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Showing posts from June, 2014

How I fixed the Library bridge

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Max Spicer sets the Google Maps world to rights.
You may have seen that Google recently added Street View photos for both of the University's campuses. As you can't just drive around in a car, they sent someone with a camera on their back to walk around the many paths that weave around our beautiful grounds. You can now explore the campuses without having to get off the sofa and you can even find the guy with the camera if you look hard enough!

This is great for seeing what stuff looks like and, let's be honest, spending hours trying to find if anyone you know got caught on camera. However, Google Maps can do much more. You've probably already used Google to get directions - maybe to work out how to drive to the University - but did you know you can also use it to work out your walking route around campus once you get there? Google's got our roads and paths mapped out, so it can tell you the best way to walk between Central Hall and The Ron Cooke Hub as well as sho…

Bettys (no apostrophe, please) - the taste of Yorkshire

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We're pleased to publish our second guest blog post from Alison Barrow, a former student of the University of York and now Director of Media Relations at Transworld Publishers.


A writer once gave me an exercise. "Close your eyes," she said. "If you concentrate really hard, the noises around you will sing out and you will pick up the most resonating sounds. Commit them to memory, and you will be able to transport yourself back anywhere, anytime."

The sounds emerging from Bettys wouldn't be the first to leap to mind when conjuring up the place. Smells, yes. Tastes, most certainly. But listen... close your eyes and you can hear it. The clink of silver on china, the swish of a crisp ironed pinny, the languorous pouring of tearoom blend, the scrape of butter on a Fat Rascal. And the sighs - the murmur of cafe chat and contented munching. The sipping of coffee. The "oh, go on then," reception of the cake trolley.

Bettys was a rare treat in my student da…

Where do good ideas come from?

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Tom Smith stumbles on a good idea...
Many people think ideas happen in a flash, a moment of inspiration, that eureka moment. They also believe that it's often "other people" that have ideas, either a boss or lone genius hunting down those elusive light bulbs.

The funny thing is, that the reality is, ideas can be slow things, taking time to come into being and most often they happen in discussion or collaboration. From what I've seen, the best ideas don't come from senior management, or from a sole genius but from people working together, people actually doing stuff in the real world. Many of these "good ideas" can be almost accidental.

My role at the university has been to both introduce people to the Google Apps suite, both evangelising them and working with people to help them realise their ideas.

Here's a story of an "accidental idea" that I think is good and is a great example of what I call "people actually doing stuff" and c…

Sketching York Minster by torchlight

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Matt Wigzell explores the York Art Gallery collection.
While flicking through a lovely book from the York Art Gallery gift collection a familiar scene caught the eye. From Dennis Flanders' Britannia comes a stunning image of York Minster illuminated against the night sky.

Flanders travelled Britain, drawing historic locations and buildings, with a particular passion for churches, cathedrals and castles. While visiting York, he worked by torchlight to sketch this striking picture of the west front of York Minster, and left us wondering about the shadowy figure at the end of the street.

The book provides a fascinating record of the great, the grand and the slightly quaint architectural landscapes of Britain.

For further resources on art and architecture, try exploring the E-resources Guide through the catalogue.

Broken laptop? It's not the end of the world...

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Did you know that you can have your broken laptop repaired without ever leaving campus? So far this academic year, over 130 people have done just that.

IT Services has an arrangement with Jennings, a local company, to provide a laptop repair service.

Laptops can be dropped off at the IT Support Office and the company will collect them, diagnose the problem, and provide a free quote to carry out the work. You then decide whether you’re happy to go ahead with the repair.

Jennings, who are an Apple Authorised Service Provider (for both In and Out of Warranty repairs), will collect and return laptops daily at the IT Support Office, and a diagnosis will be provided within 48 hours of collection. There's a set labour charge of £40 for all University members, which only applies if you decide to go ahead with the repair. 

For more information, please see:  Laptop repair service

Deaf Awareness - a personal view

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What does deafness mean to you? Unless you've experienced it, it’s hard to imagine. My family still ask how I find certain types of music and certain types of listening situations. And, let's face it, many of us have a preconception of what a deaf person looks like. I have an amazing hearing dog, Chester - but the response has sometimes been "you look far too young to be deaf!"
I have worked at the University of York Library for six years, and prior to that I was a student here. I was born profoundly deaf and have known nothing else. However my hearing has frequently changed: I wore two hearing aids from being a toddler, had a single cochlear implant aged 13, and a bilateral implant aged 23. These modern miracles of medicine have improved things enormously, but it is important to bear in mind that profound deafness can never be 'cured'. 

Medical experts told my parents that I would never learn to speak and that my abilities to read and write English were likely…

Behind the name on the door...

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Have you ever noticed that each of the study rooms in the Morrell and Fairhurst has a name on the door, and wondered what's behind that name? Wonder no more, as all is being revealed this week. Each name has been chosen because it represents a place or person, or something with a York or Yorkshire connection.

Researching for and writing these signs has been a fascinating process, and they show the wealth of resources that we hold here, in Special Collections and the Borthwick Institute for Archives. For instance, did you know that we have one of the original manuscripts of Laurence Sterne’s autobiography? And patient papers for The Retreat hospital, including poems, stories and paintings produced by the inmates?


We don’t just have signs on famous figures either - there is information about lesser-known people, such as Catherine Cappe, who was prominent in the Unitarian movement in York.

Next time you’re in one of our study rooms, look up - you never know what you’ll find out.

The desktop is evolving. Is it mobile?

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So, I wanted to write a blog on how the desktop is evolving - how we are using it to access information, generate content, how we interact with it at work and at home. I’m hoping to be less technical, more observational.

This recent work of art from Banksy seems to sum up exactly how we are all accessing and interacting with information in our daily lives. I think it’s a great picture - a couple embracing but also online, being in contact - physically and digitally.
So the traditional desktop - what is it? 
For most people it’s a PC on your desk with an operating system (eg Windows) and applications installed which allow us to do our work (whatever that happens to be).
This model has remained pretty stable for many many years and, yes, it has significantly improved over those years in terms of hardware, software and connectivity. 
But things are changing. The acronym BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) has long been part of Higher Education environments and is just one of the factors affecting a…

The book that didn’t win the Bailey’s Prize this week

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Despite picking up the Pulitzer Prize this year, Donna Tartt’s novel The Goldfinch lost out this week to a novel by first-time author Eimear McBride. McBride’s book, A Girl is a Half-formed Thing, won this year’s Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize).
The Library has The Goldfinchon the shelves (at MB 83.9 TAR) but we also have another couple of interesting items that I stumbled across when looking for it.

Ever heard of Carel Fabritius?

Me neither, but he painted the picture that features in the novel and peeps out from the front cover of the book.

It’s hanging in the Mauritshuis Royal Picture Gallery in the Netherlands - coincidentally the same gallery that houses Johannes Vermeer’s famous Girl With a Pearl Earring, which was also the subject of a modern novel.

We have a complete edition of Carel Fabritius’ work in the Library and, courtesy of the York City Art Gallery Gift Collection, we also have a book on the work of his brother, Barent Fabritius. Care…

Guest post: Review of the Sage Research Methods online collection

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As a second year PhD researcher at the York Management School, I have found the Sage Research Methods online collection a useful tool for my research. The collection covers everything from explaining to a new researcher how to write about a piece of research, to various methodologies in social science research for intermediate and advanced researchers. In terms of research preparation, it’s a great place to start and a highly-recommended reference point for students. If you need help using it, you can just click on the Video button to see step-by-step instructions.

The collection contains encyclopaedias, handbooks and other important resources in research methodology that include qualitative and quantitative methods. It also has content from hundreds of dictionaries, and guides on particular subjects along with Sage Journals content and videos. This is broad and varied access to quality resources for social science researchers. 
Searching is easy and the interface is user-friendly: opti…

GEUG14 - Google Apps for Education European User Group 2014

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Many Higher Education Institutes worldwide have 'gone Google' and now use Google Apps for Education (GAFE). Following the success of GEUG12 and GUUG11, The University of York invites academic and support staff to this year’s European User Group Meeting on 23 and 24 June.

York was one of the first to move to Google for students and staff, and we're keen to pool our knowledge and learn from others. We've hosted smaller groups to share experiences with other institutions, and we're now pleased to be home to this much larger event.

At the time of writing, we have 72 people attending from 29 institutes in England, Scotland, Ireland, Malta, Denmark and Austria. Registration closes on 9 June, so there is still time to increase our numbers. If you are a current customer of Google Apps or are interested in learning more sign-up while you still have the chance.

The day and a half event will feature sessions from different Universities, the Association for Learning Technolog…

Digging for treasure!

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Today marks the anniversary of the death of archaeologist Philip Rahtz, who passed away at the age of 90 in 2011. Rahtz was “one of those who transformed the practice of archaeology in Britain in the 1960s and 70s” and was instrumental in founding the University of York’s Department of Archaeology.
Before his death, Rahtz donated his slide collection to the University and it can be explored online through the Digital Library. The collection covers a large number of digs associated with the archaeologist from the 1950s onwards, including Wharram Percy, Chew Valley, Glastonbury Tor, Chew Stoke and Bordesley Abbey. The collection tells a rich story, from the initial preparations of each excavation site to the finds uncovered and all the muddy fun to be had in between!
As his obituary in The Times explains, Rahtz’s “excavations opened windows on Bronze Age burials, Roman villas and temples, Anglo-Saxon palaces and cemeteries, medieval houses, abbeys, churches and a hunting lodge. The post…