About goldsmithslibraryblog

Official Goldsmiths library blog.

What’s it like to work at Goldsmiths Library? 

Ellen Haggar, who is currently studying for an MA in Library and Information Studies student at UCL, spent two weeks with us at the end of April to gain work experience in an academic library. This is Ellen’s account of her time here: 

“What kind of library do you want to work in?” This is always the question other librarians ask me upon learning that I study Library and Information Studies. To be honest, I still don’t have a clear answer. I usually reply with, “Oh, I’m open to anything!” Uninspiring, but true. Some people on my course know exactly what they want to do after they finish – work in a special collection or a law library. I’ve only ever worked in a public library, and so I wanted to use my two week placement to try out something new.

I’ve always had the idea in the back of my mind that it would be interesting to be a subject librarian – to combine my BA in English and Creative Writing with my library qualification, and help students studying English Literature. So when UCL placed me at Goldsmiths, I was excited to see the day to day working life of a subject librarian.

The first day was like the first day of any new job, crammed with introductions, tours, health and safety and shadowing various people. I was instantly struck by the impressive facilities, and the bustling yet relaxed atmosphere of the ground floor, which is a social study space. Everyone I met was interested in my course and happy to help. The first day provided me with an overview of the library and the Reader Services team, who are responsible for the help desk, stock circulation and user experience. As part of the Reception Team in my previous job, being on the help desk is something I really enjoy and have experience of, and definitely something I miss. The rest of my placement would be full of new experiences with the subject librarian team.

Goldsmiths currently have a team of four subject librarians, each responsible for a number of subjects. I think my favourite part of the placement was seeing how the librarians engage with students. A significant chunk of their time is dedicated to leading workshops on academic skills such as referencing, a subject that could be very dry, but is critical to success at university, and so the librarian’s knowledge and genuine desire to help shines through, leaving the students feeling more confident in their abilities. Something else that struck me about Goldsmiths Library was the enthusiasm for getting students involved. Each year the library runs a Library Student Rep Programme, which gives students practical experience working in a library, as well as the opportunity to purchase books for their course. I attended the debrief meeting in which the students gave their feedback – they all seemed to really enjoy and value the experience. I thought it was a brilliant idea and definitely something I would have done back at university – I was quite jealous!

Another aspect I found really valuable was looking at budgets and usage statistics. As someone who endured secondary school maths with a constant headache, I never thought I would admit that statistics and budgets would be interesting. But it is definitely something I need to get my head around for the future. I was given a mini-project looking at the usage and value for money of an e-resource – it was really valuable experience and helped me to think more about library budgets and getting the best out of resources. Tip – learn to love spreadsheets and graphs!

So, what kind of library do I want to work in? Certainly, subject librarianship still calls to me, and I am so glad I’ve had the opportunity to see a subject librarian team at work. But any role where I can help the library user, and feel like I’ve made a difference, surrounded by lovely colleagues is the perfect role for me.

 

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Up close and personal with an exhibition:

As a history student, I have always been fascinated by exhibitions. Learning about the topic of the exhibition is quite remarkable. When I was asked to help with one at my placement, I jumped at the chance.

The exhibition I helped for was on the Balkans. Preparation for it took up two of my daysexhibition_1.png at the placement. Firstly, I had to do a bit of research on the Balkans. If I did not know anything about the Balkans, how was I supposed to find sources for the exhibition? Once that was all sorted out, I looked through the special collections and library catalogues to find sources. In order to keep track of the sources I found, I made a table. These tasks marked my first day working on the exhibition. The next day was a lot more varied. I was moving around, which was a nice change from having my fingers glued to the keyboard. I had to physically collect the sources; most of which were luckily in Special collections. The exception were 2 vinyls from the vinyl collection in the library. I spent about an hour trying to find the vinyl collection, only to find one was not available. I actually checked their availability on the catalogue before I went, just in case anyone was wondering. This part was right up my street: I had to analyse the sources to see if they were suitable. I kept most of the sources, apart from a few books and letters. The letters were very difficult to decipher — rich coming from me with my handwriting. When I eventually did decipher them, I found them to be irrelevant. Was it a waste of time deciphering them in the first place? Maybe, but if the source turned out to be detrimental to the exhibition, I would have slated myself for being so lazy.

exhibition_2Setting up the exhibition was the highlight of my day. It was a lot harder than I first anticipated. Getting the books to stay on the pages I wanted them to required a lot of DIY on my behalf. I eventually figured out the solution: making a stand out of foam blocks, binding together the blocks and book and then taping them together. I was pretty impressed with my efforts. They were not on the same level as many other exhibitions I have been to, but ju st being able to help with an exhibition was so enjoyable. I tried my best to present the items in an organised and creative way. The images of Balkans dancers were my favourite source. The women resembled dolls and I could hear the instruments, probably because I listened to Balkans music the day before. The other sources used were books on Balkans textiles, a CD and the vinyls mentioned earlier.

If asked to help at an exhibition again, I definitely would. It teaches you a lot about how to be selective and creative. When you see the joy the exhibition brings to people, it makes all of the work that goes into it 100% worth it.

 

This blog was written by Danielle, a history at work student, who completed her placement at Goldsmiths Special Collections.

 

Passion for fashion?

Clothing. What comes to mind when you hear that word? Basic necessity? Maybe my livelihood? Everyone has their own view on the matter. The one thing that is certain about clothing is that it is a hot topic. Visiting the textiles collection at Goldsmiths made this more apparent.

The Textiles collection is housed in Deptford Town Hall, which I think is a pretty good match. Nothing but beauty surrounded me upon entering the collection. Fabrics, fashiontop guides and clothing filled the archives. I was blown away by the phenomenal attention to detail that went into the clothing available. The stitching was great, and the prints were stunning. I am particularly in love with embroidered garments, and there were so many. There was one outfit; it looked almost tribal in design. It was beautiful. The embroidery was so elaborate. I wonder if anyone else wanted to wear the outfit — I certainly did. The price of similar clothing in shops can have a maximum price range of well into the thousands. Why should self-expression come with such a high cost? It is because the 21st century likes to associate itself with being very fashion forward.

laceA lot of the prints in the collection are making a resurgence into fashion today. Some never even left — plaid and lace for example. Elegance is the word I would use to link together all of the old fabrics. Would I use that word today? Maybe not as much. I commend people who take risks, but some risks are just too much. I am a firm advocate of body confidence, but what is up with those see-through jeans? You might as well wear only your underwear, especially since they are not cheap. If your see-through jeans are your favourite clothing item, then good on you. Each to their own.

The one downside of the clothing in the collection was the limited options available for skirtwomen in England, predominantly in the 19th century. They all dressed in similar coloured and styled clothes: suede skirt suits with crisp white shirts. There was no real sense of individuality — more a sense of professionalism. That is the biggest change from the 19th century to now. Clothes are more powerful as instruments of our identity. They reflect what we stand for. I wish there was a compromise between the two generations: individuality, decent prices and informed fashion choices.

The Textiles collection taught me a lot about the importance of clothing, and moreover, the shift in the use of clothing from the 19th century to now.

 

This blog was written by Danielle, a history at work student, who completed her placement at Goldsmiths Special Collections.

 

Avtar’s referencing tips

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Avtar Natt joined the Library Subject Librarian Team in October of last year from the University of Bedfordshire. He looks after Anthropology, Media and Communications, Politics and Sociology. In this blog post he draws on his wealth of experience as a librarian working in Higher Education to offer some referencing guidance.

 

Referencing – With a looming deadline – What do I do?!

We’re at the time of year where assessments and dissertations are due. On top, you all have to factor in ‘life’ so that can mean work commitments, a personal life and the upcoming World Cup. Meeting deadline upon deadline means that the little bits (such as storing all references) get overlooked and stressfully recovered in the last minute. Many times I had those AAARGH moments; being hours away from a deadline, having written all of my citations but not even started the referencing. Never fear, it’s all recoverable and with little stress. So much so that I provide the following advice:

Know your referencing scheme and be consistent

You can check places like the course handbook or the library pages at Goldsmiths to know what scheme you need to use. If you are doing units from several departments, double-check what scheme your departments require. Inconsistency sticks out like a sore thumb and please don’t forget to do a CTRL+F search of a bracket ( and double check all citations in the text. Are they all in your references list?

If quoting/paraphrasing, include the pages in your notes

Referencing is enough of a pain in the neck without having to check the pages you got a quote from after the fact. You may think you have cracked it when you come across something in Google Books (when the physical copy is on loan) but make sure you have the right edition. Corroboration is your objective. Nothing else.

It’s okay to be a technophobe.

If you don’t want any technological assistance, you need to make sure you keep paper records. Shoe boxes are great places to archive your materials and the print outs of journal articles and weblinks need to include where they are from. When it comes to a bunch of pages from a book that you stapled together, write down the reference or at worst the ISBN of the book and pages used.

Common referencing errors

Omitting the pages of a journal article, mistaking an editor of a book with the author of a book chapter and not including the edition of a book come to mind. When it comes to weblinks, make sure you include the date you accessed these things (and if in a rush make it the date of the deadline).

The more diverse the source, the more time it takes.

The classic referencing schemes were created for print materials. Managing digital sources is fiddlier as you need to include more information detailing where you got the information. There are also visual sources and performances. If this is what you are coming across, look for an authoritative referencing guide (and read on).

Don’t just Google it and beware false prophets

All universities like to tweak their own version of Harvard, so using the guide from another university means that you inherit their quirks. Also be mindful that a guide might be easily accessible but also be out of date. A personal bug bear is students thinking the solutions they find on the Internet can do everything. They don’t. Generally they work best for established referencing schemes and for conventional academic materials. Goldsmiths (like other university libraries) look after their own first.

You have never had it so easy with Zotero and the magic wand!

As a library we push Zotero (rather, we do lots of training sessions in how to use it). It’s free and easy to use if you are prepared to make the commitment. It’s also super speedy to recover your references when they are books or journal articles. All you need to do is type in the ISBN or DOI where there you see the magic wand icon.

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With all of the references you cited stored in Zotero, you can then produce a references list. It is imperative that you go into your Preferences, select Cite and select the appropriate scheme for your assignment. I’d remove the schemes Zotero thinks you need and make the most of ‘Get additional styles’. For those using Harvard, make sure you select ‘Cite Them Right 10th edition – Harvard’. 

You can also drag and drop PDF’s of journal articles and it will recover all of the information or give you the option to do so:

Can Zotero really let you cite while you write? 

Yes, it can do that too (plus lots of other fancy things) but when in a rush, focus more on getting things right rather than learning too many things. If you want to know more, the library regularly do sessions and you can always ask them. They are happy to support.

We also have information on referencing and Zotero on Enhancing Academic Skills Online

You call that art?

 

Art is subjective, but what isn’t? There are multiple artistic styles: realism, impressionism, abstraction, to name a few. Different people have a personal connection to the style, or styles, that appeal to them the most.

I am not an art connoisseur. I know what you are thinking; I knew the names of different artistic styles so I must be. A quick Google search can turn any amateur into a professional. I have always had a deep appreciation of art. I am in awe of people that have a flair for art, since I cannot even draw 2 circles that are the same size. Everyone has their own way of expressing themselves, and art is a way for others to appreciate that self-expression. In a lot of ways, images can illustrate more than words. They can implicitly address certain issues, and are open to interpretation. Words are used so often and without thought that they lose meaning. Images are not always easy to decipher — there lies their beauty, but also their downfall.

I know that art is so vast, but some pieces of art make me question how selective art should be. If I was confident enough and had contacts, I am sure I could blag my way in getting some of my work into the Tate. Take Anthony Hill’s “Diagonal Composition,” on the left, for example — yes, it is aesthetAnthonyically pleasing. However, on a serious note, could they not have found anything better to display on their website? I could have drawn his piece, and that says a lot. I am sure a backlash of angry fans of Hill are waiting to attack me, but that is my view. For me, realism is my favourite style. I like when you can identify what is happening in an image fairly quickly. The fact that subjects of realism were predominantly from the lower and working classes appeals to me even more. When I look at realist art, I am truly dumbfounded by how incredible the artist is. I can compare the image to its counterpart in real life to see how life-like the image is. HopperEdward Hopper’s “Nighthawks”, on the right, is one of the most iconic realist paintings. Looking at it, I feel like I am standing on the street looking into the bar. I can imagine the smell of gin lingering in the air. It is a scene that we would often encounter on a regular basis in reality. The painting is pretty simplistic, but makes viewers think. Why is one man sitting alone? Who are the couple? Are they even in a bar? We may never know the answers to these questions. However, that is art. It can excite and baffle you at the same time.

Sometimes it is so easy to discredit creative subjects, since we are constantly told they are “soft” and won’t get us anywhere in life. I fell into that trap in the past. Being at Goldsmiths, a university which strives on creativity, it is hard to ignore the beauty and relevance of art. Art does not have a correct answer. Does that mean it is of less importance than biology? Certainly not!

We should not be afraid to excel in what we are good at. Whether it is mathematics, history or art. Everything that we do will contribute to society, so it should not matter what we study or appreciate. Since you are at Goldsmiths, why not take the time to explore the artistic talent on offer. With alumni including Damien Hirst and Antony Gormley, it would be a shame not to.

 

This blog post was written by Danielle, a history at work student, who completed a placement at Goldsmiths Special Collections.

So you want to be a cataloguer?

When I think of cataloguing, the first thing that springs to mind is Argos. I used to go there so many times as a toddler, watching my dad navigate through the pages quickly to buy me masses of toys. Toys I got bored of playing with after a day. I never thought about how catalogues were created at that time; neither did my dad. To be fair, I was 6 and my dad was in a rush.

Getting to help catalogue the Women’s Revolutions per minute collection has provided me with a crash course in cataloguing. The Women’s Revolutions per minute collection is essentially a collection of music composed, produced and performed by women. If you have time, you should definitely visit Goldsmiths Special Collections to check it out.

Moving swiftly on, the system I use to catalogue with is called CALM. I find that pretty ironic as using it makes you anything but calm. As many people who have catalogued before know, it is not the most stimulating job. It is pretty straightforward — especially since I have catalogued for the majority of my time at my placement. One of the biggest positives of cataloguing lies within its simplicity. After a long day of extensive researching and writing, it is a nice break. I have learnt that if you want to be a successful cataloguer, you have to follow three steps. Number one: get into a steady rhythm. Once you get the hang of cataloguing, you should be able to catalogue fairly quickly. Having a steady pace will also help to build up momentum, meaning you can catalogue more entries. Number two is make sure you fill out fields accurately. When you are in a rush to catalogue as fast as you can, it is easy to make errors. I know that feeling all too well. My cataloguing task at the placement revolves around me changing the field artist to creator, and choosing the option item from a drop down list. After I while, I would get complacent and accidentally add the wrong field or delete a field. The panic added a new lease of life to me, and I managed to correct my errors. So, lesson of the day is do not think you are too good for any task. Even if a task is easy, it does not mean you get to be complacent. The final step is take breaks after a prolonged period of cataloguing. Yes, take breaks. It is often so easy to get lost in the process that you forget to stop for air. As everyone already knows, staring at screens all day is not a good idea. A break away from a task is never a bad thing — it means you will be more alert after your breaks, rather than having to be peeled off of a table from exhaustion.

I have a great appreciation for cataloguers: cataloguing is time- consuming. So whenever you are looking through a catalogue and moan because you cannot find an item, think about how a cataloguer would feel when making that catalogue.

 

This blog was written by Danielle, a history at work student, who completed her placement at Goldsmiths Special Collections.

Witness the wonders of the Women’s Art Library:

The Women’s Art Library at Goldsmiths is brimming with amazing material. I have been fortunate enough to browse through the archive material on several occasions. Moreover, the library has been involved with a host of prestigious events. Take for instance the PILLOWTALK exhibition at Tate Modern. The exhibition focused around pillows, engraved with images that reflected the experiences and histories of women in South London. The main aim of the exhibition was to celebrate the historic milestone of women (only those over 30 and who met a property qualification) getting the vote in February 1918, as well as the achievements of women artists. To be able to host an exhibit at Tate Modern to me spells success. I felt a part of the exhibit, even if I did just shoddily place labels on some books used in the event.

The Women’s Art Library is a place where you can get lost for hours in the pages of magazines and artists’ slides. I am particularly enamoured by magazines from the company Spare Rib. Why is it called that you ask? Don’t worry, you were not the only one to think that. At first, I thought why would a women’s magazine company name themselves after a Chinese dish? After a bit of digging, I realised the title is fitting for the magazine after all. It was originally used as a joke, referring to the Bible. Eve was formed from the rib of Adam, and so it would be assumed that women were inferior to men. The title stuck as it perfectly reflected what the magazine company was all about:Susie reversing this stereotype. You really have to read some of the magazines- they are beyond empowering. For more information about Spare Rib, please click on the link attached: https://www.bl.uk/spare-rib. Many of the topics broached are so relevant to today. One interview that really drew me in was called: Fat is a feminist issue by Susie Orbach. Susie, co-founder of the Women’s Therapy Centre in London, was a compulsive eater. She describes the unfair reality of being fat; being ordered to lose weight by going on every diet under the sun. She also links fat to power. I never would have thought that fat could represent strength, assertion and health until I read her interview. She also stated that you had to look beyond a person’s weight to uncover who they truly are. She argues that fat is commonly used by women as a means of bringing their intelligence to the forefront, instead of their beauty. Many people who lose weight said they felt like a doll, constantly drooled over by herds of men. Why must women try to hide away their physical attractiveness to be taken seriously in the work place? One has to wonder, can’t being self-indulgent be a way of showing you love your body? Restricting yourself to certain foods is just for an artificially constructed image.

SkinnyFeminism is about far more than just physical appearance. It is not as simple to define as many would like to believe. Does feminism mean equality between the sexes, or superiority of women over men? There are internal debates on every topic under the umbrella of feminism. What must a women do to be a feminist? Some would argue that having a family equals a bad feminist. They are letting their family take precedence over their career and life goals. What about if a women’s life goal is to have a family, and since when did having a family mean you were giving up your career? womanThe other side of the argument links infertility to being flawed as a woman. We need to see women as more than just mothers and objects, or feminism really is not for all women after all. The thought-provoking moments that I get every time I visit the Women’s Art Library are insane. It is true that we never really stop to think about topics unless we are exposed to them frequently.

Please visit the Women’s Art Library. Bury your head in the wealth of journals, smell the glorious aroma of history and make it a visit YOU won’t forget.

 

The blog above is written by Danielle, a history at work student, who completed a placement with Goldsmiths Special Collections.

Libraries Week, October 2017

Libraries Week: 9-14 October, 2017

Libraries Week brings together a UK wide network of libraries from all sectors to showcase the diversity of activities and services on offer. Goldsmiths Library is planning an exciting and varied programme of events.

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Special Collections and Archives Open House

10th October : 10am – 5pm

Discover and handle material from our collections, including archives, artist books and documentation, textiles, rare books, scores and ephemera. Open to all, drop in.

Location: Special Collections & Archives reading room (Goldsmiths Library, Rutherford Building, Lewisham Way, New Cross)


An Interactive Fairytale Adventure for Under 5’s and their Carers. 

11th October : 2.15pm, Deptford Lounge

A special collaboration between Goldsmiths Library and Deptford Lounge

15.30 Babies-IMG_1778www.bubblesphoto.co.uk

Join Becky, her cello and her ukulele, on her travels through a fairytale land, inspired by the School Practice Collection in Goldsmiths Library. We’ll be going on an interactive fairytale adventure, bringing storybook characters to life with songs and live instrumental music.

Location: Deptford Lounge 9 Giffin St, Deptford SE8 4RJ


File Under Female (Exhibition and publication) 

12 October – 3 November

Part of the culmination of artist Bella Milroy’s residency at the Women’s Art Library.

Open to all, drop in.

Location: Kingsway Corridor, Richard Hoggart Building, Goldsmiths, University of London, Lewisham Way, New Cross.


Opening reception for artist Bella Milroy’s exhibition File Under Female.

14 October: 1pm – 5pm

Open to all, drop in.

Location: Room 142, Richard Hoggart Building and Kingsway Corridor, Goldsmiths, New Cross.


Communing, collapsing, collaging, continuing… An introduction to book art
13th October: 6 – 8pm
Workshop run by artist, Sarah Kelley

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How does a book move from one life toward another? In this workshop you can explore the book as an artistic ally and look at how we might receive from them without necessarily needing to read them. We’ll go on to find some inspiration in order to communicate back – using a variety of simple collage and book alteration techniques. You’ll leave with some new ideas and a piece of book art in progress, to continue and develop in your own time.

Please book through Facebook to attend or email a.sinclair@gold.ac.uk


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Summer Library Workshops

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The Library is offering a series of Summer workshops which any Goldsmiths student can attend.

If you would like to get a head start on finding literature for your dissertation, next assignment or project, if you want to learn to manage your references more effectively, or if you just want a refresher on using Library resources, sign up for a session using the library calendar:

http://libcal.gold.ac.uk

We are running and repeating three sessions:

1. Finding Resources: Social Sciences

This session will focus on finding resources, including peer-reviewed journal articles, for your research and other academic assignments. The session will cover skills applicable to a wide range of disciplines, with a focus on social science resources databases such as PsycInfo, Sociological Abstracts, and JSTOR.

We will cover:

  • Search techniques
  • Finding journal articles
  • Identifying research articles/empirical studies

2. Referencing and Zotero

A refresher workshop on referencing with a focus on Zotero, which is free, online referencing software that is particularly useful for organising references for a longer assignment, project or dissertation.

We will cover:

  • Learning some basic principles of referencing and why it is important
  • Learning about different referencing styles
  • Creating an account with Zotero
  • Learning how to create an online library of references with Zotero
  • Learning how to add citations and bibliographies in seconds with Zotero

3. Finding Resources: Arts & Humanities

This session will focus on finding resources for your research and other academic assignments. The session will cover skills applicable to a wide range of students, with a focus on arts and humanities databases such as Art Source, Literature Online and JSTOR.

We will cover:

  • Search techniques
  • Finding journal articles
  • Specialist databases

 

 

 

 

Open Access Button and Unpaywall

There are few more frustrating things for researchers than finding a fantastic piece of research and then being shut out of reading it by a paywall. If your university library doesn’t subscribe to that particular journal, you might just give up, assuming you can’t get access.

However, there are a couple of tools out there that might be able to help you get free, legal access to paywalled articles.

Open Access Button is a free, open source tool that can be used online via the website or as a browser extension for Chrome or Firefox. If you’re online, just enter an article URL, DOI, PMID ID, Title or Citation.

OA Button 1

If the article is available, you’ll be provided a link to where it can be accessed (often an institutional repository):

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Alternatively, if you’ve downloaded the extension for Chrome or Firefox, just visit the article page on the journal’s website and click the OA button in your browser – OA Button 3

For example, the article below is not part of Goldsmiths’ subscriptions, therefore would theoretically need to be purchased to be read:

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Clicking on the Open Access Button shows its availability elsewhere:

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Unpaywall is a newly launched browser extension developed by Impactstory, a service that provides altmetrics to researchers, helping them measure and share the impacts of research outputs – not just traditional forms of publications such as journal articles, but also datasets and blog posts – where measuring impact has always been trickier.

The browser extension can be downloaded for Chrome and Firefox and allows you to find free, full text versions of articles, where they exist, with one click.

Below is another article that we would not have access to via Goldsmiths:

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Look to the right and you’ll see a green circle with an unlocked padlock – click on this to be directed to the free, full text version:

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LSE Impact Blog recently ran a piece on Unpaywall and its objectives, but it also provides a brief overview of the tools that are available to unlock research. For example, if you search on PubMed, there’s a LinkOut option, which finds copies of articles in institutional repositories. Recent articles in Nature and The Chronicle of Higher Education also highlight the benefits and successes of these tools. So next time you find an article and you’re being asked for extortionate sums of money for access, try Open Access Button or Unpaywall.