Calling 2nd year UG historians: get ready for your thesis research in Trinity Term

Hand cupping a seedling.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Throughout Trinity term, the library is offering a range of classes and talks (History Faculty Canvas – restricted access) designed to support Oxford second-year UG historians who are working towards their thesis.

It’s a very exciting time for all budding historians, as it offers you the opportunity to engage in primary research on a subject of your own devising, and to work out arguments which are entirely your own (not a synthesis of the conclusions of others). You will work as a historical scholar in your own right and will taste the kind of academic work undertaken professionally by your tutors.

To understand more about the requirements and support for your thesis, check out the History Faculty guidance on the compulsory thesis (History Faculty Canvas – restricted access).

Doing research on your thesis also means that you will need to learn new skills, deepening your knowledge of resources and sources and how to go about locating and using them.

To help you on this exciting journey, the library has organised a series of talks, classes, workshops and a Thesis Fair which are designed to

  1. Upskill your information searching and research skills;
  2. Learn about the rich sources available to them in Oxford (and beyond) and know how to access them;
  3. Learn how to handle the material, incl. archives, correct citation practices, ethical research practice, etc.;
  4. Get to know relevant experts in Oxford libraries and archives.

THE TRAINING SCHEDULE

Snippet of a calendar

Image by Andreas Lischka from Pixabay

Most sessions require SSO for bookings.

Some are open to other members of the University. Others are exclusively aimed at undergraduates of the History Faculty, University of Oxford.

If you have any queries regarding these or have problems with registration, please email library.history@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

[Hist Fac UGs] History Thesis FairThurs 25 April 2024 @ 2-4pm (week 1) – In person, North Writing School, Exam Schools

This highly popular Fair has Librarians, Academics, Information Skills advisors, Subject Specialists and lots more covering many different subjects and aspects of your Thesis prep. Come and talk to dedicated specialists and find out what there is on offer in Oxford and further afield! If you are in a college beginning letters B-N, please come at 2pm; all other colleges should try to come at 3pm – but if you can’t make it during your time slot, just come when you can.

[Hist Fac UGs] Researching BibliographyWed 1 May 2024 @ 2-3pm (week 2) – via Teams

This online session aims to give you a head start on the skills you will need to track down secondary literature and primary source material for your thesis. A range of library catalogues, databases, web portals and more will be explored to help you make the best use of your time.

Online Resources for Historians (Bodleian iSkills) Wed 8 May 2024 @ 2-4pm (week 3) – via Teams

A general online introduction to the vast range of electronic resources which are available for all historical periods of British and Western European history. Learning outcomes are to: Gain an overview of some of the key online resources for Medieval, Early Modern and Modern British and Western European History. Know how to access subscription resources. Gain awareness of key examples of useful resources: bibliographic databases; reference sources; primary sources; maps; audio-visual resources, and data sources.

Confidential Print & Foreign Office files: Sources for C19th & 20th studies (Bodleian iSkills)Thurs 16 May 2024 @ 2-3pm (week 4) – via Teams

The British Foreign Office was the government department responsible for the conduct of British relations with nearly all foreign states. Confidential Print and Foreign Office files were intended for circulation internally within the Foreign Office and to the monarch, the Prime Minister, the Cabinet, other government departments and diplomatic missions abroad. It’s a crucial resource for the study of politics, international relations, peace and conflict studies, economics and trade, British history and global history. This session will introduce you to The National Archives and their Foreign Office and Confidential Print files, and show you how to search across them to discover sources for your studies and research.

Newspapers and other online news sources from the 17th-20th centuries (Bodleian iSkills)Mon 20 May 2024 11am-12.30pm (week 5) – via Teams

Newspapers are a valuable resource for researching not only news but also many other aspects of political, economic, social and cultural life. In this online session we will introduce key online sources of news and how to make best use of them. The focus will be on historical and contemporary newspapers from the 17th century across most countries of the world.

Working with sensitive research data (Bodleian iSkills)Wed 22 May 2024 @ 10am-12pm (week 5) – via Teams

A workshop outlining some of the key principles to bear in mind when working with sensitive or restricted research; whether collected yourself or obtained from a third-party source such as a data archive. Issues of confidentiality, informed consent, cybersecurity and data management will be covered. Examples of scenarios or concerns drawn from the research of participants are particularly welcome.

[Hist Fac UGs] Research Skills for your Thesis: a workshop Wed 22 May 2024 @ 2-3:30pm (week 5) – via Teams

This classroom-based session is designed to equip you with key information skills in order to make best use of electronic information and discovery resources. A range of finding aids and databases will be explored, as well as advanced search techniques which can be used in SOLO and other online search tools. There will be practical exercises which are designed to start work on your research.

Sources for Modern Global History (Bodleian iSkills)Wed 29 May 2024 @ 2-3.45pm (Week 6) – in person, Lecture Theatre, Weston

This in-person session introduces key archival, printed and electronic resources, such as finding aids, bibliographic resources and primary sources for post-1800 global history. The focus will be on non-European history but will draw predominantly on English and European language resources.

[Hist Fac UGs] Sources for Medieval HistoryMon 3 June 2024 @ 2-3.30pm (week 7) – via Teams

This online session provides a general overview of a wide range of e-resources relevant for British and Western European medieval history: bibliographical databases, biographical/reference tools, web portals and collections of online primary source materials of Anglo-Saxon sources, chronicles, charters and more.

Discovering archives and modern manuscripts at the Bodleian Libraries (Bodleian iSkills)Wed 5 June 2024 9.30-11am (week 7) – Weston Library Lecture Theatre

This class will introduce participants to the key catalogues and finding aids for post-1800 archives and manuscripts at the Bodleian Libraries. In particular the session will focus on Bodleian Archives and Manuscripts, the online catalogue for post-1800 archives and manuscripts. The session will also briefly introduce some of the major UK online gateways for discovering archives.

Sources for US History (Bodleian iSkills) Tues 4 June 2024 @ 2-3.30pm (week 7) – via Teams

An online introduction to primary sources for the study of American history, from the colonial period to the 20th Century. The session will provide an overview of the different kinds of information sources (early printed books, newspapers, databases and official records), and guidance on locating material for research. Collections highlighted include physical materials available in Oxford, Bodleian databases and other online resources.

[Hist Fac UGs] Sources for Early Modern HistoryTues 11 June 2024 @ 2-3:30pm (week 8) via Teams

This online session provides a general overview of a wide range of e-resources relevant for British and Western European early modern history: bibliographical databases, biographical/reference tools, online collections of early printed books, newspapers, state papers touching on the political, social and religious upheavals during this period.

Training using software to cite sources

Referencing: Choosing and using software for referencing (Bodleian iSkills) – Wed 1 May 2024 @ 1.30-4.30pm (week 2)

Formatting your in text citations, footnotes and bibliography correctly for your thesis or publication is a chore. Reference management software makes it easier and saves you time. This introductory session gives an overview of how reference management works, explores the advantages and disadvantages of a range of software packages and gives you the opportunity to try out three different packages (RefWorks, EndNote and Zotero) so that you can work out which one is best for you.

Referencing: Zotero (Bodleian iSkills)

In person: Mon 13 May 2024 @ 1.30-4.30pm (week 4)

via Teams: Wed 22 May 2024 @ 11.30am-12.30pm (week 4)

Zotero is a reference management tool that helps you build libraries of references and add citations and bibliographies to word processed documents using your chosen citation style. This classroom-based introduction covers the main features of Zotero with the opportunity for practical exercises.

Referencing: RefWorks (Bodleian iSkills) – Tues 21 May 2024 10am-11.30am (week 5) – via Teams

RefWorks is web-based and helps you to collect and manage references and insert them into your word processed document as in-text citations or footnotes, and you can generate bibliographies. Being web-based, RefWorks can be used with any operating system and, to cite your references in a document, provides a plugin for Microsoft Word on Windows or Mac computers.

Guides to resources, 1-1 sessions & more training

A woman and man sitting together in front of laptops.

Image by Tammy Duggan-Herd from Pixabay

 

A wide-range of guides on history resources can help you find key print and online resources for your subject.

If you need more specialist and tailored support, check out the list of Bodleian Libraries’ subject librarians and experts. In one-to-one sessions, subject librarians can discuss in detail which resources are best for your topic.

For information about other training opportunities, such as palaeography or languages, check out Research Training for Historians.

There are more Bodleian iSkills workshops and IT Services run many sessions designed to improve your digital skills.

History Thesis Fair for undergraduates on Thurs 25 April (week 1): explore – discover – meet specialists

We are delighted to run the History Thesis Fair for second-year undergraduates this year on THURS 25 APRIL 2024 2-4pm, Exam Schools.

Come and meet over 50 specialists to talk about resources for your dissertation topic! History Thesis Fair: Discover sources for your research A pictorial collage of different archival materials to advertise the History Thesis Fair on Thurs 25 April 2024, afternoon, North Writing School, Examination Schools. Colleges B-N 2-3pm, Colleges O-W 3-4pm. It’s an opportunity to explore, be curious, network, meet and learn.

The Fair is an excellent opportunity for students to gain a wider perspective on the wealth and riches of research sources available for your field of study.

At the Fair you can learn about resources you may not yet have yet considered and meet the curators of collections who can guide you towards relevant material or useful finding tools.

30 stalls will cover many areas:

  • Special Collections, libraries and archives, e.g.
    • Archives & manuscripts
    • College Libraries (Special Collections) & College Archives’ Collections
    • Early Printed Books
    • Oxford Brookes University Special Collections and Archives
    • Oxfordshire History Centre
    • UK Government and International Intergovernmental Publications
  • Topical stalls, e.g.
    • Biography
    • Economic & Social History
    • English
    • Digital Scholarship
    • LGBTQ, Gender & Sexuality
    • History of Science & Medicine
    • Visual culture
    • and more
  • Geographical stalls, e.g.
    • Africa & Commonwealth
    • East Asia & South Asia
    • Eastern Europe and Russia
    • Great Britain & West Europe
    • Middle East, Hebrew & Judaica, Caucausus & Central Asia
    • Latin America
    • United States

You will also have an opportunity to speak to other students who have previously written dissertations and learn about their TOP 10 TIPS.

At our Information Skills stall, learn what courses are laid on to help you develop the skills you will need.

The format of the Fair encourages you to explore and discover new materials at your own pace, to be curious, to network and to make connections to experts and their peers while also learning about creative use of sources in Digital Scholarship.

Accessibility

The main entrance to the Examination Schools is stepped. There is a ramped entrance immediately to the left of the main entrance. There is lift access throughout the building, two wheelchair accessible toilets and hearing support systems that can be deployed where needed throughout the building. Most areas of the building have level access.

The accessible toilet is gender neutral and is at the bottom of the staircase opp. Room 8.

If you have any queries, please email library.history@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

Get yourself kitted out for your research 

Hand cupping a seedling.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Doing research on your thesis also means that you will need to learn new skills, deepening your knowledge of resources and sources and how to go about locating and using them.

To help you on this exciting journey, the library has organised a series of talks, classes, and workshops which are designed to

  1. Upskill your information searching and research skills;
  2. Learn about the rich sources available to them in Oxford (and beyond) and know how to access them;
  3. Learn how to handle the material, incl. archives, correct citation practices, ethical research practice, etc.;
  4. Get to know relevant experts in Oxford libraries and archives.

Check out the classes and workshops set up for you to help you learn the skills you will need.

LibGuide for Disability History resources now live

We are delighted to announce that the Bodleian Libraries’ LibGuide Disability History Resources is now live, just in time for UK Disability History Month (UKDHM).

The guide was created by Alice Shepherd, the 2022-23 History Faculty Library Graduate trainee, as part of her year-long project and was launched at a research seminar, convened at the Oxford Centre for the History of Science, Medicine and Technology (OCHSMT) on Monday 27 November 2023.

Alice Shepherd presenting the LibGuide to the audience. The slide on the screen reads: The Oxford Disability History LibGuide

Photo by Isabel Holowaty, 27 Nov 2023, Maison Française, Oxford

Who is the guide for?

It is intended for researchers and students who are studying Disability History and other information professionals supporting researchers. It is also useful for practitioners and members of the public with an interest in (or who have a disability) and wish to gain a historical perspective.

A screenshot fromm the Medical technologies section. It shows a Dental Technology video from YouTube and 2 readigs on the right hand side: 1. Prosthetic Body Parts in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture by Ryan Sweet 2. Accessible America by Bess Williamson What can you find in the guide?

The LibGuide consists of a collection of research resources crowdsourced during a Hackathon by 24 volunteers in Dec 2022 who scoured the internet for relevant archives, journals and various other useful websites. Over 200 nominated resources were then assessed and organised by Alice to make them as discoverable as possible. The guide conforms with accessibility standards.

The selected resources cover a great variety of topics across different historical periods (ancient to contemporary history).

A screenshot from the medieval section, showing Medieval Disabled Bodies, Medieval Graduate Podcast, episode 4, from YouTube. Shows a reading on the right-hand side for Difference and Disability in the Medieval Islamic World Blighted Bodies by Kristina L. Richardson.The disabilities covered are wide ranging and include, for instance, autism, birth defects, chronic pain, hearing loss /deafness, learning disabilities, mental illness, mobility disabilities, visual impairment, and more.

Resources were also selected for aspects of disability relating to education, employment, medical technologies, stigma and war. The materials themselves may be archives, audio-visual, biographies, books, journals, legislation, newspapers, theses and websites.

The guide also lists Oxford historians researching aspects of disability history.

Feedback & suggestions

The guide will continue to evolve. It is currently limited largely to English language resources focused on western history and we hope there will be opportunities to expand its scope in the future.

We very much welcome feedback and, continuing in the crowdsourcing spirit, invite suggestions for additional resources for the LibGuide which can be made via our Recommend a Resource form.

Many congratulations and thanks go to Alice for her terrific work. We believe that this guide will be an excellent resource to help with the discovery of resources for disability history. Thanks of course also go to the volunteer ‘hackers’, without whom this guide would not exist, and the History Faculty for hosting and funding the hackathon in 2022.

Isabel Holowaty, Deputy Head of Humanities Libraries & History Librarian (Research), Bodleian Libraries, Oxford University

Dr Sloan Mahone, History Faculty, Oxford University

While you are here… we have many other guides for history resources. Check them out!

Say hello to an improved SOLO (August 2023)

Frontpage of SOLO showing the search box and at the top options to Browse, get help, do a new search.Today (24 August 2023) we upgraded to a new library system. Most of the changes are ‘behind the scenes’ but we have also taken the opportunity to make some changes to some aspects of SOLO. For instance, we have made it easier for you to discover and locate physical copies of books and be able to tell whether you can borrow or consult a copy within a specific library.

Below are some key changes which are of interest to historians. See also the full list of changes and guidance on using SOLO (LibGuide).

[TIP = Please clear the cache in any web browsers you have previously used to access SOLO to ensure you are viewing the latest version.]

Standardised and clearer location labels

We have changed some location labels, which will make it easier to understand which library (or location) a book is available at as follows:

  • Bodleian Old Library
  • Radcliffe Camera (incl. History Faculty Library). Note: this includes both levels in the Gladstone Link
  • Weston Library
  • Bodleian Offsite Storage

The History Faculty Library will no longer be listed as a separate library in SOLO. If you want to filter your searches to its collections, use Radcliffe Camera (incl. History Faculty Library).

Snippet from SOLO showing the new location labels for an item which is held in both the Bodleian Old Library and the Radcliffe Camera (incl. History Faculty Library).

Facsimiles of English Episcopal Acta, 1085-1305 / [edited by] Martin M. Brett ; with Philippa Hoskin, David Smith. (Oxford, 2012)

Easier to see all copies of a book held in RadCam and Gladstone Link

You will now see all copies listed under Radcliffe Camera (incl. History Faculty Library) where there are multiple copies of an item on the site.

SOLO is showing 2 copies of a book which are in the Radcliffe Camera: a borrowable copy in the Gladstone Link & a Library Use Only copy in the Upper Camera Gallery.

Party, state and society : electoral behaviour in Britain since 1820 / edited by Jon Lawrence and Miles Taylor. Aldershot : Scolar Press, 1997.

Items in the Upper Reading Room or Duke Humfrey’s Library will be listed under Bodleian Old Library.

You will now need to sign into SOLO to see borrowing options 

If you are not signed into SOLO you will only see whether an item is available or not, rather than whether an item can be borrowed or for how long. It is always best to sign first as you get a better service from SOLO. 

Once signed in you will now see loan periods personalised to you 

The terminology for loan policies has also been improved to make it clearer how long you can borrow the book for. (e.g. 7 days; 28 days etc). Please note that you can only borrow from libraries where you are a member, for example, the Bodleian Libraries and your college library. 

Snippet showing an example where one copy is borrable and one which can only be used in the library.

Check for available copies before requesting from offsite 

To try to help you avoid reserving and waiting for a book out on loan when there are copies already available on library shelves for you to fetch immediately, we have added this additional message to SOLO: 

 Before requesting, check for 'item in place' copies - it will be quicker for you to fetch it from the shelf than to wait for a request

Auto-renewals 

Bodleian Libraries lending copies will auto renew for up to 112 days – unless somebody else places a hold. Find out more about the Bodleian Libraries’ borrowing policy.

Book already on loan? Place a hold request!

If you want to borrow a loanable Bodleian Libraries book (which another reader already has on loan) we recommend you place a hold request via SOLO If you don’t place a request, the book will continue to renew automatically for the original reader.  

If you have a book on loan, you will be notified via email if it has been requested.

Alternatively, look for another copy, including one which can be used in the library (Use in Library Only).

Snippet showing the HFL copy on loan, gives the return date and gives options for a hold request or a Scan & Deliver request to be placed.

The politics of design in French colonial urbanism / Wright, Gwendolyn. (Chicago, 1991)

More information how to use SOLO is at SOLO LibGuide.

LibraryScan streamlined with Scan & Deliver service 

The LibraryScan service has now been streamlined with the existing Scan & Deliver service (for items in offsite storage) into a new integrated service. If scanning is an option for any type of item you will now just see the ‘Scan & Deliver’ button. 

The Scan & Deliver request form has been improved, particularly the wording on how much you can have scanned (not the whole book!) including advice that you can ask for the index or table of contents in addition to your final choice of chapter. 

Requesting items from other libraries, beyond Oxford 

If we do not hold an item in Oxford it is now really easy to request an item from other libraries, beyond Oxford. Simply click on ‘Need more?’ from the menu at the top of the page and fill in the form. 

Help & support

If you need any help, please do get in touch with library staff who will be more than happy to help you. Here is how you can contact us:

Your feedback matters

We have undertaken extensive testing of the new version of SOLO, gathering feedback from 80 students using the system in real-world situations, and consulting widely on the borrowing changes (see link above). However, we recognise that not everything will be perfect from the start, and development will continue. We are using this feedback form to gather feedback on the changes to SOLO, which will help us make further improvements.

POSTPONED – Disability History Hackathon and networking lunch on 23 April 2020

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, this event is postponed for the time being. We fully intend to run it so watch this space and keep safe! 19 March 2020

Disability History Hackathon and lunch
9.45am-1.30pm, 23 April 2020

History Faculty, George Street

Calling students and researchers of Oxford University. Are you interested in disability history? Do you like hunting down research materials? Join a group of volunteers at the Disability History Hackathon on 23 April to find resources for a Disability History Resources LibGuide.

After a brief training session on advanced Google searches, you will work individually or in small groups work on locating research resources (databases, archives, websites, etc.) on a particular aspect of disability history. You will create brief descriptions for each resource which will then added to the Disability History Resources LibGuide at a later stage. We expect to spend up to 2 hours on the Hackathon with a break in between. This will be followed by a lunch where you can meet and network with others.

What do you need to bring?

A laptop; (ideally) Eduroam wifi account; interest in, knowledge of and enthusiasm in disability resources and/or disability history.

What will you get out of it?

Learn search tips from a professional librarian; discover relevant research materials; network with other researchers; be a contributor to the Disability History Resource LibGuide; free refreshments.

After the Hackathon we will have the annual disability history networking lunch.  All are welcome to come, meet each other and share ideas.

If you want to attend the Hackathon and/or the lunch, please email Cheryl Birdseye (cheryl.birdseye@history.ox.ac.uk) by 12:00, Wednesday 15 April 2020. All rooms are accessible. More information about the day, slides used, etc. will be shared with participants in advance. Let us know if you have any particular requirements (including dietary requirements).

Humanities Research Fair for postgraduates (Mon. 27 January 2-5pm)

We are pleased to announce that bookings are now being taken for the Humanities Research Fair for postgraduates which will take place on Monday 27 January 2-5pm, South School, Exam Schools, OX1 4BG (map).

This free event is an excellent opportunity for Humanities postgraduate students to gain a wider perspective on the wealth and riches of research sources available for your field of study.

In a single place you get to meet lots of experts at the same time. You can learn about resources you may not yet have yet considered and meet the curators of collections who can guide you towards relevant material or useful finding tools.

Secure your goody bag and book a place now.

The format of the Fair encourages you to explore and discover new materials at your own pace, to be curious, to network and to make connections to experts and their peers while also learning about creative use of sources in Digital Humanities.

 

40+ stalls

  • Special collections (archives & early printed books, maps, museums)
  • Topical stalls (e.g. resources for English literature, Theology, History, Modern Languages, Biography)
  • Geographical stalls (e.g. US studies, Latin American, Far & Near Eastern, European)
  • General resources (e.g. Information skills, Open Access, Digital Humanities, Top 10 Tips from a Graduate)
  • Take part in the live historical printing with the Centre for the Study of the Book
  • Relax with a cup of tea at the Student Wellbeing stall and try your hand at fiendish Bodleian jigsaw puzzle

A series of talks on Digital Humanities will accompany the Fair.

If you have any enquiries, please email humanitiesresearchfair@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This event is kindly sponsored by

Humanities Research Fair for Postgraduates 29 November 3-5pm – bookings now open

Humanities postgraduates, come and join us the Humanities Research Fair on Friday 29 November 2019, 3-5pm, Exam Schools.

The Fair is an excellent opportunity for you to gain a wider perspective on the wealth and riches of research sources available for your field of study.

At the Fair you can learn about resources you may not yet have yet considered and meet the curators of collections who can guide you towards relevant material or useful finding tools. Over 40 stalls will cover many areas:

  • Special collections (archives & early printed books, maps, museums)
  • Topical stalls (e.g. resources for English literature, Theology, History, Modern Languages, Biography)
  • Geographical stalls (e.g. US studies, Latin American, Far & Near Eastern, European)
  • General resources (e.g. Information skills, Open Access, Digital Humanities, Top 10 Tips from a Graduate)

The format of the Fair encourages you to explore and discover new materials at your own pace, to be curious, to network and to make connections to experts and their peers while also learning about creative use of sources in Digital Humanities.

More details of contributors will be publicised in due course.

Talks

A series of 15 minutes talks will accompany the Fair. They will cover topics such as

  • TORCH: an introduction to interdiscplinary reseach in the Humanities
  • Gale Cengage’s Digital Scholar Lab
  • Text Encoding Initiatives (TEI) the Humanities
  • Top 10 Tips from Graduates

Portable DVD drives available for loan!

In response to reader feedback, we’re pleased to announce that we now have two portable DVD drives available for loan. History students may be particularly interested in using these to consult items from the HFL DVD collection. The devices are quick and easy to use, compatible with most operating systems, and can be issued for two days (plus one online renewal). Please let us know if you have any feedback – we’re always looking to improve access to our collections.

Dyslexia, Visual Stress, and Accessibility Equipment

#DyslexiaAwarenessWeek2019

At the History Faculty Library, we’re very keen to create the best possible environment for learning and research.

So, to celebrate #DyslexiaAwarenessWeek2019 and the neurodiversity of our readers, here is a guide to our accessibility equipment and how it could help if you are dyslexic, experience visual stress, or have any other barriers to learning.

WHAT IS DYSLEXIA?

Dyslexia is diagnosed differently across the world and there are many different hypothesized causes. As it is currently understood in the UK, however, dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty that exists on a continuum and frequently overlaps with other types of learning difficulties or disabilities.[1] Professor Margaret J. Snowling, author of the newly published Dyslexia: A Very Short Introduction and president of St John’s College, defines dyslexia as ‘a problem with learning which primarily affects the development of reading accuracy and fluency and spelling skills’, though it can also cause problems with speech. It affects phonological awareness, verbal memory, and verbal processing speed.[2]

Poor spelling, slow reading and writing speeds, confusing similar letters (like ‘b’ and ‘d’) or your left and right, along with visual stress (discussed below), are all well-known signs of dyslexia. Some of the lesser-known difficulties that affect students at university-level, however, involve more systemic differences in structural thinking. These can make organization and time management, writing and structuring essays, note taking, remembering the right words in tutorial discussions, and finding your way around Oxford University’s many libraries a challenge.

Yet dyslexic ways of thinking can equally result in brilliant insights, creativity, and excellent pattern recognition. Though dyslexia is a neurodevelopmental disorder, it has little to do with education or general intelligence, and affects people of all ages and abilities in diverse ways. A holistic approach and a fair amount of experimentation are therefore required to find out what helps to overcome these difficulties and for dyslexic students to reach their potential.

HOW CAN WE HELP?

Friendly librarians and library assistants are always on hand in the History Faculty Library and Bodleian Libraries to show you how things work, help with shelf-marks, retrieve books and find resources. There is no such thing as a silly question!

We also have a variety of accessibility equipment so you can access the resources you need to learn.

Who can use accessibility equipment?

Anyone! If you think you’ll find it helpful, you may use any of the equipment, no questions asked.

What’s available and where can I find it?

Here’s a list of what we have available and where to find it. The equipment can be used anywhere in the Radcliffe Camera or Gladstone Link as long as it’s returned to its original location when you’ve finished using it.

WHAT IS VISUAL STRESS?

Visual stress’, also known as Meares/Irens Syndrome, is a common symptom of dyslexia. Yet not everyone with dyslexia experiences visual stress, and many who do not have dyslexia, do. It’s also a symptom of a whole host of other associated learning difficulties, disabilities, and illnesses that include attention deficit disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorders (ASD), headaches and migraines, and traumatic brain injuries. Visual stress is a perceptual processing disorder thought to be caused by the way some brains process certain frequencies of light.

What is it like?

Those of us with visual stress interpret regular black lines of text on a white page a bit differently, resulting in perceptual distortions. Serif fonts like Times New Roman make it worse, as do particular colours. When I look at a page of text, for example, it can seem like things are moving in the corners of my vision and white ‘rivers’ constantly emerge from the patterns between the words and lines. I know that these distortions ‘aren’t real’, but my brain interprets the neural data from my eyes in this peculiar way regardless. The same phenomenon occurs with other regular high-contrast patterns like narrow stripes. It reminds me of the way TV screens sometimes appear on film with flickering lines rolling across them. In all, the blurring, double vision, and glare from the white page caused by visual stress present an extra barrier to absorbing and understanding a text and can lead to poor comprehension, eye strain, fatigue, headaches and migraines. It can be particularly unbearable if you are already tired.

What helps? Colour!

Though visual stress does not cause the cognitive problems that you might face if you are dyslexic, relieving this symptom can help with fatigue and aid focus.

Coloured acetate sheets can dampen perceptual distortions by reducing the sharp contrast between the white of the page and black of the text. These transparent plastic sheets can be simply laid over the page you are reading. It is a myth that these ‘cure’ dyslexia, but lots of people report that they do alleviate visual stress.[3] A range of colours are available upon request at the staff desk in the Lower Camera, so if you think these might help, don’t hesitate to ask.

The History Faculty Library also has a variety of coloured paper to use in the printers for the same reasons, as well as coloured reading rulers that help stop your eyes wandering from the line that you want to read. Both are available on request. If you are reading from a screen, try changing the background colour of the document or reducing the brightness and enlarging the size of the text.

Other Assistive Equipment

Brain ‘fog’, procrastination, poor focus, and fatigue are also common challenges for dyslexic readers, so it is important to minimise distractions, support good posture, and make studying as comfortable as possible. Ergonomic equipment is available in the Lower Camera and Upper Gladstone Link to focus your attention and keep you comfortable. The History Faculty Library has ergonomic chairs, foot stools, book stands, and height adjustable desks for standing or sitting.

Daylight lamps at these desks can help prevent eyestrain, and a magnifier is available on request for texts with tiny fonts or help if you are visually impaired.

Ear plugs are available to muffle distracting sounds and if you find these uncomfortable, try listening to white noise tracks on a loop. There are also quiet laptop-free areas on the Gallery in the Upper Camera.

Height Adjustable Desks in the Lower Camera

How do I get further support?

More information about the History Faculty Library’s Services for Disabled readers can be found here. There are many more ways that the University can give support if you are dyslexic that are not discussed here, so if you haven’t already, head to the University’s Disability Advisory Service to find out more.

We would love to hear any thoughts or suggestions about how the History Faculty Library can support you, so come and talk to us in person or email us at radcam-enquiries@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

HFL Disability Contact: rachel.darcy-brown@bodleian.ox.ac.uk

Radcliffe Camera Gladstone Link Disability Contact: lyn.jones@bodleian.ox.ac.uk

LINKS AND RESOURCES 

Margaret J. Snowling, Dyslexia: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019).

Jim Rose, Identifying and Teaching Children and Young People with Dyslexia and Literacy Difficulties (An independent report from Sir Jim Rose to the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, June 2009).

British Dyslexia Association’s website.

University of Oxford’s History of Dyslexia Project.

Watch Professor Maggie Snowling’s British Academy lecture on ‘Dyslexia: An Impairment of Language Learning’.

Notes

[1] Sir Jim Rose’s independent review for the UK government in 2009 defined dyslexia using the best evidence and remediation practises. It is still widely accepted today. It is worth noting that a discrepancy between ‘IQ-reading skill and actual reading level’ is no longer accepted as a diagnostic-criteria for dyslexia. See Jim Rose, Identifying and Teaching Children and Young People with Dyslexia and Literacy Difficulties (2009) <https://dera.ioe.ac.uk/14790/7/00659-2009DOM-EN_Redacted.pdf>.

[2] Margaret J. Snowling, Dyslexia: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2019), 1.

[3] Despite the widespread acceptance of coloured lenses as a treatment for dyslexia, there is little evidence that specifically tailored colours for each person are required to gain the calming benefit of coloured overlays. Nevertheless, Professor John Stein’s research suggests that blue and yellow overlays may be most helpful. Read about his research here.

 

Who’s who of Humanities Subject Librarians

Can’t remember which Oxford librarian covers Celtic? Wondering about Women’s Studies, Palaeography or History of the Book? And who provides research support for which East European country? The Humanities Libraries’ LibGuide (http://ox.libguides.com/humanities) will tell you.

Bodleian Humanities Libraries serves the largest concentration of Humanities scholars in the world with a wide range of academic interests. At a single glance, researchers, locally or from abroad, can find information on the extensive collections and research support available in Oxford – and who to ask for further advice.

The site provides links to subject guides for 43 individual Humanities subjects, ranging from African Studies to Women’s Studies. These subject guides outline what printed, archival and electronic resources are available to researchers and how they can be accessed. You can also use the LibGuide to find the contact details of any one of our 37 subject specialists.

To assist in the use of the libraries, collections and services, the site also provides links to guidance and research support in areas such as Open Access, Digital Scholarship, Research Data Management, etc. Over time, more information regarding Digital Humanities endeavours will be added.

James Legg, Head of Bodleian Humanities Libraries, Sackler Librarian, Taylor Librarian