Integrating Course Reading Lists with Library Management Software Pays Off

The University of Edinburgh has used Ex Libris’ Leganto to introduce workflow efficiencies, allowing the Library to contribute to the University’s strategic goals in teaching and learning.

Managing the provision of course reading materials and ensuring access to these materials for all students, either in print or electronically, can be challenging. Especially in large Universities where there may not be a single process for providing the Library with oversight of course reading lists.

For instance, when academic teaching staff provides access to a reading list via a Learning Management System (LMS) or course handbook, library staff may not routinely have visibility of these lists and in some cases may not have been consulted to check that all the required materials are readily available. As a result, libraries can lack oversight of what materials are being used in teaching at a university which may lead to library collections not meeting students’ expectations or existing collections potentially being underused. Students may also struggle to find the materials they need or must wait to get access.

The University of Edinburgh in Scotland aimed to make sure the library’s collections continued to support teaching, met student expectations in terms of available copies and electronic access and made good use of available budgets through use of a reading list system to inform the provision of key teaching materials. 

The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in Scotland, with registration number SC005336.

One of the ways the University Library is fulfilling these aims is through use of Ex Libris Leganto, a solution for creating and managing course resource lists that integrates seamlessly with the Ex Libris Alma library management system.

Use of Leganto has allowed multiple library teams at the University of Edinburgh Library to work on the same course lists simultaneously, thus avoiding bottlenecks and creating efficiencies in service provision. 

“We wanted a system that would allow us to deliver our resource lists service at scale,” says Library Learning Services Support Officer, Sarah Ames. 

The Benefits of Integrated Workflows 

Having a reading list solution that integrates with its library management system has benefited the University of Edinburgh in many ways. 

For instance, one of the key benefits for Edinburgh was the ability to integrate the work of their Acquisitions, E-Reserve (scanning) and HUB (High Use Books) teams, through the use of Leganto. The workflow now enables the Library to apply purchase ratios to lists, provide copyright-cleared scans and move books to different loan periods in the Library.

“We now have an end-to-end Alma-Leganto workflow,” Ames says. “Prior to using Leganto, we had a very linear workflow. Every team was waiting for other teams to complete a task before it could start the next task. Now, we’re able to move much more quickly. As the course team is building reading lists, they can submit purchase requests directly to the acquisitions team, while other teams are working on their aspects of the service.”

Instructors can work together on the Leganto solution to build common reading lists, share updating of lists with their peers. Students can evaluate or comment on course materials within Leganto, and the platform also provides analytics on the use of course materials. There is the potential for course organizers to use this information to assess and enhance their reading lists, and librarians can use it to improve purchasing and develop their collections more wisely.

Efficiency Gains Lead to Better Service

By streamlining workflows and reducing the need for manual data entry, the University of Edinburgh has cut down on the amount of time it takes to build reading lists, submit purchase requests, manage digitization requests and ensure that students have access to key course materials.

This expediency is very important. “We try to make resource lists available to students four weeks before the start of a course,” explains Library Learning Services Manager, Angela Laurins. “That doesn’t give us a lot of time to provide all of these services.”

Before using Leganto, library staff struggled to meet these demands in the required amount of time. But now, “we have no bottlenecks in our workflows,” Ames notes. “Our average time to hand back a completed list to a course organizer has halved.”

The efficiencies that Edinburgh has gained by having a reading list solution that integrates with its library management system have enabled the Library to scale up their support for academic colleagues.

“In our first year of moving to Leganto, we managed to increase the number of resource lists we were supporting by 67 percent,” Ames says. The university currently has more than 1,700 resource lists for the roughly 6,000 courses it offers.

In addition, library staff now have more time to focus on other tasks they could not get to before and plan to explore analytics to understand how course materials are being used.

“We now have oversight over what resources are used for teaching, so we can address specific gaps in our collections,” Laurins says. “We can fill those gaps and set expectations around the services that our library provides, so students and course organizers can feel confident that the materials used in teaching have been made available by the library.”

Using Leganto to manage course resource lists “helps our library play a key role in advancing one of the university’s principal aims,” she concludes, “which is improving the student experience.”


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