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Friday, November 4 • 12:45pm - 2:00pm
Why Don't Public Librarians Brag More about Providing Pleasure Reading?

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Providing pleasure reading is one of the great success stories for public libraries, but public librarians seem to be hesitant to brag about this wonderful accomplishment. Instead, they more often talk about helping people find jobs, introducing new technology, and fostering economic development. While these functions deserve praise, I would bet that many more patrons check out best-sellers, current non-fiction, and genre fiction. Without the public library, an avid reader of one book per week could easily spend over $1,000 annually.

In Against the Grain, I proposed several reasons for this reticence. Is it a remnant of the American Puritanical tradition? Does the focus on literacy suggest that this skill is useful only for job performance and practical tasks? Do librarians fear that their funding agencies will cut the libraries' budgets if they discover how much is spent on genre fiction instead of economic development? Does the library director worry about the expenditures for the integrated library system, staffing the reference desk, and purchasing databases when many patrons go right to the fiction shelves where they know they'll find what they're looking for without using these expensive services? Will librarians wonder why they got their expensive degrees only to watch patrons leave the library with stacks of best sellers without asking a complex reference question?

I hope that this session will be more an informal discussion where we can all share our thoughts. I especially invite those who disagree with me to attend. I love a good debate.

avatar for Bob Holley

Bob Holley

Professor Emeritus, School of Library & Information Science, Wayne State University
Professor Emeritus, Wayne State University School of Library & Information Science. Bob Holley has been actively involved in collection development since 1980 as an academic librarian, library science professor, and researcher. He was chief collection development officer at the University... Read More →

Friday November 4, 2016 12:45pm - 2:00pm EDT
Magnolia Room, Courtyard Marriott 125 Calhoun Street, Charleston, SC 29401