Student Learning Objective 9
The student promotes reading for learning, personal growth, and enjoyment.
Reading is foundational to civilization and along with writing forms the most enduring communication tool ever devised by mankind. Reading needs to be part of the daily life of every librarian and that reading needs to be readily apparent to those the librarian serves whether through conversations, presentations, or observations. Honest excitement about reading is the best promotional tool available. Helping others find that same excitement is part of the job for librarians. Whether a traditional book, ebook, or audio book reading enriches the life of every person.
A key component of promoting reading is to ensure the collection is relevant to those being served. Materials relevant to the patrons reduce the goal of promoting reading to appropriate marketing to be successful. The best marketing in the world cannot overcome an irrelevant collection. A librarian must know the patrons, know the collection, and know what is available to add to the collection. Knowing the patrons includes understanding various cultures and subcultures from which they come and understanding the special needs some patrons possess. If the collection reflects all cultures present and accommodates the needs of people, promoting reading is a much easier task.
Tools are available to help choose relevant materials and one of the best are the ALA Book, Print, and Media awards that target specific types of patrons with specific types of resources. Utilizing the work of the award committees to identify the best resources improves the probability of having a relevant collection. One example of utilizing such awards in my studies was the author project created for LIS 618 where an in depth study of one of the Margret A. Edwards award winners, Sarah Dessen, allowed me to develop a familiarity with her works and identify numerous books relevant to adolescents.
Having good materials to read is only worthwhile if the patrons are aware they exist. One proven way to promote reading is highlighting selected works with a booktalk. It is an effective way to target particular groups of readers with parts of the collection designed to meet their needs. Utilizing the opinions of others is fine for building the collection, but when doing a booktalk one needs to personally know the book. Live booktalks help connect with patrons, but recorded booktalks like the ones I created for LIS 617 and LIS 618 make an on demand resource for patrons looking for a good book to read.
Multiple formats of books available can make reading more accessible. A traditional book is fine for most readers, but some readers have a strong preference for an ebook where looking up vocabulary is simplified. An ebook is also helpful for some physical issues such as cerebral palsy where a tap on a device held in a holder to turn a page is much more practical than a physical page. An audio book is an alternative for vision impaired readers that is much easier to store than braille alternatives though the latter should not be ignored as necessary for some readers. Format is an important consideration when promoting reading and all formats need to be considered when building a collection.
Reading good books is an enjoyable and informative activity that makes people and society better. In some ways promoting reading is a selfish activity for librarians that makes their jobs more necessary, but mostly it is about improving the lives of the people we serve. Matching readers with the right book in the right format is rewarding for both the librarian and the reader.