When are reading lists more than just lists?

library photoWhether they are long or short, in depth or an introduction, the reading lists prepared by your course tutors are really important. They tell you what you’re expected to read, and provide pointers to the material which you’ll need to consult. Personally, I love a good reading list. But what I don’t love, is a long, inpenetrable list of “stuff” so densely typed it all blurs together and becomes a muddle. With journal articles mixed together with books, chapters in edited works, newspaper articles and streamed video, it can sometimes be soul-destroying even trying to locate things on these lists, let alone read them!

Just yesterday I spent time at the enquiry desk with a student whose reading list contained such a confusing array of articles, books and webpages that untangling what each one was and how to search for it was a challenge.

“Surely” the student asked, “there must be an easier way?”

Yes, there is! And it’s not even a secret, so I’m allowed to tell you all about it too!

Over the past few years we’ve spent a lot of time working on our online reading lists. We’ve done this together with academic departments, and whilst some faculties have more coverage than others, content is growing all the time.

But why have we bothered, when students are given their reading lists in their unit handbooks? Quite simply, because having a reading list online means it can do all kinds of things a paper list can’t. Things we think students will like.

Firstly, it’ll provide your list for you wherever and whenever you are. You can be in the library during the day, or at home in the middle of the night. In both instances you’ll be able to access the list. You won’t even have to type information into search boxes once you’re through the initial navigation to the list.

When you see a book on the list, you can click on it, and it will take you to the catalogue record and tell you where you can find it. Shelfmark and all! If it’s out, you can reserve it right away. And if there’s an electronic copy of the book available, it will take you straight to the link for that!

When you see the details of a journal article listed, you can click on them and (in most cases) be taken straight to the electronic copy. No messing about with database searches or browsing through online indexes. You get to go straight there! In many cases, where we don’t have access to electronic copies as part of our subscriptions, you’ll even find a scanned copy especially prepared for you, accessible right there through the list! (n.b. you may still need to log in to access some resources, especially if you’re working off-campus)

Sounds good, right?

But it gets even better!

You’ll find links to websites, streamed media, and online resources right there too. In fact, everything on the paper list should be there, with the added bonus of easy to use links and extra information.

They’re not hidden, just lurking off to the side of your usual web searches. From the library homepage (www.port.ac.uk/library) you just need to click on “Reading Lists” from the yellow Library Essentials column on the right hand side. It’s fourth from the bottom. You can then search for a list by unit number, unit name or lecturers name. Alternatively, you can browse the complete list to see what’s there. Go on, have a look. It could save you a whole lot of precious time!

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One comment on “When are reading lists more than just lists?
  1. Greta Friggens says:

    How timely – I’m off to convert some CCi staff to reading lists next week and this will provide such a useful introduction, perhaps encouraging attendance!

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