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.