Read for Research – City University London Library

Read for Research  offers the opportunity to research students and staff  at City University London conducting research to suggest  titles for purchase by City University Library Services  

See our Read for Research Twitter hashtag for some titles ordered so far and to see what students think of the scheme.

Read for Research has been very popular and so far over 900 new items have been added to the Library stock since the campaign started in November 2013. It has also been quoted as a good practice example in a new book called Practical tips for facilitating research / Moira Bent.

City research students and staff can recommend general research and specific books for Library purchase on the Read for Research webform.

LILAC 2016: Leabharlannan, Learning & Leprechauns

(Reblogged from: )

Although I’m partly of Irish descent and am partial to elves and quite wanted to see a leprechaun, I had never previously visited Ireland until the recent LILAC 2016  (LILAC is The Librarians’ Information Literacy Annual Conference) at University College Dublin (UCD).  I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to attend the conference and to present a short paper on my current research interest: the digital literacy skills of research students.

I arrived on the Saturday and stayed in the centre of Dublin for the weekend. I stayed opposite the Christchurch Cathedral and next to the lovely Dublin Castle.  The view of the cathedral from my window was awesome, especially in the sunshine.


Christchurch Cathedral

I was able to do some sightseeing and in terms of library related activities visited the Book of Kells exhibition at Trinity College Dublin and briefly the National Library of Ireland.

TCD LibraryNational Library Dublin

Trinity College Dublin old Library;   National Library of Ireland

I then moved on the LILAC conference. My presentation was on the first day which I think is great as there are often a lot of delegates around and you can then focus on learning from others.  I thought the conference was great in terms of the venue, the organisation, amount of delegates,  including international colleagues including  from the US, Scandanavia and Germany, the keynotes and the parallel sessions. It was great to hear a keynote from Jisc on digital literacy as this is something I am interested in.  It is good to plan in advance which sessions you may wish to attend although this year the new pocket size programme made it  easier to navigate around.

I still need to reflect on my learning and decipher my Evernote note taking but  the following were examples of things of interest to me:

Jisc digital capabilities project

University of Leeds Flying Start  to help students make the transition to University. Also promotes the Skills@Library webpages

My Learning Essentials programme workshops and online learning and drop-in sessions from University of Manchester.

Vine videos from University of Sussex Library To promote workshops and services.

Char Booth’s blog post on imposter syndrome.

Graduate Employability Lens for the SCONUL seven pillars  

We had a couple of  really good social events, one was  a networking event at The Chester Beatty Library in the castle grounds with great bowls of snacks, some of my favourites being the mini fish and chips and chicken tagine.  We also had a great feast and evening  at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham


Chester Beatty Library; Dublin Castle

While I didn’t see any leprechauns as such, I did see a promising sign for a Leprechaun Museum but didn’t have time to visit on this occasion. I’m grateful to the LILAC 2016 organising committee and volunteers, my Library Leadership Team at City for the opportunity to attend, UCD library staff for showing us round the James Joyce Library, and the speakers and delegates for sharing their knowledge. My thoughts are that although we are all different and have our own approaches, contexts, interests, hallenges and workplace priorities, there are always some communalities and we can always learn from others.


UK Data Service webinars 2016

The UK Data Service has just released its 2016 programme of webinars introducing different aspects of their service and explaining their key datasets.

Introductory webinars:

  • Introduction to the UK Data Service – 21 January, 20 April, 12 October
  • Finding and accessing data in the UK Data Service – 9 March, 28 April, 19 October
  • Key issues in reusing data – 4 February, 4 May, 26 October
  • Data management basics – 11 February, 12 May, 3 November

Key datasets:

  • UK and cross-national surveys – 18 February, 10 November
  • Census data, 24 February – 17 November
  • Longitudinal surveys – 2 March, 24 November
  • International time series – 27 January, 1 December
  • Qualitative data – 16 March, 6 December
  • Business data – 23 March, 12 December

All webinars begin at 3pm and can be booked here.

Researcher case study resource

Over the past few months, I have been collecting some case studies from City University London research students and staff and have been collating them on a case study resource. This showcases the work of City research students and staff and also the breadth of approaches and Library resources available.

The purpose of this resource is to give a practical insight into researching different subjects from the point of view of a research student or staff member who has either recently researched the topic(s) or is a new or experienced researcher. I hope it will also be useful for other students researching these topics of those who use a multi-disciplinary approach.

It concentrates on areas such as:  Library resources such as databases and journals, useful textbooks, literature searching experiences and keywords and any publications, articles blog posts etc.

It is useful to show the breadth of approaches to research and also the inter-disciplinary research that is taking place and there are both similarities and differences in the tools that researchers use.

Some examples of case studies are:  Ludi Price (Library & Information Studies) and  Dr Ernesto Priego (Library & Information Studies) and Rebecca Wells (Food Policy and Journalism).

If any City research students or staff would like to contribute a case study about your research and use of research tools and Library resources, you can easily do so by completing the contact form. I will then create a draft case study for you to approve and if we can agree some content, the case study will appear on the citylibresearchcasestudies resource.


Reflections on Mentoring

I work as a Research Librarian in Library Services at City University London. I have worked here since February 2013 and I am fortunate that my role is quite a new one and it is something that has the potential to be developed in different ways. My aim is to deliver Library support, collections, services and training to and advocate for research students and staff.

This year, I’m very grateful that with the support of our Library Leadership team, I have had some great development opportunities. I have had the chance to work on an employability project which is something that I am really interested in, attend and present a paper at LILAC conference and I am currently on the new CILIP Leadership Programme. 

It is great to receive training and development, but also it is also good to give something back to others. For the past 2 years, I have also had the chance to participate as a Postgraduate Mentor on the Professional Mentoring scheme at City run by my lovely and very supportive colleagues Thalia Anagnostopoulou and Taryn Ferris. I’m very grateful for these opportunities.

Since the Postgraduate mentoring programme started, I have had the privilege of working with 2 students from our MA/MSc Library & Information Science course #citylis. I have enjoyed a close working relationship with the Department since I started working here so it is really good to be able to work with individual students more closely. The #citylis news blog can be found here. This year, I worked with a #citylis student, Saidah Gilbert and you can read her very well written blog post about her experiences on the programme. Saidah is from Trinidad and Tobago and would like to work as a librarian and one thing we have in common is that we both love reading.

I find this definition of mentoring useful: “Mentoring involves primarily listening with empathy, sharing experience (usually mutually), professional friendship, developing insight through reflection, being a sounding board, encouraging” – David Clutterbuck (Gibbons, 2013).

To be a mentor, I don’t think that you have to necessarily be the most successful, dynamic managing director ever. You may be of course and there’s nothing wrong with success and ambition. I do think it’s important to have had some life experiences and possibly different jobs and careers that you can share. The fact that you are prepared to give up your time and effort and actually listen to and be committed to being fully present to a mentee for an hour or so is in my opinion, the most important thing. It is also the case that the mentee has also chosen to give up their time and has commitment to the process.

Mentoring is very rewarding but challenging because it’s not really possible to change a person as such or make them have goals that are not their own. People have to live their own lives, in their own contexts and learn their own lessons. Sometimes you just have to try something (eg different careers) to experience what is right for you. I think one of the challenges is actually to find out what the mentee actually wants to obtain from the process because he/she may not know or may not be able to express this. Sometimes, it may be at the last meeting when things become clearer. However, it’s not possible to generalise as everyone is individual and has a different life journey and career path. It is a hard lesson to learn but generally there are no right or wrong answers as such, there are just different choices. I’m told that Postgraduate mentoring is different to undergraduate as it is more about the person themselves and their development and choices whereas undergraduate may be more directive and give advice and guidance.

In terms of the mentor, I believe that it is by giving that we actually grow and find ourselves and receive. Regardless of what happens during the mentoring programme, I’m sure it doesn’t leave people unchanged, even in small ways and even if they may not realise it at the time. I would recommend both mentoring and being a mentee as an opportunity to learn about others and yourself in unexpected ways. I wish all of our mentees this year continuing learning and success in the future.

Gibbons, A. (2013) The Coaching and mentoring network . Articles. Available at: (Accessed: 07/09/2015).

CILIP Leadership Programme & Conference 2015

In July 2015, I was fortunate enough to have had the chance to have 2 new experiences, the first day of the new CILIP  Leadership Programme  and the opportunity to attend the CILIP Conference 2015, both  in Liverpool (and I also met some great new people).

CILIP Leadership Programme

The CILIP Leadership programme is a pilot initiative which is aimed at librarians with some leadership experience or who are mid-career professionals. It offers the opportunity to meet other colleagues from various sectors and from different parts of the country. It also includes 4 workshops, some online activities and discussions via the CILIP VLE, the chance to develop a personal development plan based on the CILIP skills framework (PKSB) and to work on a project for the CILIP Member Networks. At the event, we had a speed networking event to introduce ourselves and then some general discussion on leadership styles and talks on peoples’ leadership journeys.  Advice included: “Be who you are, follow your passion, stay grounded & never forget your roots”.

In the afternoon, we were in our project groups. I am working with other colleagues on a CPD project for some of the member networks. I think one of the challenges will be to clarify and define the project scope and find suitable methods of communication at a distance and allocate roles to people on the project team.  I look forward to having some new insights and learning opportunities. It was great to meet some new and very friendly colleagues, some of whom also attended the CILIP Conference.


CILIP Conference 2015

After the Leadership workshop, there was also the opportunity to attend the CILIP Conference at the rather amazing St George’s Hall in Liverpool. The strapline for the conference was: Connect Debate Innovate. It was much larger than I expected, there were 600 delegates from different sectors and 50 speakers/ presenters.   The conference was very professional and started really well in the impressive auditorium.

St georges

Keynote speakers

One of the major strengths of the conference was the keynote speakers. Shami Chakrabarti was a really engaging and dignified speaker. She has been Director of Liberty since September 2003. Her background is as a barrister and she has been involved with the defence and promotion of human rights. She spoke of Doreen Lawrence’s passionate struggle for justice and the  personal consequences of this. Her first book, On Liberty was published in October 2014. Her keynote spoke of threats to democracy and human rights, she is a passionate advocate of libraries as civic and creative spaces and some of her messages were: “Ultimately every human life is precious, simply because it’s a life.” and “Privacy, conscience and  free speech are not absolute”.

Another very passionate and compelling speaker was the Guardian journalist and blogger, Erwin James . He began a 20 year prison sentence for a serious crime in 1984.” Twenty years later he was released and is now an arts graduate and award winning writer. He is a Guardian columnist and  full-time  freelance writer and blogger.  He was transformed by reading and education, He read books in the prison library and was changed by reading a book sent to him by a friend of his called “Prisoners of honor  the Dreyfus affair” by David Lewis.  (Dreyfus was wrongly accused of a crime and imprisoned but later exonerated and is a famous figure in French history).   His keynote was very honest and very moving and compelling.  Some of his messages were: “We are all born with hope” and “Find the freedom to be who you are.”


These were on four main themes:

  • Information management
  • Information literacy and digital inclusion
  • Demonstrating value
  • Digital futures and technology

The workshop speakers and some with links to their presentations are here:  ( I think this is a good way of displaying  speakers’ presentations)  Some of the workshops I attended are:

Charles Inskip, UCL  – Digital Literacy in the work place. 

This talk provided an overview of thinking and practice in workplace information literacy, an important developing area. It considered the semantic gap between education and workplace settings and identified  key issues around graduate skills and the challenges to library and information professionals in bridging that gap. The speaker’s Research information literacy blog is here:

Hannah Gore, Open University – Badging digital literacy

Blog post  OU Free courses

Badged Open Courses (BOCs) are free courses from The Open University,  including  English for study, Succeed in the Workplace, First Steps into HE and Digital Literacy. The Open University BOCs are different to MOOCs in that they are aimed at a widening participation audience. They are delivered via  The Open University’s OpenLearn platform for free and provide recognition in the form of electronic badges and statements of participation that learners can display, export to application letters and CVs, and share on other third party social platforms. The Digital Literacy BOC in particular aims to help learners develop the skills for effective online learning. These skills include searching efficiently, critically evaluating information, communicating and sharing online, and selecting the right online tool. The completion rate is higher than MOOCs (9% instead of 5%).

Vanessa Hill and Adam Edwards, Middlesex University  – Quality and impact of library workshops

Information literacy delivery is always a challenge in terms of timing, content and delivery and embedding. At Middlesex, games are used to introduce a social and peer learning dimension and encourage group learning. They have found the approach successful, some resources can be found on Jorum (above). There was a chance to play one of the games in the workshop, where various coloured cards had to be matched up for different resources eg, book, journal articles, website, trade journal etc. It seemed to produce discussion and engagement in the room. It may not suit all learning styles and may not be suitable for all levels eg. academic staff and experienced researchers or all subjects (eg Law).


It was great to meet the CILIP Leadership participants and go for a meal and a walk by the Albert Docks on the first night to get to know some of them.  I’m also very grateful to our Library Leadership Team  for the opportunity to participate in the CILIP Leadership Programme and to attend the CILIP Conference . I was impressed by the great  St George’s Hall, the professionalism of the conference,  the engaging keynotes and some of the workshops were useful.

albert dock

St johns park

Research resource of the week: Factiva

Factiva is a current international news database produced by Dow Jones, one of the leading global provider of economic and financial information., from Dow Jones, combines over 35,000 sources to give students, faculty, and librarians access to premium content from 200 countries, in 26 languages. Users have access to a wide range of information from newspapers, newswires, industry publications, websites, company reports, and more. The broad range of content provides both local insight and global perspective on business issues and current events – especially with regard to research requiring current information on companies, industries, and financial markets.