Using Aspire to order books

Are you thinking about next year’s reading list yet, or have you just spotted a few things you might like to add? Use Aspire to order them now so they books can be waiting when students return in the new academic year. Reading lists are often the first place students look when starting an assignment, so having up to date material on the list is essential. Here’s how to order with Aspire:

  • Bookmark to your Resource List as normal — you can bookmark new books while browsing the publisher’s website, Amazon, Waterstone’s, or any other website. We’ve made a short video on how to do it, and instructions are also available on our website.
  • Make sure you’ve added a Library Note asking us to order it.
  • Request review from the review menu. If you’re ordering lots of books, you may want to add them all before doing this step.
  • Don’t forget to Publish your list so students can see it!

You’ll be contacted by Library Services shortly after to confirm that the order has been received, and the book will link up with Library Search as soon as it arrives.

If you’d like any support with ordering books, please contact or


‘So what do we tell the students to use for their referencing?’

This was the question put to me several times during the staff development day on 16 November 2015, while I manned a ‘stall’ in the morning (with Linzi McKerr) and facilitated a workshop in the afternoon (with Anthony Barnett, and Darren Cooper from ISES), both covering bibliographic management software. A simple question with a not-so-straightforward answer!

Students are often on the lookout for a simple tool that will do the mechanical task of referencing for them, putting dots and commas in the right place, and displaying all the elements of a reference for any given source with ease. We often come under pressure to ‘teach’ referencing, and recommend the tool which will solve all their problems.

When considering a response to such requests, an internal conflict flares up:

‘But referencing is an academic skill, it is part of your writing, you can’t expect a tool to do the work for you…. Then again, I can see that if you are new to academic writing, or find that referencing is problematic for other reasons (e.g. dyslexia), a tool might help…. There is no good time to ‘teach’ referencing, if it can be taught, you need to have a go and practice, and get feedback to develop this skill… Just follow the Harvard guide, you can’t go wrong!’

However, after some constructive and interesting discussions with colleagues on Monday, I’m starting to think about whether we should be making students more aware of their options. If they want to use a tool, can we recommend one (or more)? How do we manage their expectations of what these tools can do? When is the ‘best’ time to introduce the concept of reference management? (Indeed, when is the ‘best’ time to ‘teach’ Harvard referencing, and how??) Will they understand it all early on, or is it yet another ‘thing’ they have to learn?

I’m not sure I have the answers to all the questions posed above just yet, but perhaps there are discussions to be had which could take those questions forward. Leaving aside the wider issues of referencing policy, and the integration of academic skills teaching throughout university curricula,  I thought it would be useful to add a blog post on #thelearningconversation which points towards some of the available bibliographic management tools which might help.

Al the tools I’ve played with investigated so far are covered on a short document available here. My prezi from the workshop is here. At the risk of seeming a little biased, here are two tools I particularly like:

Mendeley: If you want to know more about what this can do, Darren Cooper is your man! He presented a great introduction to the tool during the afternoon workshop, demonstrating how he uses it for his research to manage his papers and references, and how he uses it with colleagues and students in a collaborative way. With Mendeley, you can save references, add PDFs, manage your references into folders, export bibliographies and cite while you write in Word. UW Harvard style is available in Mendeley. More information here. Zotero offers similar functionality; Anthony Barnett offered his insights during the workshop, showing how the tool can be easily used online to collect and store references.

RefMe: this strikes me as a little more basic compared to Mendeley, but this might be a bonus for new students and undergraduates. It is web-based, so saved references are stored and managed online, in a RefMe account. The UW Harvard style is available so bibliographies can be created and copied/pasted or inserted into Word. It works best with Chrome browser. You can add an extension (browser button) called a web clipper, which can save references you find to your RefMe library. There’s even an app which scans barcodes of books and pulls the reference into your library. More information here.

As with any tool though, it won’t always get it right 100% of the time. Students must be prepared to proof-read and tweak the output before submitting any assignment!

Sarah Purcell

Academic librarian update Jennifer Dumbleton

By Jennifer Dumbleton

Module reading lists are useful teaching tools, but as a librarian I have seen firsthand how confusing they can sometimes be for students. When are they supposed to find the time to read all these books? Are some better than others? How do they even know if the boks are relevant to them?

I don’t think the answer is to spoonfeed students all of their reading, but I think it is important to listen to the student perspective on reading lists and their ideas about how to improve them. This term University Librarian Judith Keene, Primary students Sarah Brewster and Ellie Newman, and I  completed a Students as Academic Partners project designed to do just that. The slideshow below shows the background of the project, how it was carried out, and where we hope the work will lead.

Using the new resource list system Aspire, Sarah and Ellie created their own version of the PITE2001 Professional Studies 2 reading list. I have to say I think it’s a good one; it has a lot of breadth, which is appropriate for the subject, and is current. At the same time, though, it reflects their interest in making sure reading lists are assignment relevant, rather than just providing wider reading around the topic of the module. Next year, the student-generated list will run alongside tutor Joy Carroll’s list, and the library will try to compare usage and feedback for the two lists.

I may be biased, but I hope this is the beginning of a renewed interest in reading lists, how they are used and how they influence reading habits. Both Ellie and Sarah seemed to believe the new, easier-to-find lists created in Aspire wouldn’t put them off investigating further, off-list reading. I look forward to seeing what happens next year.

Slide1 Slide2 Slide3 Slide4 Slide5 Slide6 Slide7 Slide8 Slide9 Slide10Slide12 Slide11  Slide13

Note from Jennifer on Aspire workshops

Hello everyone,

I hope you are all doing well and making your way through the endurance test that is the month of May.

You may not be thinking about your resource lists right now, but please do bear in mind that the workflows for updating reading lists are changing! That’s why I haven’t been emailing to chase lists. Resource lists will now need to be updated/created using Aspire. To support you as you get to grips with the system, there are lots of events running in June. I am running two workshops specifically for Institute of Education staff:

8 June: 1-3 pm, EE1101

 24 June: 2-4 pm, EEG023

 They’ll be practical workshops in computer suites. No need to bring anything, but please do try to think of a specific resource list you’d like to work on. As always, treats will be provided! The workshops may not take the full 2 hours, but I want to allow lots of time for questions and for you to practise while I’m in the room. J

You can sign up for them via Doodle: or (also linked above).

If you can’t make either of those dates, two excellent colleagues are running university-wide staff development workshops on 11 June and 17 June. Please sign up for these via the Staff Development Workshops system.

And, of course, if you can’t make any of these or would just like 1-1 advice, just drop me an email and we’ll work out a time to meet.

Kind regards,

Jennifer Dumbelton

Academic liaison librarian

Institute of Education

Information and Learning Services

University of Worcester

01905 855340

ILS update from Jennifer

By Jennifer Dumbleton

Academic liaison librarian

Institute of Education

Last month I attended LILAC, where Ray Land was one of the keynote speakers. His theory of threshold concepts and troublesome learning are very interesting, and I’m sure many of you are already familiar with them. I am, however, a pragmatic individual and am mostly interested in the practical application of thoughts. What I took away from the conference was how important collaboration is, particularly for students.  If we take Land’s premise that the moment of understanding a critical concept within a field can happen at any time, and that the liminal period affects a student’s behaviour, then it is especially crucial that students have a strong support network encouraging them to learn, explore, research, evaluate, and analyse information. From what I’ve seen since joining in August, the IoE is great at this (at least in terms of working with the library). I just wanted to highlight the best practice I am seeing! I’m sure there is space for even more best practice, though.

I would also like to take this opportunity to talk a bit about Aspire, the new resource list system supported by the library. Aspire allows you to update reading lists as and when you have time; essentially, this should save you a fair few emails! You can add items from Library Search; likewise you can add from Amazon and request that the library buy copies using the Library Note function. The library will continue to check for new editions, etc, but it is expected that staff will now add/remove items from their own resource lists. An added bonus is the dashboard, which allows you to see which items are being clicked on, which items students are saying they will/won’t read, and more. There are university-wide staff development sessions in June, and I will also be running more sessions specifically for IoE staff. As always, I am more than happy to set up 1-1 sessions with staff, too.