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University of York Library
Library Subject Guides

Reading Lists: a Practical Guide





The Library can digitise (scan) extracts, chapters and articles added to Reading Lists under the terms of our CLA (Copyright Licencing Agency) HE Licence.
For questions about alternative format requests for students with a print impairment, please see the Accessibility page.


We ensure that scans are copyright-compliant and securely stored. The scans will be linked to your lists and can be downloaded by staff and students associated with the module for which it was requested. Material is scanned in high quality PDF format with OCR (optical character recognition) and full colour images as standard. We endeavour to make all scans available in advance of the date for which they are required. In order to do this, we prioritise requests so that those needed soonest are completed first.

Jump to: What can I ask for | Place a request | Material outside the licence | Getting Help | FAQs

1 What can I ask for

The CLA HE Licence sets a limit on the proportion of a published work which can be scanned for any given module (whichever is greater):

  • 1 complete chapter from a book, or 10% of the total pages
  • 1 article or 10% of the total pages from a journal issue or set of conference proceedings
  • 1 story/poem (max. 10 pages) or 10% of the total pages from an anthology

If the Library does not stock the source material then we can often purchase a digital copy of the extract required from the British Library with copyright clearance to share with students. 

We do not usually process digitisation requests for works which are already available through the catalogue in an electronic format (e.g. an ebook or ejournal).

Note: The York Minster Library and National Railway Museum collections do not come under the scope of our CLA Licence. Please check to see if an alternative copy is in stock at the JB Morrell Library, Harry Fairhurst Building, Raymond Burton Library or King's Manor Library before submitting your request.

2 Place a request

It is easy to place a digitisation request. Click 'Add tags to item' (or the pencil icon) and choose 'Digitisation Request'. This tag will not be visible to students.

Please also ensure that the page range, chapter or article title is provided in the item details. You can send further details of your request by leaving a note in the Library discussion thread:

Cropped screenshot showing how information about digitisation requests, such as page range, can be added as a comment in the library discussion thread when creating a reading list. The message shown added here reads Please scan the end notes.

Tip: if you want to digitise a chapter in addition to recommending a whole book you may wish to have two separate entries on your reading list so that it is clear to students that there are both recommendations.

When your request has been processed the Library will create a link to download the PDF scan. This will appear as a View Online link below each item. Students can click and download their reading instantly. Scans will have a copyright notice attached as the first page which outlines the terms of usage:

Cropped screenshot showing an example cover sheet of the copyright notice that accompanies digitised text created by the library for teaching

Note: Links to scans can only be shared with staff and students associated with the specified module. Scan PDFs should not be uploaded elsewhere or sent as email attachments.

3 Digitising material excluded from the CLA licence

Although most UK and major international publishers have an agreement in place with the CLA, there are some titles and publishers who are not covered by the HE Licence. The Library will look at other options to fulfil requests under legal exceptions for educational use, and can also approach the rightsholder directly for special permission to digitise a work.

We cannot guarantee that requests for excluded material will be made available in time for teaching as we often have to wait for rightsholders to respond. Clearance fees may also be charged based on the number of students on the module or the length of the requested extract. The Library will manage these charges, but we cannot fulfil the request if the fee is prohibitive. 

4 Getting help

The Reading Lists team can provide advice and support on the following:

  • Updates on the progress of individual requests.
  • Guidance on complying with the CLA licence.
  • Help with finding alternative solutions when digitisation is not possible.

Please email the team at

Tip: We also have a Practical Guide for further information on copyright.