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Reading Lists/Course Reserves

Faculty can learn how to make course materials available for students to use, either in-person or online.

Reading Lists/Course Reserves

computer monitor showing a list - decorativeCourse Reserves is a library service which enables faculty to set up lists of course materials for students to access. 

  • The materials may be physical (such as books), which must be checked out at one of the University Libraries.
  • Or they may be electronic (such as articles and streaming media), and accessible anywhere to current Ball State students.

Reading Lists is the portal used to view the electronically accessible items, and can be integrated into Canvas course pages to simplify the discovery process for students.

Making items available to students via Reading Lists enables students to save money by not having to purchase those titles.

Reading Lists also makes it possible for faculty to organize and present the course materials in a way that works best for their course format.

Faculty have options for how to set up their Reading lists:

Either way, the library will provide:

  • Support - in making materials available, scanning articles or book chapters when needed, etc.
  • Copyright vetting - ensuring materials comply with copyright guidelines, and
  • Maintenance of resources - by updating links and rolling lists over to new semesters as needed.

The easy way to point students to their Readings Lists is by Making Reading Lists Visible In Canvas or via Link.

Setting up Reading Lists: The Traditional Way

Example of Reading List, showing titles of articles

To set up a Reading List the traditional way, faculty can email a list of citations of what they want the library to put on reserve.  (email address:

Please include all of this information in the email:

  • Author
  • Title
  • Volume/issue or chapter number
  • Pages
  • Call number (if a library item)
  • Course code and section
  • Semester(s)
  • Any other helpful information

For face-to-face or hybrid classes, the titles can be library copies of books, or personal copies.

Some tips:

  • Consider making the first chapter or so of a text book available electronically.  This is helpful for students whose textbook is taking longer than expected being sent to them.
  • Copyright rules say between 10 - 15% of a title may be scanned and made electronically available.  An entire book may not be scanned, but selected chapters or excerpts of chapters may be.

To ensure materials are available on Day 1 of the semester, requests should be submitted at least one week before classes begin.

Setting up Reading Lists: The DIY Way

Reading List option in Canvas navigation paneThe Do It Yourself way of working with Reading Lists has some benefits, especially for faculty who have many readings they want to make available to their students.

With this method, faculty can search for items to be made available and add to the list at any time.  Or they can remove titles from the list.

Faculty can also organize their list – particularly nice for making clear which units or modules a reading corresponds to.

To get to the Reading List instructor dashboard:

  1. Enable the Reading List option under Settings --> Navigation.  (See detailed instructions.)
  2. Choose "Reading List" on the left.

To add a title:

  1. Shows three Reading Lists buttons, with "Add Items+" circled in redChoose "Add Items" toward the top.
  2. Choose from the four choices that appear to the right.
    • Library Search: use the search box provided to search for an item in OneSearch.  Click on a title. 
    • Upload a File: for adding PDFs of documents to the Reading List.  Either drag files or browse to upload them.
    • Blank Form: for adding citation and accessing information for an item, especially good for adding web sites.  (Choose "Website" under "Type".)
  3. Choose "Add" to add the selected title to the list.

To add a section header:

  1. Choose "New Section" toward the top.Red circle around the "New Section" button
  2. In the box that opens, type the text for the section header in the "Title" field.
  3. Optionally, add a description that would appear below the header title.
  4. Choose "Create."

To change the order of titles in the list:

  1. shows a record with a red arrow pointing to the bar on the right, with "Drag citation"Hover in the blue bar to the right of the item to be moved.  A hand will appear, with the phrase "Drag Citation."
  2. Click and drag the item to its new spot.

Finally, send the list to be reviewed:

  1. Choose "Library Review" toward the top.
  2. It will change to "List Sent," and library staff will be alerted to review additions to the list and make them available.

Making Reading Lists Visible in Canvas or via Link

Shows Canvas from instructors side, with arrow pointing to Navigation tab and to the Reading List optionHere are the steps for making a Reading List available to students through the course Canvas page:

  1. Log onto Canvas and select the course.
  2. Scroll down and choose "Settings" from the options on the left.
  3. Choose "Navigation" in the tabs at the top.
  4. Look for the "Reading List" option and drag-and-drop it into the top box to make it visible to students.
  5. Then scroll all the way down to the bottom and choose "Save."

Then students can easily get to the Reading List without leaving Canvas.


Alternatively, faculty can create a shareable link to their Reading List:arrow pointing to three dot ellipses and a circle around the phrase "Create sharable link."

  1. Log into Reading Lists.
  2. Select the three blue dot ellipses, which will bring up a "Reading list options" panel.
  3. Select "Create a sharable link" and "To List."
  4. Select "Copy to clipboard" and paste the link wherever it's needed.


Copyright in University Libraries Course Reserves

Sources used in Reading Lists must comply with U.S. Copyright Law.