Archive for October, 2009

This is the handout for Friday afternoon’s working on information hunting.
I am putting handouts on my blog to try and cut down on printing costs.



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This is the handout for Friday’s teaching session on e-databases for library staff.


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At the library, we have a large range of electronic databases. They can all be accessed by university members when online at the university, or from home by logging to databases using your university user name and password. To find a database, go to the library e-database search page, type the name of a database you are looking for into the “Database Name” search box, and press submit.

This first list is some of the e-databases listed by type (e.g. bibiliographic databases, dictionaries, historical source materials, maps, newspapers, etc).


This second list is a separate list of most of the e-journal databases (excluding a few with only 1 or 2 journals in), with around 124 databases on the list. Each e-journal database is a colletion of journals from a different publisher (e.g. Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, American Chemical Society); and some databases may contain only 1 or a few journals, whereas others contain 2000 journals. In most cases, the library only buys some of the journals in the database, so you will only be able to access articles in journals we buy, others will not open or will ask you for passwords. A few databases cover most subjects, and are therefore nearly always worth searching when you are hunting for articles for your research, and other contain journals for particular subjects (health, law, science, etc); so the list divides e-journal databases by subject.


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This is the handout for tomorrow’s information hunting and Refworks session for postgraduates.

InfoHunting&Refworks (PDF)

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

Please note that workshops book up quickly, but I will try and run extra workshops if demand is high!

Thu 12th Nov: Refworks for Beginners: BOOKING ESSENTIAL

Room 035, 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 and afterwards. 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 19th Nov: E-resources@Bangor: BOOKING ESSENTIAL

Room 035, 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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Reading Habits

This is another blog post doing the rounds of the librarian blogs. I saw it first on Woodsiegirl’s blog: Organizing Chaos.

Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack?

I love to eat meals and read at the same time. In fact I hate to eat without reading. One of the best things about being a grown up is that nobody can tell me not to eat whilst reading. I haven’t really got a favourite snack.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?

No, the thought horrifies me. Sometimes I rip pictures out of magazines, e.g. last week I ripped a picture of a green sequin skirt I liked out of Grazia. But that’s the nearest I get to defacing reading material. Oh, ahem, except for when I was quite little, when I used to like nibbling the corners of pages in books.

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open?

Often I don’t, I just lose my place and have to re-find it. If I’m feeling really organized, I slip in a bit of scrap paper, or maybe an event flyer. Bookmarks sound like a good idea, maybe I should get some?!

Fiction, Non-fiction, or both?

Fiction mostly, both for adults and children. I do read some non fiction as well.

Hard copy or audiobooks?

Hard copy for me, I like to read at my own pace, and skim when I feel like it. I’m far too impatient to sit and listen to an audiobook. Plus I really love words, written words, voices somehow aren’t quite as exciting. The only exception I can think of here is Felicity Kendal reading My Naughty Little Sister, which we had as a record album when I was little, I loved that!

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you able to put a book down at any point?

I can put down a book at any point, and often have to if I’m busy. I’m also the kind of person who will sit in front of the telly with my laptop on and a book and a magazine beside me, so I’m quite happy switching between information!

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away?

No, never. I just keep reading, and hope that one day I’ll have read it enough times that I will know what it means.

What are you currently reading?

Nothing! I need some new reading material! The last two things I read were: Dancing at the Dead Sea, a book about the environmental crisis by Alanna Mitchell, which was really good (review on my blog), and Hello magazine, with some nice pictures of Jerry Hall in her garden with chickens. I have eclectic tastes…

What is the last book you bought?

I think it was Blonde Roots by Bernardine Evaristo, a reversal of the slave industry, where a white woman called Doris is kidnapped and taken into slavery; it was well written and very thought provoking.

Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can you read more than one at a time?

I can read more than one at a time, in the sense of dipping in and out of different books, rather than actually being able to sit and actually read say five books at exactly the same time; I would probably need some more eyes and brains and arms to be able to do that.

Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to read?

All day would be good, but I have to go to work. So I guess evenings is my favourite time for reading. As for place, I love to read on my bed, with my cat beside me.

Do you prefer series books or stand alone books?

I prefer stand alone books mostly, but if a book is really really good, it’s very exciting if it’s part of a series.

Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over?

Most of my favourite books are children’s books, and my all time favourite is Where The Wild Things Are, which I would always recommend to parents. Meg and Mog is good too.

How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.?)

Roughly by genre. Fiction is together, non fiction together, children’s books are together, and big books are together. Actually, I guess big books isn’t a genre. So, genre and size.

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Why I’m a Librarian

I really enjoyed reading a blogpost by Woodsiegirl on her Organizing Chaos blog about how she became a librarian, and it seems others did too, as another librarian blogger, Jennie Law, followed suit with a blog post on why she became a librarian, which inspired Ned the wikiman to set up a wiki called The Library Routes Project encouraging others to do the same, and gathering the posts together in true librarian style.

So I thought I’d do a blog post on this subject!

Why am I a librarian? For me it’s probably a mixture of chance and desire. From pretty much as far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a writer when I grew up, and have written stories and poems most of my life. At times, I also wanted to be a film star. I liked the idea of wearing glamorous outfits, though when I was little, I was a bit put off the film star idea by the possibility I might have to kiss boys. As I got older, I didn’t mind that thought so much.

Now very few people do become famous authoresses or film stars, and when I was sent on school work experience in the first year of my A-levels, I didn’t ask to go to Hollywood. To be honest, I don’t think my secondary school would have sent me there anyway. Maybe to Holyhead, which is a bit nearer. Anyway, I had already done two work experiences during GCSEs, one in Penrhyn Castle (I always liked heritage and old buildings) and one in Sain Records (I liked music), so the next obvious choice seemed to be a library, as I loved books. The school sent me to the local university library for a work experience, and that’s where I work now, wow, pretty much half my life later!

At university, I did anthropology and archaeology, because it sounded interesting (it was), but I also worked in my college library, for extra money to keep me going whilst I studied. I began by shelving books, moved on to working as a afternoon library helper doing all kinds of things, and ended up working as part of the team cataloguing the library books for the new computer catalogue. When I finished my degree, the library kept me on, and when all the books were catalogued (not all by me!) I stayed on as a desk assistant, working in the library for 3 years after college. This library was a small one belonging to King’s College in Cambridge, so I got to do a wide variety of tasks.

After a year off, I ended up back in Wales, and took the first library job I could find, which was in Coleg Menai, the local FE college. I enjoyed working there, as you get a wide variety of people, from school leavers, to international students, to mature members of the local community returning to learning; and the books are quite different again to university library collections.

One day (it really was this random) I suddenly decided that as I still seemed to be working in libraries, it made sense to get a library degree, so that I could earn a better wage in library work; and at the same time, I started thinking about the fact that I quite liked the idea of moving to Brighton. Luckily, Brighton not only had a postgraduate library degree, but it happened to be an “Information Management” course with some focus on electronic information, which was the route I wanted to follow, rather than a more traditional library degree focusing on a lot of the things I had already done.

So in the first year of the new millenium (2000), I headed down to Brighton to do a library degree, at the University of Brighton, which was pretty interesting, I think I picked the right course for me. At the end of the degree, I was lucky enough to get a post covering maternity leave in the Development Studies library at Brighton’s University of Sussex, which I really enjoyed, as it was relevant to my anthropology degree; before being offered a job working in e-learning back in Wales.

I then side stepped into e-learning for about 5 years, which taught me many new skills, such as presenting and organizing meetings, and gave me an interest in new technologies; oh, and squeezed in a job as an English GCSE teacher for a year, and did a postgraduate Heritage Management degree, it was a busy time!

A couple of years ago, I left e-learning and returned to library work, beginning with a post back at Coleg Menai library (the local FE college), followed by a post in User Support in Bangor University Library, which is where I am now.

As jobs go, I really like mine, and think it suits my abilities. I worked for a month cooking starters in a pizza restaurant once, and I was useless, you have to know your own strengths and weaknesses. It might be a stereotype, but I really do like “working with books and people”, though for books, substitute “a wide variety of electronic and printed information sources”. I love research, I love helping people with research, and I like explaining search skills and complicated electronic databases to people. I think I’m pretty lucky to do something I enjoy. Oh, and just to add to that, I also like quite a wide variety of subjects, which is ideal for library work; as opposed to being an academic who specialises in certain subjects or areas.

I haven’t done much writing lately as I’m so busy working full time, but I still carry that dream of being a writer; and as for the film star dream, well I joined a local drama group, and have had a couple of incredibly unglamorous parts as peasants in sackcloth, and played Madonna in a blonde wig, somehow, I don’t think Hollywood are going to steal me away from the library…

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