E-resources – a tasty selection


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There is a vast array of online resources available to support teaching and learning. Some are free to all, some are only free to particular sectors, but I have been meaning to give an overview of this area for some time. Those below are useful whether an institution is just starting to build an online collection, or if it already has one but wants to expand the contents of their digital library at no cost. Right, time to roll up my sleeves and get started.

Note that for resources which require institutional registration (such as E-books for FE) a member of staff in the institution – usually the librarian – needs to set up access using whatever method is appropriate (e.g. Shibboleth, IP/VPN/proxy, OpenAthens). There will probably be staff training needs to get up to speed with the new resources, and then there will be publicity and user education needs – user guides, links to the resources (from VLE/web pages/desktop), training sessions for students and teaching staff. Only then will the resource start to count as embedded.

Resources via JISC Collections
Resources via CyMAL
Resources via public libraries
Resources via the National Library of Wales
Openly available resources
Further e-resources – subscription options

Resources via JISC Collections

JISC Collections have licensed and digitised a large number of collections on behalf of the UK academic community over the years, below is just a selection.

  • E-books for FE project
    • Sectors available to: FE-only.
    • Free until: May 2014.
    • Description: There are c.3000 e-books within the core collection hosted on the Ebrary platform. Unfortunately Ebrary said they won’t provide a Welsh language interface. Every college in the UK should sign up to this – click here to register if you haven’t done so already. If you have any questions or problems contact the E-books for FE Project Manager, Anna Vernon at JISC Collections:
      Tel: +44 (0)20 3006 6008
      Email: a.vernon@jisc.ac.uk
  • BFI Inview
    • Sectors available to: Higher and Further Education only.
    • Free until: 31 Aug 2014.
    • Description: Contains over 2,000 non-fiction film and television titles from the 20th century to the early 21st. It is easily searchable and clearly organised under six main themes, each with an introductory essay by an academic historian. Access to the site is via the UK Federation (Shibboleth / OpenAthens) only. Any institution with an .ac.uk domain joining the UK Federation should get automatic access without having to do anything further. For further details contact Gemma Starkey. [NB May also be worth looking at Screenonline, BFI's online free resource which offers access to more than 3,500 titles from the BFI National Archive - unlike Inview this resource also includes non-fiction film and TV material, but it is not downloadable.]
  • The JISC Collections UK National Academic Archive
    • Sectors available to: UK Higher and Further Education institutions, and Research Councils.
    • Free until: free forever.
    • Description: An expanding range of specially selected resources.
  • Hairdressing Training
    • Sectors available to: everyone.
    • Free until: free forever.
    • Description: Helping to develop skills, Hairdressing Training provides exemplary step-by-step guidance videos, self-evaluation tests, worksheets and guides relating to an expanding collection of hairdressing styles and techniques; the service is also mapped to the NVQ Hairdressing curriculum. No need to register. Mobile version here.

To check JISC Collections for other free agreements, go to the catalogue on their site – there is a filter for ‘Only free resources’. Also browse the JISC Content website, which has brief details of the large number of collections JISC has licensed and digitised on behalf of the UK academic community.

Resources via CyMAL

Both of these are available to all FE, HE, health and public libraries in Wales – register via this email address or phone (01970 632800 Ext 403). Adult and community education or work-based learning organisations can get access through their institution’s library, public library, or the National Library of Wales.

  • Newsbank. Free until 31 March 2012. Full text of a huge range of newspapers, all searchable. Marketing and training material is in the Staff Toolkit ‘Online Resources’ section.
  • European Sources Online (ESO): Free until 31 March 2012. An information service that focuses on the European Union, the countries of Europe and on issues of concern to citizens and stakeholders.

Resources via public libraries

You may wish to investigate what online resources are available from your public library and encourage students or staff to register for use of these also. Information on public libraries can be found on the library.wales.org website. This way anyone in Wales can get access to Newsbank and other online resources so is potentially useful for adult and community education, schools or work-based learning. For example Swansea Libraries have this online reference collection. Join your local library and ask about the online resources you can access.

It should be noted that educational institutions of any kind can benefit from collaborating with public libraries. There is a good example of schools collaborating in the CyMAL Magazine (Winter 2010 / issue 10, pp15-17), where schools in Swansea got every pupil registered. An FE example would be those colleges that get regularly changed fiction stock from their public library.

Resources via the National Library of Wales

The National Library of Wales (Aberystwyth) gives members remote access to many online resources, such as Early English Books Online and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography – see here for a list of resources. You can register with them online to access resources as long as you have an address in Wales, so these are open to everyone in Wales, regardless of sector.

Openly available resources

  • Don’t forget to scan the RSC Wales Delicious Account! We have a tag specifically for free e-resources.
  • The Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) covers free, full text, quality controlled journals in many subjects and languages. There are more than 6,260 journals in the directory.
  • Project Gutenberg is the place where you can download over 33,000 free e-books to read on your PC, iPad, Kindle, Sony Reader, iPhone, Android or other portable device.
  • There are huge amounts of Open Educational Resources in places such as Jorum and NGfL. See Sam’s blog post here for more information.
  • Obviously you can make your own resources using tools like Xerte, or via screencasting and video footage. JISC Digital Media can give guidance on the latter.
  • If you are ever looking for images, audio and video that have licences for re-use then use the excellent Creative Commons Search. Another tool is Xpert – it helps you to search for media released under licenses for re-use and to attribute them correctly. For example search for something, when you get the results click ‘Select’, then choose ‘Get image with attribution’ and you will get the image back, with license information included across the bottom of the image. Gwych! No excuse for learners not to attribute their sources! If you just want images I heartily recommend www.morguefile.com and www.sxc.hu.
  • British Library Archival Sound Recordings is a fantastic free resource for Higher and Further Education institutions. It allows learners to explore 46,200 selected recordings of music, spoken word, and human and natural environments. Institutions can register here.

Further e-resources – subscription options

  • If you want to know about the options for paid-subscription resources there are reduced-cost subscriptions available from JISC Collections and Eduserv CHEST.
  • JISC Collections also have an Academic Database Assessment Tool which lets you compare databases, e-book and e-journal collections.
  • Many resources can be subscribed to directly, for example Issues Online is very popular with FE.
  • In August 2011 you might want to look out for the JISC Mediahub, a new subscription resource that will bring together a huge amount of multimedia content.

I hope something on this page tickled your fancy. I’m off to sample the Shibbolised truffles and IP-authenticated chocolate fudges.