Reading List Policy


Library resource access strategy – outline and implementation guidelines


1. Introduction

Library resources are finite and this document attempts to improve the expectation of students regarding the availability of materials to them, particularly those listed in resource and reading lists.

2. General recommendations

  • Expectations of provision
    Resource and reading lists should state clearly expected levels of student engagement with the identified texts. This should include explaining where there is a choice of reading or acceptable alternatives.
  • Student Research Skills
    Consideration should be given to developing the independent research skills of students from an early stage. The library subscribes to/provides a wealth of online resources across all relevant subject areas which are accessible to students in most disciplines. Library staff will collaborate with academic staff to provide a programme of research skills training for students in order to encourage and develop these skills (and to equip students with the skills to exploit fully the resources available to them).
  • Supporting Research
    The Library Service is mindful of the need to balance resources to support teaching and the wider research agenda. We are committed to working with academic staff to ensure we get this balance right.

3. Access strategy

If a student is expected to read the resources included in a course handbook or reading list then it should only contain material for which there is an acceptable access strategy. Depending on the discipline, an example of an acceptable access strategy could be:

  • Core reading
    (all students on course expected to read as minimum requirement for course):
    available (i.e. currently in print) for purchase by the library or online access (eBook, digitised text, online journal).
  • Recommended reading:
    at least one copy purchased for main collection, if included in a reading list it needs to be made clear that some of these items may not be available online (eBook, digitised text, online journal).
    In order to manage the expectation of our users we recommend limiting the number of items on a reading list to up to 5 core texts and up to 15 recommended texts.
    Items which extend beyond the recommended reading should be clearly identified as such, making it clear that they may not be available in the Library collection and are not covered by this policy.

4. Implementation

Modules should include an identifiable reading list which includes all titles mentioned throughout handbooks/moodle pages/resource lists etc. All reading lists should be sent to the relevant subject librarian in advance of the course running, so as to allow for the materials to be purchased/accessioned etc.

The Library is mindful of the need to support changes to the curriculum, allocating resources to meet identified needs but within specified guidelines. Identification of Library resources should be included as part of the formal process of validating new courses. Unless courses are being redesigned, the expectation is that, where reading lists have been submitted to the Library within the last 2 academic sessions and resources purchased, they will continue to be used for those courses for a minimum of 1 further year.


Guide to developing reading lists

All reading lists, where possible, should be developed within the following guidelines:

  • Core reading
    Available (i.e. currently in print) for purchase by the library in multiple copies, or available online (eBook, digitised text, online journal).
  • Recommended reading
    At least one copy in the main collection therefore limited access. All reading lists/bibliographies should be sent to the relevant subject librarian in advance of the course running, so as to allow for the materials to be purchased/accessioned etc. In order to ensure that our budget meets the expectation of our users we recommend limiting the number of items on a reading list to up to 5 core texts and up to 15 recommended.

Multiple copies

We purchase multiple copies of course books to a ratio based on priority and number of students, purchasing higher numbers for items that you expect all your students to read (please see below).


Please indicate on your reading list if you want your students to read a single chapter or article. Where possible, we will digitise these chapters or articles at your request. This cannot be done instantly, so please allow the same amount of time as you would for a book purchase request. If we cannot digitise under our CLA licence, we will deposit a paper copy in the Library's Reprints collection instead. Please do not send in photocopies of articles or book chapters as, under the terms of our CLA licence, we are unable to add personal copies to the collection. Please note that, under the licence, we are unable to add more than a single chapter or article (from any one source) for any one course. Please see our copyright pages for more information.


The availability of quality e-books across all subject areas is increasing. E-books are a more efficient and cost-effective way of facilitating greater access to core texts and thus improving the student experience. Where available, we will purchase e-books for core and recommended reading in addition to print copies, for courses with large student numbers or those for which students have placements. All purchased ebooks are made available either via the Library catalogue or the electronic resources pages and can therefore be linked to from resource lists. Please contact your subject librarian for further help.

New courses

All new reading lists for re-designed courses should follow the resource access strategy guidelines. Wherever possible, existing Library resources should form the basis of reading lists. No item should be included in a reading list that is not readily available / accessible. Resources identified to support any course should, where academically viable, remain the same for 3-5 years with only minimal adjustments for newly published material.

Out of print books

Be aware that out of print copies in good condition can be difficult to source with resultant delays. If they are core reading for your course, we will endeavour to obtain at least a single copy of these titles and make them a reference copy. If further copies are required we will need to work with you to find a solution. This may include finding alternative items, the digitisation of chapters or trying to acquire additional copies.

Personal copies

To improve access the physical resources for your students are held on open access. We are therefore unable to accept your personal copies on temporary loan. Please do not send in your personal copies unless you are donating them permanently to the Library collection.

Purchasing policy

We purchase resources from your reading lists for your students. We are unable to provide enough copies for each student to have their own copy. However, the comments we get from students indicate that this is what they expect and they find it frustrating when they discover this is not the case. It would be helpful if you could advise your students early on that they will need to plan their reading to get the best out of the Library's resources. If they do need a particular text for the duration of a course then they should give serious consideration to purchasing a copy.

Copies of all texts indicated as core on your reading list will contain at least one ‘reference only’ item to ensure availability. For courses with large student numbers we will, wherever possible, purchase an e-book to supplement the print copies.

Books to support taught courses will be purchased aiming to achieve the following minimum ratios, unless otherwise agreed (for part-time and distance learning courses the loan status may vary):

Ratio applied for print only

Type of reading (indicated on reading list) Number of copies purchasedLoan status allocated
Core1 per 10 students (max 20 copies)1 x Reference (2 if 50+ students) 1 x Short Loan (2 if 50+ students) Intermediate & Standard Loans (remaining copies)
Recommended1 copyLoan status to be agreed


Ratio applied if core text available as e-book

Number of studentsNumber of copies purchasedLoan status allocated
>1001 x e-book 3 x print copiesLoan status to be agreed
<1001 x e-book 2 x print copyLoan status to be agreed


We hope these guidelines are useful. However, we do recognise that particular circumstances may require a more individual assessment. If you would like to discuss your reading lists please contact your relevant Subject Librarian.

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