Ball State University Libraries launched a new course reserves platform called Reading Lists in January 2020, providing a seamless transition for both students and faculty in the delivery of course resources. Reading Lists gives students simple access to resources selected by their instructors, including full-text articles, e-books, digitized content, streaming video and music, and many other media types. The best part? The Reading Lists app connects directly with the Canvas course navigation menu, making it just one click away from other important course content.


In mid-March 2020, when COVID-19 concerns increased and the Ball State campus turned to remote learning for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester, Reading Lists became an instrumental method for instructors to share online and digitized content with their classes.


At the beginning of each semester, University Libraries staff offer online, synchronous workshops to introduce instructors to the advantages of utilizing Reading Lists to provide resources to students. Reading Lists workshops are announced in the Communications Center and can be found listed on the Libraries’ workshop calendar. Instructors have commented that they appreciate library staff assistance in getting their Reading Lists created and activated, but many also enjoy the do-it-yourself tools available in the system, such as the ability to add and remove readings and customize sections. Many instructors have been impressed by all the immediate benefits of utilizing Reading Lists during a time when a higher number of classes are offered online. Others have remarked that they can see the long-term convenience and elegance of building course resource lists in this system, well beyond a COVID-19 virtual-learning environment.


Some of the most noteworthy features:

  • The Reading Lists system can be connected directly to a Canvas course by adding it to the navigation menu; this allows it to be just one click away from other important course content in Canvas
  • Reading Lists are multimedia friendly; they can include not only library database articles and digitized book chapters, but streaming video, streaming audio, open-access and Open Educational resources, webpages, e-books, and more
  • A Reading List can be divided into sections to help students prioritize, and instructors can title the sections, for example, Week 1, Unit 2
  • The same Reading List can be connected to multiple sections of the same course, or even multiple courses
  • Library staff can easily roll over a Reading List from one semester to the next to make it simple for instructors to build off previous course content
  • Reading Lists are a flexible and cost-effective alternative to expensive textbooks and alongside Open Educational Resources, Reading Lists play a key role in the Textbook Affordability at Ball State initiative launched in January 2023


Course reserves services have always involved support from library staff, and Reading Lists are no exception. Staff members review submitted content for copyright compliance, maintain links, activate resources, and answer questions from students and faculty. Before submitting requests or adding an item to a Reading List, faculty are encouraged to read our copyright guidelines for course reserves.


Instructors interested in learning more about Reading Lists should contact Laura Suman, Head of Access Services, at