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Libraries Course Materials List

A guide for instructors to learn how to manage and edit the Libraries Course Materials tool in Canvas.

Intro: Libraries Course Materials & Active Learning

This brief video from the vendor offers a helpful introduction to public annotation (social reading) and annotation assignment ("Read and Respond" assignment) features that promote engagement with course readings and active learning using Libraries Course Materials in Canvas. 

Annotation features within Libraries Course Materials enable instructors to highlight and add notes to PDF readings, calling students' attention to particular passages. Students are also able to highlight and make their own private notes in readings.

Social Reading within Libraries Course Materials enables students and instructors to engage with course material collaboratively, sharing comments, questions, and feedback with each other by annotating PDF files assigned by an instructor. Instructors have had success using this feature synchronously (while in class together) and asynchronously (as pre or post-work for a relevant class discussion). 

Read and Respond Assignments help instructors determine whether students are doing and understanding the assigned reading. This feature leverages sources in Libraries Course Materials to prompt students to answer questions and added comments to PDF files. Assignments are seamlessly integrated into Canvas along with other assignments and the Canvas gradebook. 

Adding and Working with PDFs for Annotation

There are several ways to include PDF files in your Libraries Course Materials list for annotation. See the guide's section on Adding Items for detailed information about adding resources to a list. These are a few of the most popular ways to add/include a pdf file in your Libraries Course Materials list:

Upload a PDF file 

screenshot of options, with "Upload a File" highlighted.

After you click "Upload a File," you may drag a file to upload or upload by clicking to browse for a file to upload. You you will be prompted to add some citation information, and may choose a due date and dates for visibility. 

Add a Citation, and upload a PDF file

screenshot of options, with "Add a Citation" highlighted.

After you click "Add a Citation," you may drag or click to upload a file, and you'll see fields for citation information and due and display dates.

Add from your Collection

screenshot of options, with "Collection" highlighted.

Clicking "Collection" will enable you to ad a file from your Libraries Course Materials Collection. You may search by keyword or sort your collection by date added, title, or author name. 


When annotating any PDF file in Libraries Course Materials, click "View PDF" (not "Download Article" or "View Online") for access to the public/social and private annotation options in the tool. 


Add Annotations to Course Readings

How do I annotate?

Open a PDF in your course materials list by clicking the View PDF link. Note the tabs at the top of the page: "My Notes" and "Class Discussion." Highlighting and annotations added while in the "My Notes" tab will be private; annotations made while in the "Class Discussion Tab" will be viewable by others in the class, for social reading. 

The annotation tool has three main functions:

Highlight excerpts of the reading, without or without comments 

  1. To use the highlight function, make sure you're using the "My Notes" (private) tab, found at the top of the page.
  2. Click the 'Highlight'-icon (it looks like a highlighter) to highlight you're selected text. Note: PDFs must be recognizable text in order to highlight text. If you cannot highlight text you will want to OCR your document for this feature to work. 
  3. If you wish, you may also add a comment to your highlighted text by typing in the box on the right side of the page. Click "Save" to save your comment.

Add a comment without highlighting 

  1. In either the "My Notes" or "Class Discussion" tab, click the ‘Annotation’-icon. The icon is shaped like a speech bubble.
  2. Type your annotation in the provided field. 
  3. Click "Save." The text you selected will now appear underlined. 

Add an annotation with a shape

  1. In either the "My Notes" or "Class Discussion" tab, click the 'Shape'-icon, which looks like a square. Select a color, and draw a square around the text you want to annotate. 
  2. Type your annotation in the provided field. 
  3. Click "Save."

In order to allow students to read and respond to annotations make sure the Public Annotations feature is turned on in the upper right corner of the page. Private annotations can only be seen by the creator.

PDF annotation menu and comments

Delete Annotation

  1. Click the three dotted-menu to the right of your annotation
  2. Click delete

Alternatively, you can...

  1. Click the text you added an annotation to using the appropriate tool (highlight or shape)
  2. Click the trashcan hovering about your cursor

Respond to comments

  1. Click the arrow at the bottom of the annotation box. Note, the annotations must be public for this to work.
  2. Write in your reply
  3. Click Save

Create An Annotation Assignment

The "Read and Respond" assignment feature enables instructors to create annotation assignments with PDF-formatted documents in Libraries Course Materials, prompting student engagement with course readings and providing instructors insight about students' comprehension of course materials.

"Read and Respond" assignments integrate seamlessly with Canvas Gradebook alongside other assignments within Canvas.

Creating a New "Read and Respond" Assignment

To create a new "Read and Respond" assignment, click "+Assignment" within Canvas as you would for any other Canvas assignment.

In the "Submission Type" field, select, "External Tool," then search for and select from the "Configure External Tool" list: "Libraries Course Materials - Assignment." We recommend you select the option to, "Load This Tool in a New Tab." 

a screen shot of the "Submission Type" field in Canvas, showing "External Tool" selected from the drop-down menu, "libraries course materials" in the search box, and a checkmark next to "Load This Tool in a New Tab"

a screenshot of "Configure External Tool" in Canvas with "Libraries Course Materials-Assignment" highlighted.

Once you've selected the External Tool, indicate whether you'll be choosing a source already in your Libraries Course Materials list, or uploading a new PDF file.

After you've selected or added the source you'd like students to annotate for an assignment, you may edit assignment details (a description, due date, grading information, etc.) as you would any other assignment within Canvas.

Student View: Access & Complete an Annotation Assignment

Students can access "Read and Respond" assignments in Canvas as they do other assignments.

a screenshot of an Assignments page within a Canvas course with a "Read and Respond" assignment highlighted. When students click a "Read and Respond" assignment, they can view assignment details and any annotations from the instructor, and they can add annotations to the PDF file per the assignment instructions. If the student leaves without submitting the assignment, annotations are saved. When the assignment is complete, the student selects SUBMIT to submit the assignment. 

a screenshot of a "Read and Respond" assignment from a Student's View, showing student and instructor annotations and a SUBMIT button at the bottom right side of the screen.

Grade an Annotation Assignment

When an instructor selects a "Read and Respond" assignment in Canvas, it will open the grading dashboard for the assignment. As students submit their annotation assignments, the grading dashboard updates, showing the assignment status for each student, as it does for other assignments in Canvas.

Select START GRADING to begin grading all assignments. The students' name appears at the top of the page, and the student's annotations are in the right pane. The instructor may view the student's annotations, and if desired, add additional annotations to the file that will be viewable by the individual student. 

A screenshot of a "Read and Respond" assignment from the instructor's view, while grading..


Use the grading box to enter a score for the assignment; instructors may optionally add a comment for the student. Select SAVE to save the score and comments but remain on the student's assignment, or select SAVE & NEXT to save the score and comments and view the next assignment to be graded. 


a screenshot of an annotation assignment, from the instructor's view, highlighting the student's name in the upper left corner, a comment from the instructor, and the average, high, and low scores from the assignments graded so far

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