Academic journal article Australasian Public Libraries and Information Services

New Report Shows Public Libraries Can Add to the Reading Experience

Academic journal article Australasian Public Libraries and Information Services

New Report Shows Public Libraries Can Add to the Reading Experience

Article excerpt

A new report from Sheffield University's Department of Information Studies suggests that reading imaginative literature provided by public libraries, enriches the lives of many people and has the potential to influence many more. Based on research, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Board, it shows that a good public library service can make a unique contribution to the reading experience. It reveals that book lending is still perceived to be the major function of the public library, and that libraries are seen as natural places for those who wish to develop as readers. By providing free access to a wide range of material, libraries help people establish and maintain the reading habit. Providing people with the opportunity to borrow rather than buy enables individuals to exert greater personal control over their reading. For many the public library is the preferred provider of imaginative literature. It is seen as offering the reader additional benefits, added values, which are not matched elsewhere

Increasingly users are expecting library staff to be intermediaries in the reading experience. The report argues that the ability to choose a good read is a skill which library staff should help to develop, but warns that some staff lack confidence or have inappropriate skills for reader development and fiction promotion, it also suggests that difficulties of physical access and the intimidating atmosphere of some services can prevent a library from realizing its full potential.

The report also demonstrates the importance of reading in peoples' lives. Reading imaginative literature is regarded as a special activity which serves to satisfy a wide variety of needs. …

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