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Reading Lists and References

Most University courses offer some lists of ‘recommended reading’ to their students, in this session we’ve got three presentations on ‘reading list’ systems from librarians.

University of Plymouth: Aspire (Jayne Moss)

Wanted reading list system to help improve service to students, and manage stock better in library. Decided to work with Talis – felt they could work with the company.

The key features they were looking for were:

  • had to be a tool for the academic
  • had to be easy to use – intuitive
  • designed to match the academic workflow

Worked with Talis, ran focus groups with academics, found out about the academic workflow – found a huge variety of practice. Boiled down to:

  • Locate resource
  • Capture details/Bookmark
  • Create list
  • Publish list

Integrated with DOI/Crossref lookup. Encourage academics to give access to librarians so they can check details etc.

Once you have list of ‘bookmarks’ can just drag them into reading list.

Student experience

  • v positive feedback
  • easy to use
  • links to lists embedded in their teaching site
  • liked ability to add notes (which are private to them)

Students can also tag items – although Jayne not convinced this is used much

Library experience

  • Displays availability taken from universities library catalogue – much easier than in catalogue interface!
  • Great way of engaging faculty
  • Getting accurate reading lists
  • Developed good relationship with Talis
  • Get to influence ongoing development (e.g. link from adding item to reading list to creating order in library acquisitions system)

Future developments

  • Aspire built on semantic tech
  • enable academics to build ‘better’ lists
  • enable students to collaborate and connect lists – e.g. create an annotated bibliography
  • smarter workflows – e.g. link to library acquisitions

University of Lincoln: LearnBuild LibraryLink (Paul Stainthorp)

Paul reflecting that Lincoln only partially successful in implementing ‘reading lists’.

University of Lincoln – bought reading list system, funds were only available for short period, so had limited time to assess full requirements and how far chosen product met their requirements.


  • filled a void
  • improved consistency
  • gave library an ‘in’ on launch of new VLE (Blackboard)
  • hundreds of modules linked in by 2000
  • students are using them – have usage stats from both LearnBuild and Blackboard
  • some simple stock-demand prediction

Unfortunately there were quite a few areas not so successful:

  • not intuitive; time-consuming
  • software not being developed
  • no community of users
  • competing developements (EPrints, digitisation, OPAC, RefWorks)
  • too closely linked to Blackboard module system
  • Subject libraries don’t like it, but lack of uptake from academics means that it is the subject librarians who end up doing the work.

However, unless library can demonstrate success, unlikely to get money to buy better system… So library putting more effort into make it work.

Paul saying because they are in this situation, they have been thinking laterally, and going to come at it from a different angle. Library has an opportunity to do some ‘free’ development work – funding with no strings attached.

Created “Jerome” (patron saint of libraries) – a library unproject.

Taking some inspiration from the TELSTAR project (yay) – hope to use RefWorks webservices and regain some control for the library

The Open University: TELSTAR (Anna Hvass)

Anna talking about traditional course production mechanism at the OU – printed materials written and sent out to students. Although more delivery online now, still a huge team of people involved in writing and delivering an OU course – from writers to editors to media producers to librarians. Can take anything up to 2 years to produce a course.

Currently when creating resource lists there is a huge variation of practice – every course, faculty and librarian can have a different approach! Until TELSTAR there were several tools that could be used – but not integrated together, and not used consistently.

TELSTAR developed ‘MyReferences’ – place you can collect references, you can create bibliographies etc. Also run ‘reference reports’ which allow you previews of what references will look at in course website.

You can create ‘shared accounts’ in MyReferences which you can use to share a single account between whole course team. Also include librarian, editors, etc. in shared accounts.

Can create and edit references. Once finished, can pull list through into course website. When references display in course website get links to online resources. Students can also export references back from lists in course website – can add references to blogs, forum posts etc. using ‘Collaborative activities’ export. Can export it to their own ‘MyReferences’ account. Can export it to other packages via RIS files.

Once student has collected references in MyReferences they can create bibliographies etc.

Main benefits:

  • Makes it easier for course teams to work together – and gives them control which they like
  • Once you have course teams working on lists together, many other aspects of library integration into courses come more easily
  • Students don’t have to go to another systems or another login to use it

Positive feedback from students and staff so far. Now looking at further developments – and to keep selling it course teams!

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  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Martin Fenner and ostephens, Paul Stainthorp. Paul Stainthorp said: RT @ostephens Last blog post of the morning at #irm10 – 3 views of reading lists and references http://bit.ly/9k0M14 – inc. @unilincoln […]

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