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Reading Lists: a Practical Guide



Decolonising and diversifying Reading Lists toolkit


The aim of this toolkit is to provide guidance and ideas to help course leaders diversify and decolonise the teaching curriculum and ensure that Reading Lists represent our diverse student body. In addition, this page demonstrates the range of resources available to students so that they can suggest items to be added to their lists.

This toolkit supports the Library's Collections Development and Management Policy, which states that:

"We are committed to developing inclusive collections that reflect the richness of thought, ideas and experience from across our diverse and global community of users."

If you have any suggestions of appropriate resources or information to be added to these pages please get in touch using or via your Faculty Librarians.


Jump to: How diverse are my Lists | Other institutions | Find inspiration | Our diversity-related collections |

1 How diverse are my Reading Lists?

Use this checklist to evaluate how diverse your Reading Lists are.

  • Does your Reading List represent a range of voices, narratives and perspectives?
  • What are the dominant voices, narratives and perspectives? Are any excluded?
  • Are the texts on your Reading List Eurocentric or Western-centric?
  • Is the author's identity or background relevant in the context of the subject?
  • Are there opportunities to include a more diverse range of authors on your Reading List?
  • Who is talking about whose culture or experience?
  • Consider the place of publication; does this reflect the themes being present in the text?
  • What is the language of the text? Is it a translation or in its original languange?

Our Reading List checklist was inspired by the work of other university libraries including University of the Arts London, University College London and University of Huddersfield.

2 See what other institutions have done

The University of Huddersfield Library have done some brilliant work on diversifying their reading lists. Their Reading List Toolkit page has loads of information that can help to guide you to places of interest. 

The University of Kent maintain a curated padlet of decolonised reading lists from various institutions covering a wide range of subjects.

The University of East Anglia have used Zotero to make a publicly accessible bibliography about decolonising the curriculum.

3 Find inspiration

Take a look at some of these resources, which will hopefully inspire you to find material to diversify your reading list.

  • Our list of diverse publishers will help you look beyond the standard academic publishers to find academic materials by BAME authors. 
  • We have put together a number of reading lists relating to various equality, diversity and inclusivity themes on our Your Library, Your Voice page. You can add any of the titles to your Collection in the Reading Lists system so that you can use them in your own lists. To do this:
  1. open the list you're looking at in a new window
  2. log in to the Reading Lists system in the top right corner
  3. click on the three dots next to any item
  4. choose 'Copy to my collection'. 
  • Use OpenSyllabus to explore which texts are on similar courses from around the world.
  • Take a look at the Journals Online project, which aims to increase visibility, accessibility and quality of peer-reviewed journals published in developing countries. 
  • The Global Social Theory have some excellent examples of 'decolonised' reading lists, from a variety of universities, covering programmes such as Geography, Anthropology, Sociology, History and Architecture.

4 Our diversity-related collections

You can browse the library's catalogue on YorSearch to find material related to your teaching. The library has created lists of diverse resources, which are linked below, and are regularly updated as new items are added to our collections.

Tip: If you want something added to our stock you can simply use our purchase suggestion form and we will do our best to add it to Library.


Book cover for Queer and Trans Migrations: Dynamics of Illegalization, Detention, and Deportation. Edited by Eithne Luibheid and Karma R. Chavez. Book cover for Undoing Gender. Written by Judith Butler. Book cover for Queer International Relations: Sovereignty, Sexuality and the Will to Knowledge. Written by Cynthia Weber.

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