Friday, 4 December 2015

e-books: the solution to, and cause of, most of our problems

Have you seen an e-book for sale on Amazon, asked the library to buy it, and been told that there is no electronic version of that book available? Are you looking for an e-book you read a few months ago, but it no longer works? It’s very annoying – and I can assure you that we in Information Services share your annoyance. Our policy is that e-books are the way forward. They enable us to dramatically increase the range and number of titles available to our users, at reduced cost and with no impact on our limited shelf space. Many (although by no means all) of our users prefer working with e-books over print, citing the speed and ease of searching, and the ability to access hundreds of thousands of titles from anywhere in the world, at any time. But in spite of the undoubted benefits that e-books bring, there are many problems – and I shall attempt to summarise these now.

E-book publishing is a new, complex, and constantly changing field. We try our best to source e-books whenever they are requested, but sometimes we are simply not able to. With e-books, it is the publishers who decide the price, licencing terms, digital rights management, number of simultaneous users, and so on, which subsequently determines whether we can purchase the book. Most publishers make their e-books available on aggregator sites (such as ebrary or Dawsonera, the sites which host the vast majority of our e-books) and can be purchased by libraries on an institution-wide basis; some publishers do not. Human Kinetics is one such publisher.  They will not sell to institutions, only to individual users. The reason for this is very easy to explain: money. They will make more money by selling twenty copies of the e-book to twenty individual students than they would by selling one copy to a library that those twenty students could then share.

We have investigated various ways of informing staff and students of this sort of limitation, such as maintaining a list of publishers who don’t sell e-books to institutions, but it is not that straightforward. The e-book licencing goalposts are constantly shifting, and it is very difficult to manage. Springer, for example, does not sell individual titles on institution-wide basis, but they do sell e-book packages to libraries. OUP is another complicated one; originally its content was available via Dawsonera, but then two years ago OUP built its own platform called Oxford Scholarship Online (OSO). We bought one e-book on OSO; now OUP has removed a lot of the content from that platform, put all the legal titles onto another new platform (called LawTrove), which only individuals can access, and put other e-books for sale, again only to individuals, via Amazon and other third party vendors. Then there’s Pearson, who do make their content available to libraries via Dawsonera, but every six months or so change the licencing terms to make them less favourable (reducing the number of uses allowed in a year, reducing the number of simultaneous users, removing the ability to download for offline reading, increasing the price…). It’s not just Dawsonera that has content withdrawn from it; the titles available to us via our ebrary subscription change frequently, with hundreds of new titles being added to, and dozens of titles being removed from, the collection each month. The sheer scale of the changes makes this difficult to manage, but we are currently working on a way of supressing the removed titles from the catalogue and ordering replacement copies if necessary.

The variety of different platforms, the inconsistency of licence terms from publisher to publisher, and the fact these terms are in a constant state of flux, all serve to frustrate and alienate our users. There are limits to what we can do to change this situation, although we are making some progress: HE libraries, and JISC, negotiate with publishers en masse to secure favourable pricing and terms where we can – but these tend to be for large multi-title packages with the big publishers. Also, JISC has recently written to Pearson on behalf of all HE institutions to express our collective displeasure at the way the company is increasingly frustrating our efforts to offer a decent service to our students. There has been no response from Pearson yet, but there was no small amount of schadenfreude in the library a few weeks ago when their share price plummeted and they were forced to issue a profits warning.

I am confident that e-books will one day be the best way for academic libraries to deliver content to their users, but until access is uniformly seamless, reliable, and cost-effective, e-books are also a source of great frustration for staff and students. I appreciate that frustration, but can assure you that we feel just as strongly and we are doing all we can to manage this difficult situation, and provide our users with the resources they need.

I hope that this has gone some way to addressing some of the main concerns about e-books, and provided an explanation for the current situation. If you have any further questions, or suggestions for how we might improve this service, please do get in touch with us at

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Avoiding Plagiarism a new online course

Purchased by the School of Management and Business, a fantastic new resource - Avoiding Plagiarism, an interactive, online course provided by Epigeum – is now available for use by all Aberystwyth University students.

The course is broken down into three units:

What is plagiarism?
The first unit discusses what plagiarism is, some of the terms you might come across, intentional and unintentional plagiarism and the ways in which assessors can detect plagiarism.

Unit 2 covers the importance of referencing, referencing systems used and the difference between references and citations.

Avoiding Plagiarism.
Unit 3 outlines way in which plagiarism can be avoided. (Epigeum, 2014)

The course is quite comprehensive and provides a number of practice scenarios, a summary and a quiz at the end. The pass-mark for the quiz is 75% and there is a certificate for all those who pass!

A link to the course is here:

You need to register and you have to provide your full Aberystwyth email address. A confirmation link will then be sent through to you and you are good to go from that point on.

EPIGEUM (2014), Avoiding Plagiarism [Online]. Available from: [Accessed: 04/11/2015]

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

OECD report on "Making Open Science a Reality"

The OECD’s recent report on “Making Open Science a Reality" reviews progress in making the results of publicly-funded research papers and data available by Open Access, looking at the rationale behind open access and the impact which open access policies have made so far, the legal barriers to progress and a review of the key actors in the field.

The report is available both in PDF format and in standard html format.

The main conclusions of the report are as follows:

  • Open Science is a means to support better quality science, increased collaboration, better engagement between research and society, and higher social and economic impact of public research
  • Open science policies should be principle-based but adapted to local realities, taking into account the needs of the different participants involved in research projects
  • Better incentive mechanisms are needed to promote data-sharing practices among researchers
  • Better data skills are essential for researchers, students and citizens;
  • Training and awareness-raising among researchers is important for the development of an open science culture
  • Repositories and online platforms will not have impact if the information they contain is not of good quality.

Steve Smith

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

European Communities Statement on Alternative Models for Open Access Publishing

With the European Union and most of the major UK research funders now mandating the Open Access publishing of research derived from public funding, calls for the development of a long-term, sustainable model for open access publishing are growing month by month. As part of this process, the European Commission organised a workshop in Brussels on 12 October to collect information and reflect on some of the more established and on some newly-developed financial models for Open Access publishing.

Green open access models using organisational or subject repositories and Gold open access models requiring Article Processing Charges (APCs) both have their advantages and disadvantages, but newer models are now coming to the fore which could optimise existing models and forge routes for the creation of new OA scenarios. The presentations given on some of these newer OA models can be accessed on the European Communities DG Research and Innovation website.

A discussion on the future of Open Access publishing models was also launched on the new Digital for Science Platform. You can join the debate at:

In addition to the workshop, EC Research Commissioner Carlos Moedas has also issued a statement calling on publishers to adapt their Open Access publishing models to new financial realities. This statement can also be accessed on the EC's Europa website.

Steve Smith IS Academic Engagement Group

Monday, 2 November 2015

Aspire reading lists: changing to digitise on request

When updating Aspire lists for 2016-2017 convenors must add the Note to library "Please digitise" for all the chapters and articles in Aspire reading lists they would like the library to digitise before they republish.

After listening to feedback, this change has been made to ensure that chapters and articles deemed most important for the module by the convenor are digitised in time for teaching. As always, library staff will contact you if they are unable to digitise e.g. for copyright reasons.

Library staff will digitise according to previous guidelines until the Semester Two Aspire lists deadline, 30th November 2015. Information Services do not guarantee that anything added to Semester Two Aspire lists (or to lists for modules taught over both semesters) after November 30th will be available for teaching in Semester Two.

If you are the convenor for a distance learner module or a Semester Three 2015-2016 module, please begin adding your Notes to library to your Aspire reading lists as soon as possible.

Please contact your subject librarian if you have any questions about this.
You may find these links useful

Please contact your subject librarian or Academic Engagement 01970621896 if you would like some training or a refresher. We're happy to visit at a time and place convenient for you.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Meet your Academic Services Librarian #15

Shwmae, Hello!

I’m Elen and I’m the new assistant for the Information Services department.

Born and bred in Aberystwyth, I’m very proud of our beautiful friendly town and university, I hope that you get a chance to explore the hidden treasurers that lie outside the town!

Having gained a diploma in Accountancy, I worked in finance for nearly 8 years and decided to change direction in my career, which led me to AU.

During the week, if I’m not working in Academic Engagement department , you’ll find me at the information service desk on floor D in the Hugh Owen library.

In my spare time I enjoy being outdoors, on my bike or running. I also enjoy swimming, yoga and playing tennis. I have a keen interest in nutrition and enjoy meeting new people. I'm a big fan of dogs and would love to get another Cardiganshire Corgi once my busy lifestyle settles down (one day!).

Monday, 12 October 2015

Semester 2 deadline for Aspire reading lists: November 30th

Library staff are buying books and digitising now for modules being taught in Semester Two 2015-2016.

Reading lists for modules being taught in Semester 2 (or being taught over both semesters) must be added to Aspire, and existing Aspire lists must updated and republished, by the end of November or there is no guarantee that library materials and digitised documents will be available in time for teaching.

Please contact your subject librarian if you have any questions about this.
You may find these links useful

Please contact your subject librarian or Academic Engagement 01970621896 if you would like some training or a refresher. We're happy to visit at a time and place convenient for you.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Meet your Academic Services Librarian #14

I’m Lloyd and I am the new Subject Librarian for the School of Art; Welsh & Celtic Studies; History & Welsh History and Law & Criminology.  I joined Information Services after finishing a PhD in Digital Library Collections/Art History with the School of Art and Research Department of the National Library of Wales.  My first degree was in Art History at Nottingham University, and later on I got an MSc in Information and Library Management from the University of the West of England.  In between, I’ve worked in a number of different types of libraries, including the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies Library, University of London; the National Library of Wales; the library of the Courtauld Institute of Art; and public library branches in Newport. 

The impulse to impose order on chaos may have come from an unwieldy and unnecessarily big record collection.  This collection was initiated by my grandmother giving me a 7”of Public Enemy’s Don’t Believe the Hype when I was about 12.  While I like to think my Nana is a big fan politically engaged east-coast rap, it was actually just unsold stock from her music shop, the mighty Falcon Music in Llanelli. I worked in the shop when I was a bit older, by which point the shop sold instruments rather than records.  Working in your gran’s guitar shop is still the coolest Saturday job you can have.    

For more information on the importance of maintaining a large collection of obscure records and to practice information/digital literacy skills, check out Roy Shuker’s Wax Trash and Vinyl Treasures: record collecting as a Social Practice available at Hugh Owen Library in physical and ebook formats.  
To find out how to insert a hyperlink directly to an individual record in Primo, see this FAQ.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Online Library and IT Guide for New Students

To help new students familiarise themselves with our library and IT facilities before arriving on campus, we’ve produced a new online guide outlining the services available. 

The online induction includes sections on:

  • Using our libraries and their opening times and facilities
  • Tools available for studying including email, Blackboard and wifi
  • How to print and photocopy
  • How to find library resources
  • How to contact us.

There is also a short quiz for users to complete at the end of the induction to test their knowledge of our services.
Information Services is also offering library tours during Fresher’s Week. These take place on the hour between 11am and 3pm every day in Hugh Owen Library. We recommend all new students coming along to one of these tours as they will give a practical, hands-on insight into the facilities that the library has to offer.

Visit the online induction and the accessibility version.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Meet your Academic Librarian #13

  Hi, my name is Ellie Downes and I’m the Graduate Trainee for 2015-2016. I graduated in July 2015 after a degree in English Literature right here, and have simply refused to leave, having fallen in love with the town, the beach and swimming in the sea.

During my final year I practically lived in the library, and when I wasn’t there I was trying to carry at least half of the contents home with me, so it made sense for me to work here as well. I am a bit of a book hoarder, probably having far more books than I should but I am incapable of throwing or giving any away despite swiftly running out of room. To put in perspective, when I was a child watching Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, the best bit for me was not the iconic dancing scene, but the size of the library.

Outside of work and study, I am a massive Tolkien nerd having first read the Hobbit when I was 7, and carried on through Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, the Adventures of Tom Bombadil etc. . I’m a keen swimmer; pool, sea, lake, river, I’m not fussy and have continued swimming in the sea until November, when it started getting a little chilly.  During my time as a student I was in a few societies, where fancy dress seemed almost compulsory -explaining the photo below. I’ve had an Incredible time in Aberystwyth and hope to continue.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Aspire Self-Paced Training Now Available.

Information Services has just published a comprehensive guide to creating and publishing your reading lists in Aspire.

The guide will take you through what you need to know before actually creating a list; setting up your personal profile; building a module reading list; adding the Aspire bookmarklet tool to your browser; using this to create bookmarks for your resources and adding those resources to your list before going on to publish your list. The handbook can be found here and can either be viewed on the website or downloaded for quick access.

Box of Broadcasts - Now Available!

Aberystwyth University’s ongoing investment in its library resources continues with the fantastic Box of Broadcasts (or “BoB"!) This “user-friendly system allows staff and students to record and catch-up on missed programmes on and off-campus, schedule recordings in advance, edit programmes into clips, create playlists, embed clips into VLEs, share what they are watching with others, [and] search a growing archive of material”. This archive currently runs to over one million programmes and the site provides access to over 60 radio and TV channels.

Latest enhancements listed on the site include:

• “the addition of all BBC TV and radio content dating from 2007 (800,000+ programmes)
• over 10 foreign language channels, including French, German and Italian
• an extended 30 day recording buffer – more time to record missed programmes
• a new look website, improved navigation
• Apple iOS compatibility – watch BoB on handheld devices
• searchable transcripts
• links to social media – share what you’re watching online
• a one-click citation reference, allowing you to cite programmes in your work”

There is also a Twitter feed: @bufc_bob where not only are site updates posted but there are tweets from users reporting interesting finds in the BoB archive.
Click Box of Broadcasts  to access the site, sign in with your Aber credentials and enjoy unparalleled access to a wealth of TV and radio broadcasts.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Mass Observation Parts III and IV – Now Available!

As part of its commitment to continued investment in its libraries, Aberystwyth University has recently purchased two additions to complete the Mass Observation Online resource, the famous study of “the everyday lives of ordinary people in Britain”.
Parts III and IV extend the coverage begun in the previous two parts. With extensive use being made of material drawn from diaries of men and women from 1946-1950 and Directives from the years 1946 and 1947, 65 new Topic Collections have been created. These include:

  • Propaganda and Morale
  • Conscientious Objection and Pacifism
  • Police, Law and Invasion Preparations, 1939-1941
  • Personal Appearance and Clothes, 1938-54
  • Children and Education, 1937-1952
  • Women in Wartime, 1939-1945

In addition, and as stated on the Mass Observation Online website: “The new content provides opportunities for in-depth research of subjects from an age of post-war austerity and the rise of consumerism and the welfare state: demobilization, health and the NHS, reconstruction, industry, sport, holidays and leisure”

The Mass Observation Online website can also be found via Databases A-Z on Primo, if you are off-campus you will need to sign into Primo with you Aber username and password to access the resource.
Please email the Subject Librarians at: with any comments or questions you have about Mass Observation Online.