My very own X Factor winner…


After my admission last year that I happen to absolutely love the X Factor, we’re at the point when once again it’s all over for another year. Last year, I talked about electronic resources with the ‘X Factor’: resources that we might highlight to be of use in certain areas. This year, I thought I’d talk about my very own favourite resource of 2013, my resource with the X Factor.

Those of you who have read the ‘About’ section of this blog will know that your Electronic Resources Librarian is a little obsessed with all things musical, with singing in particular being one of my very favourite things to do (and before anyone asks, no, I won’t be auditioning for X Factor 2014). I’m a soprano with Bury Choral Society, a choral group that can trace its origins back 175 years. Back in May, I was asked by one of my choral colleagues if I could ‘write a few words’ on the history of the choir for publication in Manchester Sounds, the Journal of the Manchester Musical Heritage Trust. ‘A few words’ was actually to be a scholarly article of between 5,000 and 8,000 words, and being rather rusty in my musicology skills, a brief panic soon gave way to a short period of highly enjoyable research. I had a few bits from various choir members including some lovely personal memories, and the knowledge that there was some stuff lurking in the archives at Bury Central Library, but it wasn’t enough to do an article of sufficient length or suitability: there’s nothing worse than reading a scholarly article that reads simply as a narrative of events.

Mercifully, as a member of staff here at the University of Bolton, I have access to ProQuest Central and one of the most exciting discoveries was that ProQuest Central includes access to British Periodicals, a full-text database of journals from as far back as the 1700s. I did various searches around my topic, not even daring to think I might  be able to get hold of some material specific to Bury Choral Society. However, one Saturday night (yes, I am truly that sad!) at home I did a search for my choir, and had more results that I could have hoped for. I widened my search to include the names of previous incarnations of the choir and again, suddenly I had information. Lots of it. When I was able to visit the archives, I could contextualise a lot of material that was held with the information I had from British Periodicals, and it didn’t take me long at all to put together the basis of an article. I was very happy with the end result, as was the editor of the journal.

So my X Factor winner for 2013 is British Periodicals via ProQuest Central. Why? Because it gave me access to journals that are no longer available in hard copy or if they are, are located in libraries I simply do not have the time to visit, or in the case anything held at Manchester Central Library, which is still closed for major refurbishment. I could do my research at the weekend, in the evening, any time to suit me. Being available via the ProQuest platform meant that the material was easy to search, that searches were easy to modify, and that the material presented was easy to read. One sometimes thinks of electronic resources as being used for recent material, but this is changing, and providing older material electronically is becoming increasingly important.

If you had to pick a winner this year, what would you resource with the X Factor be? Our statistics would suggest that ProQuest Central as whole would probably be a contender. If you’re a health student, perhaps you would vote for CINAHL, which is even more useful now that the numbers of users that can access it at any one time has been increased to allow unlimited access. Maybe you would choose Scopus for in-depth bibliographic searches. Or is there a wildcard? Or something you think that is missing?

As for my verdict on last night’s X Factor winner, you’ll have to guess!



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