The University is investing in an online reading list and digital content management system from Talis Aspire. Implementation at Reading begins at Easter 2015. This initial phase will involve Library staff transferring all 2014-15 reading lists (which have existing copyright cleared scans associated with them) on to the new system, ready for review and revision by the list owner, following training provided by Liaison Librarians. These lists and more if time allows, will be available to students in September 2015. If any departments not included within this initial phase would like to become early adopters, please contact Kerry Webb, the Library’s Course Support Co-ordinator (email:  After this initial phase, we will then work with a wider range of academics to gradually integrate more lists. Our aim is to upload 75% of reading lists by 2016/17.

Academic tutors will be able to create online reading lists within a single interface, linked to from Blackboard. Using a simple bookmarking tool you will be able to link to items on the Library catalogue, items from our e-journals and subscription databases, external web pages and embedded multimedia. You will also be able to provide guidance to your students on approaches to specific resources, and will gain a faster, easier scanning request process incorporating assured copyright compliance. Automated checking of Library stock against your online lists will ensure faster ordering and more efficient library budget management.

Students will benefit from engaging with online reading lists providing real-time information about Library print material availability, direct links to our online resources and scans requested by academic staff through the Library’s scanning service, plus links to any other relevant resources and any guidance provided by you through annotations added to your lists.

The following are examples of lists produced using the Talis system (clicking on the title of a resource provides availability information):

Reading list with tutor annotations:

Reading list with links to scans:

Reading lists set out in weekly sections:

Support will be provided in several ways: through online guides and screencasts, one-to-one, drop-in and bespoke training sessions, and making use of existing networks to assist colleagues with getting started on the system.

Find out more

Briefing sessions about the new system will be held at the end of the Spring Term, on Tuesday 24th and Friday 27th March, 1-2pm, in S@iL 107 (Library, 1st Floor). These are open to all staff involved in the creation of reading lists on Blackboard, no need to book.

We hope that as many of you as possible will be able to see for yourselves what the system will be able to do for you and your students. These sessions will provide an opportunity to see how the system works, and members of the implementation project team from the Library will be on hand to answer any questions you might have about online reading lists.

Or, book up to attend the CQSD T&L session, ‘Online reading lists: TEL to improve student engagement’ on Wednesday 22nd April, 1-2pm. For details of how to book, see:

To find out more about the Talis system and what it can do for you and your students, go to: and  or contact Kerry Webb, the Library’s Course Support Co-ordinator, email:


  • Is there a way in which students can contribute to these lists? I’m not very much in the spoonfeeding business – I highly value students’ ability to find the most relevant sources by themselves. At the same time I recognise the library’s need to do some proper resource planning. How to reconcile these?

    • Kerry Webb & Helen Hathaway

      Thank you for your comment – it is heartening that even before we have got the software fully up and running and populated with reading lists staff are already thinking about if and how it can be used creatively to engage students in their learning. The software allows tutors to incorporate annotations, as well as links not just to directed readings, but also to resources such as databases and blogs and can be used to encourage task-based or problem-based learning, with students perhaps encouraged to share resources they have found on a communal blog, linked to within the reading list interface.

      As the reading lists will be embedded in Blackboard, with direct links to the items in the Library catalogue, it may be that rather than this “spoonfeeding” the students it will counteract the common approach of simply searching Google books (which we know is also of concern to staff) and rather encourage and develop the use of reputable academic resources as the students will “land” in the library catalogue.

      Lists can also be structured in such a way to encourage progression – for example signposting part 1 students with notes against readings, or perhaps including links to some Study Advice and Library support such as screencasts on reading selectively, or how to place a hold on a Library book. Of course there will also be the benefits of the Library being able to manage our spending more effectively and to better meet student expectations that items on their reading lists will be in the Library, but the University has not invested in this software simply to improve NSS scores – important though this – but because there are tangible T&L opportunities too.

Comments are closed.