and so forth. Luckily I managed to do everything, and really enjoyed meeting the new students.

I particularly enjoyed presenting to groups of students, as it’s great to get the chance to share some of the information I have learned about the library resources during the last year, and to give them some tips about effective searching and so on. I gave slightly different information to the postgraduates and undergraduates, but tried to make sure they all had a basic understanding of what the library has and where to start. As Welcome Week wore on, it became an ever more challenging task – trying to get across some information about the library and e-resources, but without overloading already saturated brains!

Most of all, however, I enjoyed presenting because I was out of the library meeting groups of people studying at the university, most of whom seemed to be listening, and asked questions at the presentations, which helps me get an idea of what people want to know about. I hope they will come and see me if they need more guidance with the library resources.

So, term is officially starting here now, the days are growing darker and longer, and we are almost into October. Here’s hoping it will be a lively but not too hectic term with plenty of interesting enquiries!

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To register on these sessions please contact Penny Dowdney on p.j.dowdney@bangor.ac.uk. Please send her: 1) your name, 2) your email address, 3) your level (e.g. 1st year, postgraduate, lecturer, etc), and 4) your subject area.

Small groups are also welcome to request extra workshops to those scheduled, contact v.zarach@bangor.ac.uk initially so that I can find a convenient time, and then bookings can be made via Penny as above.

Thu 15th Oct: Refworks for Beginners

Room 035, Deiniol Building (No 47 on Uni Map)

A two hour workshop for beginners, and people who have begun using Refworks but would like some more guidance.

Refworks is an internet based reference manager bought by the university library, which allows you to save your references to books, journals, articles and so forth online; access references from university and home; and use the references to print out reading lists or create bibliographies at the end of essays. Refworks can be used free of charge by university members for as long as they are at the university. This workshop will show you how to register with Refworks, set up folders for references, save references to Refworks from different sources (books, electronic journals, etc), download the Write-N-Cite plug-in, access your references from Microsoft Word, and insert references into an essay and create a bibliography.

Fri 23rd Oct: Information Hunting Using a Range of Sources

Room 013, Deiniol Building (No 47 on Uni Map)

A two hour workshop.

A workshop for people who are information hunting for an essay or dissertation, and would like some help knowing how to quickly and effectively search across a range of sources. Sources discussed include: the library catalogue, e-journal databases, bibliographic databases, newspaper archives, dissertations, Google Scholar, Google Books, Intute, The Welsh Library & Archives, plus more.

Mon 26th Oct: Advanced Refworks: Write-N-Cite

Room 035, Deiniol Building (No 47 on Uni Map)

A two hour workshop

A workshop for people who already know the basics of using Refworks, but would like some extra guidance on using the features in Write-N-Cite (the Refworks plugin for inserting references in documents).

Wed 28th Oct: Overview of Library Resources for Teaching Staff

Room 035, Deiniol Building (No 47 on Uni Map)

A two hour workshop.

A workshop for members of staff who wish to know more about the range of resources we have at the library and how to use them effectively, including the library catalogue, the electronic journal databases (JSTOR, Science Direct, etc), the bibliographic databases (CSA, Web of Knowledge), and any other resources relevant to the subject areas of staff at the workshop.

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To register on these sessions please contact Penny Dowdney on p.j.dowdney@bangor.ac.uk. Please send her: 1) your name, 2) your email address, 3) your level (1st year, postgraduate, research assistant, lecturer, etc), and 4) your subject area. Please also feel welcome to add any comments about your level of knowledge, and what you hope to get out of the workshop, and sessions can be tailored to meet your needs!

Thu 10th Sept: Refworks for Beginners: BOOKING ESSENTIAL

Room 013, Deiniol Library, Bangor University

A two hour workshop for beginners, and people who have begun using Refworks but would like some more guidance.

Refworks is an internet based reference manager bought by the university library, which allows you to save your references to books, journals, articles and so forth online; access references from university and home; and use the references to print out reading lists or create bibliographies at the end of essays. Refworks can be used free of charge by university members for as long as they are at the university. This workshop will show you how to register with Refworks, set up folders for references, save references to Refworks from different sources (books, electronic journals, etc), download the Write-N-Cite plug-in, access your references from Microsoft Word, and insert references into an essay and create a bibliography.

Thu 17th Sept: E-resources@Bangor: BOOKING ESSENTIAL

Room 013, Deiniol Library, Bangor University

A two hour workshop.

The Bangor University Libraries subscribe to a range of electronic resources, and this session will give you an overview of some of the things we get, and how to search them effectively. The workshop will look at online newspaper archives, electronic journal databases, which contain a range of full text journals; and at some of the bibliographic databases, which search a number of sources and list a range of useful articles (but do not contain full text articles).

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If anyone is using Refworks (an online reference manager which Bangor University Library buys, enabling all staff and students to use Refworks for free to manage their references), they may be interested in the following free online training sessions in Sept and Oct:

RefWorks Webinars for September and October:

17 Sep 2009   9:30 GMT Four Ways to Create Bibliographies

Register at https://refworks.webex.com/refworks/onstage/g.php?t=a&d=713776684

18 Sep 2009   9:30 GMT Six ways to Import Information

Register at https://refworks.webex.com/refworks/onstage/g.php?t=a&d=712692796

07 Oct 2009  9:30 GMT Write-N-Cite III for Windows

Register at https://refworks.webex.com/refworks/onstage/g.php?t=a&d=712226950

07 Oct 2009  12:30 GMT RefWorks Advanced Features

Register at https://refworks.webex.com/refworks/onstage/g.php?t=a&d=719706000

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LibraryRoom20090901_002Pic: Librarian Velvet Zaurak in the Library Room, Bangor University Island, Second Life

I haven’t managed to blog for a few weeks as I’ve been busy with all kinds of things: drop in enquiries, library tours for international students here over the summer, working on a library leaflet, and all kinds of other things. I’ve also spent some time in the last couple of weeks working on the virtual worlds section of the Web 2.0 Scoping Study I’m doing for the library and archives, which has, as always, involved spending some time using the web 2.0 tool in question, in this case, Second Life, which is the most used virtual world for educational purposes.

Luckily for us, some people at the University had already created an island in Second Life for Bangor University, and have been kind enough to give the library a room to use as we begin exploring the potentials of Second Life for the library and archives service.

So far, I have been getting used to moving my avatar around, and have been out exploring Second Life’s freebie shops hunting for furnishings for the library room, with the aim of making it friendly and comfortable, but with a library-esque ambience! It is currently furnished with a large rug, some bookcases, a desk and chair, a laptop, some leopard skin chairs and a small water feature. I also added a harp, as a symbol of the library’s Welshness.

The next stage is to learn to make signs in Second Life, to bilingually label our library room for visitors, and to create some links to library and archives website pages from the library room, as I have seen in other libraries I have visited in Second Life.

Future plans are to look at using Second Life for things such as library reference and enquiry services, for teaching sessions, and also to attend any useful conferences and meetings in the virtual world, as it can be difficult to attend many meetings when based in North Wales!

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