Libraries Week takes place between 7th – 12th October 2019. This year’s campaign is focused on celebrating the role of libraries in the digital world. Over the course of the week we’ll be introducing you to different teams within the Library and explore how they use technology to support our community.
Today’s post features a contribution from our Content and Digital Infrastructure Team and will be highlighting what goes on behind the scenes to facilitate user access to our physical and digital resources.
In terms of connecting our library users to content, digital has transformed the parameters of our service and brought many benefits to our users, but with it has also come additional complexities and challenges. The Content and Digital Infrastructure team work together closely to meet these challenges and facilitate the opportunities offered by digital innovations to better meet the information needs of our users.
Meet the team
Lawrence Jones, our Content and Digital Infrastructure Manager, oversees the library’s activities in this area and has particular responsibility for systems such as our Library Management System and our library search tool Hunter – these integrated systems enable all the core activities around the library from access to the library space itself through to finding and accessing articles online.
Clementina Sanchez, our Acquisitions Librarian, supported by Georgina Coles, Information Assistant – takes care of the purchase, processing and cataloguing of books and e-books to ensure our book stock is kept current and in good condition – ready for when you need it!
Verity Allison, our Journals and E-resources Librarian, supported by Hilary Garrett, Information Assistant – manages the journals that the library subscribes to along with other specialist e-resources such as healthcare databases like Medline, and audio-visual resources such as Acland’s Video Atlas of Human Anatomy.
Interlibrary Loans Team – AKA Jane Appleton and Hilary Garrett, Information Assistants, locate books and articles from outside our collections on those occasions when we just don’t have the item you’re after.
How do we use technology to support our users?
Using the benefits of digital to enhance our physical services
The move from print to electronic journals has had a fairly dramatic impact on the physical layout of the library. With most journal subscriptions now online, we no longer require the rows and rows of shelving to accommodate print copies and can offer far more study spaces, which is of real benefit to our users today. The slideshow below shows before/after images of our silent study section after our last refurbishment:
In addition to this, recent upgrades to our Library Management System, Entry Gates and the installation of RFID self-service machines have made it easier than ever for our library users to self-manage their library accounts and borrowing activities, enabling the library to offer extended 24-hour opening. As long as users have their ID/Library access card with them they can access study spaces in the libraries and computer rooms 24 hours a day, borrow and return books throughout the day or night. Given the 24-hour nature of healthcare this facilitates better access for both our students and NHS trust users, as access to the library and our resources can be accommodated around any shift or study pattern.
To further support continuity of access for our users, our collection development policy supports where possible the purchase of e-book copies in supplement to print copies for reading list materials – so even if a physical copy of the book is not available, or if you are unable to be onsite, the content remains available.
Using the benefits of digital to enhance online access
The Library now manages access to thousands of journal titles, far in excess of what we ever could have accommodated physically in print, giving staff and students at St George’s access to far more content than before, with the added convenience that in most cases it can be accessed from anywhere and at any time.
However, with online journals the Library typically licenses the content for a specific period of time, whereas with print journals we owned the volumes and issues of the journals we purchased. The Journals and e-resources team negotiate the terms and conditions of these licences with our suppliers each year, making these transactions far more complex, but giving us the opportunity to ensure the licence enables us to use the content in ways that meet our needs in the ever changing Digital context. For example, in recent years we have seen improvements in licence terms around the use of content in VLEs (Virtual Learning Environments – such as Canvas, used at St George’s, University of London) to better support teaching and learning, and improvement in terms around data-mining to support research activities.
Supporting access to online subscriptions also requires maintaining a number of key systems, such as our link resolver, in addition to the more conventional library catalogue – which is also completely digital these days. The upgrades to our Library Management System and Library Search Tool – Hunter, implemented over the last two years have now integrated the functionality of the library catalogue and link resolver in to a single search tool, Hunter, enabling users to search in one place for books, journals, articles and more with live holdings information for all books and links through to the full text of articles that we have access to. These full text links are also integrated in to our other healthcare databases, and popular free tools such as Google Scholar (some set-up steps required, see below) and PubMed – look for the ‘Find it @ SGUL’ links to check for availability via St George’s Library.
Get connected, get creative and learn new skills
Use our library search tool Hunter– it is designed to search on material that St George’s University of London owns/subscribes to, focusing your search on the high-quality information resources selected by St George’s academics, researchers and librarians that you will be able to access with your university login.
Set up ‘Find it @ SGUL’ links in Google Scholar – for easier access to the full text of your search results where available via St George’s Library:
- Click on the menu at the top left of the Google Scholar home page
- Select ‘Settings’
- Select ‘Library links’
- Search for ‘st george’
- Select ‘St George’s University of London’
- Click Save
Bookmark the Library’s PubMed link: this link is customised to our holdings so that you will see ‘Find it @ SGUL’ links in for your PubMed search results, giving you easier access to the full text where available via St George’s Library.
Check for access via your local library:
At St George’s Library we manage a highly specialist collection – occasionally we get requests for resources which are just too general for our service but these can often be accessed for free via your local library. Wandsworth Libraries provide online access to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Oxford Dictionaries Online, and Press Reader (offers instant access to over 4000 newspapers and magazines) and more…why not register online today?
We can provide help and support in person from the Library’s Helpdesk and Research Enquiries Desk, or if you have a query for a specific member of the team contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org
We look forward to hearing from you.