Skip to main content My Account Off-Campus Access Give 24/7 Chat Meet with a Librarian Directory Library Services Technical Support Submit a Digital Sign Give Newsletters Social Media

Course Reserves for Instructors

Help your students borrow books for free!

Materials for your class can be set aside at the library for students to borrow for free, lessening the amount of materials that must be purchased each quarter. Instructors may choose to place books, media, articles and more on reserve for their students.

Course Reserves and the Equitable Access Program

A Course Reserves reading list works alongside the campus Bookstore’s Equitable Access program and Bookshelf.

Currently, Course Reserves provides access to digital copies of course materials available to enrolled students (Shields Library only). While the EA program provides low-cost access to required course materials, the reading list provides no-cost access to both required and recommended course materials.

Benefits of Course Reserves

Course Reserves reading lists are accessible from the Canvas course site. Reading lists collect all required and recommended resources into a single, searchable location. Students can:

  • View and download digital content
  • Request physical materials
  • Read special notes regarding access
  • Mark readings completed
  • Like favorite readings
  • Discuss readings with other

Getting Started with Course Reserves

Online instructions are available to assist you in creating and submitting your Course Reserves reading list. Instructions are designed so that you can go directly to the specific information needed or for you to click through and learn the entire process. If you review the online instructions and still need help, please contact Course Reserves staff for additional assistance.

Create a New Reading List

Course Reserves reading lists allow your students to view all materials you’ve placed on Course Reserves at the UC Davis Library. These materials will have limited loan periods, maximizing access for all students and reducing their out-of -pocket expenses. These items may also be borrowed by you as the instructor for longer loan periods for classroom prep and instruction.

Create a New Reading List (PDF)
Step 1

Log into your Canvas course site (be sure to double-check the term) and select Reading List from the Navigation Menu. Your Reading List option may not appear in the same order as in the example provided below.

Step 2

Click Create on the first splash page. It is important that you do not “skip” this step. While the course itself exists in Canvas, this sends the course information to the library. Do not update any information on this page; automatic scripts will fill in the dates and other information.

Step 3

Click Create It.

Step 4

You may choose to give your reading list a new name (Title) or leave as the system default. Click Create.

Step 5

Select the Basic Template (Best Practice). Templates provide the structure for your reading list; all templates are fully customizable. If you have a favorite organizational structure for your reading lists that’s different from our Basic Template, you can Save [that] list structure as a template for future use, simply select this option from the Edit drop-down menu on the next/main landing page.

Step 6

You’re ready now to Add items to your reading list!

Add Items to a Reading List

Now that you’ve created a Course Reserves reading list, you’ll want to add items to the reading list. Items can be anything you want: books, DVDs, electronic articles, website, PDFs, etc. If you don’t find what you’re looking for by searching the library catalog and databases, you may create the item manually. Library staff will verify holdings and, if approved, purchase necessary material. Reading lists should contain no more than 15 citations.

Add Items to a Reading List (PDF)
Step 1

Click Add Items to open the searching options.

Step 2

Click Library Search and enter your search term(s) to search library holdings. If your search result doesn’t locate the needed item at the UC Davis Library, consider expanding your search to the entire UC library system by selecting UCS Discover Network from the Search in drop-down menu.

Step 3

Locate the item in the search results.
• Please pay close attention to the edition. The library will process whichever edition you select, even if a newer edition is available.
• If there’s an available e-book, please select that option.

Step 4

Click the title/edition that you want to add to your reading list.

Step 5

Select the reading list Section you want from the drop-down menu and click Add.

Step 6

If you can’t find the title/editon that you need using Library Search, please use the Blank Form to enter information manually. At a minimum, Title and Type is required. However, additional information such as author, ISBN, edition, etc. may be necessary to identify the correct item. If you’re adding a PDF, you will be able to drag-and-drop or browse for the file from this screen.

Step 7

Select the reading list Section you want to add the item to from the drop-down menu and click Add.

Step 8

Once you’ve added items to your reading list, you may want to add Tags or Notes to some or all of your citations. This is a completely optional step. When you’ve finished building your reading list, you’ll need to send it to the library, so that library staff can begin processing the reading list.

Add Tags and Note to a Reading List

Tags notify library staff when you want to do something “unusual” with a citation, such as requiring a particular edition, especially if it’s not the newest available. Notes contain information that you may choose to make Public to your students or keep Private for yourself.

Add Tags and Notes to a Reading List (PDF)
Step 1 (Tags)

Locate the item that you want to add a tag to.

Step 2 (Tags)

Click Add Tag.

Step 3 (Tags)

Select the tag from the drop-down menu; repeat as needed. Jump to Step 7 if you aren’t adding Notes.

Step 4 (Notes)

Locate the item that you want to add a note to and click anywhere on that citation to open the detailed view.

Step 5 (Notes)

Scroll down to the Public note (viewable by your students) and Private note (viewable by yourself) fields, decide which type of note you’re entering, and click Add [public or private] note.

Step 6 (Notes)

Type your note and click Save.

Step 7

Once you’ve finished adding tags and notes to your reading list you’ll need to send it to the library, so that library staff can begin processing the reading list.

Send a Reading List to the Library

Library staff will not begin work on a reading list until it’s been submitted to the library. Until that happens, we consider that the list is still “under construction” and not yet ready for the library to work on. If you’ve added a citation to an already-submitted reading list, jump to Step 3 below.

Send a Reading List to the Library (PDF)
Step 1

Click Library Review to send the entire reading list to the library.

Step 2

That’s it! Library staff will process the reading list so that items will be available to students as quickly as possible. If there are any problems or questions about the reading list, library staff will contact you. Otherwise, you may follow the progress of the reading list in Canvas; a glossary of processing terms is available in the FAQ below.

Step 3

Click the Options menu (… icon) located next to the newly-added item’s title and select Send to Library from the drop-down menu.

Step 4

Again, that’s it! Library staff will process the reading list so that items will be available to students as quickly as possible. If there are any problems or questions about the reading list, library staff will contact you. Otherwise, you may follow the progress of the reading list in Canvas; a glossary of processing terms is available in the FAQ below.

Add a Creator/Editor to a Canvas Course

Users must be authorized as the Teacher, TA, Lead TA, or Designer for a Canvas course site in order to create or edit a Course Reserves reading list for that course.

Add a Creator/Editor to a Canvas Course (PDF)
Step 1

Log into your Canvas course site (be sure to double-check the term) and select People from the Navigation Menu. Your People option may not appear in the same order as in the example provided below.

Step 2

Click +People.

Step 3

Add user(s) by their UC Davis email address, campus login or SIS ID.

Step 4

Select Role and course Section (if applicable) from the drop-down menu.

Step 5

Click Next

Step 6

Click Add Users

Re-use a Previous Reading List

Lists from previous terms may re-used in subsequent quarters. If you would like to re-use a previous reading list but are having trouble locating it, it may have been archived; please contact the library staff for assistance. If you know you will be re-using a particular reading list in future classes or terms, a best practice is to export and save the reading list to your computer at the time of creation to avoid any issues with archiving.
While there are multiple ways to export/import your reading list, the library advocates for using RIS files exclusively.

Re-use a Previous Reading List (PDF)

Export an RIS File

Step 1

Log into your Canvas course site for the term with the reading list you wish to re-use and select Reading List from the Navigation Menu.

Step 2

For each reading list section that you would like to export and save, go to the options menu (… icon) located next to the section header and select Export > To RIS file.

Step 3

Click OK to Save File on your computer. You may want to rename the RIS files to simplify management, especially if you are exporting multiple files.

Import an RIS File

Step 1

Follow steps 1-5 as noted in the Add Items to a Reading List section above.

Step 2

For each of the reading list sections that you are importing into, go to the options menu (… icon) located next to that section header and select Import.

Step 3

Drag-and-drop or Browse for the RIS file.

Step 4

Click Save.

Step 5

Review reading list section names and items carefully and update information as necessary to remove items that you no longer use or add new items. Tags and Notes don’t transfer, so be certain to add these if needed.

Step 6

Once you’re satisfied with your reading list you’ll need to send it to the library, so that library staff can begin processing the reading list.

Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

When are reading lists due for the term?

Course Reserves reading lists will be processed in the order received. Reading lists may take up to three weeks to process due to peak workload constraints, delays in retrieving loaned materials, or purchasing new material. While reading lists are accepted throughout the year, to ensure Course Reserves materials are available to students by the beginning of classes, reading lists should be received by:

  • the second Friday of August for Fall Quarter
  • the second Friday of November for Winter Quarter
  • the second Friday of February for Spring Quarter
  • the second Friday of May for Summer Session

Deadlines for the professional schools may be earlier, depending upon the start date of their terms.

How many citations can I put on a reading list?

Reading lists should not exceed 15 total citations. If your reading list exceeds this limit, you may be contacted to prioritize or amend your reading list and not all citations may be digitized.

Digitizing materials is a labor-intensive and time-consuming task. Limiting the number of citations per reading lists allows us to provide necessary materials to the greatest number of courses and students possible.

Where are Course Reserves located?

Course Reserves are processed and located at either Shields Library or the Blaisdell Medical Library. 

Items needed for courses beginning with the following course codes will be processed and housed at the Blaisdell Medical Library:

ANE | BCM | CAR | CHA | DER | EMR | ENM | FAP | GAS | GMD | HON | HPH | ISI | IMD | MDS | MHI 200 series | MMI 300-400 series | NEP | NEU | NRS | NSU | OBG | OPT | OSU | OTO | PAS | PED | PHA | PMD | PMR | PSU | PSY | PUL | RAL | RDI | RNU | RON | SUR | URO

Are reading lists still 100% digital at Shields Library?

Yes, Course Reserves are provided 100% digitally at Shields LIbrary only. Course Reserves at BML are not provided digitally unless a library e-book is available.

Titles that are submitted on a Course Reserves reading list are automatically reviewed for library e-book holdings. If an e-book is available, it will be linked to the reading list for students to access directly from Canvas. If off-campus, users will first need to authenticate themselves via the library VPN to access this material.

If an e-book is unavailable or cannot be purchased, Shields Library will automatically digitize content from the physical material. A PDF, accessible only by the instructor and students enrolled in the active course, will be added to the Course Reserves reading list. Users may only access this file by logging into Canvas and navigating to the course’s reading list. Instructors should not request digitization services for course materials, as this is as automated, standard practice.

Please note that the library cannot digitize multiple editions of the same title; only the most current edition added to your Course Reserves reading list will be digitized. While a title is on active Course Reserves, the physical copies will be held in a closed collection and are not accessible.

How long can students borrow Course Reserves materials from the BML Reserves collection?

Physical lending of Course Reserves materials is only available at the Blaisdell Medical Library. The loan period for BML Reserves material varies from 2-hours to 4-weeks, depending on the material. Access to this collection is restricted to Health Sciences Graduate Students and Residents.

Shields Library Course Reserves remains digital only.

Can I add Notes or Comments to my reading list citations?

The Course Reserves reading list supports three kinds of notes. A Public Note will display in the reading list and anyone with access to the course site will be able to read it. A Private Note is viewable only to the instructor, TA, or course Designer. To create or edit these notes, you’ll select the appropriate citation and scroll down to the different note fields. The Library Discussion link allows you to direct message Course Reserves staff and eliminates the need to call or email. Library staff can reply back using this same mechanism. Library Discussion is located in the right-side toolbar.

Digital Files and Streaming Content

How long does it take for the PDF of a text to be available on the reading list?

This timeline depends on several factors. If the material was digitized previously, the PDF will generally post within 1-2 business days following receipt of the reading list. If not, the material will need to go into our digitization work queue. Course Reserves regularly receives hundreds of reading lists each quarter, amounting to several hundreds more of citations. Reading lists and citations are processed in the order that they were received. During peak workload periods, digitization may take up to three weeks. Additional delays may happen if the item must be ordered or is on loan, missing or damaged.

How can I stream a video for my class?

If you’d like to include a video on Course Reserves, add it to your reading list just like any other citation. If the video is already available through one of the library’s licensed streaming services, students will be able to click the citation and view the video straight from the reading list.

If the video isn’t available through a streaming service, the library will digitize the film and provide you with a code to embed into your Canvas course site and instructions via email.

Can I physically borrow a video that’s on Course Reserves?

If the material that you need is on an active Course Reserves reading list that you submitted, you are welcome to borrow the item for up to two weeks for classroom prep and use. Please be aware that this material could be recalled.

Please email to arrange to pick up at least one business day in advance.

I want to upload files to my reading list. What should I know about copyright compliance?

When you upload files to the Course Reserves system, you’re certifying that your use of the uploaded files is compliant with copyright law. Generally, this will mean one of the following is true:

  • uploading the files for use in your course is fair use;
  • you have received permission from the copyright owner;
  • the uploaded item is not protected by copyright or is in the public domain; or
  • you own the copyright.

For assistance in understanding copyright restrictions and how to confidently rely on fair use, please consult the materials on the UC copyright website or get expert help from the library’s scholarly communications program by messaging


What if the title/edition that I need for my class isn’t available at the library?

If the library doesn’t already own an item needed for your course – or if the library’s copy is missing – we will evaluate it for a rush purchase decision and order. Simply create the reading list as normal and add the citation for the item needed. This purchasing workflow is an automatic part of the Course Reserves process.

If possible, the library will purchase an e-book. If not, a physical copy will be purchased. In the case of a physical copy purchase, please consider providing a personal copy of the title to the library, either as a permanent donation or a temporary loan. Either will allow the library to put the title straight into the digitization queue, which will expedite PDF availability for your students.

Why don’t I see my reading list?

If you’ve created a reading list for the current or upcoming term, but can’t see it, there’s likely one of two problems: 1) you created and attached the list to a different course by accident, or 2) you skipped one of the initial creation steps and didn’t attach the list to a course. Fortunately, these are easy fixes. Staff can walk you through these or correct the problem for you.

If you’re looking for an older list from a previous course and you can’t find it, it’s most likely been archived. Staff can unarchive the list temporarily so you can re-use it for a new course. TIP: It’s always a good idea to export and save your reading list as an .RIS file so that you can easily upload and use it again in the future. Instructions for saving and using .RIS files are available under online as “Re-use a Previous Reading List.”

Why can’t I create or edit a reading list for my course?

This is an easy fix! Your library account is most likely missing a required field that’s needed for Canvas and the library computing system to communicate with one another. Please contact Course Reserves staff to let them know about the issue. Staff will be able to update your library account and usually get the system working for you in a matter of minutes.


Glossary of Processing Terms: What do these mean?

When looking at a citation in Canvas, a variety of terms are used to reflect the item(s) availability and where in the process of being moved to Course Reserves the item(s) is at:

  • Available: Items are available to be checked out
  • Being Prepared: This citation has not been sent to the library and is not currently being processed
  • Check holdings: Items are not available to be checked out
  • Complete: All copies that are being moved to Course Reserves of this title have been moved
  • Complete-Digitization Declined: Digitization is unavailable for this title, either because the instructor has said it’s unnecessary or because the content cannot be scanned
  • Inactive: This citation cannot be placed onto Course Reserves
  • Instructor Contacted: Library staff are attempting to contact the instructor with additional questions about this citation; work on the citation is on-hold
  • On Order-Electronic: The e-book is being purchased and we are awaiting receipt and activation
  • On Order-Physical: The physical book is being purchased and we awaiting receipt and cataloging
  • Pending Digitization: There is no available e-book and the physical copy is in the digitization queue, awaiting digitization. Materials are digitized in the order received
  • Pending E-book Purchase Decision: Acquisitions staff are checking if an e-book is available for purchase or, if needed, a physical book
  • Requested: Library copies of this item are being recalled or paged from stacks or Acquisitions
  • Requested from NRLF: Library copies of this item are being recalled or paged from the Northern Regional Library Facility, on off-site storage facility serving all norther UC campuses
  • Review Needed: Special processing or advanced expertise needed before proceeding with processing
  • Sent: The instructor has sent this citation to the library and it is waiting to begin processing