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Durham University

University Library

Reading List FAQs

Reading Lists

+Why does the Library need reading lists?

Primarily to maximise student satisfaction with provision of their reading materials so avoiding complaints in MEQs and NSS feedback. Timely receipt of course bibliographies allows us to check availability of every title students are advised or directed to read, to help students find the respective books, and to anticipate where the highest demand is likely to be. To achieve this we must know how many students will participate and which are the ‘essential’ texts they will all be expected to consult.

+Why is the deadline for submission so early?

It can take a long time to process any given reading list and acquire any new publications that may be needed. The Library receives in excess of 1,000 lists or updates each summer, many of which can contain literally hundreds of references that must all be checked against existing provisions. There can then be delays in books being delivered by suppliers, or in sourcing out-of-print materials, and processing them for library use.

+What happens if I miss the July 1st deadline?

Please still submit your bibliography or list of changes as soon as possible. The Reading List Charter decrees that all lists submitted by 1st July will be ready by the start of teaching. Thereafter, the earlier a bibliography is submitted, the greater the chance of all respective course materials being available to view or borrow in time for the start of teaching.

+I didn’t start working at Durham until after the submission deadline. Will I be penalised?

No. Lists from staff new to Durham will be prioritised. However, it may still be impossible to obtain all materials in time for their intended use due to factors beyond the Library's control (see below).

+My students already have a copy of their course reading through module handbooks; why produce a separate bibliography through duo?

To improve accessibility. Sometimes students cannot find their reading list materials using the catalogue, which can happen for a number of reasons. Presenting course bibliographies under ‘Library Resources’ in duo means students can check provision and availability of their course reading accurately and swiftly. It is also the only route through which students can access chapters and articles not available as part of our subscriptions and extracts that have been scanned from our print collections.

+My reading list has not changed. Do I still need to respond to the Library’s requests?

Yes. Please check every year that all the relevant books and materials are still listed under Library Resources in duo and email to confirm. We cannot take an absence of any response as confirmation that the current lists are accurate. Please alert us if any ‘essential’ texts have changed, if the module convenor has changed, or if the number of module participants has increased significantly over previous years.

+My module doesn’t require a reading list. Do I still need to contact the Library?

Yes. Please confirm with the Library each year that no designated/suggested reading is required for your module. We cannot assume that no response means no list is required or that you are content with the provision of course reading materials and with ‘Library Resources’ listed in duo.

+I order books for my module throughout the year; why am I being asked about them again?

We must be certain that books purchased for specific modules actually arrived, get listed on duo and that we have sufficient provision of texts likely to be highest demand. It is also important that texts and scans no longer required get removed.

+I supply the Library with module handbooks, which contain the directed reading. Is this not sufficient?

The submission of entire module handbooks can cause delay while we scrutinise many pages to find the information needed. It is often difficult to interpret which titles are required reading and which are optional and they do not facilitate clear digitisation requests. A bibliography, clearly indicating ‘essential’ and ‘additional’ reading is the preferred format, allowing us to process the list swiftly to ensure resources are available in sufficient quantities when the students need them. Submitting these with a completed coversheet provides us with the information needed to ensure student satisfaction with course resources.

+Where can I find the existing reading list for my module?

There are three ways to ascertain what students see:

  1. Download the spreadsheet at usual CIS login) and view row 23 onwards.
  2. Under 'Library Resources' in the respective module on duo (be sure to switch edit mode off). This delineates the resource types more clearly.
  3. Enter the module code at NB: this is updated separately to the Library Resources area of duo and can be behind. The two methods described above are preferable.

These present the current module bibliographies as the Library understands them. It is important that teachers check that all relevant books are included each year and alert the Library if any are missing.

+What is the point of the spreadsheets?

They reflect the module bibliography as visible to students in duo and provide a template to detail any changes required, whether to books, module convenor or number of students participating. They also highlight how many copies of each book are available, their respective loan categories, and borrowing statistics for the current academic year, helping you to determine whether the existing provision is sufficient.

+I find the spreadsheets confusing to interpret and difficult to edit. Do I have to use them?

It is preferred but not compulsory. There is a guide to acquiring, interpreting and editing the spreadsheets, but you may inform us of changes required in other ways if you prefer. Whichever way you communicate them, it is vital that you present the required changes clearly, indicating which titles need adding or removing, whether anything needs digitising, whether the module convenor has changed and whether there has been any significant increase in the number of participants.

+Articles and chapters from the list I submitted are not listed under Library Resources in duo. Why is this?

We only list the books detailed in reading lists/module bibliographies supplied to us, not individual chapters or articles except for those we are specifically asked to 'digitise'. There are too many, across all lists received, to be feasible and there are legal limits to how much can be scanned from printed books and journals. Some publishers do not permit scanning from their materials at all. We do, though, list the book any given chapter appears in and we check that students have access to the respective journal issue that any given article was published in.

+My digitisation request was declined because the extract is already available in an e-book. Why is this?

The digitisation service is time-consuming and labour-intensive to administer so resources need to be focused in the areas of greatest value. Transferring content from one digital format to another does not add the same value, in terms of accessibility, as transferring from print to digital. Extending the service to accommodate digital-to-digital requests would increase the queue significantly, delaying the requests we already process by weeks during the busiest times of the academic cycle.

+Has the article linking service been withdrawn?

Yes. As of summer 2018 the Library no longer provides a service linking directly to online articles from reading lists in DUO, as most articles are available by searching Discover. Please contact if this causes any problems.

+I provided hyperlinks to freely-available resources; why are they not listed in duo?

We do not typically provide students with a hyperlink where you have already done so. There is considerable effort involved in creating a suitable record in the 'Library Resources' area of duo and there is no additional value in replicating what you have already provided.

+I’ve placed all the relevant PDFs for my students on duo myself. Isn’t this sufficient?

It is illegal to indiscriminately host and share material from our print or electronic collections on duo. Scanning or downloading published works and sharing them in this way infringes copyright law, even in an educational context. The Library can do so, to an extent, under the terms of a Copyright Licencing Agency licence, but there are limits on what is covered, records to be kept, and data to be reported to the CLA annually. Even hosting material obtained from our online collections is not permitted under the terms of the licence. Furthermore, downloads of illicit copies from duo are not recorded by the publisher or the Library and the resulting perceived lack of use could threaten future availability of the respective journals or online publications.

+I supplied my module bibliography and/or digitisation requests weeks ago. Why aren’t they on duo yet?

There are several factors that can cause delays:

  • The hundreds of new lists and updates received each year are processed strictly in the order in which they were received (except where a member of staff is new to Durham and started after July 1st). Backlogs can develop during peak times.
  • Books can then only be added to the 'Library Resources' list on duo when they are both in stock and not on loan. We don't recall books for this purpose until late in the summer to minimise inconvenience to borrowers.
  • Once ordered, new books can take weeks to be delivered and processed for borrowing.
  • Many scanning requests cannot be actioned until it is confirmed that an e-book of the original text will not be purchased.

All new lists and updates received by the 1st July deadline should be fully populated on duo by the start of Michaelmas term but do contact the Library if you are concerned.

+My reading list still doesn’t appear in duo at all. Why is this?

The electronic bibliography of module reading should appear in the ‘Library Resources’ area of the module’s page on duo. There can be several reasons why it isn’t:

  • The Library hasn’t begun processing your list yet. See above for reasons why this might be, but please email if you are concerned.
  • A module convenor/editor has not ‘activated’ the Library Resources area for the current academic year. Instructions for doing so are available at Ensure the module code described under ‘Manage Library Resources’ matches the one in the list provided to the Library (there should be no space between the alphanumeric characters) and click ‘submit’. Contact if you are unsure what module code to use.
  • The module code described on duo does not match exactly the one held on the Library’s software. Please contact to discuss.

Please contact the Library if you are concerned.

+A 'Library Resources' list already exists for my module. Will this be rolled over?

Yes. All existing lists will continue to be made available for duo each academic year until we are told the module has ceased or a completely new list is needed. However, to ensure it appears in duo in its most current iteration, tutors must visit the Library Resources area in edit mode, check the module code is correct, and click on 'Submit'. This instructs duo to pull in the most current list from the library's software.

+The 'Library Resources' list is structured too rigidly. I want to present texts by week or lecture and provide annotations.

This is possible but requires additional time and effort. A new bibliography can be created in duo by drawing in materials described in the Library Resources area as content items. These can then be annotated with more helpful descriptions and instructions. A guide to achieving this is available at and is also described in the brief video.