officer blog


jenna chapman

undergraduate education

Free online reading lists? We’re one big step closer!

Reading lists are a key part of almost all courses at UEA. Knowing what you need to read for when is essential for planning your study and making sure you're sufficiently prepared for seminars.  

Unfortunately the costs of buying all the books you need can be prohibitive. Student feedback has consistently shown that many students are struggling to cover the cost of texts required for their course. With costs that can run into hundreds of pounds, those who simply can't afford to buy all their texts end up relying on a few copies of any given book in the library. When a few copies are shared by a whole cohort and it comes to deadline time, getting hold of the text you need can be really difficult and add to the stress of summative assignments.  

Some modules at UEA currently have access to online textbooks, meaning every student on that module, regardless of their financial situation, can access a copy of their core reading for free through the library website. However, this isn’t the case for most modules at UEA. Until this summer, the library only had access to approximately 200 reading lists each year - meaning they were only able to strategically buy access to core books and journals for a fraction of the courses at UEA. 

This all changed over the summer. Last academic year Theo, my predecessor, identified the issue of inconsistent reading lists and the high cost of course texts. He worked with the Library and the University to mandate staff to use a new interactive online reading list system - TALIS. This system will give the library access to every reading list across schools and courses, allowing them to work strategically to check stock and order more online and print materials when and where they're needed. This will increase the opportunities for the library to provide online texts, reducing the chances of students having to spend out on their own copies of books.  

TALIS has additional benefits for students too. With all your reading list information in one place, sorting out your course reading should be a lot easier. The new system will make things more consistent across modules and courses, and lead to a better student experience. 

TALIS has been implemented across all schools and faculties over the summer. It has been a new system for staff to learn, but we are excited to say that  57% of all reading lists are now on the system, with a fantastic 72% of all lists online in Humanities.  This has already more than quadrupled the number of reading list that the library has access to and can plan for. And as this figure gets closer to 100%, more and more students will have better access to resources. 

I caught up with Library Director, Nicholas Lewis, last week. He said, “UEA has made a firm commitment to its online reading list initiative as part of developing technology-enhanced learning at all levels of the university. The Library is keen to support students by providing ever increasing numbers of links to their core readings and, where possible, digitised copies as part of our ‘digital first’ strategy.” 

We are extremely excited that the University has listened to students and have started implementing a consistent online reading list system in response. We are also thankful for the collaboration of work between academics and the library to make this happen. Whilst we’re not at 100% implementation yet, we look forward to seeing the number of lists increase as the year goes on. And whilst we’re still a long way off every student having free access to all core readings online, we're one big step closer! 

Do you have any modules that still don’t have reading lists online? Help the  library by letting them know at:

Also if you ever can’t find what you need, don’t forget the Library’s ‘book suggestions’ and ‘e-books on demand schemes’


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