Struggling to manage your module reading? Talis Aspire may at a glance seem like another system to get to grips with before you even set foot in a lecture theatre, but it’s actually a pretty nifty tool that can help you find your way around the other resources and ultimately aid your learning experience… By James Taylor
So what is Talis Aspire?
In short, it’s the Library’s software that provides you with interactive reading lists (if you’re unsure about what a reading list is, there’s a blog post for that too). If your modules have reading lists in Aspire, you will be able to access them by searching for the module code or name. You can also find this page by clicking the ‘Reading lists’ button on the Library homepage.
What are the benefits?
One of the main benefits of having your reading list in Aspire is that it organises your module readings and typically provides a direct link to each item. For books, you can easily view the record in the Library catalogue without having to search for it, so that you can find out how many copies are in stock and where to find them.
You may see a blue ‘Preview’ button next to print books on your list. This will take you to Google Books. However, it’s often the case that only a limited amount of the book is available to view, so you’ll probably still need to go to the Library to borrow the book. If the Library has an eBook you’ll be able to access this from your computer, for journal articles you’ll be directed to the full text, for webpages you’ll be taken to the webpage, and so on. The blue ‘Online Resource’ button next to an item will let you know that you can access the item online – all that separates you from the resource is a click of the button.
How does it work?
Your module leader will generally mark items on Aspire as ‘essential’, ‘recommended’ or ‘further’ reading. These categories indicate to you how important a piece of reading is to the module. While fairly self-explanatory, the way these categories are applied can vary a bit from department to department. For example, some module leaders may expect you to buy their own copies of core books listed as ‘essential’. Generally, you might be expected to read weekly ‘essential’ readings for class, while ‘recommended’ and ‘further’ readings are there to help enhance or supplement your understanding of particular topics. If you’re unsure about the importance of items on your reading list, ask the module leader.
What else does it do?
Aspire also offers some useful features that allow you to manage your reading and personalise your lists. You can make notes on each item, maybe to identify the key arguments or a particular bit you didn’t understand and would like to raise in class. You can also set the ‘read status’ for each item to indicate if you’ve read it, intend to read it or don’t intend to read it (probably best not to write off too many pieces before giving them a go). These features make it really easy for you to keep track of your reading and organise your time, which is handy both for classes and when you’re starting to plan essays. Any notes or reading intentions will be saved in your profile area of Aspire.
This is great. What doesn’t it do?!
While Aspire helps you navigate to your readings it’s important to remember that it doesn’t do the reading for you! Remember to leave ample time to do the reading on your module reading list.
What happens if I want to read something that isn’t on the list?
Absolutely do it! Becoming a skilled researcher is an important part of University. Resources and readings found through Aspire can point you toward insightful sources that aren’t included on your reading list but you have to find them yourself. Therefore, you may need to go beyond your readings in Aspire and delve into the Library to conduct your own research. For further help on searching for information take a look at this guide.
So when you’ve got a moment, head to Talis Aspire, and locate your module reading list (not all modules have reading lists on Aspire so if you can’t find what you’re looking for, we suggest contacting either your module leader or the Library). Aspire is great for helping you to easily and quickly locate your module reading, while providing a gateway to research resources. All of this will help you keep up to date with your modules and ‘Aspire’ (sorry) to be a more effective researcher.
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