Have you tried Balabolka?

Balabolka is a free programme for Windows that will convert text to speech. It can read aloud text copied from websites, word documents and PDFs, and can create MP3 files so you can listen on the go. balabolka

For guidance on using Balabolka, we have a detailed guidance PDF, and you can watch this short demonstration video.

You can download and install on your own Windows computer for free, with no adverts, from here.

Free, high quality Scottish voices “Stuart” and “Heather” are also available to download from here. You will be asked to complete your details before you can download them – make sure you give you Heriot-Watt email address.

For more information about software available to you as a student, visit the Information Services Software webpages and the Assistive Technology webpages.


Well done new HWU graduands!

graduation dayCongratulations to all of our students who are graduating this autumn in ceremonies held in the UK (14th & 15th November), Dubai (27th & 28th November), Malaysia (3rd December) and Moscow (13th October).

We hope you enjoy your ceremony and have an excellent time with your family and friends.

If you are leaving us remember that you can continue to use our library services as an alumnus – see Borrowing from HWU libraries for more information (look under Who can join HWU library).

With our very best wishes for a happy and successful future.

Study tips for successful revision: Study Buddies & Study Groups

studygroupIt’s week 8 already – a good time to find a study buddy or join a study group and start early with exam preparation. If you haven’t found the right study group start your own.   Agree a regular time to meet and book one of our Group Study Rooms (Edinburgh campus) or check out the other study spaces across your campus and decide where to meet.

Research shows that studying and revising with a study buddy or with a group really boosts retention and more importantly your understanding of a topic or concept. Test each other. Past exam papers are a good source of practice questions – if you can’t find them on Vision ask your lecturer if they can make some available.   Within the study group take turns to explain the concept/idea or the workings of a problem or formulae – everyone benefits, especially the student doing the explaining!

Don’t miss the exam survival sessions in November

This National Stress Awareness day – some reminders about how we can help as the semester moves into course work hand in time and then exams.

The NSS highlights exams are one of the top reasons for stressed students – so don’t miss the Exam Survival Guide and How to Manage Exam Stress Power Hours later this month – each session is full of useful tips and  techniques to help you survive and succeed in your exams.


And remember – if you are feeling stressed you don’t need to cope alone – there’s lots of support available across HWU e.g. Health and Wellbeing, Academic Study SkillsChaplaincy – so get in touch – we’re here to help.

New Student Quiz winners 2017

We have had an excellent response to our new student quiz in Vision with a total of 836 students taking part and a total of 165 all correct entries.

  • Dubai: 184 entries; 31 all correct
  • Edinburgh: 491 entries; 85 all correct
  • Malaysia: 121 entries; 39 all correct
  • Orkney: 10 entries; 6 all correct
  • SBC: 30 entries; 4 all correct

The prize winners – selected at random from the all correct answers – have collected their prizes of gift vouchers for local cinemas, food outlets etc.

Dubai Campus
Winners were James Mathew, Ibrahim Qureshi and Rakesh Rai

Edinburgh Campus
Winners were Elie Younes (PG/EPS), Toni Baird (UG/EGIS) and Megan Ongley (UG/MACS)

Toni Baird, UG, EGIS

Malaysia Campus
Winners were Xiu Jui Woo, Rubini Vijayasuriar and Mohamad Aminuddun

Orkney Campus
Winners were Jack Sheehy (PG/EGIS) and Stuart Bevan (PG/EGIS)


Scottish Borders Campus
Winners were Maeve Kilcullen (UG/TEX),  India Gill (UG/TEX) and Amy MacKenzie (UG/TEX)


Maeve receiving her voucher from Jamie McIntyre, Campus Library Manager

We hope you found it a bit of fun, but also a useful introduction to the services and support offered by Information Services – and to Vision itself.

Thank you to everyone that took part.

Get Safe Online Week 2017

Get Safe Online week starts today in the UK.  The key theme this year is phishing – and how to reduce the chances of getting caught.

National Stats reveal that

  • Younger people are more likely to be victims of phishing than older people:
    • 11 per cent of 18-24 year olds have been a victim of phishing
    • 5 per cent of 55+ year olds have been a victim of phishing
  • This is despite the fact that older people are more likely to be targeted:
    • 36 per cent of 18-24 year olds have been targeted by phishing, but have not fallen victim to it
    • 47 per cent of 55+ year olds have been targeted by phishing, but have not fallen victim to it
  • This indicates younger people are less savvy when it comes to phishing than older people

Visit Get Safe Online for more info and advice.


Libraries Week – Discover something new online

As Libraries Week draws to a close, we wanted to remind you that we’re more than just a Building. As well as the Academic Support and Liaison Librarians and our other Services and Resources staff, the Library provides you with access to a range of resources for your study and research. Many of these resources are available online.

Last year we spent £1.6 million on books, journals and databases – here’s three ways you can easily access them, and maybe discover something new:


As well as searching for physical books and journaldiscovery_logo_2017s, our search tool Discovery searches over 90 databases to provide direct access to thousands of articles. It can be accessed from the Find Resources page or directly at https://discovery.hw.ac.uk


Our Find Resources pagealso has a number of guides to help you use Discovery to find what you need, whether you’re looking for a specific book or article, or searching on a particular topic.

Subject Guides

Our Academic Support and Liaison Librarians have constructed guides on every subject to help you find the most relevant resources. The Subject Guides also have a lot of other information on Literature Search, Citing and Referencing, and more. They can found from the IS Guides web page.

A-Z Database List

The A-Z Database list, available from the top of Discovery, is a list of all the resources we have. We always recommend searching individual databases as well as Discovery, especially as over 120 of our databases are not included in Discovery. You can filter the list of resources by subject as well as whether or not they are included in Discovery.

As well as academic databases, this list also includes Cite Them Right, an online guide to Harvard Referencing, and Skills 4 Study Campus, the online course in study skills based on The Study Skills Handbook by Stella Cottrell.

And finally…

Information Services also facilitates access to a range of other software for you, which you can get for free as a Heriot-Watt student. More information can be found on the Software page.

EndNote is a reference management program that allows you to store all of your references in one place and generate lists of formated references, or directly insert citations into your Microsoft Word document. Whilst EndNote is desktop based a


nd only available on Information Services managed PCs, there is a web based version called EndNote Online, which can be accessed from anywhere. For more information, see our Software Guides and Tutorials page.





Help and Support


There are lots of ways you can get help and support using our resources. You can contact the Academic Support and Liaison Librarians at LibHelp@hw.ac.uk, check out the IS Guides page or attend a Power Hour. Slides and handouts from our Power Hours are also available on Vision under the ‘My Organisations’ section.








Libraries Week – Meet your Librarians

Each School has a dedicated Librarian, available to help all staff and students with their teaching, research and study needs.

Your Academic Support and Liaison Librarian can help with all aspects of information gathering – providing advice on locating, searching and accessing resources for your subject, as well as help with evaluating the information you find and citing and reference your sources correctly.

They are happy to help both individuals and classes, so get in touch directly to make an appointment, or to arrange a skills development session for your class (staff).

Two of our Academic Support and Liaison Librarians based at the Edinburgh Campus, Candace Guite and Rachel Whittington, have also joined the Effective Learning Service. They can help with writing, time management and other study skills support.

You can contact us with enquiries at LibHelp@hw.ac.uk  or SBCLibHelp@hw.ac.uk (Scottish Borders Campus students)

Effective Learning Service
(Tue-Fri Evenings)


Candace Guite

Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society


Sarah Kelly

Engineering and Physical Sciences;
International Centre for Island Technology

Kirsty Thomson 

Mathematical and Computer Sciences; Effective Learning Service

Rachel Whittington

Social Sciences;
Edinburgh Business School


Marion Kennedy 

Textiles and Design
(Based at Scottish Borders Campus)

Jamie McIntyre



Learning Commons 2 – now open!

Following yet another busy summer of redevelopment work Learning Commons 2 was officially opened by Principal Richard Williams on 6th October. This £800,000 investment further improves the variety and quality of study spaces across the Edinburgh campus.


Professor Richard Williams and Director of Information Services Kathy McCabe enjoy a tour of Learning Commons 2

Located in Building 18 (also still known as the Post Graduate Centre), Learning Commons 2 occupies all of the top and part of the 3rd floor, and offers a mix of collaborative and silent study areas with 3 bookable group study rooms, a silent study room (available from November), 15 PCs, an MFD and an office where IS staff will offer help at advertised times.

The space improves and extends the variety and number of student study spaces that we have across campus – complementing the very popular Learning Commons 1 (opened last autumn) and the newly refurbished James Watt Centre.

Learning Commons 2 will be open from 8am to 10pm, Monday to Friday with Learning Commons 1 open from 6 am – midnight everyday, and the library open 24/7 during semester.

See Opening Hours for details

Work has now started on the Cameron Smail Library – a 2 year project that will transform the current library into a modern, flexible and comfortable environment for everyone.

We hope that you enjoy Learning Commons 2.  If you have any comments on the space please let us know – either in person at one of our service desks or by using our feedback form.

Workshop Cancelled: Endnote Online, 13 October 2017

Unfortunately the following workshop has had to be cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances:

13 October 2017
Endnote Online
13:15 to 14:15

Apologies for any inconvenience caused.