Library and Information Services, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Tuesday, 9 October 2018



 Artfilms streams thousands of videos of masterclasses, documentaries, and interviews covering dance, design, education, film and television, music, performance art and theatre.

Staff and students of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland will have received an email (dated 8 October 2018) with the login details for this trial.  We warmly welcome staff and student feedback, so please do email the library to let us know what you think of it.  

If you like it, we might subscribe.  If you don't tell us, we might think you're not keen ... 


Monday, 8 October 2018

£1000 for the Best Young Musician in Kirkees!

Young Musicians! Are you from the Kirklees Metropolitan Area?

Kirklees Young Musician of the Year 2019 Contest!

We received a leaflet from The Kirklees Young Musician of the Year Contest 2019.  It takes place in Huddersfield on Sunday 17 February 2019.  Entries must be submitted by Saturday 10 November 2018.

You must be aged 16-25, born or resident in the Kirklees area.

More info at their website:-

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Whether you call it a literature survey or a literature review ...

Library help with your literature search
Some years ago, we authored a blogpost about writing your literature review.  Revisiting it today, we found - oh, horror! - that although the advice was good, the weblinks needed updating. We've got a new library catalogue now, so the old links were no use at all!  Anyway, here we are again, refreshed and updated for today's students:- 

Writing a research proposal: the literature survey

Let's assume you've got an idea for a research project, and you've got to submit something in writing. The following observations might help, if you're writing a proposal for an undergraduate or postgraduate degree research project. (This is NOT about writing dozens of pages, describing scientific methods or submitting costings for a funding bid!) 
  • Have you established how much you are expected to write? 
  • Do you have any indication how many citations you should come up with? 
  • Have you been given any guidance about the currency of your citations?
The Whittaker Library supports staff and students at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in their general studies and subject-specific research.  Our focus is the performing arts: music, drama, production, film, and dance.  If you were putting together a literature review for a scientific research project, you'd probably be much more concerned about currency.  (No point in outlining what you think is a cutting-edge piece of research in pharmacology, if someone else did something very similar months or even years ago!)

The purpose of your literature review is to show that you know what's out there already.  The format of what you find (book, journal article, website etc) is not so important as the content.  Nonetheless, you'll make yourself look more convincing as a researcher if you show that you know about the most useful electronic resources.

The Whittaker Library offers a lot of subject-specific and more generic electronic resources.  Here are some tried and trusted suggestions for where to begin:-

  1. See what's in the Library catalogue - are there any key resources that you might use as a starting point, or that you that you wish to argue with?!
  2. Try our Catalogue Plus search, to see what electronic resources are available.  (Start on the same catalogue page, but select the Catalogue Plus option before you enter your search terms.  Choose to get full-text results, and consider doing an advanced search for further refinements of your search.  NB if you're off-site, you'll need to login in order to access the articles themselves.)
  3. Anyone can do a Copac library search, which will check all the UK national and university libraries at once. If you find something good that we haven't got in our library, we can consider getting an inter library loan for you, or purchasing a copy for our collection.
  4.  Zetoc is a good general resource, too.You can search for citations or set up alerts to be notified about future writings on your research topic.
  5. There's nothing wrong with using Google Scholar, but it's slightly better for the sciences than for the performing arts.  Just don't use it as your sole source - use it at the end, as a way of checking if you've missed anything.
If your research is going to be inter-disciplinary (eg combining music and drama), then the general searches are very important: you never know where your most likely sources will come from.  But don't forget to look at subject-specific bibliographic resources, too.  There are electronic abstracts and indexes especially for music, or for drama and dance.

How much time to spend?  Some people spend weeks, dipping in and out of resources before deciding what to include.  If you've got a limited amount of time, say a half-day, why not allocate half an hour to each of the activities outlined above, then spend half an hour to an hour synthesising your findings and writing about what you've found?

Once you've written about what you've found, it's a good idea to put these resources in a neat, succinct bibliography, too.  That shows you understand the discipline of precise, accurate citation.  E.g.,
  • Atkinson, Charles M., The Critical Nexus: Tone-System, Mode, and Notation in Early Mediaeval Music (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009)
  •  Steyn, Carol, 'The Music Manuscripts of the Grey Collection in Cape Town and their European Connections', Fontes Vol.59 no.1 (2012), 45-56
Note that the first is a book; the second a journal article.  Bibliographies are in alphabetical order of author, but you describe books and journals slightly differently. 

As soon as you start your research, you need to think much more deeply about bibliographies and ways of keeping track of your references.  There are different referencing styles, and a variety of online systems that can be a great help.  But that's further down the line.

Good luck!

Monday, 17 September 2018

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Great Librarians, Good Teachers (and Brilliant Students)

Our Biteable animations went down well at the Learning and Teaching Conference, so we thought we'd share a couple we made earlier!  See what the library has to offer, and keep abreast of new developments - each clip takes less than two minutes to watch.  Perfect while you're enjoying your next cuppa!  (If you fancy playing with Biteable animations yourself, just visit )

First, a Whittaker welcome:-

and Learn How to Set up Online Alerts (new online articles and other electronic goodness!)

And now there's a new video animation with quick hints on making lectures accessible for the hard-of-hearing. (There's also a blogpost which expands upon this topic, here:- Conferences As I hear them.)

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Librarians as Part of Your Learning and Teaching Strategy

We're having a three-day Learning and Teaching Conference here at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland this week.  Today, Information Services department gave some quick updates.  Here was an invitation to teaching colleagues to make the most of the skills that we Performing Arts Librarians can share with students at appropriate points in their courses.  The Biteable format is quick and snappy, and it seemed to go down quite well! 

We thought we'd share it here, in case you missed the initial showing!  (Don't panic - it takes less than two minutes to watch ...)

Librarians as a Learning and Teaching Resource

Monday, 27 August 2018

Want to Know More about Robert Burns and Scottish Songs?

You may know of Burns' contribution to the six-volume The Scots Musical Museum.  This collection has been reprinted more than once since first publication!

There's now a new, authoritative edition combining the original text with new scholarly commentary.
University of Glasgow Professor Murray Pittock's edition of The Scots Musical Museum is contained in vols.2 and 3 of The Oxford Edition of the Works of Robert Burns.  (Vol.2 is the tunes, and vol.3 the commentary.)  

We've also got Donald Low's slightly older reprint, which can be borrowed by staff and students for short loan, and William Stenhouse's 1853 Illustrations of the lyric poetry and music of Scotland.
That one's in our Special Collections - because it's special!

Sold Out! Digital Delius (London, 1 October)

Why share details of a seminar that's sold out?  Well, you never know if there might be a last-minute cancellation!  So we're sharing details of this seminar at the British Library, just in case anyone might be particularly interested.  Anything touching on the digital humanities has a very current resonance, after all.
"How can technology help people access and understand music manuscripts?
"This event has been rescheduled from 16 July.
"Join us for the launch of a new digital exhibition showcasing the music of British-born composer Frederick Delius (1862–1934), including a live performance by the Villiers String Quartet."
 "Daniel Grimley, Joanna Bullivant and representatives from the University of Oxford’s e-Research Centre present an overview of the AHRC-funded project and outline how technologies they have developed can enrich engagement with musical sources and give an insight into the creative process. "
 Monday 1 October, 13:00 - 18:00
Foyle Visitor and Learning Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road

And if you're lucky enough to get a ticket ... it's free!

Find out more here:- 

Friday, 24 August 2018

Follow us in Real Time

We haven't blogged much this summer. But we've moved books round, catalogued a ton of stuff, updated a stack of library guides (find them on the library pages of the Conservatoire Portal) ... 

And we've been to conferences and (of course) taken it in turns to have holidays.  

Follow us on Twitter @WhittakerLib or on Facebook at

We're still here!  Keep in touch. 

Friday, 10 August 2018

Spotting Fake News

Here's a quick story!  Once upon a time there was an English musician who studied in Italy in his youth and ended up in Scotland. Two hundred years later, there are scores  by both the English-turned-Scotsman, and by his Italian tutor, in a university library.  

End of story. Shame, isn't it?!

Did you imagine the Brit might have deposited not only his own books but also the tutor's publications in the library?  Or did someone else deposit (or decide to keep) the Brit's books in the library because he was a popular composer?  Or did the Brit's copies of the Italian's scores end up in the secondhand market and then find their way to the library later?  There could be a wonderful detective story in this!

Before you make any assumptions, look at the evidence.  At the moment, the only verifiable truths in this story are in the first paragraph above.  No documents have, or can yet, be cited as evidence - all the rest is guesswork. Music wasn't taught in universities for several decades after the Brit died, and there's nothing to suggest he had any other involvement with the university. He was a music teacher and composer, not a scientist, lawyer or theologian.

So the moral of the tale? Don't jump to conclusions.  Check your facts.  And make sure you reference any reliable sources for the evidence you do have! 

Spotting Fake News (be a good scholar) on Biteable.

Monday, 6 August 2018

RCS staff and students - set up alerts for new journal articles etc

Learn to set up online alerts on Biteable.

Recent research showed that students like to find out more about online resources available to them, but - crucially - they like to learn in small, bite-sized chunks, and they particularly like animated videos.  Biteable offers a good solution - conveniently short videos, which don't take too long to customise.

So, even if you only have a few minutes while waiting for a train, or in between family commitments, you can still learn something new that might be useful for your coursework!  This one tells you about setting up email alerts to newly published journal articles on your chosen topic.  Nifty, eh?

Friday, 3 August 2018

Writing a Research Proposal

Faced with writing a research proposal for the first time, it's easy to feel apprehensive.  This blogpost is not intended to replace any advice you're given by teaching staff, but we can offer a few helpful general comments.  

We realise you could be contemplating research on a vast variety of topics, from many different disciplines.  Our students here at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland are creative artists in some aspect of music, drama, dance, film or television, and much of our research is practice-based.  (This may be very different from the research that a scientist, mathematician, lawyer or linguist might undertake!)

An Outline for a Practice-Based Research Project Proposal

The following outline was recommended for a recent RCS Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching.  Candidates were advised to aim for a proposal with a word-length of about 1000 words:-
  1. Overview
  2. Research Context
  3. Professional Aims
  4. Research Question/Questions
  5. Methodology
  6. Outcomes
 Check with teaching staff to see if there are particular things they're looking out for.  Also, see if you should write it in the first person (eg, "I propose to find out ...") or the more formal third person (eg, "It is proposed to establish...".)   Perhaps you can find a doctoral student or recent PhD graduate willing to show you how they wrote their own research proposal.

Books and Articles about Writing a Research Proposal

Your library has plenty of literature to help you with your task.  Maybe you just want to be sure that you haven't missed out something vital.  Or need a bit more guidance about structuring your report. Start with the library catalogue.   

Catalogue or Catalogue Plus?

  1. You can search books and e-books in the simple catalogue search-box
  2. Or you can click the "Search Catalogue Plus" button BENEATH the search box, and then type in your search-terms. This will search all the online resources that we subscribe to.

Typing words in the search-box can be made more efficient by using some clever search tricks. Here's how we did our initial search:-

Writing AND "Research proposal"

Combining terms with AND is a good way of ensuring relevant results.  Also, if you want words to be adjacent or very close together, quotation marks do the trick.  Here, we've combined two different concepts. You don't just want to read someone else's "research proposal" - you want to know about writing your own. Try the above search-string in the Catalogue, and then using Catalogue Plus - you'll see how many more results you can get with Catalogue Plus!

Another good search to try is this one (in fact, you might find enough here in a simple library catalogue search, to answer all your initial questions!) :-

Research methodology


Combining search terms

By the way, typing the word AND in block capitals is one of three search strategies that work in this way.  There's also OR, where you would be happy with either of two or more terms.  Lastly, you can exclude concepts with NOT.  This is useful if you know you do not want to retrieve material on a particular sub-category.  (AND, OR and NOT are called Boolean operators.  Too much information?!)

Happy searching, and happy research proposal writing! Good luck!

Thursday, 19 July 2018

HOW many women composed music in the Georgian era?!

Have you visited the Claimed From Stationers' Hall music research network website recently?  Anyone would think it was all about women, when they look at the blog today – a big list of Georgian-era women composers has just been uploaded.  They might only have written a couple of pieces, or in some cases, perhaps they weren’t as much authors as arrangers, but there are a surprising number of women contributors, nonetheless! 

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Honouring one of the greatest Human Rights Proponents - Martin Luther King

Fifty Years after Martin Luther King was Assassinated

We've recently received an email from Drama Online promoting a powerful play imagining what could have happened in the room where Martin Luther King was assassinated.    Maybe you'd be interested to listen to it?  If you're a student or member of staff at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, then you're in luck - we're subscribers!

"Katori Hall's powerful play The Mountaintop imagines what could have transpired inside room 306 of the now-famous Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated after delivering his final, prophetic "Mountaintop" speech."

"This month, we're honoring the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's death by making The Mountaintop free to read and listen to."

Remember, off-site access requires you to use the Shibboleth process – identify RCS from a list of institutions BEFORE attempting to use your own login.