Categories
General Hull University Archives Library insider University history

‘A Lifted Study Storehouse:’ Philip Larkin and the Brynmor Jones Library

By day, a lifted study-storehouse; night  

Converts it to a flattened cube of light.  

Whichever’s shown, the symbol is the same:  

Knowledge; a University; a name.

Philip Larkin, 1983. On the Brynmor Jones Library, from Collected Poems, 1988.

Larkin at 100

Given what would have been Larkin’s 100th birthday on the 9th of August 2022, our latest blog post focuses on Larkin’s career as head librarian at the Brynmor Jones Library. This includes what Larkin contributed to the library during his employment, and how his presence can be observed within the building today.

The recently developed library is a modern facility at the heart of the campus.
An illustration of the redevelopment of the Brynmor Jones Library. 

Hull University Library in the 1960s

Larkin’s biographer, and a poet in his own right, Andrew Motion wrote that ‘in all the libraries which employed him. Larkin combined the roles of scholar, technician and administrator’ (Goodman, 1999). At the time in which Larkin was employed at the University of Hull in 1955, he had held previous employment at several libraries from 1943 onwards. These being: Wellington Public Library (1943-1946), University of Leicester (1946-1950), and Queen’s University in Belfast (1950-1955). As Andrew Motion states, Larkin’s role as librarian involved multiple duties as part of the position.

This can be evidenced through Larkin’s career at the University of Hull, as he oversaw the transformation of the library alongside the university’s vice-chancellor of the time Professor Brynmor Jones, from which the library now takes its name. As of Larkin’s employment in 1955, the library contained 124,000 items and employed just 12 staff to support the 727 students of the university at this time. Larkin ‘presided over its transformation during the next two decades. A new purpose-built library was opened in two stages in 1960 and 1970, and by 1985 there were over 750,000 items in stock, a computerised catalogue and circulation system, and over 80 staff’ (Hull History Centre, 2017).

Larkin's involvement in the library's redevlopment in the 60s played a role in the modern, technology-enabled library that can be observed as of today.
From the Estate of Philip Larkin.

Larkin and the Library’s Transformation

At the time, the university library was one of the first to be redeveloped in post-war Britain. The task was understood to be challenging, given that Larkin had no previous experience in the architectural field. Larkin’s muse and co-worker Maeve Brennan recalled that Larkin worked on the project ‘far removed from library staff…he spread out the plans for the new building and worked on them most afternoons. We had strict instructions that his whereabouts were not to be revealed nor was he to be interrupted except on matters of urgency’ (Goodman, 1999).

During this construction, the progress was split into two stages and would involve the production of a three storey building complete with the addition of reading rooms. It was Larkin who made several suggestions to the university concerning the library’s layout during this period. This was specifically in regards to the university’s initial idea of separating the book stacks from the students within the building. The university accepted these recommendations, and certain aspects of Larkin’s attention to detail can be observed in the building’s inspired modern lighting and coloured stacks to this day. During this period, Larkin worked closely with the architect for the project and photographed the progress as the building was constructed. 

Larkin as Poet and Librarian

It is evident that during Larkin’s time at the University of Hull, his role blended between librarian and poet. It was during this period where Larkin produced his celebrated works The Whitsun Weddings (1964) and High Windows (1974). Despite the critical acclaim, Larkin chose to remain a private individual, even turning down the position of Poet Laureate in his attempts to avoid the limelight.

The poet seemed to prefer his role as librarian, once stating in an interview that ‘librarianship suits me…it has just the right blend of academic interest and administration that seems to match my particular talents’ (Goodman, 1999). The university staff and students that interacted with Larkin during this period have given a mixed retelling of their experiences, many of which can be observed in the University of Hull Alumni Association’s blog which highlights particular memories of Larkin.  

The original Librarian sign from the 1959 redevelopment can still be observed on the first floor today.
The original Librarian sign from the 1959 building.

Larkin’s Presence Today

Larkin’s presence in the Brynmor Jones Library remains to this day, within the preserved location of the librarian’s office. This has been the office of the University of Hull librarian since 1959, when the first phase of the library was built under Larkin’s supervision. It was used by Philip Larkin from 1959 until his death in 1985. He wrote to his mother that ‘my room is so beautiful I can hardly believe it. I’m afraid it will make everyone so green with jealousy that I shall be the most hated person in Hull’ (Pearman, 2014). After Larkin’s death, his secretary, Betty Mackereth, with whom he had a secret love affair with, shredded the thirteen volumes of his diary in this office, in accordance to his wishes.

A number of things are original to the room to this day: the bookcase; the electric fire and its surround, the parquet flooring and the desk. The desk has a brass plaque commemorating its use by Larkin. He boasted that it was ‘larger than that of President Kennedy’ (Pearman, 2014). It was restored as part of the redevelopment of the library, and improved. The top of the desk is now real leather in place of the original leatherette. The typewriter is Larkin’s personal Olivetti Lettera DL.

The collection of books in the bookcase is the Brynmor Jones Collection. It was assembled by the library in honour of the university’s Vice-Chancellor Sir Brynmor Jones when he retired in 1972. It consists of first editions of titles published between 1890 and 1940 that were nominated by the university’s academic departments as being of particular importance. The period of 1890 to 1940 is also the focus of the University Art Collection. The ‘Librarian’ sign on the door, pictured above, leads directly into the office from the first floor of the library and is original to the 1959 building.

The original bookcase hosts the Brynmor Jones collection, and is positioned at the back of the room.
The Brynmor Jones book collection.

There were some particular objects that Larkin kept in his office during his employment, one of these being the pottery frog money box from circa 1970. This is a reminder of Larkin’s poems Toads, written in 1954, and Toads Revisited, written in 1962, about the necessity of going to work to earn a living. When asked by an interviewer, ‘how did you arrive upon the image of a toad for work or labour?’ he replied, ‘Sheer genius’ (Phillips, 2003). There is also the Hermes 3000 office typewriter situated near the bookshelf, circa 1969.

As pictured below, there are also three mugs of Larkins on display: a Queen Elizabeth II coronation mug, a D.H. Lawrence mug, and a lettered ‘P’ mug. Larkin’s nameplate can also be observed, as well as a collection of vinyls of Larkin reading his poetry. 

The mugs are part of a wider collection of Larkin's possessions, that are available to view upon request at the Hull History Centre.
Larkin’s mug collection.
A vinyl of Philip Larkin's reading of his popular collection 'High Windows' can be observed.
A selected vinyl collection.

The Modern Day Brynmor Jones Library

Following Larkin’s involvement in the transformation of the library, the building has since had another upgrade. Work began in 2012 and was completed by 2015, with the Poet Laureate of the time, Professor Dame Carol Ann Duffy opening the site. The library’s collection is now slightly larger since Larkin’s time. We now house over one million books in the building, alongside other physical and digital resources. Larkin’s presence within the Brynmor Jones Library is important to discuss, as are the contentious aspects of his character.

This month, the University Library’s Twitter Conversation highlights the contentious aspects of the poet’s life and challenges us to consider how we feel about his poetry in this context. The University Archive and the Hull History Centre contain manuscripts, drafts of poems and novels, photographs and Larkin’s jazz record collection. These materials can be requested at the Hull History Centre for viewing. If you would like to follow the Conversation, you can do so here.


For Reference

Goodman, Richard. (1999). My Particular Talents. Humanities Collections. 1(2), pp.45-60. [Online]. Available at: https://philiplarkin.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/my_particular_talents_rgoodman.pdf

Hull History Centre. (2017). Philip Larkin. [Online]. Hull History Centre. Available at: https://www.hullhistorycentre.org.uk/research/research-guides/philip-larkin.aspx

Larkin, Philip. (2014). A lifted study-storehouse. In: Burnett, Archie. (Ed). The Complete Poems of Philip Larkin. London: Faber and Faber Limited. 

Pearman, Hugh. (2014). After this it will be all Danish butter-factories. [Online]. RIBA. Available at: https://www.ribaj.com/culture/philip-larkin-and-the-architects

Phillips, Robert. (2003). The Madness of Art. New York: Syracuse University Press. p.23.

Categories
Conferences Sharing practice

Academic Libraries North (ALN) Conference 2022

As online meeting becomes more commonplace than ever, the Academic Libraries North conference 2022 was no exception, and the organisers did an excellent job emulating the benefits of an in-person conference online.

Online Academic Libraries North Conference

This year’s spotlight was on inclusivity, particularly on the actions our institutions take to improve equality and diversity. The event was split over 2 half days, giving delegates plenty of time to digest the wide range of content and consider how these ideas could be more widely shared.

ALN hosted a series of talks, presentations, post-break-out session chats, networking opportunities, sponsor booths and competitions using the virtual event platform, Hubilo. Conference delegates were able to discuss ideas and speak with sponsors in between sessions. Aiding connections and interactivity allowed the conference to flourish and receive widespread positive feedback.

Academic libraries and trans allyship

One of the event keynotes, Kit Heyam, began the conference this year with a session on academic libraries & trans allyship. They explored what is meant by the terms sex and gender by breaking down key concepts and encouraging all attendees to think about whether their institutions go far enough to protect our students e.g. manually updating databases to reflect appropriate pronouns or treating protected characteristics on library record notes sensitively.

Kit also advised that we can all signpost individuals who may use problematic language in no bad faith to more information and to think about and reconsider this. It was fascinating to listen to a passionate and knowledgeable speaker explain that while misconceptions are natural, they can be addressed critically and kindly when there is a willingness to learn.

Community engagement, period dignity and being a diversity ally

The conference hosted several lightning talks, which made me wonder whether our offerings align with other academic libraries. Lancaster University Library presented a piece on community engagement. As well as organising clothes mending sessions, a library festival and collaborating with the Lancaster Black History Group, Lancaster has also launched a community library card for members of the public aged over 16 and with which they can borrow 6 books at a time.

Teesside University Library discussed their period dignity campaign driven by a particular desire in the northeast for access to period products. It was an eye-opening presentation which pointed out the loss of education and deterioration of general health as a result of period poverty.

I was pleased to see our very own Sarah Pymer discuss the Archives & Records Association Diversity and Inclusion Allies. The group aims to focus on equality, diversion and inclusion through working practice, professional training and driving standards. Some positive steps have already been taken here, specifically around balancing gender within the archiving profession.

The care that binds: of stories yet untold

The second day of the conference was opened by the Associate Director for Research at the University of Nottingham and keynote Josh Sendall. This presentation was an inspirational and optimistic outlook for the future of equality within academic libraries. The key messages here were around promoting intellectual freedom to access all information and how neutrality and social justice can work together to achieve true equality. Josh touched not only on the importance of diversifying library collections by including marginalized voices but also promoting and celebrating this and demonstrating professional pride in doing so.

Conference sponsors

It is certainly worth praising the sessions given by the gold sponsor of the conference Kortext and both silver sponsors, Anybook and Adam Matthew. While familiar with the work of these platforms, companies and publishers respectively, it was useful to gain a deeper insight into the fantastic work they do to assist our collections.

Kortext hosted a talk on building a case for free eBooks at the University of Derby with a key focus on accessibility tools offered such as note sharing, highlighting and open conversations. Anybook discussed their practices, including how they give a proportion of the money made from selling books to the libraries and allow the libraries autonomy on how this money is spent whether this is on the collection or donated to charitable organisations. Adam Matthew were keen to highlight their work with various libraries to make lots of exciting materials available. One notable example of this was the diaries of Anne Lister, whose life as a landowner and historical lesbian figure has been portrayed in the BBC series Gentleman Jack.

Book stacks in libraries

Stand-out moments from the conference for me were the short papers on decolonising the library collection from the University of Essex and recruiting diverse candidates into the library customer assistant roles at the University of Manchester.

Decolonising the Library Student Champion Project

At the University of Essex, the library recognised a lack of diversity in its collection and enlisted the help of students. A series of workshops were held to encourage free discussion, and a brilliant video was made by students to explain the importance of decolonisation and diversification and the impact on the student body. During Q&As, I asked whether there had been challenges encouraging academics to diversify their reading lists, and I was happy to learn that most had welcomed these changes with a full understanding of the significance of this work.

Addressing barriers to inclusion in the recruitment process

Perhaps due to my own role as a customer experience team leader, I had a particular interest in how Manchester went about recruiting diverse candidates into their library customer service team. During a recruitment event, there was a big emphasis on encouraging those who lacked library experience but could offer other relevant skills to consider a customer service role. A video was shown at the event demonstrating what the day-to-day role looked like as well as a talk on demystifying the application process and an outline of the library 2030 vision. The University of Manchester Library saw an increase in disabled candidates, candidates under 20, candidates over 60 and LGBTQIA+ candidates.

Closing remarks

A wonderful panel discussion brought the conference to a close, and each participant was given the opportunity to share one thing we can all do to increase inclusivity. These included to keep talking about EDI, widening perspectives, sharing lived experiences, training to see through a diversity/anti-racist lens, being led by what others are going through and, of course, being kind.

Be kind in libraries

Many thanks for having me this year, Academic Libraries North. I have taken so much away from this conference and I am completely inspired to keep listening and to keep learning.

*Extra thank you to OCLC for donating the prize I won for my entry to the photo competition in which delegates were asked to submit a photo of where they were accessing the conference from. Small thanks also to my toddler, Frankie, whose cuddly Moomin toy, I believe, swung it for me.

A large wooden table with a laptop on it. There is a large vase of flowers to the right, and a Moomin soft toy sits beneath the vase.
The prize-winning photo

This post is authored by Ruby Hill, one of our University Library Customer Experience Team Leaders.

Categories
Interns Library insider

A Week at the Brynmor Jones Library

In July, the Brynmor Jones Library welcomed two work experience students from local schools. Sev and John both worked with staff for one week, and kindly agreed to tell us about their experiences.

Sev

My week at the Brynmor Jones Library started on Monday with a morning of induction and health and safety with Helen. During the week, I was shown a lot about how the library works.

I got a chance to work with the rare books collection in the Cube and created a display cabinet for the University Open Day. It was themed around tragedy and romance, with books including Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and D. H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers.

Sev’s ‘Tragedy and Romance’ rare book display

Between creating the display cabinet and researching the books used inside it, I got to work in Collections on the library database, and in the basement doing stocktaking. I was also in the Reading Room quite a lot doing available holds and KDL tagging.

Working with the rare books with Helen was my favourite part of the week!

John

This week at the University of Hull has been interesting and really enjoyable. When you mention a library, many people will have the image of a dull and boring place, but that’s not always the truth – some libraries go above and beyond to make it interesting and useful to all, and the Brynmor Jones Library is one of them.

I also started making a display case of some of the rare books, which I found really interesting. My theme being war, I picked out some of the most memorable and impactful books as a way to remember some of the wars that shaped our country.

John’s ‘Remembering War’ rare book display

The library staff were very nice and welcoming, and they kept me busy and engaged. It was fulfilling knowing that I was helping out.

This post is authored by Sev and John, two of our work experience students (July 2022).

Categories
General

Spotlight On: Decolonising & Diversifying Library Collections

Each month staff from the Spotlight Team at the Brynmor Jones Library create a Reading List and book display in the Reading Room based on a particular theme to create a ‘Spotlight On’ Collection. In June, we are highlighting work relating to Decolonising and Diversifying Collections, and sharing some book recommendations provided by students and staff.

Spotlight on Decolonising and Diversifying Collections

What is decolonisation and diversification?

Historically, academia has been dominated by white male voices. It is hard to believe that university study was once a male-only pursuit, with women very rarely admitted before the 19th century. Today, universities are incredibly diverse places with people from all walks of life and all over the world.

Yet this is not always reflected in library collections. The purpose of decolonising and diversifying libraries is to ensure that people who are marginalised by society’s perspectives – for example, by race, ethnicity, physical ability, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation and socioeconomic class – are better represented in universities and academia, by diversifying the books in library collections.

Diversification focuses on ensuring many voices and perspectives are heard. This means purchasing materials created by, and about, marginalised people.

Brynmor Jones Library

But decolonisation and diversification are not about the number of books by and about, for example, black and LGBTQ+ writers on the shelves. It is one thing to add books by marginalised authors to our collection – true decolonisation and diversification are about engaging with those voices while casting a critical view on the existing works of white, male writers who have dominated academia and publishing for so long. It is not about the erasure of those voices, but about challenging longstanding biases and widening our intellectual vision to include diverse perspectives and experiences.

Creating the Spotlight Collection

The Spotlight Team put a lot of work into discovering and promoting diverse library resources. Researching and creating the collections often reminds us just how extensive our resources are. We are always excited to discover hidden gems, but it can be difficult deciding which resources to include in a Spotlight collection. With this theme, we felt it was important to seek input from our academic and student community to ensure our list, while only a snapshot of the immense resources available, included the voices of those we seek to represent.

We initially contacted Dr Nicholas Evans of the Wilberforce Institute (WISE), who showed great enthusiasm and put us in touch with historian Channon Oyeniran and two WISE PhD students with interests in decolonisation, Jen Nghishitende and Fred Bricknell. We also received some excellent recommendations from Dr Catherine Baker, senior lecturer in 20th Century History.

Book recommendations

The book cover for Decolonizing Colonial Heritage

Dr Nicholas Evans’ top recommendation for the collection was Decolonizing Colonial Heritage: New Agendas, Actors and Practices in and beyond Europe (2022).

Decolonizing Colonial Heritage is a fantastic series of essays that deploys a truly global approach to studying the legacy of European colonisation in multiple societies. Such comparative analysis highlights the need look beyond national frameworks when discussing the legacy of imperialism. I especially loved the essay on Cape Town a port city influenced by Portuguese, Dutch and British imperialism.”

Dr Nicholas Evans

Channon Oyeniran, historian, educator and author, is a former MA student of the Wilberforce Institute. Now based in Canada where she is Vice President of the Ontario Black History Society, Channon recommended How to Be an Antiracist (2019) by Ibram X. Kendi. She talked to us about why decolonising collections in libraries is important.

“Libraries are the gatekeepers of knowledge and should therefore have an abundance of knowledge in different subject areas by different people who have different experiences and who come from all walks of life. It is important for people to go into a library and feel represented, see themselves in the books that are on the shelves and learn about diverse subjects.”

Channon Oyeniran

Jen Nghishitende, a current PhD student at WISE, enthusiastically recommended Dr Roselyne Masamha’s thesis titled The education experiences of Zimbabwean nurses recruited to undertake pre-registration nurse education in the UK. Dr Roselyn Masamha is a University of Hull lecturer in learning disabilities nursing whose research interests include experiences of disadvantaged groups, inclusive education and decolonisation. Jen praised Dr Masamha’s thesis for offering “a new perspective on shaping knowledge production, challenging the ‘traditional’ way of knowing in academia by producing academic work that accentuates the voices of her co-producers while embedding herself in the research by occupying the dual role of researcher and participant.”

Book cover for The Brutish Museum

Fred Bricknell, also a PhD student at the Wilberforce Institute, has previously developed reading lists for the History module Global Britain. His recommendations were The Brutish Museums: the Benin Bronzes, Colonial Violence and Cultural Restitution (2020) by Dan Hicks and Museums and Atlantic Slavery (2021) by Ana Lucia Araujo. Fred described The Brutish Museums as “the one book anybody seeking to understand calls for cultural restitution in modern Britain must read”. Talking about Museums and Atlantic Slavery, Fred told us the book “explores how the histories foregrounded in our national museums often omit uncomfortable truths” while emphasizing that “the fact they are uncomfortable does not make them any less true”.

Book cover for EmpireLand

Dr Catherine Baker took time out of her very busy assessment period to suggest three resources. On Empireland: How Imperialism has Shaped Modern Britain (2021) by Sathnam Sanghera, Catherine said, “struggles over historical memory and national identity in former Yugoslavia are among my main research interests – this book offers food for thought about those same questions in the country where I live and work”.

Book cover for The Trans-gender Issue: An argument for justice

Also recommended by Catherine is a new addition to the Library: The Transgender Issue: An Argument for Justice (2021) by Shon Faye. Catherine described The Transgender Issue as “an accessible and empathetic account which connects up the inequalities facing trans people today into an explanation of what makes transphobia so systemic, and integrates them through focusing on the context of ‘justice’.”

Thirdly, Catherine highlighted LGBT Activism and Europeanisation in the Post-Yugoslav Space: On the Rainbow Way to Europe as “a thought-provoking collection that illustrates the complex ways that LGBTQ+ activism in former Yugoslavia relates to cities, nations, governments, and the idea of ‘Europe’ itself, by a team of authors with deep ties to LGBTQ+ scholarship and activism in the post-Yugoslav space”.

The spotlight bookshelves in the reading room showing our Spotlight on Decolonising and diversifying the collection
The Spotlight display in the Reading Room

These are just a few of the resources included in the Spotlight Collection, and all are available via the Library or Open Access. The full collection can be found in the Reading Room in the Showcase Corner.

How can I get involved?

You can find out more about the Library’s work on decolonising and diversifying the collections on the Library website.

We are keen to receive recommendations from students and staff for these collections. If you are a current student, you can do this by completing a Suggest a Purchase form and ticking the checkbox for diversifying and decolonising the Library.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter so you don’t miss our Spotlight On: Decolonising and Diversifying Collections posts throughout the month of June.

Special thanks to Jen Nghishitende, Channon Oyeniran, and Fred Bricknell, and to Dr Catherine Baker and Dr Nicholas Evans of the wonderful History@Hull department.


Read more about decolonisation in our Twitter thread, Maggie is our Collection Development Manager responsible for Library and Archive collections at the University of Hull. Sarah is one of the University Archivists at the Hull History Centre, and also an @RL_UK Professional Practice Fellow 2022.

Categories
Digital literacies Skills Team TechItUpTuesday

Showcase your work online

#TechItUpTuesday

What is an online potfolio?

Having an online portfolio is a unique way to showcase your work and let others know about yourself. It’s one of the best ways to express your personality, experience, and capabilities. The portfolio will usually include samples of your best work, including articles, reports, PowerPoint presentations, and links to blog entries. Portfolios are especially useful for work that can be presented visually, like photography, illustrations, and ad campaigns.

Why showcasing your work is useful?

You may be wondering why do I need to showcase my work online? While it may not be relevant for some jobs for any job that requires creative ability a place to show employers what you’ve done will be most beneficial. So, once you leave university and it’s time to begin job searching you can have a platform to display perhaps a project or presentation you created. People are usually more impressed when they can see your achievements visually than just written on your CV.

Owl Omg GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Here are just a few reasons why you should showcase your work:

It’s a great first impression for employers

If an employer sees your website link in your signature or on your resume, they’ll likely click on it to see what you’ve built. Seeing you’ve taken the time to build a website featuring work samples, recommendations, previous presentations and more will be a killer first impression.

Increases Your Visibility And Online Presence

When an employer Googles your name, your professional portfolio will be one of the first search results that come up.

Its flexibiliy allows you to showcase your personality

You’re able to show your personality by choosing a design, layout and the copy you write. With the click of a button, you can change content, videos, copy and pictures on your online portfolio. You can also constantly create new content to show your continuous learning process.

This Is Who I Am GIF by Team Coco - Find & Share on GIPHY

Where can I showcase my work?

Pebblepad

PebblePad is the university’s electronic portfolio (ePortfolio) tool. It allows you to create an online, digital collection of your work including text, files, multimedia and links. This allows you to showcase your skills and knowledge to potential employers. The University of Hull provides all students with access to PebblePad. When you graduate, you can take your portfolio with you with the free alumni account. Any portfolio you create is private to you, but you have the option to share it with others.

PebblePad

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a social networking website focused on professional and business-oriented networking. It allows users to maintain an online profile similar to a résumé or CV. You can list your skills and gain endorsements and recommendations from peers. This makes LinkedIn a useful website for showcasing your work, qualifications and experience. It also allows you to share details of projects you have taken part in, publications and other forms of portfolio. Recruiters often use LinkedIn as a platform for sharing job advertisements, managing part of the recruitment process and for approaching individuals about a specific job role.

LinkedIn

Slideshare

SlideShare is a slide hosting service that lets users upload PowerPoint, PDF, Keynote and OpenDocument presentations. Uploaded presentations can be kept private or shared publicly to allow users to view, rate, comment and share the uploaded presentation. Slideshare is a great way to showcase your presentations to future employers and it is a particularly useful platform for sharing conference presentations.

Researchgate.net

ResearchGate is a social networking site that enables researchers to share papers, ask and answer questions, and find collaborators. As well as the regular profile and messaging tools, it offers researchers the ability to follow research interests, share their data, comment and view access stats. The website features a proprietary metric to measure scientific reputation. It is called the RG Score and it works by analysing how “your research is received by your peers”

ResearchGate

SoundCloud

SoundCloud is an online audio distribution platform that enables its users to upload, record, promote, and share their originally-created sounds. This makes SoundCloud a great platform for sharing any audio-based creative work, particularly useful for drama and music students to share their work. It accepts most common audio file forms and also lets users record directly via the website. Anything you upload can be made available for streaming, sharing, embedding and download, giving creators multiple ways to share their content.

SoundCloud

Github

GitHub is the largest open source community in the world. If you’re technically minded, it lets you contribute to software and technology projects. GitHub will track your contributions making it a great way to not only build a profile in the open-source community but to also demonstrate technical capabilities. The site has several communication tools to let developers collaborate, making it a perfect place to host your own projects too.

GitHub

These are just a few examples but there are many more discussed in the skills guide linked below.

Relevant Skills guide: The Digital Student: Showcase your work

Categories
Digital literacies Skills Team TechItUpTuesday

Digital Employability

#TechItUpTuesday

What do we mean by digital employability?

As a student, you may not have considered your digital employability a great deal, but it is important to think about how you present yourself online. This is because some aspects of what you post online could affect your future employability. Employers are more frequently looking through search engines and social networks as a form of pre-screening candidates. This means potential employers could be checking out what you are doing online and how you present yourself. This screening is done as early as the application phase before candidates are interviewed and most employers perform this screening post-interview and before the appointment. This makes your online presence very important for your employability.

If you have any inappropriate content on your social media or anything that portrays you in a negative light it can really affect your job prospects.

Inappropriate Parks And Recreation GIF by GQ - Find & Share on GIPHY

What should I look out for when it comes to my digital employability?

Below you can see a list of things you should avoid when it comes to digital employability. While some may seem obvious you may have overlooked some issues or made a subtle mistake. You might say well I know I haven’t posted anything inappropriate but maybe someone you know has tagged you in a potentially embarrassing photo or comment. It is important to remember that even though you may be responsible online, others may not.

Gerard Way No GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

What should I avoid sharing?

Over sharing

Picture of a speech bubble

Do you share too much online? Employers may be concerned you lack discretion. Inappropriate comments about your current or former colleagues, bosses and employers is always inadvisable. You should be careful what you share online and who you share it with.

Language

Picture representing inappropriate words

Some employers won’t like to see the use of profanity or inappropriate language. If you know that you post such language publicly then either stop using it and consider removing it from previous posts. If you want to use that language, only use it in private chats as your employer may be concerned it will happen in the workplace too.

Alcohol references

Picure of a glass on wine

This depends on the organisation, as the occasional post about an alcoholic may not be a concern. You do need to think carefully think what public image these posts portray could portray about you. If you regularly post about drinking and hangovers after heavy nights out, then you may seriously damage your employability. This doesn’t mean you can never post anything like this, but you should check your privacy settings and make sure you’re not telling everyone.

Unsuitable pictures

Picture of a man in a silly costume dancing

This is similar to alcohol-related posts as pictures of student nights, fancy dress parties and crazy nights out are fun while you are a student. However, you need to be aware of who can see them. For photos and posts like this, you should ensure you need to give permission to be tagged in them. As you probably don’t want your future boss seeing that photo of you dressed like Super Man? As well as this you should make sure any pictures of yourself on professional profiles like LinkedIn are sensible and smart.

Personal opinions

Picture of the White house

Everyone has their opinion on politics or their own spiritual views, you just need to be careful who you share them with. Depending on your career you may have to be careful about sharing such beliefs. Civil Servants for example must be apolitical so any posts about politics are career-threatening. You should also be careful about sharing anything that could be compromising.

Harassment

anti-bullying picture

Anything that looks like you are harassing or bullying others is never acceptable. Even if it was a joke between friends if any potential employers see anything they would consider bullying you are incredibly unlikely to be considered for the job. While this may seem obvious, you need to consider how inside jokes between your friends may look to an outsider. If something can be misinterpreted, then make sure you remove it. This includes things that you have not written but are posted onto your profile/wall. If you leave such things there, you are in effect endorsing it so be careful about what you leave there.

Honesty

picture with the word honesty

Make sure you provide the same information across all the different social media and websites you use. Inconsistency with details like qualifications and education may concern some employers, especially if your online profiles contradict your C.V. This also includes exaggerating; it may be tempting to embellish your experiences you may think I’ll just say my trip to France was actually an exchange they’ll never know. I know we want to make ourselves look as employable as possible but if you go too far your employers will probably find out and it won’t be good for you.

Sex references

Picture of lips

This one should be obvious, but this is certainly something your future employer and colleagues do not need to know about. Be careful what you post on public networks and keep your private life private. You should always avoid sharing intimate pictures or videos either publicly or privately. You could easily lose control of such media and it can be very damaging to your reputation – let alone the potential embarrassment involved.

Drug references

Picture of Drugs

This is another one that is similar to alcohol as references to drugs also can negatively impact people’s perception of you. What you think about drugs is a different issue, but most employers would not find this appropriate.

Grammar

Picture of books

Keep the shorthand and text speak to texts. If you are posting anything publicly, think about how it represents you. The same principle applies to any form of professional communication. If potential employers see poor spelling and grammar on your online profiles, it raises questions about your language abilities.

Relevant skills guide: The Digital Student: Digital is employable

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Academic literacies Digital literacies Skills Team TechItUpTuesday

Learning through social media

#TechItUpTuesday

Last week we looked at managing your social media/network but what do we mean by learning through social media? Online social networks provide a whole host of tools to help you learn, share resources and connect with other students. This can be useful as university study has an ever-increasing focus on communal learning. Social media can also greatly assist in your career prospects.

Social media tools for learning

Podcasts/Vodcasts

You may remember we covered podcasts in a previous article on Vlogs and Podcasts. So I’ll just give you a quick refresher, Podcasts and vodcasts are episodic programs distributed over the internet. Podcasts are audio-based (music or talk) programs and vodcasts are video-based programs. The ‘cast’ part of the term refers to the ability of a user to subscribe to future episodes and download them when available. There are thousands of Podcasts and Vodcasts available and they can be music, talk, or a mixture of both. There are many podcasts and vodcasts that focus on academic or work-based topics, we recommend checking out:

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Sharing Ideas

Calendars/organisation

Cloud-based calendars and organisational tools are brilliant for group projects. They allow you to share events, deadlines, files and notes with other people in your group. The university provides a guide on working in the cloud for more information.

Collaboration

If you need to complete group work with other students but are not able to get together, there are lots of tools that can enable you to collaborate.

Google Docs allows you to simultaneously edit a single file at the same time as other users. You can also annotate and comment on the document which is useful for peer review. These tools can also be useful if you are in the same room but need to edit something at the same time.

Learn through online videos

There are thousands of videos available online to watch for free. Though some of these videos are more useful than others and cover a whole range of topics, there are also very useful explanations of academic/work concepts. If you are struggling to understand something or want to develop or learn a skill you may be able to find useful explanations on sites such as these:

YouTube
Vimeo
iTunesU
TED Ed

Visual learning

Pinterest

Pinterest is a visual social network that allows users to create photographic pinboards. As it is purely visual media, Pinterest works well as a source of inspiration. It not only allows you to share interests, but you can find lots of different study or career tips presented in a visual format as you can see below.

Revision on Pinterest

Build a professional community

LinkedIn can be used to find the right job or internship, connect and strengthen professional relationships, and learn the skills you need to succeed in your future career.

Twitter can also be a useful way to build a professional community through:

MOOCs are something we have discussed in a previous post and can also be a good way of learning online and for talking to your peers.

Relevant skills guide: The Digital Student: Social media for study

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Digital literacies Information literacies Skills Team TechItUpTuesday Visual literacies

Managing your social network

#TechItUpTuesday

I’m sure most of you already know what social networks are so I’ll just go over this briefly. Social networks and/or social media services allow you to network with people who share interests, professions, hobbies, backgrounds, or real-life connections. These services are based online and often have mobile apps to allow users to access the service on the go. If you don’t know much about social networks you can check out our SkillsGuide on social media.

How to manage your social network?

Managing your social network websites can feel like a massive task if not done efficiently and correctly. This is especially the case if you are using multiple social networks and communication apps. The volume of information from social network sites can overwhelm people and make it easy to miss valuable messages and notifications. This can have major consequences if someone posts something inappropriate on your profile or you miss an important message from a potential employer on a professional network. We will be discussing what would be considered inappropriate for your social media when we look into digital employability. Below we have some useful oh wait…..

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Now as I was saying here are some tips and tools to help you master social networking, so distractions like this don’t get in the way.

Useful Tips

  • Avoid signing up for email alerts. While useful, these will quickly take over your email inbox. 
  • Some of you may need more accounts for various reasons but if you know you don’t really use some of them perhaps consider deleting them.
  • Think about what you really need to post. Unless your posts add unique value or stands out in some manner, it may go unnoticed.

If This Then That (IFTTT)

IFTTT is an internet service that allows users to create chains of simple conditional statements, called “recipes”, which are triggered based on changes to other web services such as Twitter and Facebook. An example recipe might consist of sending an e-mail message if the IFTTT user tweets using a certain hashtag. There are also Android and iOS apps that enable phone or tablet changes to trigger other activities.

There is also a new companion app called ‘Do’ that can automate tasks on the press of a button. You can use this to automate a lot of your social media management. For example, if you post something to Twitter, you can also get it posted to your Facebook or Google+ account. These kinds of recipes can save you a lot of time. IFTTT also works with productivity apps like calendars, Evernote and OneNote so you can trigger events based on activity on social networks.

IFTTT logo with a link to the site

Buffer

Buffer is a software application designed to manage social networks, by enabling you to schedule posts to social networks including Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter. With tools like Buffer, you can limit the need to log in to your social networks by scheduling posts ahead of time.

Buffer logo with a link to the site

Pocket

Pocket is a save-for-later service. The service allows users to save interesting articles, videos and more from the web and other apps for later enjoyment. This means that when you see something you want to view or read later, you can save it into Pocket. This allows you to glance quickly through social networks, apps and websites and save items to read properly later.

Pocket,logo with a link to the site

Social network for work/bussiness

Now we have looked at managing your social network in your day to day life and as a student. However, if you are interested in managing your social network from a business point of view this is a good video for you.

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Digital literacies Information literacies Skills Team TechItUpTuesday

Data literacy

#TechItUpTuesday

Data literacy is all about how you handle data as a special form of information. Data is used in many ways from monitoring key performance indicators to generating new theories. Our own data – personal and organisational – can also be used, sometimes in ways, we might not want. We all need a basic understanding of legal, ethical, and security issues when we handle data and good habits of personal data security.

Jisc defines data literacy as:

The capacity to collate, manage, access and use digital data in spreadsheets, databases and other formats, and to interpret data by running queries, data analyses and reports. The practices of personal data security.

An understanding of: how data is used in professional and public life; legal, ethical and security guidelines in data collection and use; the nature of algorithms; of how personal data may be collected and used.

Jisc, Data Literacy
Analyzing Toy Story Gif By Gif - Find & Share on GIPHY

Data is a bit like marmite it is usually either loved or hated. Data is, however, an important aspect of most job roles or courses of study. The importance of data goes beyond just work and studies. In our daily lives, we are often presented with data on a regular basis. Data literacy is important whether you are comparing data for bills you have to pay, your student loan repayments, or looking at figures related to the coronavirus pandemic.

When considering data in the context of digital literacy, the focus is often on data management, analysis and visualisation.

Things to consider when using data

Accesibilty

Data can be very difficult to make accessible particularly if it is raw data (essentially just a series of numbers or information). For accessibility purposes, the focus has to be on interpreting, presenting, and summarising data. Just a hint the gif below is not a good way to make your data accessible or as you will see below the best way to store it.

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Storage

Data sorted, arranged, presented and explained with a story. You see bricks become more ordered and assembled as the model develops.

This may not be as much of an issue as a student but can be incredibly important in the working world. Whenever we create, use, or produce data we need to consider where it is stored. There are many legal, ethical, and security issues in how data is stored, accessed, and shared. These dimensions of data management are driven based on the type of data you are working with, and whether it contains any personal, sensitive, or commercially sensitive data. If you do have any sensitive information, make sure it is protected by a password or stored in a safe place. Here are some useful ways you can store data.

  1. Store it in the Cloud.
  2. Save to an External Hard Drive.
  3. Burn it to a CD, DVD, or Blu-ray.
  4. Put it on a USB Flash Drive.
  5. Save it to a NAS Device.

Data communication and presentation

Often, data is poorly communicated. The diagram on the left well represents the difference between raw data, and data that has been sorted, arranged, presented, and explained. We will now look through a few useful software tools to present and communicate your data.

Software tools to aid your data literacy

Here are a few useful tools for handling data with some links to tutorials and downloads. (Tutorials and guides are linked on the left and download links are on the right)

Data GIF by UpSteam - Find & Share on GIPHY

Microsoft Excel

Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet developed by Microsoft for Windows, macOS, Android and iOS. It features calculation, graphing tools, pivot tables, and a programming language called Visual Basic for Applications. With a Microsoft 365 account, you can install Microsoft Excel on all your devices.

QSR NVivo

NVivo is a qualitative data analysis computer software produced by QSR International. It is designed for qualitative researchers working with very rich text-based and/or multimedia information, where deep levels of analysis on small or large volumes of data are required.

Microsoft Access

Access is probably the least well-known application in the MS Office suite. However, it is incredibly useful for a small number of student/staff researchers who need to store and manage large amounts of related data. You may use Access when the program you are using to keep track of something gradually becomes less fit for the task. 

ArcGIS

ArcGIS is a system used to make maps and for geographic information. It can create and use maps, compile geographic data, analyze mapped information, share and discover geographic information, use maps and geographic information in a range of applications, and manage geographic information in a database.

Microsoft Power BI

Power BI is a collection of software services, apps, and connectors that work together to turn your unrelated sources of data into coherent, visually immersive, and interactive insights. Power BI lets you easily connect to your data sources, visualize and discover what’s important, and share that with anyone or everyone you want.

R

R is a programming language and free software environment for statistical computing and graphics supported by the R Foundation for Statistical Computing. The R language is widely used among statisticians and data miners for developing statistical software and data analysis.

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Academic literacies Skills Team TechItUpTuesday

Boosting your Employability through MOOCs

#TechItUpTuesday

What are MOOCs?

MOOCs are free online courses that provide an affordable and flexible way to learn new skills, advance your career and receive quality educational experiences. The courses are normally delivered asynchronously so you can complete them when you have time available. They often include activities such as discussions and peer assessment where you communicate with others. MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course:

  • Massive because enrolments are almost unlimited
  • Open because anyone can enrol, there is no admission process.
  • Online because they are delivered, you guessed it online
  • Course because they are designed to teach you a specific subject.
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How do they work?

Many of the courses can be started at any time while others start at regular intervals every few weeks or months. Although some may be less frequent and maybe only offered once. Some MOOCs are self-paced so you can choose how you progress throughout while others run on a schedule but are still somewhat flexible.

  • All the course material may not be available from the beginning. Instead, it’s released in fragments each week, allowing you to pace yourself.
  • Assessments may have deadlines, preventing learners from lagging behind.

They often range in length from 1 to 16 weeks. Most provide an estimate of the weekly time commitment, although this time scale may vary depending on the learner.

MOOCs can include:

  • Auto-graded quizzes – quizzes that are automatically graded upon submission, such as multiple-choice questions.
  • Peer-feedback assignments – assignments that are graded by other learners according to specific rules.

Your performance on these assignments then determines your overall course grade.

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Where can I take MOOCs?

Some of the main platforms for MOOCs are FutureLearn, Coursera and OpenLearn (provided by the Open University). The University has a couple of courses available on Future Learn, the University Preparation Course, and Introduction to Thermodynamics.

File:Coursera-Logo 600x600.svg

Not everything is free

Especially as a student, you may have to take into account the costs, though a vast amount are free some courses may have components hidden behind a paywall. For example, graded assignments.

MOOCs often offer two enrollment options:

  • Free Auditing – which gives you access to videos, readings, and forums for free.
  • Paid Enrolment – which gives you access to all the content, including paywalled elements such as the certificate of completion.

A small number of courses are pay-only. Also, when you finish a MOOC you may earn a certificate of completion. Sometimes, the certificate is free, but often, you may have to pay for it. A Paid certificate often requires ID verification, which involves sending a picture of yourself and a form of ID like a driver’s license.

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MOOCs the considerations

These are some questions you should ask yourself when considering why you want to take a MOOC.

  • Do you want to become better at a particular skill?
  • Are you looking to improve your job prospects?
  • Are you considering changing your goals or career path?
  • Is it just for the pleasure of learning?

Then you should also consider the more logistical considerations

  • Do you want to take the full MOOC or just part of it?
  • How much time can you dedicate to the course weekly?
  • Are you looking for an introductory, intermediate, or advanced course?

The MOOC listing usually contains information to help you decide if the course matches your goals, such as potential prerequisites, course content, difficulty, and expected time commitment.

Relevant Skills guide: The Digital Student: MOOCs