Hillcroft LRC

Archive for May 2015

Working in the LRC means that the team enjoys books and encourages wide reading in all formats and genres –  illustrated and plain text; digital and print; long and short. Yet even I must admit I put down the grand epic ‘War and Peace‘ because it was just too long. According to this literature infographic, it would take you somewhere upwards of 32 hours to read that novel.

If you are up for a challenging read but don’t have much time, many of the most famous authors also wrote novellas. Novellas are short fiction which are often realistic or satirical (See the Encyclopaedia Britannica entry). They are much like short stories and influenced that concise genre of writing. They would probably only take one or two hours to read. Quick wins! It’s not about how fast you read something or whether you finish a book. Novellas may also lead you onto authors whose style you enjoy and can read their longer works.

In libraries novellas and short stories are included with fiction and modern literature shelves. We have stickers on the spines to show you they are short stories. You could try reading Alice Munro’s work for instance. We have Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage in the LRC.

Novellas and short stories could have a shelf for themselves with appropriate signage. Like our Quick Reads shelf. The advantage would be speed. It would be much quicker to locate. Also you would be able to browse a whole shelf of novellas and short stories in a short time to find something you would like to read. What do you think? Do you have time to read a short story or novella?

Which of these prize-winning novellas would you like to read?

My athens homepageMy Athens makes it possible to access web resources that our college is subscribed to, including ebooks on Dawsonera and Ebrary and newspaper articles on UK Newsstand and many more. Only long course students have access to these eresources as it takes some time to become fluent with finding information through them. Once you come to terms with navigating My Athens and the eresources the next step would be to personalise your account to make working on the web easier for you.

One way to personalise your account is to customise your homepage. You can click ‘add panel’ to see news feeds from websites wherever you see the classic RSS orange icon. There are feed readers that you can add to Chrome or Firefox toolbars so even if you don’t have an My Athens account you can still get news easily on your laptop.

I have feeds from Europeana, Research Buzz  and BBC news on my homepage. So each time I log in to see eresources I see the most up-to-date news and articles from my favourite sites, ones I don’t normally access every day otherwise. It is not too much of a distraction as long as I don’t forget why I was in My Athens to start with!

Another suggestion is that you can also add the ‘favourite resources’ panel so that you don’t need to click on the ‘resources’ page.

You can move the panels around by clicking and dragging on the dotted box and arrow icon in the right hand corner of the panel.

Hope you find these tips useful!


Post it note and pen with 'Is this accessible?' written on itJulia Taylor from Jisc gave an interesting talk on accessibility at the Academic and Research Libraries Group (ARLG) Members’ Day at the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) on 14 May.

Did you know that it’s possible to embed sound into Word documents? Or that you can make them more accessible by using style templates? Take a look at Jisc TechDis advice on making Word documents more accessible. If you’re using Word 2010 there are a number of help videos on YouTube.

We’re using 2013 here so we need to look up what can be done for our learners in the Office 2013 suite. Here’s a handy page on Accessibility Features in Office 2013 which advises you on how to make the ribbons easier to use and a checker to find out how accessible your documents are. Here’s one for Word 2013 too.

Non-fiction with picturesGetting new textbooks and non-fiction books that are suitable for Further Education students is an enjoyable and challenging part of the LRC team’s job. There are fantastic books on all subjects but the problem is that some are higher education focused, i.e. really wordy.

Making the most of Illustrations is a central part of reading. A picture tells a thousand words, right? We keep an eye out for non-fiction that has lots of pictures and graphics alongside high-quality writing.This is good news for a faster engagement with new topics and understanding for visual learners such as dyslexics. At the same time, non-fiction books that are less text-heavy are also easier to skim read and skip to key subheadings. These can be good reading strategies. Humour is often used too which can make even the driest subject more interesting.

Here are a few titles that are new and focus on illustrating the issues (we’re not saying these subjects are dry!):

Let us know what other non-fiction ‘picture books’ you like. Which subjects lend themselves well to being illustrated or is this approach just for children?

Standing iPadEver felt like your overwhelmed by search results when you use Google? Then this handy article by Business Insider UK will help you sharpen up your search skills.

The article 11 Easy Tips for Finding Exactly What You Want on Google by Jillian D’Onfro gives you handy tips that enable you to be more precise in your searches and narrow down the results. It’s ideal for our Access to Humanities and Social Science students who are doing an extended research/essay project right now. The tip on using define: to get a definition of terms that you might want to use in setting your project question/hypothesis will be a good starter.

Use domains to target websites where you can find primary source material from different types of organisations such as research organisations or think tanks (.org or .org.uk), government departments (.gov or gov.uk). This can help you find information that you cannot access in your library.

Try searching with double speech marks “…”  to look for an exact phrase or term on the web for example “cultural norms”.

Narrow down the number of search results by clicking on the Search Tools link below the search box to pick material on the Internet published recently or on a particular date or between a range of dates

Google SearchTools


Information sources mindmap - available on the VLE

Information sources mindmap – available on the VLE.

To get the better grades in assignments they are looking for you to draw from a wide range of relevant information sources to reinforce your ideas. There is no end to good sources of information available to you, but navigating your way through to the best ones takes practice and guidance. Here’s a little guidance, but please ask for help from the LRC team if you are stuck.

To start out with it is advisable to find information from generalist sources such as encyclopaedias and subject specific dictionaries. For instance to find definitions of key words included in your essay question. They have more authority than Wikipedia when it comes to referencing. However, starting an assignment is scary and overwhelming, perhaps try listening to a podcast on the topic or watching a video to get more familiar with it in a short time without needing to open a book.

After getting a better picture of the topic and identifying the key words next you could move on to more specialist sources such as subject books, ebooks, newspaper and journal articles. We have access to these through the MyAthens log in page on the VLE and our borrowing service. Let us know if you have forgotten your password, it happens to almost everyone. Alternatively, search on newspaper websites and  such as The Guardian or through Google Scholar.

There’s a mindmap of information sources that is posted on the VLE under LRC FAQs –> Resources.

Two students using Kindles with their course tutorThis week we were delighted to receive our certificates for our entries that came 2nd and 3rd in the Council for Learning Resources in Colleges (CoLRiC) Best Practice Awards. An extra surprise was the fact that our entry into the Reader Development category had come out Highly Commended. This entry Kickstart the Six Book Challenge with Ebooks looked at how we’ve been getting students and teaching staff using Kindle ebooks which included Quick Reads and graded readers with Future Proof and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) learners.

Future Proof students have been reading the 2015 Quick Read Street Cat Bob. Whereas ESOL students have been reading:

Tales of the Supernatural
The Fruitcake Special and Other Stories
Sherlock Holmes Short Stories
One Way Ticket Short Stories

We’ve just been look at Whispercast which Amazon have running currently in the United States allowing schools, colleges, universities and workplaces to get Kindle books includes etextbooks and lend them out to pupils, students and staff on any device. Having had a look on the UK site it’s not here yet but no doubt it’ll be a future development

Vote for books new booksReading for study and development is probably taking over most of our time in and outside of college. Yet we wanted to let you know about the new books available that might not directly go into essays, lessons or CVs but help in other ways by taking our mind of things and being inspiring.

At the beginning of the year we had a vote on the VLE about which of the best books of 2014 to order in for our library. So your voices have been heard and here is a selection of the new offerings in biography/fiction:

H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald.

Penelope Fitzgerald: a life by Hermione Lee.

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng.

Next we are looking at mind-boosting books. Which you would like to see in the LRC?

This year the books on the list were chosen by people who are affected by cancer who found them good reads in difficult times.

I have picked up The Humans, which I find is a humorous addition to my train journeys. You can suggest your own mind-boosting books on social media by adding the #moodboosting to the public status update or tweet. For example, I found the memoir Love with a Chance of Drowning when it was first published after reading Torre de Roche’s blog. She really is an inspiring and down-to-earth woman whose adventures at sea took me out of everyday life and gave me back my propensity to dream.

There is also other books shortlisted for awards that would be great for the LRC. There’s the Bailey’s Prize for Women’s Fiction for instance. Let us know what you think of any of these possible books to buy by commenting, email, on Twitter or Facebook or in person.

Have a good bank holiday weekend!

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