There has been considerable interest internationally for a genre of products that manage lists of materials assigned by instructors for the classes offered in a college or university. Two of these reading list management products compete in the UK, including Talis Aspire Reading Lists and Rebus:List introduced in July 2012 by PTFS Europe. While these products may be populated primarily by content provided by the library, they also must handle materials outside of its collections. Reading lists generally have a closer connection with the learning management systems used by the campus than the resource management system or discovery service of the library.
Talis recently announced that 77 higher educational institutions have selected its product, primarily in the UK, but also including universities in Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Cyprus, Malaysia, and China. PTFS Europe reports 21 universities using its Rebus:list, all in the United Kingdom.
Until recently reading list products have not seen strong interest in the United States. US-based institutions have not subscribed to the products offered by PTFS Europe or Talis, and until recently technology providers active in the US have not offered these products.
EBSCO Information Services entered the fray in August of 2014 with a related product called Curriculum Builder, which was covered in the August 2014 issue of Smart Libraries Newletter. Curriculum Builder leverages the content and functionality of the library's implementation of EBSCO Discovery Service to provide a plug-in to the institution's learning management system. Using the industry-standard Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI), course instructors can build resource lists, including articles or other materials from the library's subscriptions or from their own personal copies of materials. Curriculum Builder operates entirely through the LMS course page and does not require that the instructor directly invoke EBSCO Discovery Service via the library's site.
Ex Libris has now launched an initiative to develop its reading list product in partnership with a group of five universities, an internationally diverse set of Ex Libris Alma customers: KU Leuven in Belgium; Imperial College and Kingston University in the United Kingdom; the University of Oklahoma; and University of New South Wales in Australia. The product is in the early development phase and will be designed with the input of these development partners. This yet unnamed product, will interoperate with the institution's learning management system and will be based on new functionality delivered through Ex Libris' Alma platform. Readers can expect a more in-depth treatment of this product once more information is available.
Reading lists products have the potential to help educational institutions make better use of the resources acquired and managed by the library. They provide a locus of discovery that operates through the learning management system in addition to the catalogs or discovery services offered by the library. In many libraries, electronic reserves programs and the separate systems used to manage them have waned as course materials shift to being managed by learning management systems. While this shift have relieved libraries of some of the burden involved in identifying, acquiring, or even digitizing course-related materials, it has also meant a further degree of separation of libraries from involvement with the content consumed in the classroom. This emerging genre of reading list management gives libraries an opportunity to ensure that their collection materials are easily accessed for inclusion in course reading assignments, but also provides statistics and analytics to help acquire them acquire content that is well-aligned with the curriculum.