Online reading lists - info for staff: Digitised readings (scans)

Guidance for teaching staff on creating and editing online lists for their modules

Digitised readings: overview


You can use the Online Reading Lists system to place requests to have key readings from printed works digitised. Students will be able to access the readings directly from your list via the Online Resource button, as described in the "Viewing a digitised reading" video below. (This replaces the previous arrangement whereby scanned readings were made available via MMS.)

Digitisation of teaching materials is subject to compliance with important copyright restrictions (see Copyright: what can be digitised?). The system will check your requests for copyright compliance, however it's a good idea to be familiar with requirements (e.g. the maximum length of extract that can be digitised) before submitting requests - or in cases where you may need to adjust a request in the event of it being rejected.

Due to the work involved in dealing with requests to scan items, the expectation is that you should only place requests in certain circumstances:

– for required/essential readings – in particular where you want your students to have read the item before (e.g.) a tutorial, seminar, assignment or assessment;

– where you have a large number of students on the module and you know that print copies of a work will be in heavy demand;

– if you want to recommend a journal article and the University Library does not have access to the online version, or the journal is only held in print.

If however you already possess a scan of a reading that you want to use, the system allows you to upload a copy yourself.

A brief video guide and more detailed step-by-step instructions to placing requests are below.

Copyright: what can be digitised?

It is a strict requirement of the University’s copyright licence that digitised chapters and articles comply fully with a specific set of regulations governing scanning (see here).  The main points for this are as follows:

Extract length: a maximum of one complete chapter from a book; or one article per issue from a print journal; or one poem or short story (max. 10 pages) from an anthology; or 10% of the total work. [More details]

Library holdings: the University Library must hold at least one print copy of the work a scanned extract is taken from. [More details] In some cases it may be possible to obtain permission from the copyright holder to reproduce an extract from a work.

Publisher restrictions: while most UK-published works may be scanned, some categories and works are excluded from the terms of the copright licence. Arrangements for other countries vary, but in general regulations governing scanning are more restrictive. Information on restricted works and regulations regarding overseas territories can be found here. A handy tool for checking if a work is scannble can be found here.

Uploading: a copyright coversheet must be attached to any scanned material before it is made available online – the system will provide this automatically for successful requests. You may not upload scanned material to Moodle or MMS yourself.

Request a digitisation

You will need to ask to be given permission to request digitisations - e-mail us at for this. You'll be sent an invitation by e-mail to accept the role of Copyright Clearance Pilot - simply click on the link in it to accept the invitation.

Request a digitisation - step-by-step instructions

Step 1: You will need to ask to be given permission to request digitisations - e-mail us at for this. You'll be sent an invitation by e-mail to accept the role of Copyright Clearance Pilot - simply click on the link in it to accept the invitation.

Step 2: When you next open the Edit view of your list [Sign in > Edit > Edit list] you'll see that each list item now has a Request Digitisation option next to it, e.g.:

Clicking the Request Digitisation link will open a request form in a pop-up window.

Step 3: [You may be asked to choose an ISBN from a selection (where the work is available in a variety of formats). If you happen to have a library copy of the work please select the ISBN for it, if not simply choose any one of the ISBNs.]

This window will open:

Submit a digitisation request

The format of this will vary depending on the type of resource (book chapter, section of a book, or journal article).

If not already completed, you should enter details in the asterisked required fields.

If you already have a PDF of the extract you can choose to upload it from your PC using the Browse button. The PDF must be a clean copy (not marked up, no shadows or anything that would make the text difficult to read); it should also match exactly the details you have entered (i.e. same page range etc) - you will need to tick the "I confirm ..." box to confirm this.

[Note: it's probably a good idea to check compliance before uploading a PDF: 1. check Library search to make sure we have a print copy of the work it comes from (and that we don't already have access to it electronically); 2. use this copyright check tool to see if the work is ccovered by our scanning licence.]

Step 4: The Next step button will take you to this window:

Submit a digitisation request

You will only need to enter a page range here for chapters which have notes at the end of the book. If this doesn't apply click Next step.

Step 5: The next window should already have the details completed:

Submit a digitisation request

If however any of the details are missing or incorrect it's important that you insert the necessary information.

Step 6: When you submit your request you'll then receive a message within a few seconds letting you know whether your request was successful or not, or if it was referred to Library staff for further checking. A variety of messages may be displayed - common ones are as follows:

The request is successful. This request has been sent to have a coversheet attached. This applies in case where you have uploaded a PDF yourself.

This request requires a copy to be uploaded [...]. The request was successful - library staff will scan and upload the extract.

The system cannot identify the requested resource based on the data supplied [...]. The ISBN may be missing, or library holdings not immediately evident: library staff will investigate this further and upload a copy if copyright regulations permit.

A newer edition is available [...]. Copyright requirements stipulate that we must source scans from the latest edition of a work, unless there is a good pedagogical reason for using an earlier edition. You should check Library search to check if the Library holds a copy of the latest edition - if so, add a bookmark for this edtion to your list and use it to submit a new digitisation request. If not, it will be necessary for us to purchase a copy (see your School's library rep or contact us at to set this in train). If you do have pedagogical reasons for using an earlier edition you'll be given the opportunity to give your reasons in the form in this window.

This resource is not held by the library. Copyright requirements stipulate that the Library should hold a print copy of the source work, or to obtain permission to reproduce the extract. In most cases we will seek to purchase a copy of books we lack (for details on how to arrange this see the previous paragraph), but in some cases (e.g. journal articles, books which are expensive or difficult to acquire) we can investigate getting a copyright-cleared copy. Because of publisher restrictions, it is not always possible to obtain copyright clearance and your request for a digitisation may be refused.

This request cannot be serviced under the terms of your RRO license. Your request has been refused because it does not comply with UK copyright regulations. Contact us at if you need clarification about the particulars of this.

This request exceeded the copy limits for the work/course. There are strict limits on the proportion of a work that can be scanned (see Copyright: what can be digitised?). You could however resubmit your request with a reduced length, e.g. if you originally requested two chapters from a book you should choose one of these (as permitted under copyright regulations) and resubmit.

Step 7: When you return to your list, you'll see that the item is now marked Digitisation pending. If it goes through successfully Library staff will deal with the request and this will change to Digitisation live. At this point students will be able to access the reading via the Online Resource button on the public view of your list.

For successful requests, you'll receive an e-mail to let you know when the digitised extract has been uploaded. In other cases you'll receive notification of progress with/reasons for refusal of your request.