Portfolio of Services
Aberystwyth University has an integrated approach to the management and delivery of information services; with Information Services overseeing the provision of library services for teaching, learning and research, ICT Services for academic purposes, and media services, including those provided in centrally bookable teaching spaces. Information Services is managed by a Director, supported by experienced Library, ICT and Media Services staff; and offers services designed to make it easy and straightforward for users to create, store, share, find and use information.
Services we Provide
ABW is the database system behind the University’s HR, Payroll and Finance functions. The system is managed and supported by the Applications and Integration Team. This includes systems implementation and upgrades, development of reports and additional functionality as well as processes to integrate these systems with AStRA and other Aberystwyth University systems.
More Information: Aber People
Information Services (I.S.) is committed to providing equal access to our resources for all users. We have nominated a Point of Contact (P.O.C.) at each location with whom you may discuss all your short term or longer term requirements, regardless of the permanence or temporary nature of any disability.
More Information: Accessibility
The AStRA Team develops, supports and maintains the Aberystwyth Student Records and Admissions system (AStRA). This database system supports the processes and records behind the student lifecycle from initial enquiries, through admissions, registration, exams and graduation. The system supports all types of students including UG, PG, PGCE, Distance Learners, Lifelong Learners, International English Centre, etc. It also contains the Study Schemes and Modules databases, the Accommodation system and Student Finance. Data from this system links through to a range of other applications including Staff, Staff Development, Finance, Blackboard, Timetabling, Marketing, Library, Reading Lists, Email lists, IS Access, Sports Centre, Careers, Student Union, Student Support, etc. The system also provides data for various statutory data returns to HESA, HEFCW, etc.
More Information: Business Information Systems
All registered users can store data on a number of Storage Area Networks (SANs) providing transparent access both to Windows and to UNIX users. These SANs are based in geographically disparate locations to provide disaster recovery should one of the locations or the SANs located there becomes unavailable. Users currently receive an allocation of 2 Gigabytes of user data storage on these devices.
This filestore farm is backed up daily to a centralized backup unit. There are 2 dedicated backup servers each with a disk staging area and LTO5 tape auto-changer.
More Information: Data Recovery
Central Computing Services
ICT Services are provided by a network of over 800 PC-based computers running Microsoft Windows 7. All computers offer a consistent user interface with support for bilingual working and have access to the network and the internet.
Public computers are located in 23 different areas, 7 of which are bookable for teaching, 16 of which are always available for individual academic work with an area reserved for students with accessibility requirements. The number of computers in each area varies from 4 to 100 and some areas, especially those in halls of residence, are accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All the computers currently have, 22” wide screen monitors and run Windows 7. All public computers are available to undergraduate and postgraduate students and all members of staff.
A wide range of software is available to run on computers in university computer rooms including:
- Microsoft Office 2010 Enterprise Edition (Word, Access, PowerPoint, Excel, Publisher, Groove, InfoPath, OneNote, SharePoint Designer) with most offering full support for Welsh and English Languages;
- Various facilities available via web browsers (including Web mail);
- Adobe Acrobat (file reader);
- Keypoint & PinPoint (survey software);
- Minitab and SPSS (statistical analysis packages);
- Java (development tool);
- Visual Studio 2010 (Programming Languages - Visual C++, C#, J# & Visual Basic);
- Endnote (tool for publishing and managing bibliographies);
- Primo (our Library catalogue);
- Blackboard (Virtual Learning Environment);
- Putty & X terminal emulation software;
- Various Multimedia & Presentation Tools.
More Information: IT Services
The E-Learning Group provide advice, support and training for staff and students in all aspects of technology-enhanced learning, including Blackboard, Turnitin for e-submission and e-marking, lecture recording, media enhanced learning, Questionmark Perceptionfor summative and formative online exams, and Qwizdom in-class voting system. We also provide support and training material through our good practice webpages for enhancing learning through technology and can be contacted through email@example.com.
More Information: E-learning
Electronic Library Services
Over the last few years, there has been an increasing shift towards electronic, rather than print, publication. Our collections reflect this trend, and we now offer our users access to a vast wealth of electronic resources, including over 40,000 e-journal titles, 100,000 e-books, and dozens of databases. These resources can be accessed from both on- and off-campus, and are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition to these web-based resources, we also help maintain the Aberystwyth Research Portal and Open Access to Aberystwyth University research outputs. IS staff are on hand to provide assistance with accessing electronic resources, and can be contacted at the help desk, or via instant chat, telephone or email.
More Information: Electronic Information Resources
Student email is provided by Microsoft Office 365, which includes a web based mail client with calendars and contacts, Skydrive file storage, Office web apps and 25GB Cloud storage space for mail and documents.
Staff email is provided by Microsoft Exchange. The current version (Exchange 2010), includes support for desktop, laptops and mobile devices such as Smartphones and PDA phones for email, calendars and contacts.
All incoming mail is checked by Microsoft filters for SPAM and viruses.
More Information: Email (Office 365)
Equipment Loan Services
The Equipment Loan Service allows staff and students to borrow items free of charge for short periods of time. These include laptops, netbooks, E-book readers, Flipcams and other digital photography and video equipment, as well as conference phones and the Qwizdom voting system often used in teaching.
More Information: Equipment Loans
All registered users can store up to 2GB of data, which can be accessed by any computer on campus, or anywhere in the world. The data is stored in 2 different locations to allow the service to continue if one of the locations should become unavailable. The filestore is backed up using our centralised backup solution.
More Information: File Storage
Help and Support
ICT and library enquiry desks are sited in a number of library locations on Penglais and at Llanbadarn, offering staff and students advice on both library and ICT matters. Enquiries can also be made by phone, email and instant chat. These support desks can refer enquiries to either IT specialists or subject librarians when required. Outside core opening hours, enquiries can be submitted via answerphone or email for attention at the next staffed period. IS also offers extensive online IT and library advice in the form of “Frequently Asked Questions”.
More Information: Frequently Asked Questions
IT Purchasing Advice & Maintenance Service
The IT procurement service can give advice on the selection and purchase of personal computers and software. It can also provide a range of toner cartridges for laser printers. It can also supply recommended equipment for purchase.
Commonly requested items such as blank CDs and DVDs, USB pens, paper, international plug adaptors and network cables can be purchased from both the Hugh Owen and the Thomas Parry Libraries. Whilst a full workshop facility provides repair and upgrade services for AU equipment.
Aberystwyth benefits from an excellent range of local library facilities including those at Aberystwyth University. Information Services operates two libraries on Penglais, and students and staff are also able to use the enormous research collections of the National Library of Wales, a copyright deposit library adjacent to the Penglais Campus, and several other specialist libraries and collections in the area. The Hugh Owen Library on Penglais is open 24-hours 5 days a week during term-times. The University libraries provide study places for around 1100 students. Study places consist of traditional silent study, open plan areas, computer areas, study carrels and group study areas for student project work.
More Information: Library Services
The University libraries hold over 807166 printed volumes, much non-print material and provides access to nearly 50,000 periodical titles. Bibliographic records for all these items are accessible through Primo, the library catalogue which deals with all aspects of acquisition, cataloguing and circulation. Materials not available in the University or the National Library of Wales can be speedily obtained through our Document Supply Service. In 2012/13 422,375 books were issued, the vast majority of which were handled through fast, efficient self-issue and self-return facilities.
During 2014/15 over £1.6 million was spent on resource acquisition. Information Services liaises closely with academic departments in the selection of new library materials. Recommendations from academic staff are the main source of material selection. These are based on the current course reading lists which are uploaded by teaching departments onto Talis Aspire and any titles not currently in stock, or not in sufficient numbers, will be automatically ordered by the library. Items that will be paid from the Discretionary Budget are ordered using the Online Purchase Request form.
Information Services can also provide digitised copies of items on course reading lists, subject to copyright clearance, licence restrictions, and cost centre funds. These can then be made available to students via AberLearn Blackboard, providing every student with access to the text.
Thanks to recent technological developments, we can now also offer access to over 125,000 e-books through a number of different platforms. We constantly strive to increase the range and quantity of books available to our users and both undergraduate and postgraduate students are also encouraged to order books that they require but are not on reading lists through our More Books campaign, and in 2014/15 over £5,000 was spent on their suggestions.
More Information: Collections
Monitoring Service Quality
Information Services ensures that its facilities and services are regularly evaluated by its customers through surveys, focus groups, meetings with academic departments and professional service departments, and meetings with students union. IS monitor service quality by analysing the results of surveys, and we publish our findings on the website. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are also used to monitor performance, and challenging standards are set for improvements both in the Strategic Plan and in the KPIs. A range of annual statistics is prepared for national bodies such as HESA, UCISA and SCONUL allowing for comparison with activities in other institutions. Such benchmarking offers a valuable management tool.
More Information: Our Response
We provide a comprehensive range of facilities to allow staff and students to use media within their work. Tools for video, picture and sound editing are available on all of our public computers providing for most user needs. The media loan stock provides staff and students free short term loan access to a variety of digital cameras, digital camcorders, laptop PC's, and video/data projectors, see Section 9.
We also offer a ‘supported service’ for multimedia activities where a member of I.S. staff offers assistance to users who are not confident in the use of the technology.
To assist lecturers in preparing teaching materials, we have a subscription to the British Universities Film and Video Council, the Open University off Air Recording Scheme, the Educational Recording Agency and also have a streaming server that links to Aberlearn Blackboard for staff to upload their own recordings.
More Information: Equipment Loans
Information Services staff install, support and maintain networking at a variety of levels including the connection to the Internet, the inter-campus links, inter-building links as well as local cabling to the desks. On new projects, Information Services liaises throughout project lifecycles with the Estates Development Department, the AU Property Services Team, and/or contractors on wider projects. Being involved throughout minimises problems later on as well as including infrastructure for the future. All halls of residence on campus have wired network sockets, and the 'Eduroam' wireless network provides high speed connection which enable students to access the Aberystwyth University local area network and the internet. The 'Eduroam' wireless network is also extensively available throughout University academic and library buildings.
More information: IT Services
Printing, Photocopying and Scanning
Information Services provides a self-service, combined printing, photocopying and scanning service in locations across all campuses, some of which are available 24 hours a day. The service provides black/white and colour, printing, copying. Scanning on both A4 and A3 size paper to your E-mail address and scanning to and from a USB drive is also available.
More Information: Printing, Photocopying and Scanning
Services for Remote Users
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) service is in place that offers a secure mechanism for users to access central services through an authenticated connection. This is used by those accessing our services using the wireless network facility, from home on their broadband link, or from anywhere on the Internet.
More information: Virtual Private Networking (VPN)
Support and advice is offered on the acquisition of software packages and licenses. Departmental requests for central software package installations for teaching purposes may also be accommodated subjected to certain conditions.
More Information: Software Available in the Computer Rooms
All Centrally Timetabled Teaching rooms are equipped with a height adjustable lectern, a solid state drive PC, an interactive PC monitor, Blu-Ray player, document camera, web camera, microphones, ceiling mounted loud speakers and an Extron touch panel control unit. There is a selection of furniture types and layout to accommodate a choice of teaching styles, including collaborative learning. All rooms have wireless connectivity, and configured for Panopto lecture capture. Technical support is provided by using the telephone in each room which autodials straight through to the ICT and AV technical support team.
More Information: Central Teaching Rooms
Information Services staff are involved in maintaining and enhancing the University telephone service and are currently in the last phase of a major project to move the University telephone service over to Voice over IP (VOIP), while also introducing new services and features like Voicemail, Caller line ID, and extension mobility. Mobile phones for university departments are also managed centrally by IS.
The Timetable Office is responsible for the preparation and delivery of the University’s academic timetable which can be accessed via students’ online records, the Aberystwyth University academic timetable online (firstname.lastname@example.org) and i-CAL. The Timetable Office also produces the University’s examination timetables, in consultation with academic departments and the Superintendent of Examinations, and provides a central room bookings service for academic and professional service departments and student societies. All of the University’s central teaching rooms are managed by the Timetable Office (http://www.aber.ac.uk/en/timetable/zones/), although a wider range of departmentally managed rooms, such as laboratories and rehearsal spaces, are also booked on the central timetabling software, Scientia Enterprise Timetabler/Syllabus Plus.
More Information: Timetabling
Training and Development
Introductory talks and tours are run for new students as soon as they arrive in Aberystwyth to familiarise them with the facilities available and how to access them. Information Services also provide a clinic service whereby we offer one-to-one help to all Aberystwyth University staff and students with questions using the facilities we provide, for example electronic resources, Blackboard, Microsoft Office or other software.
Academic Services librarians work with lecturers to embed information and digital literacy within the curriculum which includes teaching and producing supporting print and online resources. At a generic level Academic Services librarians in collaboration with Student Support and the Careers Service run a Study Practices Programme each Semester for undergraduate and postgraduate students.
Training sessions in the pedagogically-effective use of technology-enhanced learning are also offered to academic and other staff. These courses count towards fulfilment of the CPD requirement in the PGCert in Teaching in Higher Education. Bespoke training sessions for specific departments, as well as one-to-one consultations, can be arranged upon request. AberLearn Blackboard or other e-learning training for students by module or department can also be provided upon request.
More Information: Welcome Talks and Tours
Six videoconference facilities are available for learning, teaching and administrative conferencing; each facility is equipped with teaching aids including interactive whiteboards in two of the locations and document cameras in four of the locations. These studios allow high quality remote access via IP connectivity. ISDN connectivity is possible, but as all ISDN charges are paid by the customer, it is preferable to use IP connectivity when possible.
More Information: Videoconferencing
Information Services provides and maintains the servers that host the Aberystwyth University web pages. We provide support and training for staff using the University's Content Management System (Terminal Four SiteManager). We also develop web applications and provide advice on compliance issues. We provide support for the University SharePoint site and the University blogging service.
More Information: Web Services