Tagged: Week 5Steve Wwalker review
September 12, 2015 at 12:31 pm #1865Patricia FordParticipant
Academic Libraries should support their customers’ leisure reading
Reports show that reading has decreased over the past 20 years, particularly amongst the younger “born digital” generation. This decline has been attributed to new and emerging technologies, such as the internet, mobile phones and computer games. It is important to note that with these technologies, reading has changed. Young people may be reading a considerable amount of text, however much of it is in “short, unfiltered, unedited bites.” Studies show that while using the internet is a more popular activity amongst young people and students, it has not replaced reading as a recreational activity, and the internet is also considered a source of material for recreational reading.
Recreational reading has been defined as reading undertaken voluntarily. This definition specifically excludes reading done as part of a coursework. Studies show that students also identify the reading for pleasure and coursework reading as two separate practices.
So why should academic libraries support recreational reading?
At its most basic level, the fundamental purpose of academic libraries is to provide resources to support teaching and learning. Supporting recreational reading is seen as the role of the public libraries rather than academic libraries, who do not identify the facilitation of reading for pleasure as part of their role. Studies have demonstrated that academic librarians believed students were not interested in extracurricular reading, however to the contrary, it has been identified that recreational reading is a “well-established habit for undergraduates”.
By encouraging recreational reading, academic libraries are subsequently supporting the learning experience – and therefore the core mission – as reading is considered “both a source for and a means to scholarship”.
Recreational reading develops a range of skills and benefits essential to the academic environment, including:
- Development of literacy skills and vocabulary
- Improved reading comprehension
- Becoming more intelligent
- Critical thinking skills
- Higher levels of understanding
- Developing imagination
- Increased creativity and originality
- Developing a sense of self
- Social engagement
- Escapism (as a way of relieving boredom and dealing with stress)
Promoting recreational reading can also assist in fostering positive relationships between students and the library, and attracting new users, and engaging students. With an increasing focus on student engagement for improved academic achievement and retention, the anticipated role of the academic library in this mission is for it to become a “centre for engagement”.
There is fear that embracing and promoting reading for pleasure will detract from the image of the academic library as a quality institution, however there is a risk of alienating users and the academic library being sidelined if the promotion of recreational reading is not embraced.
September 13, 2015 at 9:02 am #1888Ruth McConchieParticipant
Thanks Patricia, I really enjoyed your post. I know you work in an academic library, so this is probably a topic that you have considered many times. I’m just going to play the devil’s advocate (because secretly I agree with you 100%) and argue that academic libraries do provide enough support for their students leisure reading. Many libraries share leisure reading resources through Bonus. Also many academic libraries are very close to public libraries, the University of Queensland is close to Towoong and Indooroopilly Libraries. Queensland University of Technology is located near the Brisbane Central library, Griffith University is near the West End Library. It is hard to justify a leisure reading collection when academic universities run out of money to support the purchase of related material, especially when there are public libraries in such close proximity.
September 14, 2015 at 2:19 pm #2019Stephanie VenturatoParticipant
Well I’m going to argue with Ruth (except not really) and say that I guess it depends on what you classify as leisure reading. I think QUT KG has a excellent leisure collection, from my perspective at least. I read literary fiction as well and some of the better popular fiction, though I’ve been trying lately to read more non-fiction for leisure. Perhaps it’s because KG have the writing course situated there? Maybe it’s not so much about collections , but more about engagement, I’d love it if QUT had a bookclub like my local public library (although usually I’m the only one under 30, hell even 50), I am a bookclub fiend!
September 21, 2015 at 5:29 pm #2192Steven WalkerParticipant
Hi Patricia, I enjoyed reading your post, however I didnt find a small conuter argument, to show the other “side” of the argument. You have clearly researched your topic quite in depth and i commend you on that. It has a strong focus on recreational use of libraries but does not touch too much broadly as in how libraries are used overall , rather this is an argument about recreational reading and the librarys role. Im just wondering whether in your opinion opr argument whether we have time to “save or capture” the next generation into reading. As studies have shown attention spans getting shorter and people want information quicker. And also genres, are people more inclined to go with Books that are more like TV shows with lots of gore and that of the like, can we as Information Professionals retain a readership into the future?
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