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Newcastle University

University Library

Subject support guide

Your subject-specific guide to using library resources.

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Reading Lists: a step-by-step guide for Academic Staff

The Reading Lists  - Guidelines service banner showing an owl.

These guidelines hope to provide clarity and consistency regarding reading lists.

Modules and Reading Lists

If you are starting a brand new module:

The Library is notified at the beginning of the academic year of new modules which have been added to the reading list system from a feed which comes from the MOFs database.

However, to ensure resources are in place for the beginning of each term, you will need to let us know in advance to ensure that required resources are organised for the start of the module. We would prefer to have this information 6 weeks in advance to allow books to be ordered, delivered and made available.

If you are planning a new module, please liaise with your relevant Library Liaison Team about student numbers, stock levels and new resources.

Ideally, we'd need to know:

  • Module Leader or Coordinator's name.
  • School.
  • Reading list/Module title.
  • Module code.
  • Anticipated student numbers on module (if known).
  • When it is running, e.g. Semester One and/or Two.

If you are taking over or continuing an existing module then it may be there is an existing list available online in our Reading Lists system.

If a reading list is already published and available, then you can log in and make amendments. If you would prefer us to do this for you, please communicate the changes to us via or submit a new version of your reading list and we will make the changes.

You should send your reading list to the Library whenever you have:

  • added items to your list.
  • inherited the module from another academic and have changed the list.
  • noticed an increase in the number of expected students and are concerned about library stock levels.
  • noticed broken links on your lists and would like the citations checked.
Suggested Layouts

Use headings, if applicable, to indicate when reading should take place and how important each item is:

An image of Reading Lists categorised as essential and recommended reading.

Use headings, if applicable, to indicate when reading should take place and how important each item is:

An image of Reading Lists categorised as essential and weekly reading.

Structure of a Reading List

In consultation with academic staff, the Library has created the following guidelines which you will want to bear in mind if you are working on a reading list:

Annotated - Please ensure your list is clearly laid out and accurate. This involves appropriate headings, e.g. Essential, Recommended or Background and all the necessary bibliographic details so each item can be identified. If students are expected to purchase items themselves then please indicate this.

Length - A new 100-item reading list can take around one working week of Library staff time for checking, ordering and processing. Therefore, please bear in mind that the longer the list, the harder it will be for the Library to process and provide all recommended sources in sufficient quantity. Where lists are very long, Library staff will prioritise the checking and purchasing of key items. We aim to process all items on reading lists and will prioritise adding the first 75 items, or those labelled as Essential, to the online Reading List system. Expectations should be realistic about how much students are able to read and what the Library can supply.

Early - Please try to send your lists to us as early as possible before the module starts, as it can take 6-8 weeks for some new items to arrive once they have been ordered. Some Schools collate lists and send them via a designated contact such as the Library Academic Representative; others leave it to individuals. We don't mind which method you choose, but ultimately, we rely on module leaders to make sure their module reading lists are sent to us or updated online. You can amend lists at anytime, you don’t need to wait for a specific time.

Realistic - Please be aware that some items can be very difficult or impossible for us to obtain, and/or highly expensive. This relates particularly to out-of-print books and certain items which need to be obtained from outside the UK.

Image of a meadow with the words 'The wise choice' showing