Scientific library for everyone: Tips for listening to e-resources

Are you bored of reading e-resources such as e-books or articles? Is it hard to concentrate on reading from a screen, or do your eyes get tired? In such situations, listening to texts can be helpful, and fortunately, there are many tools available for doing that. Check out this blog post for easy tips on listening to e-resources, compiled by Oulu University Library.
A young woman is listening with headphones and holding a mobile device.

Audiobooks are more popular than ever, and for many people, listening to a book feels more effortless than reading it. Listening to a text – instead of, or alongside reading – can help those struggling with concentration or reading difficulties. But while fiction is increasingly being published as audiobooks, that is not usually the case with scientific books. Accessibility Library Celia offers audiobooks for people with reading difficulties, but for listening to articles or other e-materials, no such aid is available. Fortunately, there are now several e-resource listening tools that anyone can use.

However, what are those tools, and where can you find the suitable ones? Oulu University Library has prepared guidance videos on the most common listening tools that you can use with e-books, articles, or websites, so that different options would be easily accessible.

Listening tools in databases and e-book services

Some databases and e-book services have integrated listening tools. For example, in Ebsco or ProQuest, you can listen to whole text articles within the database, and in ClinicalKey, there is a built-in feature for listening to e-books. Ellibs e-books can be downloaded to Thorium Reader that has a built-in listening function of its own.

Listening tools in web browsers

Every commonly used web browser usually comes with at least some form of listening tool included or available for installation. If you use Chrome or Firefox, you can download the Read Aloud extension, and in Safari, you can use the Speech tool. Edge uses the Read aloud tool by default, which allows you to listen to either the basic view of the webpage or the Immersive Reader’s facilitated view.

Customizing the reading view

Reading can be facilitated by making visual edits to the reading view, which can be done in several e-book readers such as Thorium Reader or ClinicalKey, as well as in Immersive Reader, a feature included in Microsoft Edge browser. The readers usually make it possible for you to adjust text settings such as font size, line spacing, or text background color. Edge’s Immersive Reader simplifies the web page by default, focusing on the part of the text you intend to read. Trimming out unnecessary links and sidebars can make it much easier to concentrate. The Immersive Reader also allows you to adjust the focus by choosing the number of lines in view at a time.

Problems and challenges

Although there is now a wide range of options available for listening to e-resources, it is not always possible to listen to every piece of content. If you feel like you keep hitting a wall when trying to listen to a particular piece of content, it could be worth giving a different listening tool a try, or even changing your browser.

Testing various options will eventually show you which functions are best suited for making your reading task easier. However, you don’t have to go through trial and error alone – check out the library's guide Accessibility of e-resources for more detailed advice and guidance videos on how to use listening functions.

Minttu Luomala
Senior Information Specialist
Oulu University Library

In this new series of blog posts Scientific Library for everyone, we discuss issues related to accessibility in the Oulu University Library. We will also provide tips to help everyone make the most of the library in the most efficient and comfortable way possible. Read the first part of the series: Accessibility in the Oulu University Library facilities