Thursday, 12 December 2013

Photography books of the year

Here are a few end of year roundups for you to enjoy.  But, first my own selection (in no particular order):

Gasoline / David Campany
Dalston Anatomy / Lorenzo Vitturi
The Photography of Nature & The Nature of Photography / Joan Fontcuberta
Traces / Ana Mendieta
Genesis / Sebastião Salgado
Hesitating Beauty / Joshua Lutz
Home Truths: Photography and Motherhood / Susan Bright
In and Out of Fashion / Viviane Sassen
Iris Garden / Stories by John Cage, Photos by William Gedney
The Non-Conformists / Martin Parr
War/photography : images of armed conflict and its aftermath / Anne Tukcker et al

Telegraph best photography books

Alec Soth's selection in the Telegraph

Time best photobooks of 2013

Times Literary Supplement books of the year
[A Box of Photographs by Roger Grenier (chosen by William Boyd)]

Washington Post best photobooks of 2013

American Photo Mag photobooks of the year
 [or view the magazine layout here]

British Journal of Photography - the Best Photobooks of the Year: Martin Parr takes his pick

2013 fotobookfestival photobook award

Paris Photo Aperture Foundation awards 2013

Deutscher fotobuchpreis

Guardian photography books of the year

PDN best photo books of 2013

A few more...

New York Times 6th Floor Blog - Top Ten

Guardian - Best Independent Photobooks 2013

Photoeye Best Books - part 1

Photoeye Best Books - part 2

Box of Broadcasts - unavailable from 13th - 23rd December

This is a reminder that to prepare for the BoB upgrade, the service will be unavailable from 13th December until the 23rd December.  This means that you can access all the great films and TV programmes on Christmas eve, Christmas day and Boxing day, etc! 

It's a wonderful life!

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Sight and Sound - films of the year

The University of Westminster produced film, 'The Act of Killing' comes out top in Sight and Sound's films of the year. It received 23 votes from the poll of 100 critics, curators and academics.

This film was supported by the International Centre for Documentary and Experimental Film at the University, and funded by a combination of industry funding, AHRC Research money and the University of Westminster. An essay relating the film to writing by Walter Benjamin is available on the Sight and Sound website.

The full results of Sight and Sound's poll is available in this month's magazine, and the top ten along with editor's selection is available here.  But, who cares who came second?

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Am I bovered, though?

There have been a few rumours flying around that Thomson Reuters, who own the well-known database 'Web of Knowledge,' were going to withdraw the contents of their database from Primo Central - known to you and I as the 'Articles & more' quick search in Library Search - and other aggregator services such as Summon and Ebsco.

Without trying to denigrate Web of Knowledge at all, my response to this was "Do I look bovered?"  The fact is that most (if not all) the content would still be included from other sources (Elsevier, JSTOR, etc), so it would make little difference. 

In any case, for most of the subjects I support, the existing 'Articles & more' (with or without Web of Knowledge) is of dubious benefit, and I prefer to direct students either to an alternative aggregator (namely Google Scholar) or (and this is my preference) to good quality specialist databases - namely Proquest Art databases, JSTOR, or Art Full Text, or FIAF International Index to Film Periodicals.

The reason for Thomson Reuter's apparent hesitancy with regard to aggregated search was said to be that they wanted users to use their interface as their primary search environment for authoritative search.  And I can see why.  Web of Knowledge is unique amongst multidisciplinary databases in that their principal feature is how few, rather than how many journals it indexes.  They pride themselves on quality, and exclusivity.  In the sciences in particular, this is a great advantage, making this a leading databases in science - and in particular for systematic reviews.

Within the arts and humanities, Web of Knowledge, is used much less frequently, despite there being a specific index for arts & humanities (the Arts & Humanities Citation Index).  This currently indexes only 82 art journals (I think only three of these are specific to photography) and only 33 journals in the areas of film, radio and TV.  So, quite limited;  however, as these are reckoned to be  the most influential journals in the relevant field (by the panel appointed by Web of Science to decide these things) it is worth looking to see which are the chosen journals.

Subsequent to the rumours, Web of Science has issued a statement confirming that they are in fact not withdrawing their records from Primo Central.  They have also announced that they will be collaborating with Google Scholar to provide seamless movement to and from Web of Knowledge, which will be interesting (and might help revitalise both).  This is a neat collaboration given that an early article setting out the principles of Google’s algorithm back in 1998, cited Eugene Garfield - founder of ISI, who originally developed Web of Knowledge.

Web of Knowledge will also be launching a new interface early next year, which should make searching their current - rather difficult - interface easier.  I look forward to it.

Web of Knowledge
Search Web of ScienceSM
Copyright 2010 Thomson Reuters   

Journal launches 'cute studies'

A new journal, due for publication in 2015, is looking for articles on cuteness.  The East Asian Journal of Popular Culture is, "to launch the new, interdisciplinary, transnational academic field of Cute Studies." More information and a bibliography is available here:

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Pictorial works - subject headings

This is a little tip for you.  The standard subject heading used by libraries for books of pictures is "pictorial works."  This seems logical enough; however, few people would use this as a search term when looking for photography, and would therefore miss out on some books.

If you are looking for books with photographs of Britain, try searching for "pictorial works" AND Britain (as well as the more intuitive photography AND Britain).  It is important to do this, as the catalogue record for books of photographs sometimes do not refer to 'photographs' or 'photography' at all but do use the term "pictorial works"!

As an example, compare the results for these two searches (I have used the subject field in advanced search for these examples):

petroleum AND photography

petroleum AND pictorial works

The first 'obvious' query retrieves two results; but the second less obvious query retrieves two additional results.

You could argue that this is just poor cataloguing; and you might be right.  Certainly, Edward Burtynsky's monumental book, Oil, ought to include additional subject headings, including ones related to photography.  (You can see a fuller record on COPAC here). However, the broader point is that in order to search catalogues effectively, it helps to understand the language that they use to describe resources - particularly in the subject fields.  

After all, it is not only 'pictorial works' which is a non-intuitive term, but also 'petroleum.'  Search for oil AND photography or oil AND pictorial works and your results are even more unsatisfactory.

Box of Broadcasts - news

Box of Broadcasts - the archive of TV and radio broadcasts - will be off-line between 13-23 December to prepare for the relaunch of the service on the 6th January.

While not being able to access BoB for a short time is an inconvenience, the new features that will be launching in January will be very much welcomed.  Of particular interest is the more than half a million additional BBC programmes from 2007 onwards that will  be offered.  I am also very pleased that it will be compatible with an Ipad.

The new features will include:

•    access to more than 500,000 new BBC TV and radio programmes, dating from 2007, from the BBC archive
•    an additional 13 foreign language channels
•    an extended recording buffer – giving you more channels, available for longer
•    a new website look, including colour, theme, functionality and improved navigation.
•    the ability to search across future and recorded programmes simultaneously
•    interactive transcripts and dynamic subtitle searches
•    Apple iOS compatibility
•    the ability to easily create clips and clip compilations, and share programmes and playlists via social media
•    the option to make YouTube-style comments on progammes
•    a quick link to the new BUFVC AV Citation Guidelines, allowing you the opportunity to reference programmes within your work easily.

Enjoyment is our duty

I've recently watched Slavoj Zizek's new film, The Pevert's Guide to Ideology, which has just come into the library.  Like it's predecessor, The Pervert's Guide to Cinema, this is a cinematic thesis which draws from Zizek's writing, and uses films as points of illustration and analysis. Although I sometimes felt his argument jumped around a bit, and I was left wondering how some of the points he was making linked together, it was a hugely entertaining and thought-provoking film.

There were some great clips used as illustration, drawn from an eclectic mix of films, which I have listed below.  Where they are available on our TV archive, Box of Broadcasts, I have also provided links, so that, if we want, we can revisit the whole film.

A press release for the film is available in the contact section of the film's website:

They Live (1988) / John Carpenter

A Clockwork Orange (1971) / Stanley Kubrick

West Side Story (1961) / Robert Wise & Jerome Robbins [ON DVD]

Taxi Driver (1976) / Martin Scorsese

The Searchers (1956) / John Ford

Jaws (1975) / Steven Spielberg

Triumph of the Will (1935) / Leni Riefenstahl [ON DVD]

The Eternal Jew (1940) / Fritz Hippler

Cabaret (1972) / Bob Fosse

I Am Legend (2007) / Francis Lawrence

Titanic (1997) / James Cameron

The Fall of Berlin (1950) / Mikhail Chiareli

Full Metal Jacket (1987) / Stanley Kubrick

Mash (1970) / Robert Altman

If (1968) / Lindsay Anderson

The Dark Knight (2008) / Christopher Nolan [ON DVD]

The Loves of a Blonde (1965) / Milos Forman

The Fireman’s Ball (1967) / Milos Forman [ON DVD]

Brief Encounter (1945) / David Lean

Brazil (1985) / Terry Gilliam

The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) / Martin Scorsese [ON DVD]

Seconds (1966) / John Frankenheimer

Zabriskie Point (1970) / Michelangelo Antonioni [VIDEOTAPE]

Friday, 15 November 2013

British Independent Film Awards nominations 2013

The 16th annual British Independent Film Awards nominations have been announced.  Prison drama 'Starred Up' gets eight nominations, and 'The Selfish Giant' gets seven.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

New books

The following books have been added to the collection since September.  Enjoy!
Animation, Film, TV



Thursday, 7 November 2013

David Campany / Gasoline

David Campany's new book, entitled Gasoline, is now in the library. 

This has been widely reviewed (e.g. The Guardian, Photo-eye, etc), and you can find out more about it on David Campany's website:

Screen Resources

London Screen Archive
A significant upgrade to the LSA online catalogue is underway.  You will be able to access this from their website:

BFI Player Launched
The BFI Player provides a mix of free and pay-per-view content.  UK audiences can watch contemporary and archive films in the comfort of their own home.  Watch now at:

Other On Demand services
One of the films you can watch on the BFI player is 'The Selfish Giant' by Arbor director/writer Clio Barnard.   If you go to The Selfish Giant website, you will see a number of other On Demand sites to choose from: Curzon Home Cinema; BT; Virgin Media; EE; Film Four; Blinkbox [from Tesco]; Sky Store; Google Play; and Volta.

Photoworks annual - launched 5th November

Photoworks' first annual issue was launched on November 5th 2013.  You can expect it to arrive in the library soon, and it will (I assume) be available online at some point (not sure when).

This issue will comprise a range of commissioned photographic work, conversations, and new writing.  For more information see here.

I will have to make a decision whether to continue to treat this as a magazine (and shelve it with the magazines), or treat it like some of our other annuals, which are shelved with the books.  Ultimately, it will depend whether it has an ISSN or ISBN.

Grierson 2013: the British documentary awards - winners announced

Following the announcement of the Grierson shortlist in August, we now have the winners.

Inevitably, perhaps, The Grierson Trust have chosen to highlight Mr Grayson Perry in their coverage of the event.  He is awarded documentary presenter of the year for his work on 'All in the best possible taste' - his exploration of British taste.  This is, of course, essential viewing! 

You can also hear Grayson deliver this year's Reith Lectures on radio 4 called 'Playing to the gallery' in which he gently, and sometimes not so gently, mocks the art world.

Many of the Greirson award winning and nominated documentaries will be available in the library or to view on Box of Broadcasts.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Photobooks of the year roundups

You will have noticed that the leaves have started dropping off the trees, and the shops have started putting up their Christmas decorations.  Yes, we are approaching the end of the year!.  With it, expect a blizzard of end-of-year photobook surveys. 

An early list (back in July) comes from Top 10: Best photography books of 2013 (until now).  And now we have lists from Paris Photo/Aperture  (Awards shortlist); Kassell Foto Book Festival (Photobook awards 2013), and the Lucie Awards (nominations).

There is always a healthy amount of diversity in these lists, but one book that appears on three of these lists is Mike Brodie's, A period of juvenile prosperity, published by Twin Palms.


What should replace Daylight?

The magazine ‘Daylight’ looks like it has ceased publication, and so there is an opportunity for us to put our subscription money (£46.57) into another publication.

What to buy?

The possible choices, as I see it, are Blind Spot ($65), or Blow (Euros 45) (both nominated for a Lucie Award this year), and Kilamanjaro (£30) or Colors ($75).  The latter two have been requested by academic in the staff in the past and I think I am veering towards Kilamanjaro.

Eyemazing is also a possibility.   However, having published for a decade, it now seems unclear whether this magazine is going to continue.  I can find no subscription information online, and the old website now links to the Thames and Hudson page for the new retrospective book.  The cost is also likely to be about double what Daylight cost, as the figure I have seen quoted is £85.

If you would like to express a preference, please email me asap.

Brief descriptions of the contenders, as I see it, are below:

Blind Spot
Blind Spot is a semi-annual art journal that publishes unseen work by living photographers. In Blind Spot, images are given primacy and published collaboratively rather than curatorially, unaccompanied by introductory, biographical or explanatory text. Blind Spot is not about photography, our content is photography.  Nominated this year for a Lucie award

Currently blocked by the University servers. This is an A3 magazine, published quarterly in Ireland. Nominated this year for a Lucie award.

Kilimanjaro Magazine is a vibrant printed space, dedicated to visual culture and editorial experimentation.  Reviewed postively in Vogue, Esquire, Creative Review, etc

COLORS was originally conceived as a nomadic magazine that would wander the world. After being founded in New York, it moved to Rome, then Paris, before moving to Fabrica, Benetton's Communication Research Center in Treviso, northern Italy in 1997.

Winner of the Lucie award in 2008, and runner up in 2011, Eyemazing is, "a unique moving gallery dedicated to international contemporary photography."

A comprehensive list of photography magazines that I know
(the highlighted ones are the ones we subscribe to)

8 Magazine - ceased
Ag -ceased?
Blow - 45 euros
CPhoto - $86, 2 vols. per year  
European Photography* [available online via Library Search]
Exit - 100 euros, 4 issues
FLIP [London Independent Photography]
Portfolio - ceased

Changes to magazines in the last few years
Portfolio Magazine ceased publication in 2010 (after twenty two years)
8 Magazine ceased publication in 2011 (after ten years)
British Journal of Photography became monthly in 2010
FOAM Magazine added to the collection in 2012
Photoworks moved from bi-annual publication to annual in 2012

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Oxford Handbooks Online

We have recently acquired the philosophy module of Oxford Handbooks Online, adding many useful titles in this series to our online collection.

Examples include:

The Oxford Handbook of Aesthetics  / Jerrold Levinson (ed.)

The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Education / Harvey Siegel (ed.)

The Oxford Handbook of Political Philosophy / David Estlund (ed.)

The Oxford Handbook of the Self / Shaun Gallagher (ed.)

The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Death  / Ben Bradley, Fred Feldman, and Jens Johansson (eds)

View all of the 'Oxford Handbooks' that we have online here or find out more about the series here, or watch the video below.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

New books from Palgrave Macmillan

Perhaps the most interesting books here are those from the BFI; you can expect all the titles here to be added to the library before Christmas.  There are more film titles in the Culture and Media section.

And for more new publications check out my publisher lists on Delicious -




...and, for photographers, download the Art Book / Distributed Art Publishers catalogue at

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Exhibiting edition

"In this new and expanded second edition, Shirley Read further illuminates the world of social networking, exhibiting, and selling photography online so your work is always shown in the best light..."
Read, S. (2013).  Exhibiting photography; a practical guide to displaying your work, 2nd ed.  Focal.

Dawsonera ebooks - download to devices service

There is an exciting new development from Dawsonera - library ebooks finally downloadable to devices. You can find user guides on the Dawsonera User Guides page for Android and Apple devices, and from the links below. You will need these.

In summary: you will need an Adobe ID, and to download Bluefire Reader.

For Android devices click here

For Apple devices click here

Why bother?  Dawsonera is our main supplier of ebooks, and there are now 4000+ titles available.  If you've tried Dawsonera books with a mobile device before, you'll know that they have been a little clunky; now, you have the chance to view them in a much more user-friendly format.

I  have tried a couple, and from what I can gather they are either in PDF or  EPUB format; and you only need Bluefire Reader for books in the latter format.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Winner of the Rencontres d'Arles 2013 Book Awards - new book

The winners of the Rencontres d'Arles 2013 Book Awards were announced back in July, so I am a bit slow in bringing this to your attention.  I do so because we have recently acquired one of the winning books: the winner of the 'historical' prize - AOI [COD.19.I.I.43] - AZ7 [S/COD.23] by Rosângela Rennó.

This is a not-for-sale limited edition, only distributed to libraries in Brazil and internationally, so I'm very pleased that we have been able to acquire it, along with a couple of other titles by this photographer.  There are no other libraries in the UK with a copy as far as I am aware.


There is an interview with the photographer at:  (12.09.13)

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Getty opens up its collections

Getty are making, "4,600 high-resolution images of the Museum’s collection free to use, modify, and publish for any purpose." This is pretty incredible. See more here.

Julia Margaret Cameron, photographer (British, born India, 1815 - 1879).   A Bacchante, June 20, 1867, Albumen silver print.  Image: 32.4 x 26.7 cm (12 3/4 x 10 1/2 in.) Mount: 58.4 x 46.4 cm (23 x 18 1/4 in.).  The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program.

William Henry Fox Talbot, photographer (English, 1800 - 1877). An Oak Tree in Winter, probably 1842 - 1843, Salted paper print. Image: 19.4 x 16.6 cm (7 5/8 x 6 9/16 in.) Sheet: 22.4 x 18.7 cm (8 13/16 x 7 3/8 in.). The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

Digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program.

International Film Guide - ceases publication

I have been informed that the International Film Guide, the "definitive annual review of world cinema," is unlikely to be published in 2014, having also not been published in 2013.  This is a great shame, as this really was a phenomenal resource - underused: yes; not known about: probably, but very well researched, and a great addition to the library.  After forty eight editions, is this really the end?

Our holdings of the previous editions are pretty comprehensive.

Thursday, 8 August 2013


Mendeley is a relatively new reference manager and research tool, which has done much to introduce a social network element to reference management.  It was in the educational/tech press earlier in the year when Elsevier (the publishing giant) bought the company for a reported £45-£60 million (see the report in Wired for example).

A colleague has been offering introductions to this, and you can see his slides below.

Or here is another set of slides from a librarian in Singapore:


There is now a guide to the new wireless printing services (called 'Everyone Print') on the library and IT web-pages at:

This new service allows you to print from any device - tablet, phone, laptop - without the need to download any drivers or whatnot.


A one year artists' residency is available at Harrow Arts Centre.  This is open to anyone aged 18-25, who lives, works or studies in Harrow, working in any art form.

Further details:

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Thames & Hudson - new titles

As ever, there are a few interesting new photography titles in the new Thames & Hudson catalogue.  Take a look for yourself:

Thames & Hudson publishes illustrated books on a wide range of subjects including Art, Design, Fashion, Photography, Archaeology and History.

Film theory - the most borrowed books

Back in April, I did some research to determine which were the most borrowed books in the area of Photography theory.  You can see the results here.

I thought it was about time to redo the exercise - this time focussing on film.  So, here is the list - the ten most borrowed books in film... (in the past three years).

The list starts with the most borrowed item first this time.  You can also take a look at the books on Library Search in A-Z order.

Bordwell, D. Film art; an introduction [various editions]. McGraw-Hill.

Braudy, L. and Cohen, M. (eds.). Film theory and criticism; introductory readings [various editions]. Oxford University Press.

Cook, P. The cinema Book [various editions].  BFI.

Bordwell, D. (1986). Narration in fiction film. Routledge.

Andrejevic, M. (2004).  Reality TV: the work of being of being watched.  Rowman & Littlefield.

Metz, C. (1982). Psychoanalysis and cinema; the imaginary signifier.  Macmillan.

Chion, M. (1994). Audio-vision: sound on screen. Columbia University Press.

Mill, B. (2005). Television sitcom. BFI.

Mcabe, J. and Akass, K. (2007). Quality TV; contemporary American television and beyond. I. B. Tauris.

Rees, A. L. A history of experimental film and video; from the canonical avant-garde to contemporary British practice [two editions].  BFI.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

New ebooks

Students of photography will be pleased to know that the Routledge compendium, Fifty key writers on photography, is now available as an ebook.  This came into the collection in February in paperback, and I commented then that the quality of the paper was poor, so I'm glad to see it available now online.  This is the sort of book that online works very well for.

We will also be adding a number of film-related titles to Library Search, which have just been made available from Hong Kong University Press via  The OAPEN Library is a relatively new venture which is working with publishers to make good quality academic texts available for free online.  It launched a couple of years ago, at which point the number of titles was - understandably - limited.  However, today there is a good range of titles in the area of Film, Television and Radio.  Its definitely a resource to watch I feel.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

New books

The following books have been added to the library collection since May.


Film and Television


Thursday, 13 June 2013

Learn to use Refworks in 20 minutes

RefWorks is a bibliographic management tool.  In other words, you can use it  to gather, store and manage your references, and to automatically generate a list of references/bibliography.

Many online catalogues and databases allow you to push records straight into Refworks.  You can do this in Library Search from within the e-shelf.  You can then create a list of references in a range of different referencing formats with a few clicks...

The lists generated are not perfect - they will contain errors that you need to correct - but they provide a good starting point.

If you are interested in finding out more, check out the 'Learn to use Refworks in 20 minutes' video playlist on the Refworks YouTube Channel.

If Refworks seems like too much trouble, have a look at EasyBib.  As well as the website, EasyBib have produced apps for IPhone, Android and Google mobiles, which will generate a reference when you scan in the barcode of a book.



Learn to use Refworks in 20 minutes [video playlist]

Refworks and Endnote [University of Westminster page]

Refworks - Help

Refworks YouTube Channel

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Skills training in relation to conceptions of knowledge and learning

"Metacognitive awareness and control,"  versus "quantitative accretion of discrete rightness."

Graham Gibbs writes interestingly about the usefulness or otherwise of study skills training in an short article in the last week's issue of THES: see here.

Students, "rarely use the methods they read about in how-to-study books or are taught on study skills courses" he asserts.  This is for a number of reasons he suggests (without expanding on this), but most importantly because:
"the skills may be too rigid to span the range of demands that students actually face."  
In any case, he argues, there is little evidence that the acquisition of study skills improves performance - with one exception: time management.

He suggests two things mark out effective students, in contrast to those who are "bewildered" or "unsophisticated".  These, he says,  are:
 "not about “skills” at all but about understanding.” 

Firstly, effective students are reflective and adapt their behaviours to different demands:
"Effective students can tell you all about how they go about their task, have a sensible rationale for doing so and change what they do when they notice that the context or task demands are different." 
In the educational literature, he tells us, this is known as "metacognitive awareness and control."

Secondly, effective students:
"understand the nature of knowledge and what they are supposed to do with it." 
This is in contrast to less effective students who try to spot the right answers in lectures, and memorise them - a method, described in the literature as, "quantitative accretion of discrete rightness."

Food for thought.

Further reading

Teaching intelligence - It is possible to avoid the negative mass effects

Teaching intelligence: Contact hours and student engagement

Raising awareness of best-practice pedagogy

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Nineteenth Century Photography resources - free trial

GALE are offering free access to a number of nineteenth century materials relating to photography.  The resources are part of an archive called Photography: The World through the Lens, which is part of Nineteenth Century Collections Online (NCCO).

You can access NCCO until 20th June from here. A quick registration is required.

Photography: The World through the Lens comprises the following:

  • British Admiralty Office Photographs
  • British Colonial Office: Photographic Collection
  • British Journal of Photography and Annual, 1854-1914
  • Early Rare Photographic Books from the Northwestern Museum of Science and Industry Collection
  • Early Rare Photographs from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London
  • The Hill and Adamson Albums: photographs by David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson, 1843-1848
  • History of Photography
  • Japanese Old Photographs in Bakumatsu-Meiji Period
  • Nineteenth-Century Photographs from the Royal Archives, Windsor
  • The Photographic News, 1859-1908
  • Records of the Copyright Office of the Stationers' Company: Photographs
I did a few searches and found some announcements relating to the Polytechnic Institute (a former incarnation of the University of Westminster).  You will find links to what I found below (you will need to login to NCCO for these links to work): 

Lecture on Photography (1882)

Advertisement [Instruction in Photography] (1884)
Advertisement [Instruction in Photography] (1888)

Thursday, 23 May 2013

How to decide what to read?

A lot of what librarians teach about information skills are the techniques of searching, rather than the sort of thinking that needs to happen.

I've been thinking a lot about this because so often the techniques of searching, while useful, are not enough to answer many of the questions that students pose: what is needed is thinking.

I was reminded of this recently when reading a book in the Palgrave Study Skills series, How to use your reading in your essays, for preparation for a teaching session.  This is a short book which tells you all about how to write with sources.

Early on in the book, there is a section entitled, 'How to decide what to read?' which gives the following five steps:

Step 1. Think: what question do you want to answer?
Step 2. Think: what ideas of your own do you already have?
Step 3. Think: what types of source will you need?
Step 4. Do a first search
Step 5. Think: sort and select your sources for detailed reading
That is a lot of thinking!

Could it be that searching is the part of the iceberg above the water line that should be supported by the thinking going on beneath?

In our search-engine oriented world, searching is often done without thinking.   It is not something that is just affliciting the young, but is pervasive.  As soon as a question is forming in our minds it is already being expressed in our fingers, and before it is fully expressed in our fingers, Google is giving us answers - of a sort. This is fine if our question is, 'Where can I get a pizza in Harrow?', but for more complex questions, this approach can often lead us into trouble.  It is easy to get lost in a sea of information, with little idea of what it was we were trying to find out in the first place.

A few quotations illustrate the point:

Any idiot can type a search term into an internet search engine, and many idiots do.  The typical internet query is about 2.4 words long and has about a 14 per cent chance of failing because it contains a mis-spelling.
Rugg and Petre (2007: 48)
It is easy to produce dreadful assignments by using a search engine to do a quick, undiscriminating trawl. Searching for a few words from your assignment task, copying from websites you come across and then pasting together disconnected bits and pieces to present as your assignment will get you a very low grade.

Northedge and Chambers (2008: 271) 
There was a time when the word “research” meant “critical and exhaustive research or experimentation having as its aim the discovery of new facts or interpretations" (Webster’s Third New International Dictionary 1976). Research today often means little more than locating random snippets using a search engine.
Gorman (2012: 114)
Research is at least 80% about forming questions, reflecting on what you know already, understanding the sources that might extend your knowledge, and thinking about and selecting the material you find.  Less than 20% is about doing the search.  That is the easy bit!  Or at least it is easy when you have a good idea of what you are looking for.

Further reading

Godfrey, J. (2009).  How to use your reading in your essays.  Palgrave Macmillan.

Gorman, M. (2012). The prince’s dream: a future for academic libraries, The New Review of Academic Librarianship, 18(2), 114

Northedge, A. and Chambers, E. (2008). The arts good study guide, 2nd ed. The Open University Press.

Rugg, G. and Petre, M. (2007).  A gentle guide to research methods.  Open University Press.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Summer loans - from 28th May

We are starting summer loans earlier this year as Regent Library wants students to borrow as many books as possible before they close for refurbishment.

From Friday 28 May all 3 week loans and 1 week books will be issued over the vacation period to be returned during the week beginning Monday 23 September.

Harrow DVDs remain 1 week loans as usual.

We are putting notices up by the self-service and at the counter to let users know.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

New books

It's been six weeks since the last 'new books' post, so about the right time for a new one.  You will find that the links below take you to a list within Library Search. 

One book could have included on all of the first three lists, but is only on the Photography one.  This is the new title in the Documents of contemporary art series: Documentary (edited by Julian Stallabrass).

This series is co-published by MIT Press and the Whitechapel art gallery, and brings together key writings on a particular topic.  Previous titles include: The archive; The cinematic; Appropriation; and Memory.  See them all on Library Search here.

New books


+ Jason Evans. NYLPT.  Mack. [now available as an IPad/Iphone app]
Paul Graham.  Paul Graham: Hasselblad Award 2012. Mack.
Luigi Ghirri. Kodachrome, 2nd ed.  Mack.

Film and Television

Photography and Digital Imaging / Clinical Photography