Best of Both Worlds – Making the Most of the Library Remotely Using Learning Technology. A Graphic Guide.

Don’t let Learning Technology get in the way of your education

Susan Baker, Library Operations Manager and Pip McDonald Learning Technologist, explore how to make the most of the library in a remote capacity using learning technology. This is a collaborative blog post to bring together the Library and Learning Technology at RAU. The Library plays an important role in your student journey and the digital studuent experience. Due to the impact of the global pandemic, accessing the Library off campus has become important. The Library itself is always changing and evolving to embrace digital tools and has been argued to be a “virtual destination” (Campbell, 2006).

What do we really know about how students use learning resources?

Kernohan, 2021

At the RAU, Learning Technology can help to engage with the Library when you are not on campus. It is important to acknowledge that “The role of…libraries in our digital age is one of the most pressing concerns of humanities, scholars and citizens worldwide” (Mizruchi, 2020: p2). In this blog post, we explore four key ways to do this.

4 Key Ways to Make the Most of the Library in a Remote Capacity Using Learning Technology

RAU Resource Lists

RAU Resource Lists enable students to access a list of resources for each module, many of which are available online. As the RAU Library say, RAU Resource Lists “…are full of ideas of what to read, where to start and have links to relevant online books and articles” (RAU Library, n.d.).

RAU Resource Lists

Login to Gateway and scroll to the bottom of the page. RAU Resource Lists are located on the menu on the bottom left-hand side of the page. Click on ‘RAU Resource Lists’. Login to the RAU Resource Lists by using the same login as you use for Gateway.

Go to Gateway

Type in a module title or topic or key work into the search box. A list of modules will be shown below. Click on the module to view the list of resources.

Using RAU Resource Lists to find modules

Click on a module to load the online resources.

Using RAU Resource Lists to find online resources

It is possible to view the online module resources on each individual module page. You can also download the resources list by clicking on ‘View & Export’.

Using the ‘View & Export’ function in RAU Resource Lists

Find IT @ RAU

Find it @RAU is a dynamic way to search for a wide range of resources including e-books, journals, databases and the library catalogue.

Go to Gateway

Go to Gateway If required, login using your username and password.

It is possible to view Find it @ RAU at the top of the ‘Access and Search the E-Library’ tab of the Gateway pages for the Library.

Find it @ RAU

Access Find It @ RAU directly here or copy and paste the following URL into an internet browser:,shib&profile=eds&group=main&custid=ns010817

Find It @ RAU is also available on the Library Catalogue Search page here or copy and paste the following URL into an internet browser:

Sign in to Find It @ RAU

In order to create a successful search, type your search into the box. You can then narrow down your search results. Access the results of your search. Ensure that you sign in, in order to customise your results.  Enter your search terms. It is possible to also use the Advanced Search feature.

Library Catalogue – Heritage

The Library Catalogue Search or copy and paste the following URL into an internet browser:

Click on ‘Enter Library’.

Type text into the search box such as a key word, title or author. Use the right hand drop down menu to narrow down the research for example example to ‘book, ‘e-book’ or ‘dissertation.

Using the Library Catalogue – Heritage
Example of Search Results in the Library Catalogue

Library Pages on Gateway

Go to Gateway

There six main tabs on the Library Pages on Gateway including About the Library, Access and Search the E-Library, How to Guides, Suggestions and Requests, Library Policies and Copyright Guidance.

Library Pages on Gateway

It is possible to find information on library opening hours, Click & Collect service and contact details for the library on the About the Library tab.

You can find the Library Pages on Gateway here or copy and paste the following URL into an internet browser:

Login with your RAU username and password.

You can access the ‘How to Guides’ here or copy and paste the following URL into an internet browser:

Library Pages on Gateway

Change the dispolay of the search results


A White Paper was published that identified the existence of “digital estates” in higher education (Manifesto, 2021). Is the Library part of the “digital estate?” (Manifesto, 2021). Using both the RAU’s Library and its learning technology are fundamental to making the most of your studies and to ensure you have a positive student experience. It is possible to acknowledge a “worst-case scenario” where students suffer “the worst of both worlds” – those enjoying the online component being forced to participate in web-based communication, and those happier communicating online having to attend classes” (Sharma & Barrett, 2007: p8). As a student during challenging times, it is critical to make the best of both worlds. We encourage you to make the most of the Library remotely using Learning Technology.

From 8th March the Library is open Mon – Fri 9am-5pm by appointment only. Appointments are needed to collect a reservation or to book a limited number of study spaces via Online support is available from 10am to 5pm Sat – Sun via

Please check the Library Gateway pages and the Library blog for changes.

Make an appointment in order to collect reservations ordered via the Click & Collect service.

Online support is available from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday and from 10am to 5pm Saturday to Sunday.

Please contact if you have any questions.

Check out the Library blog here.

A related blog post exploring accessing the Library remotely can be found here.

This blog post has also been cross posted on the Library blog here.

Contacting the Library


Campbell, J, D (2006) Changing a Cultural Icon: The Academic Library as a Virtual Destination. EDUCAUSE Review, 41(1), 16-18.(Online) Available at: [Accessed: 18 February 2021]

Kernohan, D (2021) What do we really know about how students use learning resources? Higher Education Blog [blog] (Online) Available at: [Accessed: 4 NovemberNovember 2021]

Manifesto (2021) Digital Estates within Higher Education. [pdf] (Online) Available at: [Accessed: 18 February 2021]

Mizruchi, S, L (ed) (2020) Libraries and Archives in the Digital Age [e-book] (Switzerland: Springer Natre)

Sharma, P & Barrett, B (2007) Blended Learning Using technology in and beyond the Language Classroom (Oxford: Macmillan Education)

Royal Agricultural University (n.d.) Latest News at the RAU Library. Library Blog. [blog] Available at: [Accessed: 20 February 2021]

Royal Agricultural University (n.d.)Top tips for students using the library remotely. Library Blog. [blog] Available at: [Accessed: 20 February 2021]

Talis Resource List Data

Earlier today we had a visit from Tim Hodson and David Renfree, both from Talis Aspire. Talis Aspire is the software we use for RAU Reading Lists – you can read more about our journey in implementing the service. Tim and David spent some time with us looking at how we can make best use of the data you can get out of the system.


Tim started off by asking us to think about:

  • What are the narratives? (For academics, students and the library)
  • How do these fit within institutional reporting workflows?
  • Who needs to hear the narrative?
  • What data would help tell the story of that narrative

Tim Hodson eliciting what questions we have that data could answer

Tim Hodson eliciting what questions we have that data could answer

We then spent time looking at the main data reporting mechanisms:

Google analytics

Google analytics

The data from these systems can all be exported and there is a way to establish a primary key within most tables – which means it’s possible to link tables and get some very useful and granular insights.


Later in the morning things took a technical turn and we ended up talking about connecting data tables and potential data development work. Something for us to think about in the future.

Some of the most useful takeaways for the day for me were:

  • The urls of customised reports are unique and therefore bookmarkable – so you can create a personal list of your favourite reports
  • There is some new filters on reports that will let you do things like find out all the books on lists that aren’t in the library – really useful
  • There are lots of batch actions that can run on report outputs – like publishing lists with unpublished changes

Talis are now developing a set of APIs that allow developers to get data from within Talis products and present it in various places. We’d like to automate our hierarchy upload process at some point so we will be keeping an eye on these. We also have our list rollover to look forward to!

Reflecting on RAU Resource Lists

Last week we took some time out to reflect on our Talis Aspire / RAU Resource Lists journey so far.

On Thursday we were visited by David Renfree (Talis), Allie Taylor and Sarah Pittaway (University of Worcester) who helped us run a session with our academics looking at the potential of their lists.

Sarah and Allie presented on “Deep and meaningful learning experiences”:
making the most of resource lists and shared some insights from Worcester on constructive alignment, voice and presence and the need to give students a “purposeful reason to go on frequently and repeatedly”  [taken from Salmon, G. (2013) E-tivities: the key to online learning, Abingdon: Routledge.]

Allie Taylor and Sarah Pittaway (University of Worcester)

Allie Taylor and Sarah Pittaway (University of Worcester) present

David then introduced analytics use in Talis Aspire and began to explore the new list edit view currently being rolled out.

We completed the session with the RAU Resource Lists awards in which academics were honoured for their great lists in categories including:

  • First to create a list
  • Most programme lists
  • Most accessed programme lists
  • Most accessed module lists
  • Longest List

The academics received a certificate and a wooden spoon (we were reclaiming the term to apply to winners!)

RAU academics awarded wooden spoons

RAU academics awarded wooden spoons

On Friday David worked with our library team looking at the the reviews and acquisitions process. we also explored the roll over process for lists.

David Renfree (Talis) helps us explore our reviews process

David Renfree (Talis) helps us explore our reviews process

It’s been a interesting journey so far. Although there have been some minor hiccups (for example in integrations with our catalogue system and VLE),  we have had great engagement from academics and out stats are pretty healthy:

  • 256 lists (including 162 lists for modules and 40 lists for programmes)
  • 3513 bookmarks (2091 books / 1472 importances)
  • 80 user profiles
  • Some programmes with over  80% coverage for module lists
  • “We’ve spent half of our book budget for this year already!”

We are now moving into phase 2 of our implementation. We will be continuing to encourage the creation of lists and will be linking them more closely with our module sheets and module pages on the VLE. There is also work to do using the stats we have to improve lists and encourage use by students.

Pre-course resource lists

We are making head way getting our pre-course resource list ready for our new students. There have been some great lists created so far – huge thanks to all our academics who have been working hard!


Training on RAU Resource Lists

This week we began the main training programme for our academics in how to use RAU resource Lists. The training follows on from the pilot that ran earlier this year which involved one-to-one instruction with 20 academics. These academics have now moved on to publishing their own lists and helping support other staff in the one-hour training sessions taking place for each of the seven RAU centres.

'What exactly is a resource list?' ineractive training

‘What exactly is a resource list?’ interactive training

As a complimentary activity to run alongside the main training today we ran an interactive session entitled ‘What exactly is a Resource List?’ The session, which was based on a great Talis webinar from Allie Taylor of the University of Worcester, got staff to think about their previous practice in creating lists.

Screen Shot 2018-07-05 at 20.55.56

There were some meaty discussions about future practice (open lists vs closed lists, online content vs texts etc.) and hopefully it has got staff thinking about how they can use their resource lists as a pedagogic tool.

You can see the slides on

The training will continue over July with the expectation that there will be lists for the majority of modules by the start of the academic year.

Talis Training

Last week the library team, some IT staff and a handful of academics underwent two days of Talis Aspire training carried out by Laura Unwin and David Renfree from Talis . Talis Aspire is the software we are using for our RAU Resource Lists.

You can read about how it went on the RAU Library blog.


RAU Library staff taking part in Talis Aspire training

The next stage is for us to move on to our Resource Lists pilot in which staff members from each programme will be supported in setting up their own resource list.

RAU Resource Lists update

We are now in the preliminary testing phase of RAU Resource Lists. The main site is live and the department, course and module hierarchy is in place. The preliminary testing will take place from now till the 7th February – at which point Talis will be coming on site to run a two day training session. After the training session we will move in to the pilot stage.

As part of the preliminary testing myself and the RAU library staff have been creating some test resource lists. So see the example equine list below.


One area that we are considering is the type of list view we would like. Talis are currently rolling out a new student list view for Talis Aspire reading lists which offers a sleeker and more modern look and feel, along with new design elements such as the more prominent display of book jackets. We are hoping that RAU will be able to move directly to this view.

If you are involved in learning and teaching at RAU and are interested in being involved in the RAU Resource List pilot please do get in touch –

Feeling Inspired with Talis Aspire

So where is the single source of truth for a reading list? Is it the version held in the VLE? Or the list handed out by an academic? Or what about the items mentioned on a module sheet? Or are the Library the all-knowing sages who have the final say?

Confusion over…

In the new year we will rolling out Talis Aspire reading lists at RAU. The Talis Aspire reading list system offers a centralised way to manage reading lists.

Teaching staff can create and oversee their reading lists online and can link them to any type of relevant resource. Links can also be made with our current RAU Library Management System (LMS) – Heritage Cirqua developed by IS Oxford. These can then be integrated within a module page on our VLE. The Talis Aspire service goes beyond serving up lists of text books – the content can include journal articles, ebooks, video content, bookmarked text and more.

Students will be able to access their reading lists in a consistent way across modules and can prioritise and add notes to their readings. They can also download bibliographies ready for use in essays.

Library staff can monitor created reading lists and ensure there are better links between what exists on site in the library and what is being recommended by academics. They can also support access to the most current edition of resources.

RAU Resource Lists

RAU Resource Lists


In February 2018 a two-day training session will take place for all staff who will be involved in supporting RAU Resource list. Prior to that we will be looking for teaching staff who would be interested in serving as guinea pigs and having their resource lists set up in the pilot stage of the project.

If you are interested in being one of the first to have a fully functioning list ready for your students to use then let me know –