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Our Services: Reading Lists: Using Talis Aspire

A guide on how to create and maintain reading lists using Talis Aspire

About Talis Aspire Reading Lists

Talis Aspire is used to create, maintain and access Durham University's online reading lists. It offers full control over their content and layout, allows linking to almost any online material (including eBooks, ejournal articles, multimedia, and websites) and provides students with an intuitive interface through which to access and manage their course readings.

  1. An intuitive interface to help students find, access and manage reading list material.
  2. An easy to use system allowing tutors to arrange and annotate lists in the way that best suits the module and its students.
  3. Incorporate varied material types, including printed items, online resources, websites and videos.
  4. Edit your lists directly at any time and easily alert the library to items that need purchasing or digitising.
  5. Add notes to individual items to provide guidance and commentary.

If an online list exists for your module:

  • Links to the full reading list, and possibly individual sections of it, should be provided in your modules in Learn Ultra. These should be used wherever available, as they can guide your reading appropriately.
  • Alternatively, you can enter the module code or title into the search box on the Talis Aspire site then select the entry marked 'List', if one is presented, to view the reading list or 'Module' to see if there is more than one list for your module.
  • A final option is to use the browse feature under the search box. Select your faculty, then department, then level of study. You can sort the columns by module title or code by clicking above them.
  • This brief video explains how to find and interact with your reading lists.
  • NB: Not all modules have a reading list, as some don't require one. Ask your tutor if unsure.

An interactive tutorial and brief instructional videos are available below.

Bespoke individual or group sessions can be organised through your Faculty Librarian.

Contact with any further questions or ask your Faculty Librarian for guidance. If your enquiry is urgent, you can contact us through our live chat service.

Getting started - Tutors

You can rearrange, add or delete items in your reading lists directly on-screen. You can also divide your list into sections to guide your students' reading and add notes to highlight the significance of key materials and describe how students are expected to engage with them. Important, please note:

  1. You need 'List Publisher' permissions to edit reading lists. Request this from if you cannot log in or make changes.
  2. Click the 'Publish' button after making any changes to reflect them in the students' view.
  3. To alert the Library to new books you have added to your list you should select 'Request review' from the 'edit' menu above the list. The Library will see any new books, chapters or Notes for Library you have added and purchase any new or additional provisions required.
  4. An extension is available for Edge, Chrome, Firefox and Safari (via the App Store) that can be used to capture online resources from your screen for your reading lists. This page has more information. Alternatively, the Talis Aspire Bookmarking tool replicates most of what the extension does. Set this up as soon as you have list publisher permissions.
  5. Add resources already in the Library's collections by opening the record describing that item in Discover and clicking on the bookmarking tool described above.
    • Add books not yet available in the Library by opening a publisher or vendor page describing the book and click on the bookmarking tool.
    • Add freely available online resources by clicking the bookmarking button with the relevant web page open.
    • After adding books not available in the Library, remember to 'Request review' to trigger the purchases.

Examples of good practice

Social Policy: Principles, Current Issues and International Perspectives

Aspects of this list that are helpful to students:

  1. Introductory paragraph explaining the purpose of the list, how it supports the module, and how students are expected to engage with it
  2. Key textbook and general introductory titles highlighted and their purpose described clearly.
  3. A clear and consistent, easily-navigable structure presented by teaching week.
  4. Sections sub-divided into key and recommended readings enabling students to prioritise effectively.
  5. Essential readings clearly labelled with a note describing exactly what to read and highlighting the specific benefit of that text.
  6. All key texts and the majority of additional materials available online with a clear 'view online' link provided.

Current Geoarchaeology: Reconstructing Archaeological Sites

Aspects of this list that are helpful to students:

  1. Introductory paragraph outlining the context of the module and how the reading list supports it.
  2. The two main texts described prominently at the top of the list.
  3. A clear and consistent, easily-navigable structure presented by teaching week.
  4. Each section features a note explaining what topic the readings will cover.
  5. Each section sub-divided into essential readings and further readings enabling students to prioritise effectively.
  6. Essential readings clearly labelled with a note describing exactly what the student should read and highlighting the specific benefit of that text.
  7. Occasional brief exposition outlining the theme for the next few weeks, helping to scaffold students' understanding of the module structure and enabling them, potentially, to group their reading activities.
  8. Almost all texts are available online with a clear 'view online' link provided.

Interactive, self-paced tutorial

Need help getting started? If you are new to Talis Aspire or Durham University, you may find our self-paced interactive tutorial useful. This explains the steps from looking for an existing list that you can assign or re-use to creating a brand new list from scratch and assigning it to your module code so students and Blackboard can find it. You can work through from start to finish or skip to the bits you need.

Quick video guides. 13 available - select the arrows to scroll. (Videos have no sound)

Further help and training

Please contact with any ad hoc questions around completing specific tasks.

Alternatively, bespoke group training can be arranged through your Faculty Librarian.  

Evaluating your reading list

With your reading list on screen, click 'View' and select 'Analytics' to see how many times your list has been visited this academic year, how many times an entry has been clicked to find more information, and how many times students have made their own annotations.

The 'metadata' report also indicates where item records could be improved with more information. This improves the quality of references that can be exported by students.

Select 'Talis Aspire Analytics' in the online tutorial above for more information.

NB: 'Clicks' only reports where someone has clicked on a title to find out more details or check library provisions. It does not record clicks of the 'view online' button to reach full text. This information is not currently recorded.