Week 5 Learning Journal Entry – Trends Reflection

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    • #1330
      Luke Mysliwy
      Participant

      A few months ago I attended a seminar run by Paul Brown of Auckland Libraries, a passionate advocate of libraries and reading, but also a champion of the fact that Readers Advisory, (i.e. librarians actively connecting readers with books) should be at the core of our business. The fact that such a service NEEDS such a champion suggests to me that there has been a trend away from this type of service in favour of other types of products and services which librarians are now expected to provide

      An anecdote: Some weeks after I attended the seminar, I was chatting with a group of colleagues from different branches, one of whom was relating the fact that one of their colleagues (who had also attended the seminar), had realised that reading novels had slipped in down their list of priorities, (or leisure activities), and that as Paul stressed that being a reader and having a great love of reading was crucial to being a librarian, felt that perhaps she was in the wrong profession. “Well perhaps she is”, I unkindly thought when my colleague was relating this story. “But we’re about so much more than just books these days”, said one person. “Are we?” I thought. “Who has the time to read with all the other stuff we have to do?” said another.

      This attitude, that our own love of reading and imparting a love of reading to others through book recommendations is somewhat taking a backseat to other skillsets (such as proficiency in emerging technology), is a trend recognised by several commentators. In her article The State of Readers Advisory, Meredith Schwartz presents statistics and responses gathered by a survey by Library Journal, (along with NoveList and the RUSA/CODES Readers’ Advisory Research and Trends Committee) about RA methods, and concludes that although RA is recognised as being very important, (even increasingly important according to 54% of respondents), and is delivered in most libraries in a variety of ways, many of the librarians themselves feel ill equipped in providing such a service due to a lack of training and work time to adequately be across the thousands (millions?) of new books published every year.

      Paul Brown has identified a similar problem, as he quotes from Shirley Prescott in his 2010 article Best Sellers: Readers Advisory at the Core of Public Libraries and ‘First to the Fringe”

      “ … libraries now need to refocus on the core business of books and reading… The main challenge here is that many Australian library staff have lost confidence in giving people advice about books and offering borrowers the chance to try something new to read.” (Prescott, 2008, in Brown, 2010)

      Both Schwartz and Brown point out that it is not enough to just offer Readers Advisory and expect library staff to competently deliver such a service. Schwartz mentions that 23% of the survey respondents received no training or support in RA from their libraries, and that “62% of those who have had training report that it was self-directed.” (Scwartz, 2014).

      It is clear that encouragement from library administrations towards staff to take the time to read (or at least familiarise themselves with various authors and genres outside of their area of interest) for their own personal and professional development and to be adequately trained in RA techniques is essential if librarians are to be expected to carry out this important service. Perhaps then my colleagues may feel more comfortable in their role of encouraging others to read, if provided with both the time AND the training to re-ignite their own love of reading.

      • This topic was modified 4 years, 2 months ago by Luke Mysliwy.
      • This topic was modified 4 years, 2 months ago by Luke Mysliwy.
    • #1370
      Katherine Lee
      Participant

      Really insightful trends reflection Luke! I sometimes feel that reading has taken a backseat to emerging technologies too. For example, while I am really enjoying this degree it is much less resources/collections focused than I had expected. I think that being aware of and knowing about emerging technologies is really important to what librarians do and I agree that libraries need to do more to promote reading. I am shocked that some librarians don’t see the importance of leisure reading!

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