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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

To set up your Reading List, log into Yorkshare and then access the relevant module. 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 Reading Lists, either use the FAQs for instructions on how to access Reading Lists in the VLE 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. The information below will help you with selecting resources, how we provide resources (e.g. digitised readings) and information about the tags you will need to use.

2 Structure your list

Before adding items to your Reading List, you should set up sections in the list. There is a template to structure the list by weekly reading, otherwise you can choose the blank template and add sections yourself.

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. Whether you use the weekly template or create your own, sections need to have a title. There is also the option to add a description.

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

Once you have created sections, you are ready to add 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.

  • 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.

  • Add an item that isn't in YorSearch and needs to be purchased

Use the Cite it! Bookmarking tool 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 can extract the bibliographic information needed. Remember to add an importance-level tag so we know how many copies we need to purchase (see step 4).

  • Import lists from reference managers

Use the FAQs to learn how to import references from EndNote, Paperpile and other reference managers.

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 Digitisation Request tag (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 disclosed in their student support plan 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.

  • 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.
  • 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

Finally, you need 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 Reading Lists and items so we can order items, organise digitisation etc. Of course, if you have any concerns or queries just get in touch:

You can also unpublish your list if you no longer want it to be visible to students.

Search the FAQs: