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

Using RefWorks? The History Faculty style has been updated

RefWorksIf you are using the History Faculty styles in RefWorks, then please note that a number of updates have been made in order to be in line with the Faculty requirements (see also below). They mostly follows the New Oxford Style Manual (3rd ed, Oxford, 2016) bar the odd deliberate deviation.

  1. Journal enumeration now will display also any issue numbers and not be preceded by “vol.”
  2. Pagination information in journal articles is preceded by “pp.” – unlike the New Oxford Style Manual. This has now been added. It has always been required for book and book chapters so there is no change there.

The effect of the changes are best illustrated with the following example:

Before

Campbell, B.M.S., ‘Factor Markets in England before the Black Death’, Continuity and Change, vol. 24 (2009), 79-106.

Now

Campbell, B.M.S., ‘Factor Markets in England before the Black Death’, Continuity and Change, 24/1 (2009), pp. 79-106.

How to get the updated History Faculty style?

The four updated Faculty styles are now available on the University-wide RefWorks Output Manager. To apply them, make sure you save them to your Favorites first. You may need to re-select them.

RefWorks output manager style updated

If you need any assistance, please contact library.history@bodleian.ox.ac.uk, phone 01865 277262 or speak to library staff in the Upper Camera Reading Room.

Please note!

  • Due to lack of resources it currently not possible for the History Faculty Library to also create and maintain styles in other reference management tools, such as Endnote or Mendeley.
  • A new version of RefWorks has recently been launched by the developers, Proquest. This new version will run alongside the existing version of RefWorks (now referred to as “Legacy RefWorks”)  until January 2018. Both versions are available but do not currently work together. Bodleian Libraries strongly recommend that existing RefWorks users delay moving to the new version of RefWorks for the time being. Please await further announcements.

Other useful resources

  1. More about RefWorks
  2. For UGs: Guidance on the Presentation and Format of Theses and Extended Essay (pdf from History Faculty WebLearn).
  3. For PGs: Conventions for the presentation of essays, dissertations, and theses (pdf from History Faculty WebLearn).
  4. Oxford LibGuides: Reference Management
  5. Slides and handouts for HFL RefWorks training sessions (HFL WebLearn)

New LibGuide: German archives: a guide to discovering and using them

Students and researchers intending to use archives in Germany might find the new German archives: a guide to discovering and using them useful.

LibGuide - German archivesCreated by Ms Ulrike Kändler as part of her internship at the Bodleian Library, August 2014, the guide is designed to help you finding your way through German archives and to enable you identifying exactly what you need for your research – quick and easy! There are more than 3.600 archives offering their holdings and services in Germany so it can be daunting to know where to start.

The guide comes in three main sections:

  • Get Ready
    You are planning a research trip to Germany? Or you are for the first time ever on your way into an archive? Here you will find everything you need to know to make the most of your trip
  • Discover German Archives
    Which archives should you visit? Here you will find a short introduction on the various types of German archives as well as links to a number of the more important ones.
  • Find it
    Here you are introduced to some different search tools: Regional gateways to search by region and identify smaller archives or meta/search engines such as Kalliope.

The many archives are usefully indexed by broad subject areas as follows:LibGuide - German Archives - Bundesarchiv

  • State Archives
  • Municipal and local archives
  • Church archives
  • Literary archives
  • Economic archives
  • Political Archives
  • Media archives
  • University archives
  • Movement archives

Do you know your Ablieferungsliste from your Zugang?

A glossary will help you understand specialists terms you are likely to encounter and enable you to communicate with German archives more effectively.

Help, I can’t read the script!

The guide also includes links to script tutorials and useful transliteration resources.

Acknowledgements

I am very grateful to Ms Ulrike Kändler. Without her incredibly hard work, dedication and expertise this guide would not exist. Her short period in Oxford leaves a legacy from which Oxford researchers can benefit from for a long time to come.

New LibGuide: History collections on open-shelves in the Old Bodleian, Radcliffe Camera and Weston Library

Looking for the VCH, HMC Reports or Camden Society publications in the Bodleian?

These “big” series of printed sources are sometimes difficult to find in library catalogues. Use this new guide History collections on open-shelves in the Old Bodleian, Radcliffe Camera and Weston Library to find them on the open-shelves in the Bodleian Library and Weston Library

LibGuide - Open shelf history collections in Bodleian - screenshotAn topic index directs you to the most relevant reading room. Most major named series are listed. Where possible, I have also indicated where there is access to digital version.

LibGuide - Open shelf history collections in Bodleian - VHC screenshotIf you have any feedback on the guide or suggestions for it, then I would be pleased to hear back from you. Email me!

Looking for more guides? There are lots of other LibGuides for Historians.

 

Using digital photography to capture archival material: some tips and tools

As libraries relax their photography rules of library materials, scholars are increasingly using digital photography to capture printed and archival material. That is great news but does pose a few headaches also, in particular, in my experience the following:

  1. How do you get the best quality images? Bodleian Libraries doesn’t permit the use of flash, for instance.
  2. How do you organise your many images so you can find them again?
  3. How do you add description information about the source, copyright statement, etc.?
  4. How do you make sure you don’t infringe copyright?

Following a useful post on the H-HistBibl mailing list recently, I would like to share some pointers for those struggling with their many images or who want to make best use of them.

Check here what the rules are for Bodleian Libraries, British Library, Cambridge University Library and Bibliothèque nationale de France.

1. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Libraries had written a fairly comprehensive guide on Using Digital Tools for Archival Research.

This guide covers all the basics from the choice of cameras, how to take pictures to organising your photos and use of software and the all important back-up (just do it!!).

Illinois guide on digital tools for archival research

2. Thomas Padilla posted a tutorial on how to extract plain text data from images of print based archival content using optical character recognition (OCR).

Padilla - from image to text

3. Finally, Miriam Posner wrote about turning JPEGs into PDFs and about batch-processing photos.

Posner - batch process photosWhat use of digital cameras and personal scanners do other major research libraries allow?

Bodleian Libraries rules:

  • Library visitors may use personal scanners and digital cameras to make copies from library material, with some exceptions.
  • All equipment with the exception of flat bed scanners may be used.
  • The use of flash photography is forbidden at all times.
  • Some libraries and reading rooms have created specific areas where digital photography and scanning can take place. Please look for signs indicating that you are in the designated area or ask staff.
  • Other libraries have not set up dedicated areas and will allow these processes anywhere in the library.
  • Please consult library staff before using your digital camera or personal scanner.
  • As a general rule, scanning or photography of material is at the discretion of library staff. Please consult library staff to see if an item is eligible to be copied. You will be asked to fill out the relevant application form.
  • Please observe the guidelines above and ensure that you comply with the copyright restrictions.
  • You may make digital copies for the purposes of private study or research for a non-commercial purpose.”

British Library rules:

Compact cameras, tablets and camera phones may be used to photograph some categories of material for personal reference use only. Copies, including photographic copies, must not be used for a commercial purpose. Please also be mindful of privacy and data protection laws.

Self-service photography is intended for personal reference copies, not for copying at scale or commercial copying. The Reading Rooms are not able to support the requirements of professional photography.”

Cambridge University Library rules:

“Cameras can be used to photograph most of the Library’s material as long as a form is completed and copyright regulations are observed. These photographs are for private research and study only and cannot be distributed, placed online or used within publications. Images must be ordered for these purposes.”

Bibliothèque nationale de France rules

“Les lecteurs de la Bibliothèque de recherche peuvent utiliser leur appareil personnel pour photographier gratuitement des documents des collections de la BnF.

Seuls les documents publiés il y a plus de 90 ans peuvent être photographiés. Les photos doivent être réalisées à des fins d’usage privé et sur une place désignée à cet effet.

Une autorisation de prise de vue est à demander au bibliothécaire.

La photographie des écrans d’ordinateurs ou d’appareils de lecture de microformes est interdite.”

Trinity Term training opportunities for 2nd year historians: book your places now!

Do you have right research and information skills for your undergraduate thesis? Let the libraries help you on your way!

Second year undergraduate historians currently working towards their theses are encouraged to attend the following training sessions for Trinity Term. They will provide you with valuable information and support which will stand you in good stead for your research, now and in the future.

The programme on offer aims to help you with locating and utilising a variety of source materials, whilst equipping you with knowledge on some of the key research tools available. Workshops are available run by History Faculty Library staff as well as by our other colleagues in the Bodleian iSkills strand; the schedule includes training on subjects such as:

Aside from highlighting some of the key resources available locally, these sessions will also provide opportunities for refreshing and upgrading information searching skills. There will be chances to explore databases, e-journals and web portals, along with advanced searching in SOLO and the benefits of using reference managing databases such as RefWorks to help you with your citations during dissertation research. Staff will be on hand to provide step-by-step demonstrations as well as hands-on time in most sessions.

Further details and booking information can be found via the HFL website.

HFL Undergraduate Training

Can’t come to a course?

The handouts and slides of sessions will be made available on HFL WebLearn > Guides & presentations.

Need specialist help?

Isabel Holowaty, Bodleian History Librarian is happy to discuss what sources and literature searching tools are best suited to anybody studying British and Western European history. Email her at isabel.holowaty@bodleian.ox.ac.uk to arrange a one-to-one session.

If you are studying history outside Britain and Western Europe, you can find your subject specialist here.

Do you have the right language skills for your chosen subject? 

The Language Centre has a lot to offer for historians wishing to upgrade their language skills or simply to start learning a language. More on this.

Introducing Heraldica Nova: a blog on a cultural history of heraldry

[Guest blog post by Marcus Meer, research assistant at Münster University, Germany. ]

Heraldica Nova: new perspectives and sources for a cultural history of heraldry

Coats of arms tend to receive scanty attention from historians. This is partly because heraldry and its sources appear inaccessible due to the complicated terminology of the blazon and the tedious chase of arms in armorials, but also because it seems like heraldic signs have little other to tell the cultural historian than the identity of their armigers.

The blog Heraldica Nova tries to prove the opposite by presenting and discussing cutting-edge research on heraldry from the perspective of cultural history. Since heraldic signs were an ubiquitous phenomenon of medieval and early modern societies, the blog argues, coats of arms can open up new perspectives for historical research taking an interest in historical discourses, symbolic communication and visual culture, focusing on topics such as identity, familial, amicable and political alliances, mentality, the imaginary or gender. These new perspectives are promoted in programmatic posts on the potential of using heraldry in cultural history, and demonstrated in case studies and summaries of on-going research in the field.

Since getting started with heraldry, just like other ancillary sciences of history, can prove quite cumbersome, the blog provides materials to guide your first steps in investigating heraldic signs.  This includes tutorials on identifying unknown arms , overviews of the most important bibliographies and journals of heraldry, databases and tools that will help to analyse heraldic sources, and overviews and reviews of recent publications applying modern approaches to medieval and early modern heraldry.

Additionally, a list of digitised armorials, linking to digital copies of 48 medieval armorials from all over Europe, provides immediate access to one of the major heraldic sources. For the time being, the list contains all the genuinely medieval armorials available in digital format, some of which are also accessible at your fingertips in the Bodleian Library stacks. In the future, later copies of medieval armorials (which are excluded as for now) and a vast number of early modern armorials will be added to the collection.

Heraldica Nova is meant to serve as a platform to present and discuss within a community of historians and heraldists from all over Europe that already attracts more than 4,500 visitors per month. Students and academics alike that would like to share ideas they have, problems they face, or results they found in their research on medieval and early modern heraldry are invited to discuss them within the blog’s community. Case studies, research notes, summaries of talks, papers or presentations, suggestions and reviews of interesting literature as well as calls for papers are all most welcome in English, French and German. Of course, readers are most welcome to comment in these languages, too.

Apart from receiving updates via RSS or newsletter, you can also keep in touch with the blog on Twitter (@HeraldicaNova), Facebook, and Google+.