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Leganto reading list staff guide: Reading list design

Training and support for Leganto reading lists

What do I need to include in a reading list?

It is your choice on how you wish to structure your reading list, but here's a checklist to get you started:

  • Is there an existing list you wish to associate with this module? Follow these instructions.
  • If a completely new list, watch the guidance on setting up a new list in Leganto
  • Take a look at colleague's reading list for style ideas.
  • Depending on the length of your list, decide whether sections are required.
  • Choose how you wish to structure your list, e.g. by topic, weekly reading, or resource type. (There are some helpful templates in Leganto to get you started).
  • Start with your essential reading (this helps the Library select the most appropriate number of copies of physical books or ebook licences).
  • Make sure you add categories (Essential, recommended, background etc.) to each item on the list.
  • Explore our current collection when adding background texts for content we already have in stock.

If you have any questions, just email and a Subject Librarian will be happy to discuss ideas or techniques.


Is there an example of a best practice reading list?

There isn’t a definitive answer to the question of what a reading list should be.

All modules are different and the advantage of Leganto is the flexibility it offers to fit the structure of your teaching.  Leganto has several features which can be used to transform a reading list from a list of books into a high quality teaching resource.

All reading lists should have a range of resources, indicate whether something is essential, recommended or background reading, and be structured in a way that makes the most sense for the module.

Although there isn’t a one size fits all approach to reading lists, this example reading list highlights some of the key things to include to ensure your reading list is of high quality.  This includes making sure headings are appropriate, items have a variety of relevance levels, and a variety of resources are used.

This video shows an example list with a demonstration of some of the useful features you could use:

Do I need to use sections in my list?

We encourage you to organise your reading lists using sections. Reasons to organise your reading list using sections include:

  • It provides clear signposting for students if the content is structured clearly.
  • Sections can be created to reflect the subject area, you may want to create different sections for different aspects of the module or course.
  • Sections are useful to signpost weekly reading activities and grouping the content into clear sections.
  • You can create a structure that reflects your teaching practice.
  • You can create sections for different content types (Journals, Websites and Books)
  • Allows students to find reading material they need with ease

There is no correct way to organise your list into sections.  How you choose to structure the list will depend on your module, subject area, and how you teach your module.  Leganto allows you to create a structure that reflects your teaching practice

Ideas for sections in a reading list include:

  • Structure based around weekly required readings for lectures
  • Subject or topic area
  • Resource types e.g books, journals, websites
  • Reading relevance e.g. essential reading, recommended reading
  • Split up by lecturer for modules with multiple staff members, so you each manage your own section of the reading list.

See our related video for instructions on using sections.

What is the difference between essential, recommended or background reading?

Each item on a reading list needs to use reading relevance categories; items can be listed as essential, recommended or background reading.

What do essential, recommended and background mean?
  • Essential: reading that is required of all students to broaden and deepen understanding of the core subject.
  • Recommended: reading that is desirable, as it can help expand understanding of a subject.
  • Background: in some disciplines, and at some levels of study, background reading guides students towards exploring a subject in greater depth.
Why is it important to use a variety of relevance categories on reading lists?
  • Using the categories provides clear structure and signposting for students.
  • Including essential reading improves accessibility for students with disabilities and students facing additional challenges.
  • Indicating the relevance helps the library decide how many copies of a book we require.

Using the relevance categories incorrectly causes confusion for students and might result in the library not having enough books available. If a text is essential reading then make sure this is reflected on Leganto otherwise the library won’t know how many copies are required.

There is the option to add recommended for purchase titles too, if applicable to your module or department. The Library will ensure there is access to one copy of these texts in the Library.

This video shows you how to add categories to the items in your reading list:

How can I increase the diversity of authors and perspectives on my reading list?

To support academics in diversifying reading lists we have created the Broaden My Bookshelf reading list toolkit.

This guide is intended to help course teams diversify the teaching curriculum and ensure reading lists represent the diverse student voice. It is also intended to showcase the range of diverse resources available to students with the aim that they too can influence reading list content by suggesting items to be added to their lists. The toolkit provides guidance, ideas and inspiration. It is a tool to evaluate and critique current practice by examining reading list content. 

How can I promote reading lists to students?

We are doing lots of work in the library to promote reading lists to students and increase engagement, however academics also have a big role to play in encouraging students to engage with reading lists.

Be consistent

Focus group research highlighted students prefer a consistent approach, so they know where to find their readings. 

Be consistent with where and how you provide reading to students. You should be using Leganto as the main reading list rather than sharing reading on Brightspace.

Promote reading lists throughout the year

Feedback from students reveals lecturers should promote reading lists more often. Students told us that it is often only mentioned in induction week or at the beginning of the course.

So, let your students know readings can be found on Leganto throughout your lectures and seminars. If we’ve added a digital extract to the reading list, then make sure you let students know. Repetition leads to reinforcement.

Tips for increasing engagement

Reading lists are part of your teaching and should be embedded in your teaching. Our research into reading lists indicates that you can increase student engagement by reminding students throughout the year and by integrating reading list content into lectures and seminars. Try to link reading with specific lectures/topics – include that reading in the lecture/seminar and remind students where to find it.

You can embed direct links to the reading list, a specific section or item from Brightspace announcements or lecture slides. Click on the three dots next to the reading list title, section title or item title, and select Create a shareable link.

screenshot of three dots menu in Leganto with create a shareable link highlighted

What does the list look like to a student?

While you are designing your reading list in Leganto, it can be useful to see it as students will. Simply click the three dots to the right of the title and select 'View List as Student'. To change it back, click the refresh symbol just under the title.

Screenshot of Leganto with view list as a student highlighted