How To:

Before starting, make sure you have a vbid (Virtual Bookshelf ID number) for your textbook. If you do not have a vbid, please check with Amy Mosley ( from the Mizzou Store.

  1. From your Canvas site click the Modules button in the course navigation menu.
  2. In the Modules page click the + button to the right of an existing module.
  3. In the dialog box that appears, choose External Tool from the Add dropdown menu.
  4. Choose Bookshelf in the tool list that appears.
  5. The URL field should display the vbid after the trailing backslash (e.g. vbid = 9876543210987. URL =  Consider copying and pasting the vbid to avoid typos. vbids may contain letters, numbers, and hyphens.

     NOTE   If you cannot see the URL field and the remainder of the dialog box expand it by dragging the lower right corner or use the outermost scrollbar to scroll down.

    Fig. 1: External Tool dialog box.

  6. Enter the book title in the Page Name field. Consider a short title, for instance Judicial Process or Carp & Stidham 10e instead of Judicial Process in America, 10th Edition.  We recommend that you name the link in a way consistent with your usage in course documents such as the syllabus.
  7. Checking the box for Load in a new tab is optional. If it is not checked, it will appear inside of Canvas, which will restrict the space allowed for the text and illustrations. It also presents a more cluttered look that may be distracting for some students. Launching it in a new tab provides a less cluttered look and maximizes the screen real estate available to the book. 
  8. The first time you link a textbook you will need to accept the Terms and Privacy agreement and will be asked to log into VitalSource or register with your email address and create a password. Normally your email address should be your campus account, though it is not required. The password should not be the same one you use to login to campus systems.


Use the Student View to test the link for students.

Students sometimes have difficulty locating the textbook link. We suggest you put it in a module by itself, or with other, explanatory materials, such as a note on AutoAccess. Clearly label the module as Textbook.

If students report problems using their VitalSource text on their phone or tablet, suggest they download the VitalSource Bookshelf app.

Although the VitalSource link must be in modules, there are some work arounds if you with it to also appear elsewhere in the course.

  • For the Syllabus, Announcements, or Pages, use the Modules tool found in the sidebar of the visual editor. This will create a shortcut to the textbook link in Modules. (Do not try to copy and paste the actual Bookshelf link. This will fail.)
  • If you would like to link it from the Course Navigation Menu, you may use the Redirect tool in Settings > Apps (click on the icon that looks like a blue, circling arrow). 
    1. For Name, give it a short, descriptive name.
    2. In the URL Redirect field, carefully copy the link address of the Module Item (not the VBID), for example
      Uncheck Force open in new tab (For External Links Only).
    3. Check Show in Course Navigation.
    4. Then click Add App.

Fig. 2: Redirect Icon.

 NOTE  Trulaske College of Business instructors will see two VitalSource Bookshelf tools in the External Tools Menu: Bookshelf and ExecMBA Bookshelf. Only courses in the ExecMBA program should select the ExecMBA Bookshelf tool. 

If you encounter technical difficulties, please contact