Thursday, 22 December 2011

Three sleeps to go!

Christmas day is nearly upon us and SMU will soon be shutting down for the festive period. In line with the rest of the university, the libraries will be closed until the 3rd January. That's no reason not to catch up with your studies on Boxing Day, though, as our online resources are available from our website throughout and can be accessed anytime, anywhere, just as long as you have an internet connection and a valid username (the P-number on your ID card) and password.

We wish you all the very best over this vacation period, however you choose to spend your time, and look forward to seeing you all back again in 2012! Good tidings to you all!

Monday, 19 December 2011

Gwen John – lost watercolours discovered

A collection of 23 paintings by Welsh artist Gwen John (1876-1939) have been discovered in the archives of Princeton University Library. You can find out more from this BBC News article and this blog entry from Princeton’s Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. This is a significant find, particularly as Gwen John’s work was rarely exhibited in her lifetime. The watercolours are currently on display in the university’s Firestone Library, but only until the 31st December, so you’ll have to hurry across the pond to New Jersey to catch them before the end of next week!

It’s unlikely that many SMU staff and students will make it to Princeton to see this collection, but it provides a perfect excuse for us all to find out a bit more about the woman herself. During her lifetime, Gwen was somewhat overshadowed by her artist brother Augustus John, but in recent times she has risen in status. She led a fascinating life – taught by Whistler, she modelled for and became romantically involved with Rodin for a time – so why not look her up on our databases Oxford Reference Online or Art Full Text? You’ll also find lots of books about Gwen John and her brother at Griffith Library on our Dynevor campus – just look them up on our catalogue, Talis Prism.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Introducing your subject librarian...

Image: Idea go /

Hello, my name is Erica Fothergill. I am the Assistant Librarian who specialises in looking after the academic information needs of the students and staff within the Faculty of Applied Design and Engineering here at Swansea Metropolitan University. My qualifications include a BA (Hons) in Information and Library Studies. I am based at the Owen Library on the Mount Pleasant Campus and my contact details are shown on the subject areas for Applied Design and Engineering, Built and Natural Environment, and Computing which are shown on the Library web pages. You are welcome to contact me to find out what resources and services are available to help you with your coursework and research.

Monday, 12 December 2011

What the Dickens?

Charles Dickens, that is! The Victorians contributed a great deal to our idea of a traditional Christmas – cards, trees, and even the ubiquitous Christmas robin can all be traced back to nineteenth-century Britain. Arguably, no Victorian has had a bigger influence on our notion of Christmas than Charles Dickens himself, so it seems appropriate to think about the man and his work at this time of year. He was born in 1812, so 2012 will mark his bicentennial. There are sure to be lots of celebrations and events to mark the occasion, including a Dickens season on the BBC this Christmas. Look out for lots of film and television adaptations, new and old, of the author’s novels and stories!

If you’d like to find out more about Charles Dickens’ life and work, try our databases Oxford Reference Online and Literature Online. Many of Dickens’ novels are available to borrow from Townhill Library, including a collection of his Christmas stories – A Christmas Carol (the ultimate festive tale!), The Chimes, The Cricket on the Hearth, The Battle of Life and The Haunted Man. Perfect for getting you in the mood for some seasonal cheer! If your tired eyes are feeling a bit over-worked this late in the term, BBC Learning has an audio version of A Christmas Carol available on their website: For you budding primary school teachers out there, there are even teacher’s notes available to accompany the reading!

All this is sure to get you in a festive mood and banish any “Bah! Humbug!” feelings brought on by a busy term! Enjoy this final week, and in the words of Tiny Tim, God bless us every one!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

On this day in history...

...the world was shocked by the fatal shooting of Beatle John Lennon, outside his New York home in 1980. Though quite a young child at the time, I personally recollect seeing the story on the news and I'm sure they played one of his songs as a tribute, 'Woman'.

If you are interested in seeing videos of news stories or programme scripts relating to this story and others, take a look at our database 'NewsFilm Online'. It is a JISC funded service from the ITN and Reuters archive and contains over three thousand hours of footage and around sixty thousand stories.

SMU students and staff can access NewsFilm Online via the library web pages then click on the 'Online Resources A-Z' list, and then 'Databases'. You'll see Newsfilm Online on the list, and if you click on the title it will take you into the resource. Lastly, you can access it both on campus, and off-campus also with your current network login details.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Christmas opening hours...

Image: Simon Howden /

It's the end of term next week (is that cheering I can hear?!) but did you realise that all SMU libraries are still open during part of the vacation as well? All three libraries will be closed from December 23rd until January 2nd, but for the rest of the vacation period we'll be open for business. For full details of our festive opening hours at all three libraries please check the library website...oh, and don't forget, all our online resources will still be available even when we are closed! Happy Christmas everyone!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

SCONUL Access survey

SCONUL (the Society of College, National and University Libraries) wants to understand better the requirements and expectations of students, researchers and staff for library use away from their ‘home’ institution - and how they are being or might be satisfied. So this survey is about identifying and providing the services people need.

This survey is a key part of this work. It is open to any person currently involved in higher education in the UK or in Ireland, running from Wednesday 16th November to Friday 9th December. The survey is being conducted for SCONUL by Sero Consulting.

The survey is relevant to any HE library user even if you never used an access scheme. It covers your expectations as well as your experiences of actual visits

- Your reasons for visiting another library
- The resources, facilities, services and support you’d be hoping to access
- Satisfaction factors that matter when visiting another library
- Your suggestions and recommendations

It should only take 5-6 minutes of your time and so it is set up to complete in one sitting – you cannot return without re-starting. Please go to to take part, and by doing so you could even win one of six £30 Amazon vouchers!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Help JISC TechDis to choose a voice

Some of you might be familiar with the 'read aloud' feature for some articles on our EBSCO and Art Full Text databases (see our blog post for more details). It can be really helpful for students who prefer, or need to, hear information rather than reading it. JISC TechDis, an advisory service in technology and inclusion in the education sectors, is keen to make this sort of feature more widely available. First, though, they need to choose some voice actors to form the basis of the voices for their synthetic speech voices. That's where you come in! They'd like as many students as possible to listen to and rate the seven voices up for consideration. It'll only take a few minutes, but the deadline for feedback is Monday (5th December), so you'll need to get in quickly! Follow the link if you'd like to take part: