New pathways to library support

laptop and plant on desk

The Library is making some changes to the way we support our students, researchers and staff. Scroll to the relevant heading below to find out more about what support you can access and how. 

Undergraduate & postgraduate by coursework students

  • You can get help when you need it through our Live Chat Service, including evenings and weekends during semester. Live Chat is accessible from any page on our website or via our app. Our team can also refer you to a librarian for live support between 10am – 5pm on weekdays during Semester. 
  • You can book into group research skills sessions that will be offered throughout the year.
  • You can get help researching for your assignments via our online training, or you can get more tailored guidance through our Subject Guides
  • The library will continue to work with your lecturers to ensure you have access to your reading materials, and to develop targeted support in some Canvas sites for core units of study.

See our Meet with a Librarian page for additional information. 

Researchers, postgraduate by research students, & honours students

In addition to requesting help through our Live Chat Service and using our self-help resources to develop your research skills, you can also access further support by:

  • sending queries to a team of dedicated librarians looking after your Faculty or University School
  • booking an appointment with a librarian
  • accessing a range of self-help resources on planning for strategic publishing & to measure the impact of your research

See our Meet with a Librarian page for key areas where we can provide advice.

Staff in University Portfolios and Professional Services Units

For general enquiries about borrowing or accessing resources you can request help through our Live Chat service.  For more complex support requests please contact the most appropriate member of our library leadership team for support.

Academic staff

Academic Liaison Librarians (ALLs) are now allocated client group responsibilities at the Faculty or University School level rather than the faculty school/department level. This means that you will be supported by a team of ALLs, rather than an individual. Within each team, ALLs have areas of specialisation across Education, Research, and Research Education, which means that depending on the area of your enquiry you may be supported by different ALLs.

Our Meet with a Librarian page will be updated with your team email contacts by the beginning of semester 2 2021.

To better support student learning outcomes, we have developed a new Tiered Service Model for Learning Experiences, which outlines how the Library supports information and digital literacy skills development within the curriculum. 

We will continue to support existing teaching commitments for Semester 2, 2021, before transitioning to our new model for Semester 1, 2022. The new model will provide higher quality, pedagogically-sound IDL programs and a broader range of self-help resources.

Feedback and questions

These changes will assist the Library to support students and researchers in a more sustainable and efficient way. We look forward to continuing to partner with you as we transition to our new ways of working. We are eager to manage this transition well, and we want to ensure that services to staff and students remain of high quality. We will also be conducting a post-implementation review at the end of Semester 2. If you have any questions or concerns, or if you would like to discuss this further, please don’t hesitate to contact Michael Arndell (Associate Director, Academic Services) at or Elizabeth Litting (Associate Director, Research Education) at

laptop and plant on desk

Be our guest on PeerPod!

PeerPod imagery of recording studio

About two years ago, the Library’s Peer Learning Advisor (PLA) team were looking for a new way to reach out to students and help enhance their student life. As current postgraduate students, they felt they had a wealth of knowledge and experience to share, which could be a useful guide for all students looking to understand and make the most of university life.

Their answer: PeerPod – a bi-monthly podcast series in which the PLAs discuss topics and issues related to student life and share their own stories, experiences and advice.

Since its creation, PeerPod has covered all kinds of subjects, from how to start semester and make new friends, to bouncing back after failing an exam. We’ve heard stories from PLAs and advice from experts, but this year we’d like to add something more. We want students of all levels to join us in the recording studio and share their voices, opinions and experiences!

Do you have a unique insight into student life? Some handy advice that you want to share? Maybe a suggestion for a topic you’d like us to cover?

Email us at and let us know what topic you’d like to talk about as a guest speaker, and why!

Check out PeerPod on our website or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Find out more about the Peer Learning Advisor team and how we can support you.

Overdue fines waived for the new year

Stack of books

To give you a fresh start in the new year, we’ll be waiving all overdue fines on Monday 11 January 2021.

To continue our support throughout the year, we’ll also be suspending overdue fines during 2021. From Monday 18 January 2021, we will no longer charge you for returning an overdue item. However, fines may still be charged on items borrowed from other institutions via Resource Sharing if they become overdue.

Read more about these changes to our fines and fees.

Help everyone get the most out of the Library by practising good library etiquette and always being considerate of others. When you borrow an item, please follow our updated borrowing terms and conditions so that everyone has access to our collections.

If you have any questions, please contact Mark Jamieson, Assistant Manager Site Services ( or Jeff Cruz, Associate Director Site Services (

Celebrating International Day of People with Disability

International Day of People with Disability logo
International Day of People with Disability logo

As the Library celebrates International Day of People with Disability (which is today!), we’d like to tell you about some easy steps anyone can take to contribute to a more accessible world. Here are our 5 top tips. If you’d like to add any of your own, feel free to comment below!

  1. Increase the accessibility of the videos you make for people who are deaf or hearing impaired, by including captions.
  2. When presenting, don’t rely on visuals from your slides: explain everything audibly.
  3. When creating documents, make them as accessible as possible by using informative text for descriptive images, and Word’s ‘Headings’ feature to produce consistent, hierarchical styles. For more tips on producing accessible documents, read this resource produced by the Victorian Government.
  4. Design webpages with all users in mind. For example, use “alt text” for text-reader compatibility (see instructions below), describe your links, and make your page usable without a mouse – that is, make all functionality available from a keyboard.
  5. Explore the various resources available to aid accessibility, from apps such as Be My Eyes, to the Library’s own Assistive Technology rooms, which contain specialist software and hardware for users registered with University Disability Support Services.

How to add alt text

Informative images must have alternative (alt) text applied. Alt text should be accurate, succinct and provide information that isn’t already provided in the surrounding text.

To apply alt text to images:

  • Right-click on your image, select “Format picture”, then click “Alt text”.
  • Add your description.

For decorative images, Word doesn’t provide the ability to enter a null alt attribute. Add ‘decorative’ as the alt text or a brief description, such as “image of a middle-aged man sitting on a park bench”.

Find out more

Learn more about the Library’s accessibility resources including our Assistive Technology rooms, a campus-wide access map, and links to the University’s Disability Support Services.

Assistive Technology lab screen magnifier

5 ways assistive tech can help you study

“Disability is a mismatched interaction between the features of a person’s body and the features of the environment in which they live”

— World Health Organization, World report on disability, 2011

Assistive technologies are tools to bridge this mismatch. Users unable to view information on a computer screen can use a screen reader to hear the content. Users with hearing impairment can read subtitles instead of relying on audio content in a video.

Assistive technologies like these have been made possible by significant advances in technology over the last century and have been instrumental in increasing equitability of inclusion, independence and access to information for people with disability. Consider that 70 years ago, the only way to access news was in a newspaper. A person unable to read the paper because of a vision impairment would be reliant on other people for this information.

Today, news can be accessed via a multitude of platforms using different tools to convey the information audibly, visually or even through touch, using assistive technology. Furthermore, these technological advances to support individuals with disability also improve accessibility across the board – offering more flexibility for everyone to access information and perform tasks in a variety of ways that suit their needs, abilities and preferences.

Person speaking to laptop with text on screen

Have a lot to write? Try dictation

You can use dictation to write without a keyboard – particularly useful for people with a motor impairment or injury who find it hard to use a keyboard. Just say out loud what you need written down and your computer or phone can transcribe it for you. 
Learn more about dictation on Microsoft Word

Laptop with smiling face and speech bubble

Tired of looking at screens? Try a screen reader

You can use a screen reader to listen to written digital content – it’s like an audiobook for your phone or computer. Screen readers are developed for people with a vision impairment or blindness to navigate and access digital information. They can also be really useful if you’ve got a lot to read or you’re just tired of looking at a screen (especially now we’re all spending a lot more time online).
Learn more about VoiceOver on Mac
Learn more about Narrator on Windows

Television with subtitles

Can’t find your headphones? Try subtitles

You can use subtitles to watch a video without sound. Though subtitles were developed for people with a hearing impairment, they’re also great if there’s too much background noise or you’re viewing TV late at night. Watching videos with subtitles as well as audio is also a good way to improve your English language skills and better remember the content you’re watching (Fletcher & Tobias, 2005).
Learn more about subtitles on Netflix
Learn more about subtitles on YouTube

Want to be more efficient? Try keyboard shortcuts

Anything that can be done on your computer with a mouse can also be done with a keyboard. This isn’t just useful for people with a motor impairment who are unable to use a mouse; keyboard shortcuts can help everyone use a computer more efficiently. For example, tapping Ctrl/Cmd+C is much quicker than moving your mouse to the Edit menu, clicking Edit and then Copy. Copy and paste is just the beginning of the keyboard shortcuts that can save you time!
Learn more about keyboard shortcuts on Google Chrome
Learn more about keyboard shortcuts on Microsoft Office

Phone in the sun with screen glare

Sun glare on your screen? Try high contrast mode or larger text

You can use high contrast mode or enlarge the text on your phone to be more visible when you’re out in the sun. These options were developed to enable people with low vision to read. High contrast mode changes the colour of text to suit the user, for example black text on a white background can be changed to yellow text on a black background.
Learn more about text display setting on iPhone
Learn more about text display setting on Android 

Disability Inclusion Week at Sydney is 21–25 September 2020
Find out more about Disability Services at Sydney

Fletcher, J., & Tobias, S. (2005). The Multimedia Principle. In R. Mayer (Ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of Multimedia Learning (Cambridge Handbooks in Psychology, pp. 117-134). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

World report on disability. (2011). World Health Organization.

Jump Into Semester 2 With Our Online Study Tips Sessions 

desk with laptop

Calling all students keen on making a strong start to Semester 2, and who want to get motivated for online study, now! Calling all students who want to tackle stress, improve their personal organisation skills, and build a strong social network at uni! 

And…calling all academics and university staff who want to help their students start the semester on the front-foot: with healthy online study habits, a firm foundation of personal resilience, and the skills and confidence to tackle stress, and thoughtfully organise their time and their study routine! 

Your University Library is teaming up with the University’s Student Life portfolio, and Student Support Services, to present a series of Online Study Tips workshops. This innovative, cross-university collaboration will strengthen the virtual (and on-campus) student experience of new, returning and International Students.

Each session will be full of hints and tips to ensure participants get the most out of online study, and will be delivered twice weekly in a casual, conversational online environment. And best of all, they’re hosted by our experienced team of student peers, who – as currently enrolled University of Sydney students- have a wealth of practical knowledge about healthy study routines, and navigating the often-challenging world of university.

These sessions will also give students with English as a second or other language a perfect opportunity to practice their English in a casual, non-judgmental environment. 

 Topics covered include:  

  • Getting your study space ready for online study   
  • Managing stress and motivation   
  • Understanding Canvas   
  • Navigating your online classroom   
  • Organising your digital life

We know the last 6 months have radically changed the way we all study, learn and work, so these sessions are for all students, including new and returning students, International students, or anyone wanting a bit of support developing healthy study-from-home/online learning skills.   

To book, simply go to this page, scroll down and find the next Online Study Tips session (or sessions – you can attend more than one!) and register online. Academics and University staff – please pass this notice on to any students you think could benefit from it. 

We can’t wait to see you – or your students – there!  

desk with laptop