Monday, 14 December 2009

British Geology Maps Online

The British Geological Survey's (BGS) new OpenGeoscience portal is offering users free access to explore British geology maps online. The service means users can view rock formations (to a scale of 1:50,000), recent earthquakes and geology layers, alongside tens of thousands of images amassed by the national geological archives, completely free of charge. Images indicate different rock forms around Britain, fossil types, and the impact on the landscape of natural events such as flooding and can be used to illustrate our changing climate and environmental conditions. The service also offers free downloads of BGS datasets.

For more information take a look at the BGS website or have a read of the BBC news feature.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Christmas Vacation Loans

This year's vacation loans begin on December 14th. Any books issued from 9am on this day will be due for return on either January 18th or 19th (depending on your student status). See the table below for further information:

Borrower StatusIssuedDue for Return
Vacation loans begin at 9am
Full-time UG & PGTBetween 14 December and 12 JanuaryTuesday 19 January
Part-time UG & PGTBetween 14 December and 5 JanuaryTuesday 19 January
Reserved items
Full-time UG & PGT
Between 17 December and 11 JanuaryMonday 18 January
Reserved items
Part-time UG & PGT
Bewteen 15 December and 11 JanuaryMonday 18 January

In order to avoid fines please keep your borrower records up-to-date via your MUSE accounts or ring the Renewals Hotline on 0114 222 7201. Note that items can be reserved as normal throughout the holiday and the only way to ensure that you can keep them for the whole vacation loan period is to renew them during the last week of semester.

Also note that 'requesting' an item does not guarantee it. Library staff pick these requests up twice a day and there is nothing to stop other students issuing these items to themselves in the interim. If you require a book urgently it is much quicker to first check the shelves yourself.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Tech Xtra TechTocs

Want to "find articles, key websites, books, the latest industry news, job announcements, ejournals, eprints, technical reports, the latest research, thesis & dissertations and more"? Well if you do, there is a brand new, free service called TechTocs, which lets you search across current issues of more than 4,500 scholarly technology journals. Many of these are open access (meaning you get them free on the Internet) whereas others require subscriptions to download full texts. Remember that to access journals via the University of Sheffield's subscriptions you must be logged into your MUSE accounts.

Keeping up-to-date with information couldn't be easier as results include RSS feeds for you to import into your feed readers. We recommend using Google Reader to manage your feeds and have developed an interactive tutorial to show you exactly how to do this. For more information take a look at the Information Skills Resource: Google Reader Interactive Tutorial.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Competition Reminder

For the last two months we have been running a competition to win an iPod Touch! If you are interested in entering have a look at Fancy Winning an iPod Touch?. The competition is due to end on November 30th, so you've a little less than a week to get your name added.

All the feedback we have received regarding the use of QR Codes will be considered when deciding how to move forward - whether we decide to make further use of them or whether we decide that they add little value to the ways in which we provide access to resources.

Thank-you for all the comments so far and good luck!

Monday, 16 November 2009

Western Bank Redevelopment - Continued

During week beginning 16 November the scaffolding in the Catalogue Hall will be removed and work will begin on laying new flooring and installing the new counter. In order for the work to be done as quickly as possible we are closing the Catalogue Hall and the Architecture collection from Saturday 21 November for up to two weeks.

To find out how we aim to maintain our full range of services please refer to the Western Bank Redevelopment pages for further details. If you've any questions email or follow us on Twitter to keep up to date with the latest happenings

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Information Skills Resource

Information Literacy

9-13 November 2009 is information literacy week.

How do you know that?
How do you know it is right?
How are you going to use that information?
Will you act ethically?

How highly would you rank your information literacy skills?

Did you know that students who can demonstrate the skills of information literacy not only perform better academically but also have better career prospects? Many students learn these skills from the University of Sheffield Library’s online tutorials.

Be an information literate graduate by learning how to:

  • Define a search question;

  • Search for information;

  • Evaluate information;

  • Synthesise information;

  • Cite and reference information.

Visit the tutorials at:

100 Useful Search Engines

Struggling to get what you want from the average search engine? Well have recently published a list of 100 search engines to help out you scientists. Included in the list are the ten most popular, reputable, and reliable science search engines on the web, as well as subject specific databases for astronomy, biology, earth science, mathematics, physics, weather and chemistry.
Students of the past spent most of their academic time in the library, pouring over encyclopedias, and sifting through pages of data. It’s easy to get lost in a text-heavy reference book, amidst numbers and figures; this is especially true for science majors, whose art and skill revolves around specific numbers and very precise information. Fortunately for today’s scientist, much of the information that was once found only inside the walls of a library is now available online. These awesome science search engines will help you find what exactly what you’re looking for, as well as remind you how much fun research can really be.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Happy Chemistry Week

This year it's all about food and tomorrow (Wednesday November 11th) Professor Joe Harrity will be giving a public lecture on organic foodstuffs or organic chemicals: a consumers perspective.
The word 'organic' has become a word that we hear, almost everyday, in the news. It means different things to different people which can lead to confusion. This lecture will connect the structure, chemistry and effects on the body of a selection of organic molecules found in the kitchen cupboard and lurking in the medicine cabinet.

If you're interested in attending get down to Theatre 1 in the Chemistry Department, Dainton Building for 7pm. No tickets are necessary and all are welcome to attend.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Quick Reminder - Beilstein CrossFire

Just a quick reminder about access to Beilstein CrossFire. As of October 31st 2009 this service will no longer be available.

To access chemical abstracts use the SciFinder Scholar/SciFinder Scholar Web services. These provide access to more than 9500 journals and patent references (from over 50 patent-issuing organisations), including more than 26 million substance records and CAS Registry Numbers. The database is updated daily and information about the amount of data added can be consulted.

SciFinder Scholar/web allows you to search by:

  • Chemical substance or reaction;

  • Research topic;

  • Author name;

  • Specific reference.

If you need help using either service contact Denise Harrison.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Careers at Novartis

Calling final year students!

Novartis, a global leader in healthcare, is coming to the University on Monday November 2nd to talk about recruiting additional personnel as Chemical Engineers, Mechanical Engineers and Automation Engineers in the areas of Biology, Chemistry and Microbiology.

They'll be presenting information about Novartis (who they are and what they do) as well as how the recruitment process works, from start to finish, and ending with a question and answer session. If you're interested in this line of work it'd be a good opportunity to find out more and get useful advice on the application process.

The event is open to final year students of chemical engineering; mechanical engineering; automatic control systems engineering; biology; microbiology and chemistry. To book a place email Mari Brazil, using the subject line Novartis, as soon as possible with the following details:

  • Full name;

  • Year of study (ie 3 or 4);

  • Degree subject;

  • Telephone contact number;

  • University email address.

Please note: If you have any queries please visit the Careers Service, 388 Glossop Road where staff are happy to assist you or see the website for further information.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Mass extinctions and volcanism

Café Scientifique are hosting an event on November 2nd on mass extinctions and volcanism. Paul Wignall (Professor of Palaeoenvironments at Leeds University) is an expert in the field of palaeontology and sedimentology and will be focusing the session on understanding the origins of mass extinction events. His research has taken him to some of the remotest parts of the world to consider the effects of carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide on life crises and it'll be a good opportunity to further explore the latest research surrounding mass extinctions coinciding with huge individual eruptions.

Head to the Showroom Cinema restaurant for 7pm. Generally presentations last about 20 minutes followed by a short break and discussion with time for questions at the end. The event is free and open to the general public.

To read up on some of Paul's research have a look at the following:

  • Wignall, PB (2005) Volcanism and mass extinctions, In: Marti, J. and Ernst, G (Ed) Volcanoes and the environment, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp207-226.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

BSOL finally gets its facelift

The British Standards Online database got its well overdue upgrade last weekend and now looks a little something like this:


I already like the look of this a lot more... mainly because the dreadful radio buttons have vanished and the search box split (unless you use the slightly unnecessary 'Quick Search' feature on the top- right of the full  browser window [not shown in image], which includes another search box with drop-down menu to switch between number and keyword).

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Books on a Budget!

The start of term can be an expensive time for students and course books generally get pushed further and further down the shopping list, especially the expensive ones. So, the university has setup a marketplace for students to sell their no longer needed texts, where the buyer pays less and the seller gets more. Sound good?

Take a look at the Books on a Budget page and see if you can get kitted out. Failing that Oxfam Bookshop on Glossop Road (West Street) is well stocked and there's always Amazon's second-hand sellers on hand to snap up a bargain from.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Sixty Symbols

The University of Nottingham have created another set of really useful videos, this time intended to 'unravel some of those mysteries' concerning scientific symbols. The Sixty Symbols projects breaks down the confusing 'squiggles and letters' commonly used in physics and astronomy into short 5-10 minute videos. On occasions where there isn't a symbol, such as for the Schrödinger's cat experiment (a famous 'thought experiment'), they make one up and continue with their stories.

The project also includes short videos concerning issues in physics and astronomy such as planetary spots found on both Jupiter and Venus by amateur astronomists, as well as an inside look at the amazing Professor Martyn Poliakoff's brain via magnetic resonace imaging. Interestingly Sir Peter Mansfield, also of the University of Nottingham, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2003 for his joint discoveries reflecting the fundamental importance and applicability of MRI in the medical field.

If you like the work they've been doing here, also have a look at their Periodic Table of Videos (I also wrote a post about this here) and keep an eye out for The Next Sixty Symbols coming soon.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Fancy winning an iPod Touch?

QR Code

The image on the right is a QR or 'quick response' code. Originating in Japan they were initially used by companies as tracking devices. Unlike traditional barcodes QR codes are two dimensional and are able to store both alpha and numerical content (up to 7000 numerical or 4300 alpha-numerical characters long). The information stored within these codes can be anything from urls, to telephone numbers, to addresses or even entire poems.

The QR code above converts into the Library homepage. For you to be able to read this you’ll need a mobile camera phone and reader software. Some of the later Nokia phones already have the software installed and for iPhones it’s easy to pick something up from the app store, like BeeTagg or Quickmark. You could try Googling your phone’s make and model to find out what software you need or alternatively try some of the following:

To read the code you just need to take a photograph with your phone’s camera and allow the reader software to do the rest. For those of you with Internet enabled phones you’ll be directed straight to the URL via your mobile browser. To find out more about QR codes visit the library news page and for details on connecting your phone to the university’s wireless network have a look at the instructions via CiCS.

The University Library is currently piloting the use of QR codes and we are keen to discuss your ideas on how we could be making use of this technology to support our library services. Some suggestions have included codes iPod Touchwhich link to the library catalogue and our library blogs for mobile bookmarking purposes or the inclusion of codes on catalogue records to save bibliographic details. We are also working on attaching QR codes to a sample of our paper journal runs to link users to their electronic equivalents via Find it @ Sheffield.

If you have any ideas about how we can use QR codes in the Library we'd like to hear them. By leaving a comment against this blog post you'll automatically be entered into our competition to win a brand spanking new iPod Touch.

The deadline for entries is 30 November and the competition is open to all University of Sheffield students, via the four library blogs:

Intro Week at the IC

During all of intro week the library (along with CiCS) are running a number of induction sessions at the Information Commons, where you'll be able to find out the basics about using library services throughout your studies.

There will be demonstrations of finding material using the library catalogue and Find it @ Sheffield as well as short tours around the building and tips on keeping track of your library accounts.

These sessions are running on the hour, every hour starting at 10am with the last session beginning at 3pm, and should last about 10-15 minutes. It'll be a great opportunity to ask questions and meet some of the staff available to help.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Important Customer Services Notice

Whilst you've all been busy enjoying the holidays, here at the library we've been working on the introduction of a new loan system to wave goodbye to those short loan items we all loathed (staff included). The official word goes something like this:
Change to Library loan periods September 2009

The Library constantly reviews its practices with regard to loans, and recent modifications to the reservations system have prompted us to try to further improve the way in which material is circulated. We have changed the lending service so that Library material ‘manages itself’. An in-demand item automatically has a shorter loan period which then reverts back to a normal loan period once the demand has been satisfied.

Why change the system?

  • In the past when you requested a book it was arbitrary which item you received – it may have been a normal loan or a short loan. You’ve told us this is unfair.

  • Short loan items were not in-demand all the time, and it was difficult to understand why you couldn’t have items for longer if no-one else needed them. Also, you had to remember to renew short loans every other day and it was easy to build up large fines.

  • Part-time and distance-learning students found it difficult to borrow short loan items.

With the new system what will happen when I borrow a book?

All items in stock in the Library now have a ‘normal’ loan period, the length of which is determined by the type of student, as previously. So, if you’re a full-time undergraduate or a postgraduate on a taught course books are issued for 1 week, if you’re a part-time student books are issued for 2 weeks, and if you’re a research student books are issued for 4 weeks.

If no-one else wants the book you can keep renewing it and each time it will be issued for the standard loan period.

We have also increased the number of self-renewals to 20, so staff don’t need to renew items for you until you reach that limit.

Full details of the new lending service can be found on the Library website under 'using the library'. Remember - it’s essential to check myLibrary Account via MUSE regularly to avoid fines and check no-one has reserved the items you have on loan.

If you've any questions about the new system we're all here to help. You can pop in, give us a call or send an email.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Thieme ElectronicBook Trial

We are currently participating in a free trial (available until October 31st 2009) to Thieme ElectronicBook and are looking for feedback from users. This database provides access to the Flexibook (colour) Atlases and Textbooks series, a collection of basic as well as medical science review textbooks.

On the What's New pages you can see what developments are being made and what to look out for in future but in the meantime, have a play about and tell us what you think.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Western Bank - Closure Days

Western Bank Library will be closed from Thursday September 10th to Sunday September 13th and Thursday September 17th to Sunday September 20th. This is due to the redesign of the main entrance and security areas.

If you need any books from the Library please request them online via the Library catalogue and we will let you know as soon as they are ready for collection. All other sites of the University Library, including the Information Commons, are open as usual and offering full services.

Western Bank Redevelopment - Update

If you've been into the Western Bank Library recently you'll probably be wondering what the hell is going on? Well, we're redeveloping of course. All the details of what's happening can be found on the redevelopment pages on the library website, but basically the improvements being made are listed under these seven areas:

Entrance level

This area will become more welcoming with better controlled temperature. It will have:

  • a new ceiling;

  • a redesigned porters lodge;

  • a redesigned entrance and new ramp to the lift for people with mobility difficulties;

  • new glazing.

In addition, the drinks machines will be relocated and the water fountain will be moved to corridor.

Mezzanine level

This area will become an attractive and dynamic space for exhibitions and social interaction with:

  • an exhibition area;

  • a new ceiling;

  • a new reception desk;

  • new flooring;

  • a platform lift to ease access to Stack 4 for customers with mobility difficulties;

  • new glazing.

Catalogue Hall

A complete refurbishment will recreate the original atmosphere of this exceptional space. It will have:

  • a replacement counter;

  • a refurbished ‘business unit’ containing photocopiers, the value loader, and printers;

  • a research lounge area with casual seating and access to current newspapers;

  • a new ceiling and lighting.

Reading room

New glazing, replacement curtains and perimeter heating will make this a much more pleasant area to work.

Stack 4

Additional study spaces, group study rooms and research study space will revitalise this floor and a new ceiling will make the area look much better

Stack 3

Additional study spaces will make this floor more convenient to use as more heavily used material moves into this space.


The lift will be replaced and will come into general use for vertical transport for all users of the building. This will transform use for customers and staff alike.

Its been noisey, dusty, cold, dark but when finished it'll be worth it! The contract began on 10 July 2009 and finishes in January 2010, there'll be disruptions during October but hopefully we'll be all set for completion before semester one exams.

Monday, 24 August 2009

New Intute Tutorials

The Intute website has been updated with 31 new online tutorials aimed at students looking to improve their research skills, for more successful Internet usage in coursework. If you're looking for advice and guidance on how to use the web in your studies look no further. These tutorials are targeted towards those who:

  • struggle to find the right information to include in coursework;

  • get marks deducted for using inappropriate resources in assignments;

  • heavily rely on Google, Wikipedia and the open web (because they're unaware of key library resources in your subject area).

If you've already used some of these before then be aware there are a number of design and content changes you may be interested in reading about on the Intute blog.

If not try some of these out:

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

NCBI Book Shelf

The NCBI Book Shelf is a collection of biomedical texts made freely available online by individual publishers on a book by book basis. The collection currently contains over 40 classic biology and medical textbooks and monographs including titles from the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI).

It is well worth having a look at but bear in mind that the titles contained are not always the latest edition. For information on how to search the bookshelf also have a look at the help guide provided.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Find it @ Sheffield

The old ejournal A-Z lists have now been removed. See below for the official announcement:
The Find It @ Sheffield digital content discovery service was introduced in December 2008. It has since been developed by the Library taking into account feedback from the University community. We will continue to incorporate enhancements & to act upon feedback regularly. During the week commencing 10 August 2009 Find it@ Sheffield will become our standard service, replacing the legacy ejournal tables & lists in place since 1996. We would like to thank all those colleagues & students who took the time to contribute to the enhancement of the new service.

Since the initial soft launch on 15 December 2008, over 16,300 legacy system titles have been doubled checked against Find it @ Sheffield to ensure that content will not be left behind when the old system is withdrawn & work is ongoing to integrate any outstanding material before the start of session. It is worth reflecting on the increased service level consequent on the Find it @ Sheffield implementation:

  • increased availability of full text titles (up from 11 000 titles to over 25 000 titles);

  • increased numbers of full text articles accessible from within literature searching databases automatically powered & updated by Find it@ Sheffield;

  • the populating of Google Scholar searches on a programmatic basis with our digital journal holdings.

Additionally, the ejournal records in Star, the library catalogue, are now generated from Find it @ Sheffield automatically & link through to that service. rather than to the legacy listings, offering a much more direct way to access ejournals through the Library catalogue & reducing the number of clicks.

The legacy ejournals system is no longer maintained by the Library & links to it will be removed from the Library Web & MUSE shortly. Re-directs will be in place on all relevant web pages to ensure that the clickstream is maintained for all users. Existing URLs will remain in place to avoid broken links & re-directional information will be added in due course.

If you need help using the Find it service please don't hesitate to get in touch or alternatively take a look at the new 'Finding Journals' tutorial on the Information Skills Resource.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Why Science is Important

2009 seems to be a big year for science with the Darwin celebrations continuing and the release of the Feynman lecture videos but moreso because it's getting lots of media attention focusing on science being fun. Recently Richard Dawkins joined in with the criticisms being made about the new primary science curriculum due to its failure to 'mention the theory of evolution, the value of the scientific method, and the need to understand science to engage in public debate'. Shocking, given that these could be the very topics that get kids interested in science and with the wealth of resources targeting young people it's not difficult to introduce complex ideas to them (my favourite being the Wallace and Gromit Cracking Ideas shed).

Alom Shaha is another one of those triumphing the need to 'convey to [kids] that science is important, that it’s something worth doing for reasons beyond the need to pass exams' so much so that he began an initiative to delve into the many reasons why science is important. So, if you're also interested in 'Why Science is Important' have a look at the first part of Alom's project below:

Also see Why is Science Important?, Alom Shaha's project blog.

Friday, 31 July 2009

British Standards Online

Just a quick reminder that during 'late September' (not Spring) the British Standards Institute is rolling out a new interface for the British Standards Online (BSOL) database. It is expected to enhance your experience of the service by making it less confusing, making the distinction between the BSI shop and BSOL more clear. The main problem people seem to have had in the past is not clicking through the BSOL subscribers link but hopefully with the new interface this will be resolved.

To help users get to grips with the new version the BSI are offering a number of demos, online training (remember to email the BSI to sign up) and top tips. As the walkthroughs are still being worked on these are not currently available but keep a watch on the BSI group website for more information. The demos will include a number of recorded overviews of the new BSOL, showing users specific features in detail. BSOL support will also be provided through updated Help Guides.

As usual if you need any help with this get in touch and I promise to at least try and work it out for you, but remember it's new to me too.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Feynman Lectures

When you've far too much money on your hands what do you do with it? Well, if you're Bill Gates you spend it on the acquisition of rights for Richard Feynman's seven-part lecture series from 1964. Feynman, an American physicist, won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1965 for his contributions to the development of  quantum electrodynamics and was known for his work on quantum mechanics and particle physics. He also assisted in the development of the atomic bomb and has been credited with the introduction of nanotechnology.

The lectures are hosted by Microsoft Research under the name Project Tuva (after the central Asian republic he was on his way to visit in 1988 before dying of cancer) and require a Silverlight plug-in to view. The project intends to offer the series free of charge to make science interesting and accessible.
More than 20 years after first seeing them, these are still some of the best science lectures I've heard. Feynman worked hard during his life to popularize science, so I'm sure he'd be thrilled that now anyone, anywhere in the world, can just click a button and experience his lectures (Gates).

We also have the three-part book series in stock at the library:

Monday, 13 July 2009

Stuck for something to do?

Maybe you fancy a trip to the British Library? The next event in the library's Talk Science series is a discussion with John Wilbanks (executive director of the Science Commons and Vice President of the Creative Commons initiative).

Scientific Findings in a digital world: What is the genuine article? will be an opportunity to 'consider a range of issues including':

  • In an age of digital content and communication, does the notion of the scientific ‘article’ remain relevant?

  • Is the 300-year-old approach to structuring findings – from abstract to references – still valid in the era of the multi-media research object?

  • How should new types of content such as video protocols and embedded datasets be peer-reviewed, and does it matter?

  • Will opening access to the outputs of scientific research really improve innovation?

  • Does more access to research data and information necessarily mean we are better informed?

  • When it comes to communicating research findings, what are the fundamental building blocks and what is the wallpaper?

So if you think you'd like to join in book a place for £5. It's being held on Wednesday 22 July 2009 from 18.00 - 20.30, at the British Library (in London). There's also a discussion forum you can participate in prior to the event.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Mobile IEEE Xplore

The IEEE Xplore platform has recently launched a mobile web version you can access anywhere and search anytime without needing to log-in. The mobile service offers users a quick search tool to locate articles, read abstracts and email references to access full texts when you're next at your computer. It's great for when you're out and about and need to quickly check your source or remind yourself of articles you intend to read when you're back in the office/library.

To access the mobile version you'll need a web-enabled mobile phone. Visit on your phone's browser and search away. The interface is really simple and really easy to use. Type a simple search query to get up to 10 article abstracts with citations, which you can either read from your phone directly or email yourself to read later.

For full text articles you'll need to log-in to MUSE and access via the university's subscription (see electronic databases and navigate to IEEE /IET Electronic Library). If you have any trouble accessing material get in touch.

iPhone Xplore

Monday, 29 June 2009

A library of the world's most unusual compounds

The Financial Times recently featured an interesting piece about the development of the Materials Library at King's College London.

As an Oxford graduate Mark Miodownik (of the Materials Research Group) helped create the Materials Library to store some of the World's strangest substances with the hope of  instill[ing] a sense of wonder in the visitor.

Discontent with limiting learning to material theory he began by collecting materials for use as classroom resources. Later, with the help of a £70,000 funding initiative, the library was set up to allow visitors an opportunity to touch and smell materials whilst studying the relationship between its molecular structure and physical properties.

If you're interested in visiting the library try contacting them for information on exhibitions or events. There's also a mailing list if you're looking to join the Materials Library network to keep up-to-date with news and activities.

Mark Miodownik

And for more on Mark see:

Thursday, 18 June 2009

New Books

Need something to keep your brain occupied over the summer? Well, have you had a look at our New Books lists on STAR? Below is a selection of books received over the last month:

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Arts-Science Encounters series

Want to know more about nanotechnology and postmodern culture? Well the next event in the series of art-science encounters is focusing on just that. The aim of these 'encounters' is to create an environment which stimulates discussion - conversation, comparison and debate - about the ways we 'choose to pursue knowledge' in difference fields.

On June 9th Professor Richard Jones and Professor Andy Miah (University of the West of Scotland) will be looking ahead to the future, from their contrasting vantage-points in physics and ethics research, to question 'what kind of future is nanotechnology creating for us?' And, 'what will it mean to be human in the twenty-first century?'

If interested you can register your attendance online. All events (unless otherwise stated) are held on Tuesdays from 5.30pm to 7.00pm in the Douglas Knoop Centre of the Humanities Research Institute, 34 Gell Street.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Trial to Reaxys

From now until June 30th we are running a trial service to Reaxys, a web-based search and retrieval system for chemical compounds, bibliographic data and chemical reactions. In merging three prestigious databases (CrossFire Beilstein, the Patent Chemistry Database and CrossFire Gmelin) into a single resource Reaxys combines results into a single search set and provides detailed excerpts from multiple patent or journal sources.

To get the most out of the trial why not sign up for an hour long webinar to learn more about Reaxys and how it enhances the exploration of chemical substance information. Instruction materials are also available and well worth checking out, especially the quick reference guide.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Summer Check List

Before you leave for the summer have a look at our check list for a quick reminder about what you need to do and where you can access information:

  • Get your library accounts up-to-date - Why not pay off your debts (remember final year students will not be allowed to graduate with outstanding debts), return all the books you won't be needing and cancel any outstanding reservations (give your fellow students a chance of getting what they need too);

  • You don't want to incur any fines do you? - Check all your books have been renewed and that you KNOW YOUR PIN to access your account online - Longer vacation loans begin at 9am on Monday 8 June for standard loans and Thursday 11 June for short loans;

  • Ring the renewals hotline on 0114 222 7201 if you're unable to access the Internet;

  • Practice your information skills with our online tutorials and screencasts;

  • Read about our redevelopment plans to get an idea about the work being undertaken in Western Bank Library to improve your working environment;

  • Follow our Twitter feed to be kept in the loop about what's going on whilst you're away;

  • And remember - we're always here to help! Contact the library if you're having any problems accessing information or alternatively get in touch with either Carmen or myself for subject specific help.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Calling Final Year Students

Please remember to keep your Library account up-to-date.

All Library material must be returned, and any outstanding fines paid, by the end of service hours on Saturday 13 June 2009. In accordance with the University's debt management policy, you will not be eligible to attend a degree congregation or receive your degree certificate if you have outstanding debts.

If you have any queries about your Library account please ask staff at a Library site or email for help.

Monday, 18 May 2009

ChemSpider and the RSC

Looking for structure-based chemical information? Heard of ChemSpider? No?

Well, ChemSpider is a chemical search engine used to aggregate and index chemical structures and their associated information. It is a single searchable repository made freely available to its users (that means you) which pulls together chemical structure information from both open access and for-profit databases.

According to the company's technical notes 'ChemSpider is not intended to be just a portal to a structure searchable database' but rather a place to find answers, solve problems and create solutions. In providing access to 'almost 21.5 million unique chemical entities sourced from over 200 different data sources' it's a pretty good starting point if you're looking for inherent properties, identifiers, references or supplementary information you may be able to access in full via the library.

Last week the Royal Society of Chemistry annouced its acquisition of ChemSpider to reflect its 'commitment to providing access to rich resources of chemistry data and information'. If you're interested in reading more, see the RSC press release but otherwise, happy searching.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Colliding Particles

The Large Hadron Collider (or LHC), built by CERN is the world's largest particle accelerator built to help scientists answer key unresolved questions in particle physics.

One of the numerous teams of physicists involved in the LHC research are documenting their work 'at the frontiers of particle physics' through a series of videos 'exploring the human stories behind the research and investigating the workings of the scientific process itself'.

Volume 4: Problems is the latest episode which includes 'a look at some of the theoretical work behind the 'Eurostar' paper' (see episode one for an introduction to the Eurostar project), an exploration of 'the mathematics behind the behaviour of fundamental particles' and an 'update on the incident which is holding up work at the LHC'.

Previous episodes can be found both via the Colliding Particles website or Youtube and there is also some useful teaching material and further reading for those interested.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Palgrave Macmillan Journals

During May we have free access to Palgrave Macmillan journals. Although content generally falls into faculties outside Science and Engineering I thought it worth pointing out the three titles listed under Bioscience Business:

There is a feedback form if fancy leaving us any comments.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

British Standards - Sneak Peek

The BSI database is getting a make over! We're not entirely sure when the update will be rolled out but we know it's soon (they quote 'Spring 2009'). Once the new interface is available I'll be updating you with how to search and what new features you can make use off. BSI claim that the new design is more user-friendly, separating the shop from the subscriber's link and removing radio buttons. Have a look at the image below to see what the new results page looks like (click to enlarge):

BSI Results Page

Friday, 24 April 2009

Web of Knowledge Update

The Web of Knowledge and its integrated tools are continually enhanced so that you are always searching, analysing and using your results as efficiently as possible.

Newly available this week:

Endnote web is fully integrated with ResearcherID, so you can build, manage and share your ResearcherID publication lists with colleagues.

New look, new tools for author promotion and collaboration:

The latest enhancements to ResearcherID boost online collaboration and help you build a more robust profile.

Enhanced collaboration:

  • Integration with Endnote web allows you to build, manage and share your ResearcherID publication lists with your colleagues.

  • To more clearly identify a collaborator by verifying affiliation, use the address field when searching Web of Science/Knowledge from ResearcherID.

More organisation:

  • Manage your work with publication lists; two additional publication lists have been added for all users.

  • A new tool will show you which articles have already been added to your publication list when you're searching Web of Science/Knowledge.

Increased flexibility:

  • Over 30 more reference types are supported for import through the RIS file upload feature.

  • Link out to full text articles or materials hosted on other sites; up to 3 URLs can be added per publciation in an author's profile.


Thursday, 16 April 2009

Find It Update

Just a quick update whilst you're all enjoying the Easter break to let you know that Find It links have been successfully activated in 160 databases, including Web of Knowledge (WoK) and Scopus. There are a handful of databases, such as Newsbank, for which we are still trying to establish linking availability but we'll let you know when these become available.

The additional links mean that it's much quicker for you to access material held by the university library via a direct route, representing a significant improvement in service quality and accessibility. The new Find It links are available in more databases than before and give access to thousands more ejournal articles than the previous system. In addition, Find It links are available on and off campus, giving you 24/7 access to full text regardless of location.

Just look out for the 'Find It' button:  Find it @ Sheffield'

Friday, 3 April 2009

ScienceDirect News

ScienceDirect (Elsevier's web delivery system for scientific, technical and medical information) have recently launched their redesigned ScienceDirect Info site to realign the service with the needs of its users. Its aim is to give us an introduction to the product itself, its contents, buying options (you can ignore this bit though as you'll all have access via MUSE) and the policies that govern usage (select content from the left-hand-side navigation slide). It features useful tutorials, tips and tools that support access and help you to learn more about searching, customisation and the latest trends.

The key changes on the website include:

  • The removal of the left-hand navigation on the homepage makes navigation clearer;

  • The horizontal navigation, which has been sorted into the four key user-focused entries to the site: "Content", "Using", "Buying" and "Implementation", provides a clear starting point for users;

  • The user-focused entries are replicated in boxes on the homepage that contain quick links to the most-used information in the lower level details pages. This allows you to get to the information you want in one click rather than three or more;

  • The use of drop-down boxes and quick links on the lower-level detail pages also makes finding information quicker. You no longer need to scroll down to find information and you can see at a glance what is available in each area of the website;

  • An easy-to-use feedback mechanism has been installed to gather thoughts and improve the site according to your needs;

  • There is now a news feed on the homepage from the revamped News & Updates page, which includes an easy-to-view archive;

  • The Online Books Locator, a new searchable database, allows you to search for Online Books titles and build your collection for submission to ScienceDirect. The database also lets you create a wish list for the library.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Doc Brown on the Elements

Martyn Poliakoff by Brady HaranWell, it's not quite Doc Brown (or Einstein for that matter) but rather Professor Martyn Poliakoff - the modern Mad Scientist (crazy glasses and all) - fronting the YouTube hit channel The Periodic Table of Element (an off-shot of the award-winning Test Tube Project, also produced by Brady Haran).

Created by a team of chemists, at the University of Nottingham, the channel hosts the first comprehensive set of videos documenting the chemistry of the elements. Each element is introduced, in turn, by Poliakoff who describes its properties and uses before a cut is made to a demonstration performed by the project's team - Pete Licence, Stephen Liddle and Debbie Kays. Having debuted in July 08 the short clips (usually no longer than five minutes) have already received over 5.5 million hits, gathered various awards, attracted much media interest and won praise from Nobel Laureates Roald Hoffmann and Sir Harry Kroto, chemistry professors, and the general public alike.

Go take a look and let us know what you think in the comments or for more information see:

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

IEEE Xplore

This week the IEEE announced the addition of its two millionth article to IEEE Xplore. Known as "the world’s largest source of valuable, cutting-edge, research, standards and educational courses" it provides almost one-third of the world's highest quality technical literature in electrical engineering, computer science, aerospace systems, telecommunications and biomedical science.

The University of Sheffield provides access to the IEEE Xplore platform via MUSE where you're able to search and retrieve full text documents from the IEEE's range of journals, conference proceedings, standards and a limited number of IET articles. If you need help searching the database there are a number of useful tutorials available in the support section of the website or alternatively you can contact myself or Carmen.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Searching Find It @ Sheffield

To help you search ejournals with the new Find It platform we've compiled a list of ten search tips and included illustrations to demonstrate. If you have any feedback about this short search guide please comment or email me directly for further help.

You'll need to click 'Read the rest of this entry' to access the full post.

1) If you know exactly what you're looking for you can use the starts with button to be prompted with predictive text:

Title Search

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Be Amazing with Mental Floss

Mental Floss magazine wants you to Be Amazing and to be amazing all you have to do is stand on the shoulders of geniuses and then bask in the glow of admiring fans:
What good are the world's greatest geniuses if you can't muddy their shoulder pads and use their accomplishments as a step stool? mental_floss has combed through every success story in history to deliver this ultimate how-to guide for climbing your way to greatness. Whether you want to glow in the dark, swallow a sword, quit smoking, find Atlantis, live forever, get out of jury duty, buy the Moon, sink a battleship, stop global warming, become a ninja, or simply be the center of the universe, Be Amazing covers all the essential life skills. Just absorb a few pages, then let the hero worship begin! (Amazon)

One of the chapters even includes a step-by-step guide on How to Destroy Civilization with Nanotechnology. So I thought I'd link you to the promotional video made with cutting-edge motion capture technology for a bit more inspiration during National Science and Engineering Week:

Friday, 6 March 2009

Elsevier User Tests

This is a short plea for participants to get involved with some testing of Elsevier's research tools - Scopus and ScienceDirect. As the University of Sheffield is an Elsevier Development Partner we have the opportunity to provide insight, direction and expertise on all aspects of the operational and strategic developments by ensuring research products meet the changing information needs of its users.

So if you're interested in helping each other and the future of Elsevier services sign up as a participant and you'll even be rewarded with Amazon vouchers (you must select your gift preference on the sign up form). The test can be completed either online, over the phone or face-to-face.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Science and Engineering Week

Next week marks the start of the 2009 National Science and Engineering Week (NSEW). It is a 'ten day celebration of science, engineering and technology' running from March 6th to March 15th as part of the Science: So what? - so everything campaign.

The NSEW website has an extensive list of events linking to a Google Map of activity locations and you can register your participation online. Sheffield has a number of events listed ranging from PopMaths Quizzes to a Rock around the General Cemetery, which are mostly open for the general public to attend. Sheffield University are taking part in collaboration with Sheffield Hallam, local schools, museums, industry and commerce and playing host to the MBB departmental society's celebration of Darwin's 200th birthday. The next lecture is scheduled for March 13th entitled It's not Darwin's or Wallace's Theory by Dr Wainwright and is being held at Firth Hall.

There really is something for everyone and so it's worth checking your diaries and getting to as many of these events as possible. You can keep up-to-date with what's happening with the NSEW or ScienceSoWhat Twitter feeds:

And finally... just for fun and a little inspiration, here's a short video from the IET:

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Find It @ Sheffield

Find it @ Sheffield is the new electronic resource discovery platform currently linking users to content spanning over 22,000 journals, including both subscription-based and open access. Essentially the system works by obtaining metadata from a centralised knowledge base to keep content current and resource access up-to-date without the need for extensive manual updates.

For the library one of the main advantages of using such a system is finding that we have access to much more content than previously thought of. Since its implementation access to ejournal content has significantly increased due to open access links we wouldn't have known about without the Ex Libris knowledge base the software runs from.

The new interface on the library webpages offers users multiple access points allowing journals to be searched and browsed through keywords, A-Z listings, subject headings, vendors and even DOIs and PMIDs. New sophisticated functionability also includes predictive typing and 'starts with'/'contains' buttons to limit searching and gather results much quicker than the legacy system.


Other than the obvious (the new search interface) the big change and arguably one of the most useful that individual users will notice is its power linking with third party databases such as Google Scholar, Scopus and Web of Knowledge etc. Find It links will gradually be appearing over the next phase of the project next to articles in the search results to link users directly to the paper, a great time and effort saving capability:


If you need any help in accessing journals in this new way don't hesitate to contact library staff as the legacy A-Z tables and subject groupings will disappear come the summer to make way for further development and customisation of the Find It system. Access to all e-content remains via MUSE both on and off campus.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Patent Problems?

A patent is a set of exclusive rights granted by the state to protect the features, methods and processes of an invention for a fixed period of time. They relate to the intellectual property rights of an invention and thus provide the right to exclude others from making, using, or selling the content of the patent for a term of (usually) twenty years from the date the patent was filed.

In effect, filing for a patent is the purchase of a limited property right offered by the government in exchange for an agreement to share with the public the details of how inventions work, what they do, how they do it, what they are made of and how they are made. But most importantly it gives a patent owner the ability to share innovations whilst legally protecting themselves from copycats and imitators. Other benefits of patenting your invention include the rights to:

  • sell the invention and all the intellectual property (IP) rights;

  • license the invention to someone else but retain all the IP rights;

  • discuss the invention with others in order to set up a business based around the invention.

(source: Intellectual Property Office).

For further information about what patents are and how you can apply for them visit the Intellectual Property Office or alternatively check out The European Patent Office.

To find patents there are a variety of Internet resources available and Google themselves even have a searchable database, specifically covering US patents issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The two main sites I'd recommend to find UK/European patents are:

Both offer free pdf downloads and occasionally translations are included for non-English language versions.

And finally, just for fun see Wallace and Gromit's Cracking Ideas shed in associaton with the Intellectual Property Right office. I'm hoping for great things to emerge from the Playground of Ideas when it launches in March to coincide with the World of Innovation exhibition at the Science Museum, London.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Science Commons

Established in 2005 the Science Commons is a Creative Commons project group with the aim 'to speed the translation of data into discovery and thereby the value of research'. By identifying the unecessary barriers of scientific research such as firewalls, commercial and institutional intellectual property rights and the handing over of copyright to established journals (essentially crippling scientific information exchange communities) the SC negotiate agreements to lower these restrictions, thus making information easier to find and use:
We work on agreements between funders and grant recipients, between universities and researchers and between funders and universities — all in the service of opening up scientific knowledge, tools and data for reuse. We also promote the use of CC licensing in scientific publishing, on the belief that scientific papers need to be available to everyone in the world, not simply available to those with enough resources to afford subscription fees (source).

For further information about the individual projects being worked on see:

One final point: Articles are not published on the Science Commons pages so don't expect to find literature there. Instead see The Directory of Open Access Journals as journals with the SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) seal of approval adopt the Creative Commons licensing method.