Leganto: Create course reading lists in Canvas

Leganto is an Ex Libris product that works in conjunction with Alma to allow instructors to easily create and maintain course resource reading lists within their learning management system, including Canvas. The SIPX portion of Leganto provides copyright clearance services and a pay-per-use option if needed.

What is it?

Leganto is a course reading list creation tool that both instructors and students can access through their learning management system (LMS), including Canvas. Once the backend is set up by an institution’s Alma and LMS administrators, instructors can create and maintain reading lists in Canvas utilizing a discovery search, drag, and drop tool. A major advantage of Leganto is that it facilitates use of library-owned resources by integrating content from the Ex Libris system within the LMS.  

Leganto is similar to EBSCO Curriculum Builder. Both are designed for the creation of reading lists from within an institution’s LMS, but Leganto has the added advantage of integrating with the Copyright Clearance Center to obtain copyright clearances, and offering a pay-per-use licensing model for certain materials if needed. Like Curriculum Builder, Leganto is vendor- specific, working with institutions running Ex Libris’ Alma/Primo or Summon. Curriculum Builder works with institutions running EBSCO Discovery Service

Although other products on the market that offer the same general functionality may be available at a much lower cost, the integration with ExLibris to create course reading lists in Canvas --  along with the copyright clearance and pay-per-use tools -- may be the reason for Leganto’s premium pricing.

Quick Evaluation

Leganto does what the vendor’s literature says it can do, and is a product that likely meets many needs of university libraries. However, unless a community college library has a large number of electronic reserves, or a significant need for copyright clearances or pay-per-use content, they may never benefit from some of the program’s more robust features.

Leganto helps instructors locate and use electronic content in a library’s collection. For example, using the discovery search, instructors can easily locate all integrated materials in the library’s collections they might not have known to look for, including online educational resources (OER) to build zero textbook cost (ZTC) or low textbook cost (LTC) courses. Most of those same resources can be found through a direct search in Primo, but then instructors must input links or upload the content into Canvas themselves. Using the Leganto interface, they can easily and quickly drag and drop resources into reading lists. Either way, students still need to authenticate through their library or campus gateway (e.g., proxy server)  to access the content. 

There is also work to be done on the backend of Leganto that requires staff time. Courses need to be created or loaded (either through the student information system or Canvas), site workflows developed and managed, and tasks assigned to the appropriate Alma users. While  instructors use the Leganto interface to select their content, library staff must work from within Alma to maintain the courses and reading lists, and fulfill requests.

Although both Leganto and the Alma Course Reserves can make course reading lists available to students, with Leganto students seamlessly access their them from within Canvas, whereas with Course Reserves, students access the lists in Primo, outside of the LMS. Leganto also offers a more seamless process than Course Reserves for instructors. They can launch Leganto from within Canvas, perform a discovery or known item search, and simply drag and drop a resource into their reading list. Creating reading lists in Course Reserves is more involved; while it is possible to configure Alma so that instructors can do this themselves, that process requires more staff intervention.

Leganto may not be the most user-friendly product for how faculty design their courses to be used in Canvas. For example, Leganto does not allow direct embedding in either the Course Readings or the Course Modules. If a faculty member bases their lessons off of the modules, the readings would exist in a separate section of Canvas from their coursework. Reading Lists in Canvas appear on the left hand navigation at the course level. The problem with this implementation is that Canvas is often “modules-centric,” and students will need to leave the module they’re working in to access the reading content. In addition, the material itself is not embeddable directly within Canvas. Instead, it appears as just a stylized link with an image.

User instructions

User instructions


Librarian Review in Leganto

Furthermore, since Leganto is accessed from within Canvas, mobile responsiveness and accessibility are largely determined by the LMS, not Leganto.

Ex Libris does provide instructions to get faculty started on creating reading lists. While this is intended to make the work easy for faculty to embed, this process is not as simple as ”plug and play” and will likely require some librarian assistance to get people started.

As for the features that differentiate Leganto from other discovery services, it’s not clear that these provide much added value for community colleges. Due to staffing and budget constraints, many libraries don’t manage traditional or large e-reserves collections, and faculty are often responsible for obtaining their own permissions to use content in Canvas not licensed by the library. Furthermore, recent initiatives by California community colleges to reduce the cost of instructional materials for students, along with tight departmental budgets, may discourage many libraries from employing the pay-per-use model. As a result, even if Leganto’s copyright clearance or pay-per-use features does facilitate access to additional resources, most librarians and instructors are likely to first seek out comparable content that they may use freely or with less effort. 


According to Ex Libris’ VPAT, Leganto is fully or partially compliant with WCAG 2.1 Levels A and AA.



ExLibris has a broad privacy policy that applies to their Leganto product. It includes information that you provide as well as information that is automatically collected. Ex Libris (USA) Inc. complies with the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework.



Leganto is the only tool that allows Ex Libris integration for course reading lists in Canvas. Librarians making purchase decisions will need to weigh the benefits of convenience to instructors and students in having this available in the LMS, against the high product cost, learning curve and workload for staff running the program on the backend, and the overall user experience.

Relevant Links

Content Providers

If you have any experience with this product, please leave a comment and rate its appropriateness for use in a community college environment.

† The offers and trials information are password protected. Actual prices are confidential between the vendor and the consortium.

For access contact Amy Beadle, Library Consortium Director, 916.800.2175.

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