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Tutorial: Course Readings:

Course Readings

University courses require regular "readings": documents you're expected to read before class. They prepare you for the topics covered in class.

Your course readings can be provided in various ways:

  1. In your textbook.
  2. In a Coursepack (also called Reprotext).
  3. In your LearningSystem (Blackboard). 
  4. A citation/reference is provided and it's up to you to locate it through the Library's resources - on Reserve, in the stacks or online.

Click on the tabs above for more information on accessing your readings from these different sources.

Each course instructor decides how to provide access to your course readings.  The course syllabus is the key to knowing what readings are required each class, and where you can find them.  Be sure to obtain the syllabus (in your LearningSystem or first class), and keep it handy for the entire term.  Sometimes a syllabus is available online ahead of time - check your department's website. Be careful to get the current one for your course because the readings can change from year to year!

Universities don't supply textbooks.  Students must be prepared to purchase textbooks on their own. Here's how to find them.

Trent University Bookstore

The textbooks required for Trent courses are sold through the Trent University Bookstore.  The bookstore knows which books are required for each course.  There are options for purchasing new, purchasing used, or renting textbooks.

  • The physical store is located near the Bata Library.  Browse by course to find the books you need. 
  • You can also order your books online, to save time at the start of term. From their website, select your courses. 

Other Bookstores

Other online bookstores may also have course textbooks, but you need your course syllabus to find out which textbooks are required for your courses.  Sometimes syllabi are available through Academic Department websites. Be sure to get the current syllabus, because they can change from year to year.


The Library does not generally provide textbooks. Our role is to support your research.  However:

  • Occasionally a course instructor places a personal copy of the texbook on Reserve in the Library.  These can be signed out to one student at a time, for 3 hours.  See the tab for "Reserve" for more information.
  • Sometimes we have older versions of textbooks on the Library shelves.  Check the Library Catalogue to see if we have it.

Once you have the textbook, use your course syllabus to find out which pages/chapters are required reading for each class.

Some course instructors create booklets of the readings needed for a course; these are called "coursepacks" or "reprotexts" (because they're reproduced texts).  These coursepacks are created specifically for your course and your instructor will tell you how to purchase them.

Some individual readings in coursepacks might also be available through the Library, but the coursepack makes it more convenient. For information on finding readings in the Library on your own, see the tab for "Citations".  This option could save you money and greatly improve your library search skills over time, but you'll need to invest more time at the beginning and there could be instances where the article is not available from the Library.

The Library doesn't control which courses have coursepacks or what material is in them.  Talk to your course instructor if you have any questions about them.

Your course syllabus tells you which readings are needed for each class.

Almost all courses have an online component, in a Learning System called "Blackboard".  Find it by logging into MyTRENT.

Course instructors can use Blackboard in any way they like.  Usually you'll find the course syllabus posted, along with other resources. Sometimes course readings are linked from your LearningSystem.

  • They may be in the form of links to online resources.
  • The document may be stored directly in the course.

If you have trouble accessing readings in your online course, contact your instructor.  The Library does not have access to your online courses.

Citations are descriptions of documents. They're also called References.  You've created citations for bibliographies of your papers, to tell others where to find the information you used - so you know what they look like.  You'll use citations a LOT in your University studies.

Citations are often used by course instructors to direct you to required readings.  Your syllabus may simply provide a list of the articles/chapters/books you're expected to read.  In this case, it's up to you to locate the documents through the Library.

You'll get used to reading citations pretty quickly.  See our tutorial on "Navigating from a Citation to a Document", linked below.  It explains:

  • how to tell what type of document is described: article, book, or chapter, and
  • where to search for different types of documents.

It also provides some practice questions.

A big part of University research is identifying what documents are available to you and navigating to them.  The earlier you get used to this process, the easier it will be for you later on.

Reserves are a special area of the Library, behind the Service Desk.  We keep books on Reserve because they're in high demand for courses.


Items are placed on Reserve on the request of course instructors. They might be Library books, or they might be personal books owned by instructors.

Loan periods are very short (usually 3 hours), and the fine rates are high for these items because many students need access to them within a short period of time.

Since the books on Reserve are shelved in call number order, you need to look them up in Omni to find the call number.  Omni allows you to search by title, course code, course name, or instructor name.

Sometimes a reading is all or part of a physical book on the Library's stacks (shelves).  In this case, it's available to any Trent borrower. Search Omni for the book. 

  • The quickest way to find it is by title. 
  • When you find it, you can REQUEST it, so it's collected and kept for you at the Service Desk, or you can come to the library yourself to get it from the stacks.


Books in the Library general stacks can be signed out, subject to our Borrowing Regulations.  Your TrentU Card is your Library Card. See the Borrowing Regulations for details.

In many cases, your course readings are articles and they're located online through the ebooks or ejournals available in the Library. 

  • Search Omni to find readings available through the library.
  • Check our Library Research Guides to see if there's a section for your course that provides direct links to your readings.