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#uklibchat summary, on reading – 1st April 2014

A summary of our April chat on reading can be found below.  A full archive of the chat can be found at


1. How much of your job is about encouraging reading?

  • Many librarians, particularly those in higher education, said that they don’t tend to promote reading much in their job although some had small “leisure” collections for students
  • Those working in other environments e.g. school libraries did a lot more reader development work
  • The question of what “reading” meant in this context was discussed: did it apply to reading on websites for example?
  • @jamesatkinson81 said “I don’t really feel I encourage reading, more facilitate it”

2. Do you have any suggestions for how to reach groups who don’t read much?

Suggestions made by several users included:

  • More accessible books such as graphic novels, manga, quick reads, non-fiction, film/TV tie-ins were highlighted by many contributors
  • Using “non-book” things to entice users into the library such as board games, DVD vouchers and computers was mentioned.
  • Using technology such as tablets and e-book readers were suggested
  • The social side of reading was highlighted e.g. working with friends of non-readers, book clubs and discussions
  • Don’t judge people’s reading – don’t be snobby or make a big deal if someone reads a “classic”

Individuals suggested the following ideas:

  • @LibraryMargaret suggested normalising reading – carrying a book around with you all the time
  • Take books off the shelves  – put them on tables, pick them up yourselves when talking about them and don’t be ‘precious’ with them @LibraryMargaret
  • It would be good if the kind people who develop games for Facebook would introduce cutscenes requiring reading. @oneofthee
  • Make people feel special – they have been personally selected to read book/article. Present as CPD opportunity @sarahcchilds
  • Get a decent collection of Entry1-3 books that aren’t patronising and don’t have kids as their main characters@LibraryMargaret
  • In an ideal world, I’d like to offer more 1-to-1 sessions to encourage reluctant readers. @oneofthee
  • Tried to make our catalogue more interesting to look at e.g. include book jackets and more interactive to help locate stock @jackoliver40
  • Some put off by thick books with small text, large print books tend to be thick by default! This is where Kindles rock @libraryMargaret
  • Last year gave out World Book Night books at local Family Centres, this year pop up library at Exeter Central Station. @SooLib
  • Beware of overwhelming choice @oneofthee
  • Use displays says @helenmonagle

3. Do you think being a librarian has affected your personal reading habits?

  • There was some debate as to whether social media decreased the time you had to devote to reading, or whether it acted as  a powerful tool for reading recommendations
  • Some people said they read more often and more widely due to a need to be aware of a broad range of books and increased access to a wide variety of titles
  • Others said they were basically unaffected as they had always read a lot
  • Finally, some people said that the amount of reading and researching they did in their job meant they weren’t as keen to read in their spare time

4. Best reply/response to a student declaring “I don’t do reading”

  • Finding out other interests in order to help choose suitable books for them
  • Point out that they do read (magazines, websites etc.) … even if it is just the back of the cornflakes packet!
  • Some people may not be able to read – so tell them they can do it and you will help
  • Find incentives and suggest how reading may benefit them

5. Has the growth of ebooks changed reading habits?

  • Definitely (in HE). Our print loans are in a steady year-on-year decline but ebook usage is growing quickly @daveyp
  • My dissertation survey found most students preferred print books. Cited tiredness after looking at screen all day as 1 reason @Libmichelle
    • That’s definitely changing. Each new intake of students are increasingly choosing ebooks over print @daveyp
  • It’s made people bolder about the choices. Erotic fiction more widely available and promoted for example. If you want to read something privately, you are more able to do so. Also, carrying more ebooks possible, able to use outside building opening hours . @greebstreebling
  • Some people such as @agentk23, said that e-books had converted non-readers
  • Several people commented on their own personal use of e-books and how useful they found them

6. Should libraries do more to encourage ebook lending/reading?

The difficulties that people had experienced both as professionals and personally in reading e-books from libraries were discussed. It was felt that publishers needed to provide better platforms making e-reading easier and more pleasurable; and they also should make more e-books available via public libraries. Issues with e-book formats for disabled users was highlighted.

There was also a feeling however that librarians could do more – some reported an apathy around promoting and assisting with e-books in some library services. @eileenfiddle said she had been pushing e-books to Apple and Waterstones representatives who weren’t necessarily aware of the huge market available to them if they provided e-books for libraries. @pennyb said: “Publishers may be a pain but how often do librarians outside of [certain] roles challenge academic publishers on e-books?”

@libmichelle tweeted a link to a talk at last year’s UKSG conference from a student where he spoke about what he’d like to see in his academic ebooks http://t.co/IbQ2UFP8CO

7. Ebook readers: Good or bad? Will they lead to the demise of libraries?

Unsurprisingly, the librarians taking part in the chat did not feel that e-book readers would lead to the demise of libraries! The fact that access to e-books is not universal, that libraries are also social spaces were pointed out. @JaimeeUK said that e-books helped us expand offering and user-base, so were a good thing.

On a less positive note, @pattersonty67 felt that US libraries were much better at providing e-books than UK libraries.

8. Have you read a book recently that you would really recommend? 140 char review!

  • Trust Me by Lesley Pearce: Very moving fictional history account of the lost children sent to Australia @samanthaclare
  • Saga by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples: Innovative Science Fiction Graphic Novel, compelling characters and fairytale dream-like feel (though NSFW) @poetryghost
  • David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell: Read this and learn how to play the big guy/team/system and win @oneofthee
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: fantastic book, thought-provoking, achingly beautiful story, very sad but poignant. Interesting tone and POV @jaimeeUK
  • Alex by Pierre Lemaitre: really gruesome with amazing twists. Just as you think you know what’s going on – wham! A twist! @Merrysimclaire
  • Wonder by R J Palachio is a beautiful story. Been referred to as “a book that has made grown men weep” @eileenfiddle
  • The Circle by Dave Eggers: Lots of interesting issues raised that library folk may be interested in! @libmichelle
  • Heroic by Phil Earle: Superb characterisation, gritty, gripping, thought-provoking, based on S E Hinton’s The Outsiders. @CorBlastMe
  • Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger: steampunk that is light but fun with great characters mystery and tea @poetryghost
  • How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran: a hilariously marvellous book full of anecdotes of the pleasures and pains of being a woman! @Helenmonagle
  • Grimm books by Adam Gidwitz: Tales with guts and gore. Great storytelling – kids love them @Shazzybroon
  • Pluto by Naoki Urasawa. A robot detective investigates a series of human and robot murders. Hhis life is also on the line @agentk23
  • Tony Benn Diaries 2001-2007: Passionate, political, polemical, personal, prescient on financial crisis. Interesting & easy-to-read @sarahcchilds
  • Any books by Frances Hardinge, Young adult fantasy brilliance. (“There’s a hell of a good universe next door; let’s go” – e. e. cummings) @BethanyWitham
  • Teesside Steal by John Nicholson. Has good storyline, mystery and drama and is by a local author so I can relate to landmarks @jackoliver40
  • Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch: Sensible, logical, police-magic, beautiful architecture, diversity and delight. @BethanyWitham
  • Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye is a delight @BethanyWitham

9. Do you think reading for pleasure should be promoted in academic libraries? Why/why not?

Participants from academic and health libraries agreed that reading for pleasure should be promoted as it gave users a break from academic or professional reading and highlighted that reading was not just something you did because it’s compulsory, However, some attempts at promoting fiction in academic libraries had not been successful. The matter of how much priority should be afforded to promoting reading for pleasure in this environment. As @agentk23 said: “I am pro the idea.. but it’s low on my agenda.”

The idea of academic and public libraries working in collaboration was also raised.

10. Does it matter what people are reading? Or is just reading anything enough?

Opinions were mixed in response to this question. On the one hand, participants were wary of judging users on their reading. At the same time, the need to encourage widely and critically was viewed as important.


One comment on “#uklibchat summary, on reading – 1st April 2014

  1. Vanessa A.
    April 20, 2014

    Reblogged this on Librarians don't bite.

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This entry was posted on April 19, 2014 by in Discussion Summaries and tagged , , , , .


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