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RLO: Introduction to Reading Lists Onine

Welcome to the Reading Lists Online guide for staff

Reading Lists Online can help to deliver an excellent learning experience for students by providing seamless access to all their required reading from the Blackboard module site.  

Reading lists can also be a powerful pedagogical tool, helping students to plan their reading, engage with materials and develop skills around evaluating resources and independent learning.  

Benefits of Reading Lists Online: 

  • Provide students with easy access to high quality, academic materials.  This includes direct links to ebooks, journal articles, scanned book chapters, websites, media resources and links to Library Online catalogue records for print resources.
  • Lists can be created and updated by academics with resources that are relevant to the module being studied.
  • Library staff can review lists to ensure that all recommended reading is readily available though the Library.
  • All material on a list is checked for copyright compliance, so academics can be assured that all resources meet copyright regulations.
  • Once created, the list is automatically uploaded to the relevant Blackboard module site.
  • Get statistics on what your students are accessing and how they are engaging with their recommended reading.
  • Student experiences of using reading lists is extremely positive, with 87.4% agreeing with the statement 'Do you find your reading list useful' (McGuinn et al., 2017).

Sheffield Hallam threshold standards and best practice for reading lists

These are the recommended standards for Reading Lists Online:

  • RLO's should be well structured to guide the student to relevant reading throughout the module (for example Week by Week, Lecture by Lecture, Themes etc)
  • Any required reading should be prioritised at 'Essential', with additional or supporting reading indicated as 'Background' readings.
  • For essential reading, your Library will aim to acquire a multi-access electronic version. Where resources are available in print format only, or with limited electronic access, extracts should be selected for digitisation (one chapter or 10% of a book, one journal article per journal issue). or another title selected. For more information please see the section  on Digitisation.
  • If an RLO is not structured and prioritised, especially in the case of long lists (over 75 items), Learning and Teaching (L&T) Librarians will contact academics and ask them to identify 10-15 books that will feature highly in their teaching. These will be checked for e-book availability and the academics will be notified to allow them to decide which items should be made 'Essential'. L&T Librarians can also provide advice on alternative resources in the subject areas. For information on who is your L&T Librarian, please check the Directory of Subject Librarians below.
  • Where print format is the only option, items should not be made 'Essential'.
  • Your reading list will automatically be linked from Blackboard, on the module home page. In order for this to happen, your reading list will need to include the module code under the Hierarchy. It is also possible to link to specific sections in your RLO in corresponding sections on your Blackboard module stie. For more information see the section on Your RLO on Blackboard. 
  • Wherever possible, student numbers on the module should be included on the RLO.
  • RLO's should be created and/ or updated and sent to the Library Services teams using the Review process in a timely manner, to ensure that materials will be available for the start of teaching. If possible, RLO's should be sent for Review by the end of July for Semester 1 modules, and by the end of November for Semester 2 modules.

Academic research in support of reading lists

"There is immense pedagogic potential in reading lists both in terms of promoting good information literacy and in enabling students to better engage with the wider literature of their subject areas." (Taylor, 2019, p223).

"A reading list is a list of reading items recommended by an academic to assist students’ acquisition of knowledge for a specific subject." (Chowdhury et al., 2021, p1).

Light Bulb  Activity: Read the following articles to learn more about the benefits of online reading lists: