STUDENTS at Edge Hill College of Higher Education now have access to a new electronic learning resource.

The institution’s Information and Media Services department has purchased a collection of electronic books, which can be accessed by registered users via the Internet.

The collection is currently predominantly aimed at health and education students, but there are plans to extend it to cover other subject areas.

Leo Appleton, Learning Support Advisor (Health), has been responsible for bringing together the new collection. It has been purchased from specialist company NetLibrary.

He said: “Health seemed an ideal subject base, with Edge Hill’s health students being taught at sites in Aintree, Ormskirk and Stockport, and requiring access to remote resources while on clinical placements.

“Apart from titles for our nursing, midwifery and operating department practitioner students, around 40 titles have been added for students on the Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Clinical Practice programme. This course, aimed at medical consultants who teach as part of their jobs, is delivered by distance learning so the NetLibrary resources will be particularly useful.”

As in a real library, electronic books in NetLibrary can only be “taken out” – that is, read on a computer screen – by one person at a time.

But Leo said there were several advantages to the online system. “As with electronic journals, every word in an electronic book is indexed so the user can search for specific phrases and find relevant parts of the text easily,” he said.

“It is also possible to search the entire collection using keywords, so you can find books mentioning the subject you are interested in quickly and easily.”

The electronic books can be “taken out” by registered users for up to 24 hours at a time, but many loans are expected to be much shorter as the information can be accessed so quickly.

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Leo said: “We have been doing a lot of evaluation of the service, with School of Health Studies staff and groups of students, and the feedback has been very positive. We can see that it is starting to be used more and more by students. It is a really useful resource.”

The service, which was officially launched with a drop-in session at the Library and Information Resource Centre at Aintree, has been warmly welcomed by School of Health Studies staff.

Jim Gorman, Senior Lecturer, said: “Clearly, as the number of books increases, this will be a very valuable resource. The books are always there and the search facility offers great potential for staff and students alike, both on and off campus.”

Peggy Nettleton, Curriculum Advisor, Social and Behavioural Sciences, said: “NetLibrary is a tremendous new resource that will enhance access to health and education related texts, particularly in a climate of increased demand for resources and time constraints both for students and staff.

“In particular, with the focus on increasing the students’ abilities on self-directed learning, I feel that this provision will further enhance the students’ capacity in independent learning.”