Going Digital: Library Online

Kate Roberts, VP Education

Well, for the first time in a long time, there aren’t any complaints that the Library is too busy…!

As you will have seen over the last few weeks, the physical Library space in the Emily Wilding Davidson Building was shut on 24 March, but this does not mean you are unable to access books and online resources to help you study over the next few weeks. In this article I am going to give you a rundown of the services available to you to ensure you feel supported and confident in your upcoming assessments.

What has happened so far?

The Library has worked incredibly swiftly to review over 1000 of your reading lists to identify where ‘essential’ material was not available digitally for students to access. Where this was the case, the Library has either acquired a digital version on their usual LibrarySearch platform or where they do not exist they have been busy contacting teaching staff to identify digital alternatives for you.

A number of international publication houses and services that provide digital content have made their services publically available during this time to support the academic community as well. You can find a list of a number of these providers on the intranet alongside details of what they provide.

The much-loved Library Twitter page @RHUL_Library has also been signposting to these free services, as well as advertising digital webinars and sessions to support you accessing eBooks, journal articles, news articles, statistics and more online. This is spruced up by funny challenges and their new Royal Holloway Online Readers book club, so definitely give it a look if you haven’t already!

What if I have a print book that I am now unable to return?

The Library has said to please hold on to any books you have out on loan. Do not return them to the Library, all books should have a new return date of 1 May 2020. If they do not, you can renew them online using the normal process and this will extend the return date until 1 May 2020. This will be reviewed and amended if needed closer to the time and we will keep you updated about any changes.

If you have books on loan but are graduating this year, so may not return to campus again, we are working with the Library to ensure there will be details provided on how you can return these books in the future.

What if I need a specific book or article for an assignment and cannot find it online?

If you need to access an item to support your research, assignment or alternative assessment preparation, please contact LibraryLiaison@rhul.ac.uk and let them know the book title and, if applicable, the module code, and they will try to make it available for you.

The subject guides found on your Moodle pages also provide a wealth of free resources and subscriptions for you to access.

What is the Students’ Union doing to support students’ education in this area?

I have been in regular contact with the Library throughout this period to ensure students are supported and as I already have regular catch-ups with the Director of Library, Learning Support and Culture to raise student issues and support you best, these are continuing online.

In discussions around assessments, we have continually raised the concern that students have very varying levels of access to resources in their home or current environment and no student should be disadvantaged due to a lack of access to online books and articles.

I hope that the current changes to assessments for Term Three, and the outline of available resources here, allow you to feel confident in completing your upcoming assignments. If you have any concerns, questions or comments please do get in touch on social media (@RHSUEducation) or via my email address vpeducation@su.rhul.ac.uk.

What if I am missing my group study pals?

Becoming digital in these strange times also means becoming more digitally social. If you used to get together with friends to study, discuss and debate your work, why not continue this online? And don’t forget to join our Royal Hideaway Facebook page for your daily update of wholesome community spirit! I can’t, however, replace your 3am Starbucks, you will have to manage that one on your own, and please do also continue to monitor the littering within your own household as you did so diligently in the Library!

And finally, while embracing digital learning and assessment can be a challenge, it is also going to be fantastic experience for whatever world we come out of this pandemic to. It is likely a number of things will move online for good; what impact this will have on Royal Holloway is yet to be seen but we can work collectively now to lay down the digital foundations and ensure this new digital future supports all students from all backgrounds.