Monthly Archives: September 2014

The challenge of improving core text provision

The University of Manchester Library serves one of the largest student populations in the UK and a major challenge we face is meeting the core text needs of all students across a wide and diverse range of courses and teaching provision.

Through student surveys and consultations, we know that our students would like all core texts to be made available electronically and that they want all course reading to be available online and in one place.

Our students also tell us that there are not enough textbooks in the library, while they regard paying for textbooks as a ‘hidden cost’ they are increasingly unwilling to meet themselves.


How can we solve this problem? 

To respond to these issues, the University of Manchester Library has launched a major strategy project with the aim of:

  • Improving the student experience by increasing the provision of electronic core texts
  • Developing flexible models for the purchase of – and provision of – core texts at Manchester
  • Improving students’ understanding of what they are required to read and to manage their expectations regarding which books they are required to purchase
  • Investigating the options for providing seamless access to recommended reading

About the project

Books Right Here Right Now is an innovative project that will investigate a range of solutions for improving access to core texts.

The project team consists of a range of experts from across the Library and beyond and will focus on the following:

Identifying core texts at Manchester: knowing what students are being directed to read is a challenge in itself! We aim to map core texts at the University of Manchester and make recommendations on future models for working with schools.

Reading behaviour at Manchester: gaining a better understanding of how students access their reading, and their preferences for different formats or devices, will underpin the recommendations made by this project.

E-book pilots: an integral part of ‘Books Right Here…’ is to run a series of pilots across a variety of programmes with a range of publishers. We are no longer wedded to the model of providing institutional access to e-books in perpetuity and are looking at options for providing each student with an electronic copy of their core text for the period of time that they are required to access it. Running pilots in semester one and two of 2014/15 will allow us to evaluate different models and to assess student reading behaviour and their experiences and views on using e-books in this way.

New models for purchasing core texts: we recognise that one size does not fit all with an institution like Manchester. Based on the outcomes of the project we hope to recommend a new model (or models) for purchasing core texts at an institutional or faculty level.

A reading strategy for the University of Manchester: the final output of the project will be the development of an institutional reading strategy to standardise reading lists and reading list terminology, ensuring clarity for students and realistic expectations in the provision of resources.

We know it’s an ambitious project but we’re really looking forward to rising to the challenge so watch this space!

Sarah Rayner, Project Manager

photo credit: tribehut via photopin cc