Library

15 August 2017

Attention postgrads! Your guide to specialised Library expertise

Postgraduate study is exciting, but challenging too - it requires you to step up your skills to reap the rewards. Librarian Romney Adams assures us that specialist library expertise is available.


If you’ve studied at Monash as an undergrad, you may be aware of some of what the Library has to offer. But did you know we have a whole variety of expertise and resources available just for postgrads? 

Firstly, don’t worry if you’re undertaking your studies by coursework, or research - all of the resources I’ll mention are available to all of our postgrads.

Although you may be studying by coursework, you’ll usually have some kind of research component to your degree - and while the Library has access to literally millions of items for you to use, sometimes we just don’t have that one paper that could inform your research. If that’s the case, never fear - our Document Delivery team is ready to go! Staff in this area will investigate getting the material you require from another institution - either within Australia, or overseas. This small group is the friend of many a researcher - simply fill out the document delivery form, and they’ll handle the rest!

You may know about our Research & Learning Point, where you can chat to a Librarian or Learning Skills Adviser for 10-15 minutes to get insight into the research and structure of your work. For postgrads, this offer goes a little further. If you’d like to have a more in-depth chat about your work, email your Subject Librarian or Learning Skills Adviser and ask for a consultation. These usually last between 30-60 minutes, and will give you the chance to discuss your work with a professional who has expertise in your area. They’ll be able to work with you to determine a good search strategy, some useful databases for you to use, and can usually offer a different approach to your research that you may not have considered. Or perhaps it’s your written communication you wish to fine-tune? We can also talk to you about refining your argumentation, structuring your work, and improving your synthesis of information. Not sure who your Subject Librarian or Learning Skills Adviser is? You can find a list of contacts on the Library website, or ask at your Library’s Information Point.

If your degree is research-focused, have a look at the Graduate Research Library Guide, which gives you a fantastic overview of and introduction to the work you’ll need to undertake over the course of your degree. This includes information about conducting your literature review, communicating your research, and managing your research data. Keep an eye out in myDevelopment for Library-run Graduate Education Workshops to register for as well. We really are here to work with you every step of the way!

We have some faculty- or discipline-specific resources available too, most notably the Systematic Review Library Guide. Systematic reviews are complex, and therefore a little daunting, but this Guide has been developed by staff from the Medicine, Nursing, and Health Sciences (MNHS) team, and contain a wealth of information to take you through the steps. Not in MNHS? Ask your Librarian if there are any specific postgrad resources available for your faculty.

Enjoy your time as a postgraduate at Monash - and make full use of the Library’s specialised expertise while you’re with us.

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8 August 2017

'Secret files from World Wars to Cold War' database

Librarians Anna Rubinowski and Melanie Thorn let us in on a little known story from the Cold War era, as an example of what can be found by researchers using this database of secret files, available through the Library.


Attaching a dispatch on a carrier pigeon during the Cold War
On 14 August 1947, in the third meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee on Carrier Pigeons, held at the Ministry of Defence in London, Flight Lieutenant Walker informed the Committee that civilian member Captain Caiger had “invented a form of box, by means of which to launch pigeons from high speed aircraft, and that he had constructed a prototype”. The Committee, made up of representatives from various areas of the British Armed Forces, agreed that the Air Ministry should arrange trials of this prototype in consultation with M.I.5 and report back to the Committee.

The minutes of this top-secret meeting are part of the British government secret intelligence and foreign policy files available through Secret Files from World Wars to Cold War. Sourced from the U.K. National Archives, the database centres around the Permanent Under-secretary Department’s files documenting British intelligence activities from 1873 to 1951 and their influence on foreign policy. All files are full-text searchable and point to related content, making it easy to discover the fascinating stories that shaped world history in the 20th century.

Following the trail of the carrier pigeons, the files tell the story of the Joint Intelligence Sub-Committee that was formed in November 1945 in response to General Menzies’ top secret memo summarising the use of pigeons in WWI by both sides (including that pigeons on parachutes were dropped over enemy-occupied zones with questionnaires for patriots, and that Abweher pigeon lofts were ‘contaminated’ by English pigeons disguised as German pigeons) and identifying a need to continue this work. The Committee’s role was to collect and circulate information on the latest developments in the area and to ‘be responsible for research, experimental work, and the training facilities required by personnel of the Intelligence Services’.

During its existence the Committee supported the publication of the ‘Pigeon Racing Gazette’ (through Caiger) in order to foster international contacts, tried to encourage pigeon racing from East to West as opposed to South to North, and mused whether experiments involving human powers of water-divining and coloured pieces of cotton on the face of a compass might be of interest in connection with the different coloured liquids in the eyes of pigeons.

Sadly, the Committee was unceremoniously disbanded in May 1950 because ‘the active use of pigeons was no longer contemplated by any of the potential user Departments’.

Caiger went on to publish ‘The secret of the eye’.

The purchase of the database was made possible through the Ada Booth Benefaction.








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2 August 2017

Annotations and illustrations delight collectors

Inscriptions in children's books of the past can be of interest to both scholars and collectors, writes librarian Mia Goodwin.

Sometimes books inscribed by ordinary people can be valuable if the inscription gives insight into the context of the book’s history, production, reception or use.

Take, for example, Monash University Library Rare Books Collection’s copy of Tippoo: A tale of a tiger, by C. W. Cole (1905). This otherwise ordinary children’s book has become extraordinary due to the intriguing annotations inscribed by a previous owner. Mary M. Daubeney gifted the book to Peggy Morton, and carefully annotated each picture with quotations from some of Thomas Moore’s Irish melodies, often to comedic effect. See example above.

This demonstrates historical use of the book itself; how the owner engaged with it, adding textual layers and changing the book to become more playful and distinct for a gift.

Often, an ordinary book becomes especially unique, and therefore ‘rare’, if it was owned by someone famous, particularly if they inscribed their name or wrote a note in the book itself. For example, the Rare Books Collection is fortunate to hold a deluxe second edition of  Stories from Hans Andersen (1912), which includes a touching inscription by Nobel prize-winning author, Sinclair Lewis (1885 – 1951), who gave the book to his parents for Christmas in 1914, as shown below.


Sinclair Lewis was an American author famous for his wit and critique of the American literary establishment. That Lewis gave Andersen’s fairy tales to his parents demonstrates an appreciation of the Danish children’s author, and thus by examining the book in its context, scholarly conclusions may be drawn about Lewis’ literary upbringing and interests that could perhaps inform discussions around Lewis’ work. This is a benefit of examining rare books in context, and demonstrates one way that students and researchers can engage with the Rare Books Collection.

Deluxe books, especially for children, were often given as Christmas gifts in the early twentieth century. This stately edition is a collection of some of Andersen’s most loved stories, including ‘The Snow Queen’ and ‘The Mermaid’. The book is bound in pictorial cloth with beautiful inlaid gilt, as shown at right:

The book includes illustrations by French artist, Edmund Dulac (1882 – 1953). Dulac’s illustrations were exhibited by Leicester Galleries, and published by Hodder & Stoughton. The illustrations are of exceptional quality and were tipped-in separately. Dulac was a leading artist in the Golden Age of Illustration, alongside others such as Arthur Rackham, W. Heath Robinson, and Kay Nielsen. These artists largely provided illustrations for children’s books, and typically experimented with colour and rendering techniques. Their efforts were very well received:

Dulac's art, however, is not of the kind that only the critic may enjoy, for it is rich with poetry and imagination, and strong in the possession of that decorative element which renders a picture universally pleasing” (Stuart, 1910)

 For lovely examples of Dulac’s work see the Snow Queen and other characters below:






To view these books and other rare items, or for research advice and discussion contact Rare Books, or come and visit us at the new Special Collections Reading Room at Matheson Library.


Andersen, Hans Christian. Stories from Hans Andersen. Illustrated by Edmund Dulac, 2nd ed., Hodder & Stoughton, 1912.

Cole, C. W., and William Ralston. Tippoo : A Tale of a Tiger. New Ed., Simpkin Marshall / Hamilton Kent & Co, 1905.

Stuart, Evelyn Marie. “Edmund Dulac—A Poet of the Brush.” Fine Arts Journal, vol. 23, no. 2, 1910, pp. 87–102. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/23905910.

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1 August 2017

All about the Research and Learning Point


Did you know there is a desk at every library, where you can talk about your assignments with knowledgeable staff? By Romney Adams, Clinton Bell, Romany Manuell and Bei-En Zou



It’s called the Research and Learning Point, and the opening hours for each library branch can be found here. Note that from Week 4, evening drop-ins until 7pm are offered at Hargrave-Andrew and Matheson libraries.

This service point is different from the Information Point where Library staff loan you books or assist you with printing. The Research and Learning Point is staffed by librarians and learning skills advisers, who are experts in researching information and presenting it effectively.

Best of all? You don’t need to make an appointment. Just drop in after catching up with friends, on your way to grab coffee, or in-between classes! We’ll work with you for up to 15 minutes, and make sure you’re on the right track… just be sure to bring the assignment sheet, and/or a copy of your work with you.

So, what are some of the queries librarians and learning skills adviser handle? Let’s ask them now...

What can you ask a librarian?


Librarians get asked a lot of questions! The most common questions have to do with finding high-quality, authoritative information. Maybe you’re working on an assignment and can’t seem to find a journal article on your topic. Or, maybe what you’re looking for is in a book you never knew existed! Librarians can talk to you about the keywords you’re using, and can suggest places you might like to look (in databases, or on the shelves).

Librarians are also referencing experts! We can help you with your reference list and talk you through some of the finer points of the different referencing styles.

What can you ask a learning skills adviser?

Not sure how to get started on that essay? Wondering how to best structure your assignment? Need some tips for the oral presentation that’s coming up? Wanting to get better results and manage your study time more effectively? Learning skills advisers are here to assist you in developing your skills in all aspects of your academic work! No matter what style of assessment you have, we can show you the way to plan your approach - we even have some tips for exam preparation.

We’re not all about assessments though. As well as time management tips, we can also work with you to develop your critical thinking, note-taking, and effective reading skills, which will be beneficial to you throughout your degree!

What’s available online?


If you can’t make it to a Research and Learning Point, don’t worry! Through Research and Learning Online you can find information and interactive tutorials on study skills, doing assignments, and graduate research and writing, as well as examples of assignments from each faculty. If you're in a hurry, there are also Quick Study Guides you can print out.

Our Library Guides webpage also has a lot of useful information, including the popular citing and referencing guide, which gives examples of correct references in many of the styles used at Monash. You can also find lists of important databases and journals for your study area, as well as guides to Turnitin and EndNote.

So, visit your Research and Learning experts - in person or online - before the assessment crunch begins!




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31 July 2017

Beyond Google

Many students get into the habit of turning to Google when they need information for their assignments and it's not a bad place to start if you need an idea or two. The problems begin when you start using such general information to inform a university assignment, says librarian Sophie Wright.  


Much of what Google has to offer just will not be good enough. In addition, as with anything you find on a Google Search, the information you read could be fake. You need well-researched scholarly sources, such as academic books and journal articles in order to write from an academic perspective.


How do I find better information?

You may ask: but where do I find this information? And how do I navigate my way through the thousands of results returned in Search or databases to find resources specifically on my topic? This is a librarian's area of expertise and we are here to support you in this journey.

Being smart about how you go about locating resources for your assessment has many benefits. The main one is the hours (potentially hundreds over a standard Bachelor's degree) that you will save if you choose to invest just an hour or two learning some tips and tricks for information searching. Secondly, you will increase your marks. Your lecturer will be looking very carefully to see what you have read to inform your arguments and conclusions in your written work. Sometimes you will be expected to pay close attention to prescribed readings from your reading list. Other times, you will be expected to locate your own resources.

Can I take a class?


There is a bit to do here - but do not fear we've got you covered. Firstly, please come along to a free class run by the Library called Beyond Google. This class will teach you the basics to get you up and running and finding the resources you need straightaway. We'll take you through it step by step and answer all your questions.

Alternatively, we have prepared some Quick Study Guides to help you on you way. If you are an online student you would gain a lot from completing our tutorial on Developing a Search Strategy.

Remember, librarians are available at the drop-in sessions Monday to Friday to answer any specific questions you have as well. In many academic courses we offer programs in consultation with the lecturer which cover finding information as part of the curriculum. We also have other free classes running in the library to help you, depending on your study needs. We look forward to meeting you soon!

In summary- some options for you:

Beyond Google: Classes on searching & databases - Sign up here

Quick Study guides on the library website - Here

Online tutorial on developing a search strategy - Here

Attend a 15 minute drop-in with a librarian - At these times / places

Attend another class on study skills in the library - Sign up here

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27 July 2017

Factiva news database, and Fairfax newspapers digital editions

Find out what is happening in Australia and internationally with Factiva and/or Fairfax Media writes David Horne, Subject Librarian for Business and Economics.


Factiva is is a database of over 30,000 international news sources, encompassing print, electronic media transcripts and free Web-based publications. Content is added daily. It is an invaluable tool for keeping up to date with current and business affairs in a particular part of the world, for investigating past events, or for studying the way news is reported.

Australian coverage includes not only the major city and national papers, such as The Australian and The Australian Financial Review, but regional and local newspapers.

Search results can be readily sorted by date, or filtered according to a range of criteria, including source, article author, company, industry, and region. The articles from print publications do not include images.

While the key content is news, Factiva also provides brief company and industry profiles and global financial market data.

Complementing Factiva, the Library can now provide daily access to the full digital versions of the Fairfax newspapers: The Age, The Australian Financial Review and The Sydney Morning Herald.  
Click the links below to access each Search record, click "View It" , then "Fairfax Newspapers".














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24 July 2017

Time management tips: How to get organised

Juggling readings, assignments and revision can be one of the most challenging parts of university. Here’s how to get organised and make the most out of your time! By Clinton Bell


You probably already know procrastination is a bad idea. If you put off doing assignments or don’t revise regularly, it’s easy to fall behind and end up with way too much stuff to catch up on. Unfortunately, even if you know you should study, it can be difficult to make yourself do it - especially if you’re busy with other things.

If you find yourself struggling to make time for study, or you feel like you just have way too much going on, try planning your time with a study schedule! There’s an example of how to make one on the library website.

Making a schedule has several benefits:
  • It helps you work out how much time you have, and plan your study around your work, social life, and other commitments
  • It’s easier to keep track of tasks and due dates if you have them all written down in one place
  • You’re less likely to procrastinate if study is a regular part of your routine. Scheduling study in advance can also make you feel more committed to actually doing it
  • Having a plan can help you feel less stressed and more in control of your study.
When making your schedule it’s important to prioritise. Consider how important things are as well as when they’re due - if an assignment is worth a lot of marks you’ll probably need to spend more time on it. If you need to do something which requires other people, special facilities or equipment, you may also need to work around when those things are available.

For large assignments, it can be helpful to split the task into smaller goals. For example, you might aim to write one paragraph of an essay each night. Splitting the task into chunks can make it less intimidating to get started, and can also help you stress less - if you’re meeting your goals you know you’re on track to get the assignment done.

As well as planning your time, it’s important to use it effectively. Using good study methods and improving your skills can give you better results in less time:
Time management can be challenging, but with good planning and study skills you can get everything done on time. So best of luck with your study in semester 2 - and remember, come see us at a drop-in session if you need help!




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17 July 2017

Kashgar: a digital exhibition


John Gollings, 2005 Kashgar Old City
New technology has enhanced an evocative exhibition at Matheson Library.


Arts, the Library, and an IT student have come together to present a digital exhibition of original photographs, enhanced with new technology, to welcome the viewer into a remote part of China.

Kashgar is an exhibition of evocative photos by Australian photographer John Gollings, collected as part of a Monash Asia Institute international research project to document, measure, and define the most significant cultural monuments and spaces of Kashgar in Western China.

Gollings’ photographs lead the audience on a personal journey through China’s largest oasis city, nestled between sun-scorched deserts and towering mountain peaks, where the long-distance trade routes of numerous old Silk Roads once converged. A constant feed of tradeable goods, merging cultures and varying religions kept the thriving markets of Kashgar alive for thousands of years, now for you to experience through a selection of photographs from the Library’s John Gollings’ Kashgar collection.

Visitors to the Library can continue their exploration of this ancient city on their mobile devices by accessing an interactive tour of the region, thanks to content created by Information Technology student Vinu Alwis. Access the interactive experience by scanning this code with the free Zappar app. Here you can access additional photos, insightful videos, and descriptions of Kashgar city and surrounding towns.

David Groenewegen, the Library’s Director, Research, said that the Library was delighted to have the opportunity to work with a student to help expand access to the amazing materials collected by this project. Innovative digital techniques and apps have the potential to help libraries and other cultural institutions grow awareness of their collections.

The exhibition will be on display at the Sir Louis Matheson Library, Clayton until December this year.

Get a taste of the exhibition with this video of project director Marika Vicziany and John Gollings recounting their experiences of Kashgar.


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6 July 2017

Contribution to Jewish studies recognised

Items from the Laura and Israel Kipen Judaica Collection 
Monash University Library respectfully notes the recent passing of Mr Israel Kipen. Mr Kipen was former Chair of the Joint Committee for Tertiary Jewish Studies, a group that was instrumental in establishing the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation at Monash University and the Arnold Bloch Lectureship in Jewish History at the University of Melbourne.

The Library acknowledges the generous benefaction from Mr and Mrs Kipen, materials known as the Laura and Israel Kipen Judaica Collection and officially launched by the Library on 23 October 1995. These works are located on level 1 of the Sir Louis Matheson Library, Monash University, Clayton. Students and staff and members of the public interested in viewing material from the Laura and Israel Kipen Judaica Collection can use Search to discover, locate and borrow items. For assistance with this please contact Louise Micallef, Subject Librarian for Jewish Studies at louise.micallef@monash.edu

The Library also holds a unique collection of approximately 200 Australian testimonials from Jewish survivors of the Holocaust. These are kept in our Special Collections area on the ground floor of the Sir Louis Matheson Library, Monash University. Clayton. Students, staff and members of the public interested in viewing these items are welcome to contact specialcollections@monash.edu. prior to visiting the Library. The specialist nature of these materials requires them to be read only within the Special Collections Reading Room at the Matheson Library.

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About the Blog

Welcome to the Monash University Library blog. Whether you are engaged in learning, teaching or research activities, the Library and its range of programs, activities and resources will contribute to your success. Here you will find useful information, ideas, tips and inspiration. Your comments on any of the articles are welcome.

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