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Reading Lists: Best practice and FAQ

Best Practice

Each lecturer will have a particular style of teaching and a way of sharing information with students on their modules. The following information is based on our experience of building reading lists and seeing thousands of examples of varying lengths and layouts of lists. A very long reading list serves as a comprehensive bibliography but may prove overwhelming for some students (Brewerton, 2014 It is really important to keep your reading list up to date and remove items that are no longer relevant to the module objectives. The following are our observations for what makes a good reading list, and we'd love to hear from you about what else you think 'works': 

  • Use the name of the module at the top of your reading list, alongside the module code, this is a useful signpost to students to confirm that they are 'in the right place'
  • Use the description box in the opening section for explaining the purpose of the reading list and setting expectations of your students
  • Consider creating a Recommended Readings or Prime Texts section at the top of your list
  • Include 'Weekly' or thematic sections within your list
  • Consider using 'Public Notes' on citations to direct students to particularly relevant themes in the recommended chapter or article
  • Mix up the content you ask students to 'read' - this could include videos or reports, and should try to incorporate some journal articles aswell as books
  • Please give the library time to acquire your reading list material - 4 to 6 weeks in advance of teaching is ideal.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  What about ebooks that are expensive but absolutely essential? Will the library buy these?

A:  Faculty librarians will liaise with lecturing staff regarding expensive ebooks i.e. over €300.


Q: What if the library can’t get an ebook of the only book I am recommending to my students?

A:  Many publishers do not sell their ebooks to University libraries e.g. SAGE, Penguin Random House, Macmillan Red Globe and others. It is possible for students to buy individual access to ebooks directly from these publishers but we suggest that you consider alternatives for your reading lists so that students do not have to buy books themselves.  Here is what you can do if there is no ebook available for a title that you want your students to read:

Search Ebook Central’s 179,000 ebooks that UL subscribes to; use Advanced Search for the author whose work you want students to read

Search for articles that the library subscribes to for works by the same authors or in the subject area

Ask the library to make a digital copy of a chapter from a book in the library on the Reading List

Ask the library to source a chapter or article through Inter Library Loan

If your students want to buy an ebook themselves, it is important to consider the format e.g. Kindle, epub, mobi and it is important that an ebook can be annotated. Sellers like Kortext and even Macmillan offer reasonably interactive textbooks so this is something the library can talk to you about if necessary.


Q: What happens if my students need 2 or more chapters of a book that the library has in print?

A: Copyright law means that only a single chapter, or 10% of a printed book, can be digitized and put on a University VLE. The library will work with the lecturer to identify the chapter that is critical to the student’s learning and make that available on the VLE.


Q: What if my reading list has 5 prime texts, but the library said only tag 3 essential items to be got electronically?

A: Library staff building reading lists can tag any 3 recommended Prime Texts that you identify as Essential Reading.  If the book is already in the library’s collections, they will link to that. One new ebook will be bought from the items you’ve indicated are Prime Texts.


Q: How do we make sure students aren’t ‘queueing’ for access to ebooks as can sometimes happen?

A: The library attempts to buy the best value access to ebooks, beginning with what’s known as unlimited access, often the most expensive option but representing the best value for large classes that rely heavily on a single textbook. The other access models i.e. single user and three-user can generate an automatic digital ‘queue’ and our Collections Services unit monitors usage and can trigger another purchase of an in-demand title, or can reduce the amount of hours a student can access a title, in the same way that additional print copies support high demand books. Where possible, alternative, already available ebooks, should be considered so that an over-reliance on a single ebook does not materialise.


Q:  If I send in my reading list and have not indicated what is Essential Reading or Prime Texts, what does the library do about getting ebooks for my students?

A: When submitting a reading lists, faculty are asked to prioritise 3 essential items, this helps the library to source the most critical material. If nothing is prioritised on a reading list, the library will get back to you to prioritise the books.


Q.  What if I have the book in my office, my own copy, what do I do then? I used to be able to put it in short loans. 

A.   Current copyright regulations allow for 10% of a book to be copied or digitized for teaching. Contact the library if you want to create a digital copy of a chapter for upload to the VLE. 


Q.   I can’t access the reading list for my module.  Can you help? 

A.   If you have a site on SULIS for the current academic semester, the Leganto tool (Called Reading List on your SULIS site) is automatically visible on your site and it is through that link that you can view your reading list. You may not have been listed on the SI data as the course instructor, in that case, notify the library and we will manually add you as an instructor. As soon as you encounter a problem with a reading list, we recommend you contact the Reading Lists team by emailing  Ask Us notifying us of the name of your module and we will troubleshoot this and help you to access your reading list.  More information on the library’s reading list service is available here


Q. When should my reading list be sent to the library for processing?

A. The sooner you can send a list (or a section) to the library for processing the better! 4-6 weeks before the start of semester is recommended.


Q. I tried to use the Cite it! widget but it didn't work. What am I doing wrong?

A. You need to be logged in to Leganto for the Cite it! widget to work seamlessly and consistently. If you are not logged in to Leganto you will receive a log in prompt, however, some users may experience log in failure at this stage.  You also need to ensure that 3rd party cookies are also enabled in Firefox and Chrome.


Q. Is it possible to add more items to my reading list at a later date?

A.  You can continue to add items to your list after you have sent it to the Library for processing. If you do update your list with more items, remember to click on LIBRARY REVIEW again, so the Library can process the items required.


Q. What is ‘My Collections’?

A. My Collection is your own personal Leganto library. You can use this space to save interesting resources that you would like to access later. These resources can include a book, a journal article, a YouTube video, a webpage, etc.


Q. Can I allow other people to edit my reading list?

A.  Yes, you may add them as a collaborator.  Open your reading list and click on the ellipsis at the top of your screen.  Select ‘manage collaborators’ and follow the instructions.


Q. What are ‘Notifications’?

A.  When you access Leganto you will find Notifications at the top right-hand corner of the screen, next to your user profile (icon of a bell with number of notifications).   These notifications will show what activity has occurred on your account, such as a student suggesting a citation for your reading list.  Notification emails of the previous day's activity will be sent each morning if activity has occurred. You can choose to not receive these notifications by email. Follow these steps to set this up; Click on the 'User Settings' in your profile at the top right-hand corner of the screen;  Untick the box ‘receive notifications by email’ if you do not want to receive your Notifications by email;


Q. How do I import citations into my reading list from EndNote?

A. You can import citations from your EndNote library into your My Collection.

1) In EndNote Desktop, select the citations you would like to add to Leganto and click on File -> Export. 

2) Give the file a name, remembering to manually add the extension .ris, and choose a location to save it to; 

3) The Save as type option can stay as a Text File, but you will need to change the Output style to RefMan (RIS) Export. Using the drop down menu, click on Select Another Style;

5) To finalise the export, click on Save

6) To import the citations into Leganto, you need to first log in and click on the My Collection tab on the left-hand side of the screen. Click on the ellipsis at the top of the screen and select Import

7) You can either drag your exported file on the blue rectangle, or browse for the file in the usual way. Once you have selected the file, click CONFIRM and your citations will be added to your My Collection; 

8) Once the citations are in your My Collection, if you wish, you can then move the citations to a reading list.


Q. Why can’t my students see the reading list?

A.  Your reading list must always be 'Published' in Leganto, as opposed to DRAFT.  After you have added content to your reading list, click on the PUBLISH link at the top of your reading list. If a student is a member of your SULIS site they should be able to view the reading list. Occasionally people will get an error message 'Illegal Institution'. When this happens, people need to clear their cache on their browser, quit the application and log in again. 


Q. Why are you asking me to highlight the top three items on my Reading List as Essential?  They are all important!

A. We do understand that there are likely to be many more than three essential items on your reading lists.  The three you flag to us as being the most important will be fast checked by the library to ensure one eresource is made available for your students.  If the items you tagged as Essential Reading are not available electronically, we will assist in identifying an alternative.  The remaining items on your reading list will be also checked but Essential Reading items will be prioritised. 


Q. Will there be more licences available to support e-book access for multiple students?

A. The library monitors high usage ebooks and acts immediately on notifications that certain ebooks are being heavily used. As with all eresources, the library will judiciously increase the licence type to ensure optimum access, within existing budgets. By including an approximate number of students per module when submitting your reading list, we are better able to make decisions about the types of licence to take out and the number of e-copies of books to purchase to support teaching.


Q. I have existing scans but they are poor quality, can I still share these with my students?

A. Please share the details of these citations with the library so that we can review them and recreate them if necessary. We need to ensure materials are machine-readable to support accessibility requirements. We also need to ensure the University is complying with copyright legislation and licensing restrictions.

Q. My courses rely on students being able to access printed items within the Library collections.  How can they do this? 

A. Sometimes the resources your students need are only available in print. To support this, the library maintains comprehensive opening hours during the academic year, and remains open in the summer.  The library endeavours to provide electronic copies of prime texts but if on-campus use of library collections is the only option, we encourage library visits and use of the collections on-campus or have students borrow the material to take home where feasible.

Q. Will students be expected to buy their own books and ebooks?

A.  Students should certainly be able to choose to buy their textbooks if they wish to, and in some cases that may be the most effective alternative to accessing an essential book. However, the library will endeavour to provide at least one eresource for every module thereby negating the need for most students to purchase books. 


Dos and Don'ts

DO: tell the library when you need a chapter scanned or an article sourced for your reading list

DON’T: create a scan yourself of the material and upload it directly to Leganto, that contravenes copyright 

DO: notify the library immediately if there is a problem with your reading list

DON'T: wonder in silence what might be wrong, we can usually help you troubleshoot what's wrong

DO: ask the library if an ebook can be got

DON'T: assume that every book in the library is available as an ebook, many are but some are not