Courtesy of Dr. Emma Coonan, Information Skills Librarian at University of East Anglia (via the lively LISLINK forum) the adventurously titled ‘how to read 20 books (or thereabouts) in an hour’ is a gem for those students on a mind-blowingly tight deadline. The technique she uses used was just selective skimming – directing attention at key parts of the text (abstract, introduction, conclusion, headings, figures, first line of each paragraph) and not allowing oneself to get drawn in to reading continuously. She stresses to students that as well as allowing them to understand the work very quickly, it also enables them to check the consistency of the argumentative structure, see if it all hangs together, and make a preliminary evaluation of the work based on its relevance and quality. Students would then be in a position to decide whether they wanted to scan through any sections in greater detail, or even go back and read the whole thing – or whether they had enough information about the purpose of the work and could reassign it to the ‘done’ pile! The presentation slides and the handout are CC licensed and available from

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