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Online Reading Lists: a guide for Academic Staff

A guide to using the Talis Online Reading Lists system for academic staff

You can use this page to find out more about the editing options which will help to improve your online reading list.

Online Reading Lists are helpful for students so that they can identify relevant texts, and add context to their lecture material. Although there are no templates available for structuring your online Reading List, the following tips may be useful in encouraging your students to make the most of their Reading List. 

Structure: Use sections and sub-sections to group resources. Sections can be used to group weekly readings, but also to differentiate by topic, theme, importance, relevance to assignments. 

Annotations: Use importance and student notes to help provide context and highlight key resources. Annotations help students to understand why items are included on the reading list and what their relevance is to the course material (Brewerton), as well as to help to plan readings across modules (Brewerton, McGuinn et al). 

Up to date: Add newly-published resources to your list (this can be done throughout the academic year, using the Bookmark Button), and remove out of date material too. A student note can be helpful to make students aware of “currency” in your discipline, and to highlight key texts (Brewerton, McGuinn et al)! You can add a range of resources to your online Reading Lists, including books, journals, videos, podcasts can help students to engage with the material in a different way. 

Give students information: Let your students know how your online Reading List is organised, and how they are expected to make use of it. Sections and annotations can help students to filter information, and make decisions about their reading – particularly in long reading lists which can initially appear “daunting” (Brewerton, McGuinn et al). 

Accessible: Link your online Reading List to your Blackboard module so that it is easy to find. You can also direct your students to the reading list through assignments or activities (Brewerton, McGuinn et al). 

Scaffolding: As your students develop their research skills in your discipline, it may be more appropriate to encourage them to find their own material – use your online Reading List as a starting point for this work by linking to recommended journals or databases with guidance on searching, rather than listing all relevant articles directly. (Stokes and Martin and Rose in McGuinn et al). 

View our example list below, with examples of paragraphs, notes, sections, and recommended resources for more information.

Adding sections and sub-sections

Sections allow you to organise your list, grouping recommended resources by week or topic. You can create as many sections as you require, and name then as appropriate. You can also create sub-sections to group resources or paragraphs within a section - for example highlighting some resources for a key activity within a week's recommended readings.

1. Click 'Add Section' using the Action bar.

Navigate to the part of the list where a new section is required, and click 'Add Section'. The Action Bar will display a small arrow on the left hand side to show you if the section is going to appear within an existing section, or as a brand new section in the reading list.



2. Add a title for your section.

You can also add a description if required. Click 'Save'.


3. Add resources or paragraphs to your empty section

An empty section will display a short prompt to add resources, paragraphs, or sub-sections. 


4. Click 'Publish' at the top of the list to save your changes.

Moving items or sections within a list

There are three ways to move an item, section, or sub-section on your reading list:

  • Cut and Paste
  • Move up or Move down
  • Drag and drop
Cut and paste

This can be used to move sections (and all resources within a section) and individual resources anywhere within the list.

1. Click on the item menu on the right hand side of the item or section you would like to move.

2. Select 'Cut'


The section or resource will appear in grey on the list, and the Action Bar will display 'Paste/Cancel'. Find the place on the list where you would like the resource or section to appear and use the Action bar to add.

3. Click 'Paste' using the paste bar


There are three ways to move a resource, section, or sub-section on your reading list:

  • Cut and Paste
  • Move Up or Move down
  • Drag and drop
Move Up or Move Down

This can be used to easily move a resource up or down one position in the online reading list, in the same section. To move sections, or between sections, use Cut and Paste or Drap and Drop.

1. Click the item menu to the right of the resource 

2. Select Move Up or Move down as required


There are three ways to move an item, section, or sub-section on your reading list:

  • Cut and Paste
  • Move up or Move down
  • Drag and drop

Drag and Drop

This is a quck way to move individual items, but Cut and Paste may be easier to move items a long way in an online reading list.

1. Click the arrows to the right of the resource

2. Drag the resource to its new position on the reading list


Importances: Essential, Recommended, and Further readings

Item importances can be used to indicate to students whether an item is Essential, Recommended or Further reading or viewing.

To add or edit an Importance, click on the dropdown menu underneath the resource title.


What do the importance levels mean?
Item Importance Student Expectations Library Expectations* Use for:
Recommended for Student Purchase A vital resource that you expect your students to purchase for their studies. The Library will hold 1 print copy or 1 ebook copy wherever available. Vital texts which students must have continual access to or workbooks which you expect students to edit

Key texts for the course and/or set readings for seminars. 

The Library will expect heavy usage from these items, and will aim to purchase 1 unlimited access ebook copy wherever available and 1 print copy per 20 students on a module. If an ebook is not available, the Library will aim to purchase 1 print copy per 10 students, and chapters will be provided as copyright-cleared scans where possible.

Resources that students must read to understand the topic and complete their assignments/projects. Set readings for seminars.

Recommended Supplementary reading which supports the key texts. The Library will purchase 1 unlimited access ebook copy wherever available and 1 print copy per 40 students on a module. If an ebook is not available, the Library will purchase 1 print copy per 20 students, and chapters will be provided as copyright-cleared scans where possible.

Titles or items that students should read to improve their knowledge of the subject, or would be expected to refer to in their assignments/projects. 

Further Titles that you do not expect all your students to read, but are still relevant to the subject  The Library expect that demand will be quite low, and will purchase 1 ebook wherever available or 1 print copy.

Titles or items that students could read if they find the topic interesting, would like to study further, or may consider referring to for assignments/projects.

*Please note that Library Expectations relates mainly to books. The Library will aim to offer unlimited access to journal articles either through our online subscriptions or through the scanning service. If there are any issues related to accessing any resources, your Academic Liaison Librarian will inform you as soon as possible.  

Student notes

Notes can be used to provide guidance to students, or to provide additional information to Library staff.

To edit or add a note, click the resource menu on the right of the page and select a note type.



Add your note in the free text box underneath the resource, and click 'Save'. 

A student note appears to everyone, and a Library note only appears to Library staff and list owners.



The Library will also use notes to request digitisations of chapters mentioned in Student Notes as Essential or Recommended readings.

Deleting items on an online reading list

It is good practice to keep your online reading list up to date, and this might involve deleting items which are no longer needed.

To do this, click on the item menu on the right hand side and click 'Delete'. You will be asked to confirm that you wish to delete this item. 

NB. Deleting an item from a list will not delete an item from your 'My Bookmarks' area.

You can also delete an entire section by selecting the section menu on the right hand side and clicking 'Delete'.

Accessible format information for online reading lists

The Library automatically adds an accessibility statement to the top of all online reading lists as part of the annual rollover of lists - the statement has a link with information on how students can request accessible format versions of print texts, as below;

Library Alternative Formats [link] Library aims to ensure all our resources are accessible. If our print materials are not accessible for you, please contact us at to ask about alternative formats and discuss your needs.

You may wish to move the Library Alternative Formats link to suit the arrangement of other content on your list, but please don’t delete it.

If you would like to know more about the Library’s alternative formats service, please see our Help for users with disabilities guide below;