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Reading Lists: a Practical Guide



Frequently asked questions


Browse the categories below to find answers to frequently asked questions. If you have a specific query, use the search box at the top of the page.
If you can't see your question listed, use the contact details at the bottom of the page to get in touch with us.

Jump to: Creating a list | Adding items | Using tags | Managing lists and items | Collaborating | Using the Reading Lists system | Library support | Accessibility | List rollover

Creating a list

How do I add Reading Lists to the VLE?

When you’re creating a reading list, the first thing you need to do is access your module site in the VLE and locate the reading list link on the main dashboard on the VLE. Underneath the reading list link, it should say that it is visible to students.

If the list is not visible to students then:

You will need to click on the drop down menu under the reading lists title, that says ‘Hidden from students’ and change it to ‘Visible to students’. Your students will then be able to access the reading list.

If you cannot see a reading list link at all on the main VLE page, you will need to add the reading list tool link to your VLE page.To do this:

  • You will need to go to the left hand side menu on your module VLE page and navigate down to the ‘Books & Tools’ section and then click on the ‘view course & institution tools’ link, which you will find directly underneath the ‘Books & Tools’ section.
  • Once you have clicked this, a menu will appear on the right hand side of the page, you will simply need to click on the plus (+) sign next to the Reading lists box.
  • Once you have done this, it will appear at the bottom of the VLE page. You will then need to drag the reading list box to where you would like the reading list link to sit.
  • To drag it, you simply need to hover over the reading list box and 6 dots will appear on the left hand side of that box. You will need to click on those dots and drag the box around to where you want it.
  • When you have dragged the reading list link to where you would like it, you just need to change the status from ‘Hidden from students’ to ‘visible to students’.
  • Then you can click into the reading list link and then begin creating your reading list.
  • I don't have a module site in the VLE. What should I do?

    If you don't have a module site in the VLE please get in touch with the VLE team who can get it set up for you. There may also be a colleague in your department with responsibility for setting up VLE module sites each year.

    When I make a new list, is it visible to students straight away?

    No, brand new lists are in draft mode and you will need to select publish to make them visible to students.

    If you have sent us the list via the online submission form then we will make it published once we have finished working on it.

    How do I associate a Reading List with a specific module?

    When creating a new list you will first be asked to give your list a name and select a template. Once you are in your list, you should see a prompt at the top of your list to associate the list to a particular module:

    • Click Associate List and type in the module name or Yorkshare course ID (beginning Y20XX-) to view a list of matching modules
    • Amend the module dates and student numbers (if required) then click 'Associate and close'

    You can remove the module association, or associate your list with a different module, by clicking the list options icon (⋯) in the top right corner, then clicking Manage module association.

    Note: You cannot associate a list with more than one module. If you wish to have the same list on two different modules you will need to create a copy of the list.

    How do I publish my list?

    Click on the Publish button at the top of the screen. The following options will appear:

    • Module students, i.e. anyone enrolled on your module. This is the default and recommended option.
    • All students at the institution, i.e. anyone studying at York. This might be useful for students considering module choices for their next academic year.
    • Anyone, i.e. publicly visible. Select this if you would like anyone to be able to access your list, for example by sharing a permalink. Remember that access to Library eresources and digitised reading will be restricted to University of York users only.

    Tip: You can unpublish your list if you no longer want it to be visible to students. Just click on the list options menu (...) choose Unpublish.

    Adding items

    How do I add items to my Reading List from YorSearch?

    You can do this from within YorSearch or the Reading Lists system.

      From YorSearch:

    • Having found the item details in YorSearch, click on 'Reading List' in the 'Send To' options, and follow the instructions.

      From Reading Lists:

    • Click on the + icon in the top-right corner of your list open the search box in the right hand panel
    • Try to add as many details as you can to the search box e.g. title, author surname or year of publication

    More information about using YorSearch can be found on our YorSearch help pages. If the library has different editions in stock, then these can be viewed and added by clicking Additional versions available. Select the item you want. You can then add it to a list (you can select which section from the drop down menu) or add it to your bag, which allows you to save a number of references and then add them to a section of the list.

    What is the Cite it! tool and how do I access it?

    Cite It! is a bookmarklet tool, and is the easiest way to add items from the web to your list. To install the bookmarklet tool:

    • Click on 'User Menu' in the top right corner of the Reading Lists screen and select Cite It!
    • Follow the instructions to drag and drop the Cite It! bookmarklet into your bookmarks/favourites bar
    • You'll then see it appear in your bookmarks bar

    Note: For user authentication purposes, Cite It! works best when you also have the Reading Lists system open in another browser tab.

    How do I add items to my list using the Cite It! bookmarking tool?

    You can use the Cite It! bookmarklet to add items to your lists whilst browsing the web, including items that are not in the Library catalogue that you'd like to recommend for purchase. For example, if you search for books via a publisher's site or Amazon, or if you are searching for articles on Web of Science or JSTOR.

    • When you are on the item details or article abstract page, click the Cite It! bookmarklet to open the 'Add this to my list' box
    • If the item is already in the Library catalogue then there will be a green flag with the message 'Covered by your library'
    • We recommend that you review the item information for accuracy and make any changes to the details if needed.
    • Select a list and section from the drop-down menu and click 'Add It' to import the item details to your list. You can also add items to your Collection from here.

    Note: Cite It! may only copy full item details from supported sites. A current list of supported sites can be viewed by going into Reading Lists, clicking on your name in the top right corner, and selecting Cite It!.

    How can I add references to my Reading List from EndNote, Paperpile or another reference manager?

    You can only do this in individual sections of the list. Your references will need to be in an RIS file format.

    • Click on the options menu for the target section (...)
    • Select Import and then upload your RIS file

    Your citations will be imported into the selected section. It's worth spending a couple of minutes checking the references and making sure that the information is correctly formatted.

    I prefer my students to find reading independently. Can I use the Reading Lists system to alert the Library to text needs without making these visible to the students?

    Yes you can, by hiding the Reading List from the students' view. The best way to do this is to publish the list, then hide the Reading List link in the left hand menu on the module's VLE site. To do this, in the VLE module, next to the 'Reading Lists' link on the left hand menu, click on the little arrow and select 'Hide Link' to hide it from students. Module instructors can still see this link so they can access the Reading List for making edits when they need the Library to scan something, or to order a book, for example.

    How do I link an ebook and a print edition if they aren't on the same record in YorSearch?

    When you edit an item, look for the 'Other Editions' section in the right-hand menu. Here you can link to the citation to the print or electronic version. If the other editions don't appear, add a library discussion note with your preference and we will add it for you.

    What is Kortext and how can I get digital textbooks via it for my module?

    If you have any questions about Kortext, contact your Faculty Librarians.

    Can I include YouTube videos in my reading lists?

    We would suggest caution before including YouTube content in your VLE area or in Reading Lists. Amongst other reasons are the issues of firewalls in some countries, for example in China, making access to this content difficult for some students outside the U.K.

    The Library provides access to Box of Broadcasts, which offers an extensive archive and allows you to record and embed programmes from over 65 channels. It is not, however, available to users outside the UK.

    How can I test if links/resources/content/videos will work in other countries e.g. China?

    Whilst we cannot validate them, there are some free sites which provide test url services which you can consider using e.g.

    Can I create permalinks from items on my reading list to paste elsewhere?

    Yes you can. Click on the three dots next to the item you want to link to, then click on 'Create a shareable link' and then 'Copy to clipboard'. Note that only students who can access the list will be able to access the item on the link.

    Using tags

    How do I tag items?

    To tag an item, select the 'add tags to item' option and select the required tags.

    Cropped screenshot of a book chapter record in a Reading List, with the 'Add tags' button outlined Cropped screenshot of a book chapter record in a Reading List, showing the list of tags that can be added, with Alternative Format Request (SSP) highlighted

    What happens if I don't tag an item on a list?

    If the title is not already in stock then a member of the Reading Lists team will be in touch to find out if it is Essential, Recommended or Background.

    Will the library purchase items tagged as 'Background'?

    We will not automatically purchase background items unless they are requested by students through our purchase suggestion form.

    What happens to my public notes and tags during the rollover process?

    They will remain in the new list. You can edit them in the new list if you need to make any changes e.g. switch items from essential to recommended.

    Managing lists and items

    How do I add a section to my Reading List?

    Use the button marked ‘new section’ towards the top of the page to add in a section. You will need to add a title to the section and there is also room to add a description if you wish. Then click on create.

    Cropped screenshot of the dialog box to add a new section to a Reading List. The dialog box contains fields for a title and description.

    How do I move a section in my Reading List?

    First, use the the Expand/collapse list sections button in the top toolbar to collapse the sections. You can then hover over the section you want to move and a blue handle should appear on the right-hand side which can be used to click and drag. The blue handle also has an up and down arrow to move the section up or down one place in the list.

    Cropped screenshot showing the collapsed section titled 'week 2', with arrows on the right hand side to move the section up and down or drag.

    How can I duplicate an existing list?

    From the My Lists page you can duplicate your existing lists by clicking on the options icon (⋯) and then select Duplicate list.

    Cropped screenshot of the Reading Lists option menu with the duplicate list option highlighted  

    This will create a copy of the list (in draft status) which can be assigned to another module if required.

    Can I hide list sections from student view?

    Yes, you can hide sections and display them only for a specific time period. Click on on the options (⋯) menu within the section in question and select 'Edit section'. Enter the dates you want the section to be available, and make sure the 'Section visible only during these dates' checkboxs ticked. Remember to save the changes.

    Cropped screenshot showing the 'edit section' options. The title and description fields are populated, as well as the 'from' and 'to' date fields. The 'section visible only during these dates' checkbox is checked

    Can I hide items from student view?

    Yes, depending on what you want to hide. Where an item has both physical and electronic availability, to manage which type of material the students can see, click to open the full citation for an item and either use the slider button to hide the physical copy of the book, or manage which electronic versions are visible by clicking on the three dots next to the "View online" link.

    To remove an entire citation from view you either need to delete it completely, or click on "Copy to my collection" from the three dots next to the citation title. The citation can be retrieved later by going into the Collection tab on the left hand side.

    Can I change the order of items in my Reading List?

    Yes, you can drag and drop individual items to move them to different locations on your list.

    You can also reorder items in all sections of your list alphabetically by title or author.This cannot be undone. Click on the Reading List options menu in the top right-hand corner. Select 'Order citations in all sections' and choose which re-ordering option you wish to use. Note that it will apply to all sections of the list.

    Cropped screenshot showing reading list menu. The 'order citations in all sections' option is highlighted with four options to order citations by title or author, ascending or descending

    How do I delete items or sections from a Reading List?

    To delete an item from your list, click on the options menu (⋯) on the right-hand side of the item and then select 'Delete item'.

    Note: You can do the same with list sections, but all items within the section will also be deleted.

    How do I turn off the student discussion feature?

    To turn off the student discussion feature:

    • Click on the Reading List options menu (...)
    • Select Configure list discussions
    • Select Hide student discussion thread
    Cropped screenshot showing the Reading Lists option menu. The configure list discussions option is highlighted, with the high student discussion option beneath

    You can test that it's no longer visible by using Reading List's student preview mode.

    How do I manage multiple lists for one module?

    The default order in which students see multiple reading lists for one module is alphabetical, so if the lists are titled by week number, for example, they will appear in the correct order for students.

    To change the order that the lists appear for your own view when you are working in the system, click on the sort options at the top of the list, where it says 'My lists on top' and choose one of the options.

    How do I merge multiple lists together?

    If you only have a couple of short lists associated with your module you may wish to merge them yourself:

    • Create a new list - this will become the one main list for your module
    • Work through your separate lists one a time and copy over the lists section by section into the new list. You can do this by clicking on the three dots next to each section heading and choosing 'Copy section', and then choosing which list to copy it into. You can change the section heading at the same time as copying it over.
    • You might find it easier to copy everything into the new list first, and then go into the new list to amend section headings, move sections and items around, etc.
    • Remember to delete your old separate lists when you have finished copying them into the new list.
    • Once you're happy with the new list you will need to associate it with the relevant VLE module.

    If you have a large number of lists we can merge them into one for you. Please get in touch with for help with this.

    Collaborating and permissions

    How do I give other colleagues access to edit my lists?

    If you want to allow other people to be able to edit your reading list you can add them as a Collaborator. There are two options available:

    • Editor - can edit the list, but cannot delete the list or add other collaborators.
    • Manager - can add other collaborators to the list, edit and delete items, or delete the entire list.

    To add collaborators:

    • In the Collaborators panel on the right-hand side, click on Manage collaborators
    • Enter the name or email address of the colleagues you’d like to add as collaborators
    • Click on Send Invitation. This will send an email to your colleague notifying them that they can now edit this list
    • By default, the privilege level for collaborators will be set to Editor. To change this to Manager, click on Manage collaborators in the Collaborators tab and change the privilege level of your colleagues using the drop down menu next to their name.

    When I share my list with other colleagues as collaborators, is there any way to prevent them from making further changes?

    Any reading list manager can lock a reading list to prevent it from being edited by other collaborators. To lock the list, select Lock in the reading list menu and click OK.

    A locked list cannot be edited by anyone, except for library staff or the list manager. All options for editing the list disappear from the action menus, and items cannot be rearranged.

    The following actions can be performed on a locked list:

    • Add or edit the private note to a citation
    • Like or mark a citation as read
    • Add a comment to the citation
    • Copy the citation to My Collection
    • Export or print the reading list, section, or citation
    • Copy the permalink of the reading list, section, or citation

    Only the person who locked the list (not the other managers), or library staff, can unlock the list.

    I am taking over a module this year; how do I get editing rights?

    Other list editors should be able to give you editing rights. You can also email with the information about which lists you need access to and we will sort that for you.

    How can I remove myself as a collaborator from a Reading List?

    Do not delete the list otherwise you will delete it for everyone - you need to remove yourself as a collaborator.

    • On the right hand side of the page select Manage Collaborators
    • You can remove yourself by clicking on the cross next to your name

    If you're on a large number of lists we can help you with the process of removing yourself from them. Please get in touch with

    Using the Reading Lists system

    Why should I use Reading Lists?

    Reading Lists is an interactive system that allows you to build lists for students, and to manage, edit and update them all in one place. Reading Lists is available via the VLE and it allows students to click straight through to the YorSearch record, journal article, e-book, or other material.

    Reading Lists also enables the Library to quickly and easily check lists and make sure that items are available for students. It is also the way to let us know what reading to provide for a student with a print-impairment.

    How do I use my Collection?

    "My Collection" is your personal area on the Reading Lists system to store references. We recommend using your Collection to gather together items from the Library catalogue or the web to use in your lists.

    • Click on Collection on the left hand menu to view saved items. These will display in order of date added, but can be searched and sorted by title or author.
    • Click on the + (Add Items) to search the Library catalogue for items to save in your Collection. You can also add items to your Collection from Cite It! by selecting Collection (instead of choosing one of your lists) and clicking Add It.
    • You can also create your own tags for items in your Collection, which you can use for filtering or searching. Please note that these tags are private to you, and will not be displayed when items are moved into a reading list.
    • Click on the item to view details, availability, or to add a Private note. Click on the item options menu (⋯) to add the citation as a Suggestion to a list or to Delete from collection.
    • When you are editing a list, you can add items from your Collection by clicking Open Collection. This opens your list of items in a pane on the right hand side of the screen, which you can sort or search accordingly. You can click and drag items from here directly into your list.

    How do I use Reading Lists' student preview mode?

    Click on the Reading list options menu (...) in the top right-hand corner of your list and select 'View list as a student'.

    When you are finished, click on the cross on the blue 'Student view mode' banner at the bottom of the screen to return to your normal view.

    Note: There is a separate student preview mode in the VLE which doesn't work for Reading Lists; you need to use Reading Lists' own preview option.

    I am getting an 'illegal institution' message. what should I do?

    If you see an 'Illegal Institution' message, it likely involves your browser not storing third-party cookies. We apologise for any inconvenience caused by this. Please look at our troubleshooting instructions to help solve this issue.

    Can I export my lists eg. to word or a reference manager?

    Yes. Click on the Reading Lists option menu (...) in Lists or from within a list, then select 'Export'.

    Several file formats are available:

    • 'To Word' exports the list in .doc format and offers users a choice of bibliographic styles
    • 'To PDF' exports the list in .pdf format
    • 'To Excel' exports the list in .xls format
    • 'To RIS file' exports the list in .ris format, which can be imported to another list or reference manager software (see Adding items from your reference manager).
    • 'To .lgn file' is for users who wish to recreate their Leganto lists at another institution

    You can also print lists from the Reading List options menu.

    I had a list on EARL. Where is it?

    EARL was the previous reading lists system used at York until 2017. Library staff still have access to the last 10 years of EARL lists - if you would like us to move an old list into the new system then please contact with as much information as possible e.g. module title and code.

    I have a Reading List from a previous institution I worked at. Can I migrate this to the York system?

    If you are joining the University from an institution that uses the same Reading Lists software as York (Ex Libris Leganto) then it is possible to migrate lists using the .lgn format:

    • Download your original list by selecting the menu button and then export in the .lgn file format
    • In the York Reading List system, select New List and choose the Import option below the description box
    • Upload your .lgn file

    It is also useful to think about if there are any tags you need to add and if you want to make use of things like the Digitisation Service.

    What happens to my old lists?

    Old lists will still be attached to last year’s module but you won’t be able to edit them anymore. This means that they will still be available for anyone with access to the module which is in line with the VLE module archiving policy.

    What has happened to older lists? I can't find the one I'm looking for.

    We have access to the last 10 years of lists, including lists that were in EARL. If you are expecting to see something and it isn't there, please contact with as much information as possible e.g. module title and module code or the VLE code.

    Library support

    Is there a Reading Lists policy?

    The Library's Reading List Policy aims to improve access to materials on your reading lists for students, and to simplify processes for academic staff.

    The key factors which contribute to a positive student experience are:

    • Reading list quality and consistency
    • Student understanding of what is required of them
    • Readings available when students need them
    • Readings accessible to all students on a module

    Reading lists are most helpful to students if they are:

    • Realistic: so that students can access everything on their list there must be sufficient copies of items and appropriate loan periods, and resources should be available in digital form wherever possible
    • Accurate: so that students can find the correct resource, including correct editions
    • Prioritised: so that students understand what they are expected to read and the Library understands what it needs to provide
    • Clear: so that students understand which resources are relevant to which parts of the module
    • Up-to-date: so that students are working with your latest information
    • Timely: so that the Library has time to acquire and make available the required resources

    Additionally, we have created some Reading List Guidelines, included below, which provide more information on the rationale and practical implementation of the Policy:

    Reading Lists Policy

    Reading Lists Guidelines

    How do I arrange a departmental workshop or refresher session on Reading Lists?

    If you would like one-to-one training on how to use Reading Lists, contact the reading lists team via

    If you would like a departmental workshop, get in touch with your Faculty Librarians who will arrange this with you.

    How do I tell you which chapters or pages need digitising?

    Click Add tags to item (or the pencil icon) and choose Digitisation Request from the list of tags. Note that this tag will not be visible to students and will be removed by the Library when the request is complete.

    You can edit the citation details to specify Type: Book chapter. This will provide additional fields for the chapter name, number, author and page range.

    You can provide extra information regarding your request using the Library Discussion box in the right hand panel:

    Further information about digitisation is provided on the Digitisation page.

    How do you monitor demand of reading materials?

    The Library will monitor the number of loans, requests and bookings for items added to lists. We may purchase additional e-books or physical copies if demand is sufficient, or if items are tagged Essential.

    Your Faculty Librarians can provide advice on the most effective actions to ensure students can access resources that are in high demand.

    I've found out last minute that I need to sort out the Reading List; how quickly can you help me set this up?

    We understand that sometimes you aren’t able to give us much notice. Where possible, please structure your reading list by week so that we can prioritise any new purchases or digitisation requests. We aim to make digitised reading available one week in advance of teaching and we will do our best to try and ensure this. If your reading list isn’t structured by week you could use a Library Discussion note to let us know when the item will be needed.

    I have questions about copyright, who do I need to speak to?

    Take a look at our Copyright Guide to see if your questions are answered there. If not, contact your Faculty Librarians.

    I have some queries about the VLE and my department doesn't use Yorkshare, who should I contact?

    If your department uses Canvas, Moodle or some other VLE the best thing to do is contact your e-learning support or departmental administrative team in the first instance.


    What options are there in Reading Lists to adjust the font and contrast settings?

    You can view accessibility options in Reading Lists by clicking on your initials or profile picture in the top-right corner, then select Accessibility Menu. From here you can adjust the font size and site contrast to improve list visibility.

    How do I tell you which chapters or pages need digitising?

    Click Add tags to item (or the pencil icon) and choose Digitisation Request from the list of tags. Note that this tag will not be visible to students and will be removed by the Library when the request is complete.

    You can edit the citation details to specify Type: Book chapter. This will provide additional fields for the chapter name, number, author and page range.

    You can provide extra information regarding your request using the Library Discussion box in the right hand panel:

    User Menu > Library discussion feature

    Further information about digitisation is provided on the digitisation section of this guide.

    I have already specific a chapter or pages needed in the citation; do I need to tell you again about this?

    No, as long as you have included all your request information in the citation details and applied the Digitisation Request tag then there's no need to contact the Library separately about your request.

    I have a student taking one of my modules who has either a print impairment or another condition that impacts their reading. How do I ensure they have accessible version of required course reading?

    Students may require their reading to be digitised or provided in an alternative format which works with their preferred assistive software. If you are aware of a student taking your module with such requirements then you can use the Alternative Format Request (SSP) tag to request items for them. The Library will then send files to the student directly in their preferred format. More information about this is available on our Reading Lists accessibility page.

    I'm recommending reading for print-impaired students; are there any copyright restrictions I need to be aware of?

    The Library will deal with any copyright issues; the usual extent limits do not generally apply as we can digitise an entire book for print-impaired students.

    What other services do you offer students with a disability?

    Please see accessibility information page for more information about our services for students and staff with a disability.

    I've got a PDF of the reading I can share with the students, or there's an ebook available in the library. Why do I still need to tag an item as 'Alternative Format Request (SSP)' to let you know?

    Not all ebook formats are fully-accessible for all types of assistive software, so we need to check that the file is in an appropriate format. More information is available on our Accessibility page.

    List rollover

    When does rollover take place and which lists get rolled over?

    Rollover normally follows the VLE rollover in the summer vacation. We will advertise specific dates nearer the time.

    We automatically rollover any list that has run in the current academic year and that is set to 'published'. If your list falls outside of these criteria e.g. module only runs every two years, then get in touch to let us know about your list and we will ensure it is rolled-over for the next academic year.

    The exception to this are HYMS reading lists which do not rollover.

    My Reading List has digitised chapters and articles. Do I need to do anything with them at the start of the next year?

    No. If we’ve digitised items for you they will remain available in your new list for students to use.

    What happens to my public notes and tags during the rollover process?

    They will remain in the new list. You can edit them in the new list if you need to make any changes e.g. switch items from essential to recommended.

    My students have used the student discussion feature. Will the discussion remain there after rollover?

    No, this won't be copied over into the new list.