Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Twitter and blogging for researchers

(Reblogged from our Digital Scholarship Blog)

The Library works with the Researcher Development Team here at York, to deliver training on the aspects of Web 2.0 that impact on academia most. There's a whole suite of workshops around the idea of becoming a networked researcher - Russ Grant in RDT runs an introduction to social media, a session on enhancing your online reputation, and one on social networks for researchers (eg ResearchGate, Academia.edu, and LinkedIn). I run the sessions on Blogs and Blogging, and Twitter.

Here are the slides from my sessions this term (the handouts we used are linked to at the relevant point in the slides):

(If you're interested in the teaching side of using Twitter, see our previous blog post on the subject!)

If you're interested in these, we're running the whole suite again next term - all the details are available via the Support for Researchers webpages:

In case you're still not sold, here are some comments from this term's feedback forms:
  • Great. Ready to conquer the blogging world! Thanks
  • Excellent session, well presented and very friendly. 
  • I finally understand what Twitter is, well done Ned! 
  • Totally recommended 
  • It saved me so much time, since I now know exactly the options I'm interested in… THANKS!
Hope to see some of you next term!

Ned Potter,
Academic Liaison Librarian

Friday, 25 April 2014

Taking your Library home

It's probably not escaped your attention that this is a busy time of year. Across the three buildings of the Library, we have over 1,200 study spaces - we know there are times when you'd like to see more, but safety requirements don't allow us to add any extra seats.

We're currently trying out a system that shows you occupancy levels in various areas of the Library - it's updated regularly over the course of the day, so you can see where you're most likely to find a space. You can check the web page or use the screen in the Library foyer:
During the exam period, we've booked out rooms in the Fairhurst (LFA/144) and Burton (LBU/003) buildings to be used as additional study space. During Week One, we've been encouraging everyone to find out how to make the Library work for them, whilst respecting the needs of others:
But what do you do when you can't find a seat in the Library, or when you'd rather work at home?

You take the Library home...

Photo of books on floor
Photo: Books by Katey. Reproduced under a Creative Commons licence
No, not literally...

Instead, think about how you can make other study areas more like the Library, and make sure you know how to access the various electronic resources, no matter where you are.

Working elsewhere in the University

  • Have a look at the study spaces available elsewhere in the University - if you don't need immediate access to the physical resources in the Library they might be ideal for you, and they include group study areas that you can book out:
  • If you need a PC, remember there are IT rooms all over campus - use the IT Services web page to check which IT rooms are booked, and which have free PCs:

Working at home

Pick up one of our 'brilliant minds at work' door hangers at the Library desk if you want to remind your housemates not to disturb you while you revise.

Find out what you can access online using our E-resources guide. Our policy, when we buy a book, is also to buy the e-book if one is available, so we may have more e-resources than you think.
  • Organise books & other resources so it’s easy to find what you need - arrange them on your shelves by classmark or subject.
    Light caffeine boost
    Light caffeine boost by Steve.
    Reproduced under a Creative Commons licence.
  • Make a big flask of coffee at the start of each session so you don’t have to stop and put the kettle on.
  • Stock up on easy snacks to keep hunger at bay and feed your brain - nuts, seeds and fruit are all recommended:
  • If walking to the Library in the morning gives you space to think out your day’s work, have a walk around the block after breakfast before you settle down to study.
  • Don't forget about breaks - arrange to meet your housemates in the kitchen for lunch or coffee breaks, so you get the social interaction you’d have in the Library cafe.
  • Check out some of the many revision and writing tips available online (just don't spend all your time reading them!):

And finally don't forget the support available to you on campus if you have any concerns during this busy time:
(If all else fails and you just can't concentrate on your work no matter what you do, perhaps it's time to change things up a bit and re-arrange your sock drawer for five minutes. Here's how to do it properly: www.wikihow.com/Arrange-a-Sock-Drawer).

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

World Book Night & Tales of the City

Mr. Maupin invented San Francisco.” Quentin Crisp
Photo of San Francisco street
Photo: OMG it's San Francsico by Daniel Hoherd.
Reproduced under a Creative Commons licence.

‘Much-loved’ is a phrase often used about writers and their work. There are few, however, to whom it genuinely applies; Armistead Maupin is one such author.


First published in 1978, Tales of the City made an immediate impact and won the hearts of readers the world over. San Francisco in the late 1970s, a place of dreams and free love... who could have guessed that Maupin’s collection of unconventional characters at 28 Barbary Lane, with its almost mystical landlady Anna Madrigal, would go on to span nine novels and three decades?

It's rumoured that people have uprooted and moved body and soul to San Francisco, so passionate is their love for ‘the Tales’. So it makes perfect sense that Tales of the City is one of this year’s World Book Night selected novels. An event that seeks to ignite a passion for reading in those who never normally read, the World Book Night selectors choose books based on the strength of their appeal.

The author himself is a World Book Night fan, and thrilled to be on the list:
"World Book Night has to rank as one of the most ingenious new literacy schemes of the 21st century – volunteers giving books away to strangers on the street in an act of deliberate infection. It's the love of reading 'going viral' with actual eye contact involved, so the rewards are profound for both giver and receiver.”
As part of our celebration of the event we’re asking Twitter followers to share with us a tale of their city. In 140 characters, of course. The most inventive, touching and inspiring of these will win a free copy of Tales of the City. Let’s take up the gauntlet thrown down by Maupin and really get this thing going viral.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

World Book Night and The Humans

"The wonderful thing about World Book Night is that while everyone talks about getting books into the hands of people who probably wouldn't read them otherwise, World Book Night goes out there in the real world and does exactly that.” Matt Haig, author.
Photo: Starman by Carl Jones. Reproduced under a Creative Commons licence.
Matt Haig’s new novel, The Humans, is one of the titles being given away as part of this year’s World Book Night. Born and bred round these parts, Matt lives in York and has written a number of successful titles; his latest, The Humans, is described by The Independent as a ‘wryly humorous look at the human condition as seen by an alien’.

We’re giving away a free copy donated by the author himself.

The fundamental aim of World Book Night is to ‘place books into the hands of those who don’t regularly read’ - volunteers give thousands of books away by applying to be a World Book Night Book Giver. If they're selected, the Book Givers share out copies of their chosen novel among their local community, thereby promoting their own love of reading. My brother-in-law has long been a fan of the scheme, so whenever I spy a bookshelf in my local pub I make a point of wandering over; there’s usually a donated book with his name in it somewhere on the shelves.

The books on offer for World Book Night are selected for mass appeal; the idea is to inspire as many people as possible to give reading a shot. Special emphasis is placed on novels for teenagers and young adults, as statistics tell us that 46% of this demographic don't ever read for pleasure.* This is likely to ring true for many an undergraduate or researcher. When was the last time you picked up a book just because you wanted to?

Jeanette Winterson describes The Humans as "a laugh-and-cry book. Troubling, thrilling, puzzling, believable and impossible. Matt Haig uses words like a tin-opener. We are the tin." It certainly sounds like a tale fit for World Book Night, and we’re delighted to be able to share it with you. Follow our #WorldBookNight antics on Twitter to be in with a chance of winning a copy, and join us in celebrating a really worthwhile and inspiring annual event.

You can find Matt on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/matthaig1 and his website is here: http://www.matthaig.com/

*Statistic taken from the Department of Culture, Media and Sports' Taking Part Survey

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Blood, Guts and Shipwreck

Tales of shipwreck, disaster and survival always make a compelling story; particularly so when based on a true account written by the Captain of a doomed ship.

The external appearance of a slim volume within the Raymond Burton Special Collection entitled A narrative of the loss of The Shannon of Hull on the 26th of April, 1832 gives little clue to the tale of drama described within its thirty close-typed pages…

Reproduced with permission of Wellcome Library, London under a Creative Commons Attribution only licence

On 27 March 1832 the 360 tonne whaling ship Shannon sailed out of Hull with a crew of 29 men and boys under the eye of Captain George Davey. On leaving the Humber they steered north to Lerwick in Shetland (picking up an additional 20 crew to make a total of 49) before starting on their journey to the whaling grounds in the Davis Straits, off the coast of Canada.

Four months later, following a hellish journey, the surviving crew – only 19 sailors – limped home to Hull on August 25.

The journey to the whaling grounds meant sailing though dangerous and unpredictable ice fields and at 3.30 am on April 26 with the wind blowing a gale, the Shannon ran stem on an iceberg with a tremendous crash. The water rushed in rapidly through the breach and the sea broke over the crew in huge waves. Isolated more than 170 miles from the nearest landfall the vessel drifted at the mercy of the elements. Seamen clung to anything that would float but, battered with each succeeding wave, gradually lost their strength. Their cries for assistance became frantic, until at last they ended in dreadful stillness. Sixteen men and three boys were missing following the night of the collision, lost in the frozen waters. The survivors clung to the floating hulk of the ship.

On Tuesday 1 May, crew member O'Neil died of hunger. The remaining crew had now been without fresh water since the ship was struck, and some in desperation turned to drinking sea water which produced a thirst that couldn't be quenched. In desperation the ship’s surgeon 'bled' O'Neil by opening one of his veins and taking a "shoe-full" from him...
"His blood was then divided among us, and that draught, which at one time our hearts would have sickened to look at, and we should have turned from with horror and disgust now became welcome and palatable...to us in our thirsty state was quite sweet."
All hope of rescue had faded by the morning of Monday 2 May and the remaining crew prepared for death when at 2.00pm two Danish Brigs sailed into view and came to their aid. At the time of the rescue the crew had dwindled from 49 to 27, through the rigours of six nights and seven days exposed to the northern cold. All were frost-bitten – with the exception of the Captain – their hands and feet blistered and swollen.

Sadly, rescue did not assure survival. Two crew members died on the 3 May from the effects of having drunk so much salt water. Two more died on the 21 and the 24 May. On the 24, Thomas Walker from Hull died from "mortified feet". On the 25, the cook died: "his whole body was discoloured and in a dreadful state of gangrene". So intolerable was the smell, reportedly, that none could undress him; his body was sewed up in his hammock and committed to the deep.

The survivors returned to the north of England – there to be greeted by a warm, dry summer and a raging cholera epidemic (an epidemic which, ironically, was just abating in Canada).

Details from:  A Narrative of the Loss of the Shannon of Hull on the 26th of April, 1832 by Davey, George (Hull : W Stephenson [1832]) found in the Raymond Burton Yorkshire Collection (available through Special Collections)

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Caravaggio - self-portrait as a severed head

Image of David with the Head of Goliath by Caravaggio
Image from The complete paintings of Caravaggio London : Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1969
As we gradually catalogue more of the York Art Gallery Gift Collection, we’re beginning to unearth some real gems.

This image of David with the Head of Goliath appears in The Complete Paintings of Caravaggio and it’s noteworthy because the severed head - mouth agape, blank eyed, dripping blood - is actually a portrait of Caravaggio himself.

The artist was reportedly something of a firebrand: according to Michael Kitson’s introduction "[Caravaggio] is recorded as sometimes walking the streets... carrying a drawn sword in front of him, and he was often involved in fights, one of which (in 1606) ended in a murder and his subsequent flight from Rome" (p. 7).

You can find this painting hanging in the Galleria Borghese in Rome, or on page 63 of the book if you don’t have the airfare.

(Image and quoted text from The complete paintings of Caravaggio London : Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1969 found in the JBM Library at LJ 9.5 CAR Quarto Oversize Books)

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Want to work at Harvard University’s library? They’re hiring now…

The "oldest institution of higher learning in the United States" is advertising for a Wikipedian-in-Residence. It pays $16 an hour (which is just under £10 an hour at today’s exchange rate) and requires the successful candidate to be a “registered Wikipedian in good standing”.
Photo: Harvard Library by mbrand. Reproduced under a Creative Commons licence

The job is based at the Houghton Library where Harvard’s rare books and manuscripts are kept, including collections of papers from W.H. Auden, Henry James, James Joyce and Emily Dickinson (among many others). Whoever gets the job will be uploading public domain content to Wikipedia and “creating new pages on notable topics”.

You can read the full job advertisement here but it’s a temporary 13 week position, so you might have to get an extension on your dissertation if you’re successful.

And, if you’re interested in rare books and first editions, did you know that the Dyson Collection in our own Special Collections holds first editions of works by William Wordsworth and John Keats? Also, the Milner-White and Eliot Collection both contain volumes by some of the great 20th century writers; notably T. S. Eliot, W.B. Yeats, Robert Graves, D.H. Lawrence, and Seamus Heaney.

You can find out more on the highlights of our Special Collections here and we also have an A-Z collections guide.