Skip to Main Content
University of York Library
Library Subject Guides

Reading Lists: a Practical Guide

Steps to get started

Icon depicting a check box that has been ticked6 easy steps to get started


The steps below will help you get set up in the Reading Lists system.

Click on a step to find out more information and some relevant FAQs will also appear on the right-hand side. 


1 Create your list

In order to set up your Reading List you need to log into Yorkshare and then access the relevant module. From there you should see an option for Reading Lists in the left-hand menu.

Cropped screenshot showing how to access reading lists from your VLE module sidebar menu.

If you can’t see this, either use the FAQs opposite for instructions on how to install the tool link or send us an email and we will do this for you.

If you’re starting from scratch or making major changes you can send your list to us and we will set it up. However, it’s still worthwhile reading the information below to find out about about selecting resources, how we can provide resources (e.g. digitised readings) and information about the tags you will need to use.

2 Structure your list

In order to add items to your Reading List you need to set up sections in the list. If you’d like to structure the list by weekly reading we have a template for that, otherwise you will need to add in the sections yourself. Sections need to have title and there is also the option to add a description.

There are two options available: weeks 1-10 or a blank list. If you choose a blank list you could then structure your sections by topic, or by essential/recommended module reading, it’s entirely up to you. A lot of the students we’ve spoken to say that they find the weekly list structure helpful in prioritising the reading they need to do across all of their modules each week.

Cropped screenshot showing an example reading list with a week by week structure

Once you have set your sections up you are ready to start adding items to the list. And remember, you can edit section titles and move them around as needed.

3 Add items

There are different ways to add items into your reading list depending on how you prefer to work. More information about how all of these features work is available in the FAQs.

  • If you want to add an item that's already available in the Library you can add items straight from YorSearch or from within your list. This includes both books and journal articles. If you know that what you want is in the Library then this is the easiest option to use.
  • If you want to add an item that isn't in YorSearch and needs to be purchased, use the Cite it! Bookmarking tool. This tool allows you to gather items whilst searching the Internet e.g. online videos or useful web pages. We recommend you use a site like to add details of books that we don't already have - we don't purchase the books from there but the bookmarking tool finds it very easy to extract the bibliographic information needed. Remember to add a priority tag so we know how many copies we need to purchase. 
  • It is also possible to import lists from reference managers such as EndNote

It is also important to think about how your students will access the reading for your module. In particular:

  • Ebooks provide wide access to resources

We purchase ebooks to provide the widest possible access to resources. Not all publishers make ebooks available for libraries to buy, even when there's an option for individuals. Some ebooks have restrictions (e.g. three concurrent users); we always purchase the best available version.

  • Digitise a range of chapters

We can scan either a whole chapter or up to 10% of most books (whichever is the greater). We then upload a high quality PDF scan to your list. Scanning chapters increases availability of resources; there is no restriction on the number of books per list from which we can scan chapters. You can let us know what to scan by using the tags (see step 4).

  • Link to ejournals in your reading list

Ejournals have few access restrictions. You can create direct links to subscribed content through your reading list, which we recommend rather than uploading articles to the VLE. We can digitise articles from print-only journals, and we are able to purchase individual articles if we don’t take the journal.

  • Consider the types of materials you want to include on your reading lists

The Library’s Reading Lists system enables you to add a range of other resources, including web links. You can embed links, for example, to our Skills Guides, key Library and Archives collections, relevant online databases, or programmes from Box of Broadcasts.

See our full handout for tips on selecting resources to use in your Reading Lists.

4 Tag and prioritise

Once items have been added to a list, you need to add tags to each item. There are two types of tags: importance-level tags that are visible to everyone, including students; and tags which are only visible to Library staff.

Importance-level tags help students manage their workload and it also informs the Library about how many copies to purchase.  

“The grouping of reading into "essential" and "recommended" allows me to develop my understanding when necessary, whilst still managing my workload” English student

There are three tags you can use:

  • Essential - students must read this. The Library will meet demand using a range of options, including print and electronic copies, digitisation and ‘Use in Library Only’ copies
  • Recommended - all students are advised to read this. It is expected that students will read at least some material from this category. We will purchase at least one copy of these titles.
  • Background - students may choose to read this. We may not automatically purchase background items, but we will add items to stock based on student demand.

Tags only visible to the Library are for requesting scanning for both the Digitisation Service and for requesting reading in an accessible format:

  • The Digitisation Service can provide high-quality copyright-cleared scans of reading needed for your course e.g. a book chapter or journal article. This is particularly useful for helping students get access to reading that is in high-demand.
  • Our Alternative Format Request (SSP) tag is for students with a print impairment who need course materials providing in an alternative format. Furthermore, there are lots of different ways that we can help students and staff with disabilities use the Library and we’re always happy to discuss this with people so please get in touch.

5 Annotate and give guidance

Reading Lists allows you to annotate both sections and individual items.  See below for an explanation of what the options are:

  • Public notes can be viewed by anyone and display beneath the item details on your list. This is useful for providing guidance to students about why you have recommended items and help them to prioritise their reading.
  • Private notes can only be viewed by yourself.
  • Library discussion can be used to send comments on an item to Library staff.

6 Publish your list

If you’ve created the list yourself the next step will be to publish your list so that it is visible to students.

You don’t need to worry about telling the Library as well. We run reports every night to pick up new items that you have added to a list and order items, organise digitisation etc. Of course, if you have any concerns or queries just get in touch:

You can unpublish your list if you no longer want it to be visible to students. Just click on the menu option again and choose Unpublish. 

Search the FAQs: