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How do you help others choose what to read?

At work I’m starting to work on a few ideas I have about promoting reading (for fun, or at least leisure) in the academic setting. My boss suggested I start by compiling a reading list aimed at students which we could maybe either put somewhere on the website, or linked from our blog or even  maybe in Delicious.

I’m sure many of us experienced a drastic decrease in pleasure reading during our university years, but for those times that were a bit slower, how did you choose what to read? Did you ever feel like you didn’t even know where to begin? Were there times when you wanted something to read casually, but didn’t have time to go to the public library?

I know our students and faculty are busy. We all are. Yet, I also know every semester there are students asking at the reference desk for leisure reading materials. While we do not have a separate popular reading collection, we do have items that would be entertaining, whether fiction from the Ps (LC call number) or general works of nonfiction.

Reader’s advisory has certainly been discussed throughly in the context of public libraries, but barely touched on by academic librarians. So, what methods do you use to help students find reading materials? Do you think a sort of subject guide reading list would be valuable? Are there academic libraries out there using this tool? I know Université de Laval does provide monthly reading lists on their website (http://www.bibl.ulaval.ca/mieux/ref-nouveau/decouvrir/suggestions_lecture) but I haven’t really come across any others yet.


About Jen

An instructor, a reader, a dog-owner, and advocate; that's how I define myself and these aspects directly impact my interests and conversations.


8 thoughts on “How do you help others choose what to read?

  1. The reading list that got me through University was the one from Second Year Children’s Literature. They were light, amusing, often very intelligent and well written, and could often be finished in a weekend.

    Posted by Devon | 15 Oct 2009, 7:47 PM
  2. I didn’t have much time for leisure reading, but when I did the approach was pretty simple:
    1. Find an author who’s won a Hugo.
    2. Pick up something by them.
    3. If liked & they have more books, go to 2.
    4. Go back to 1.

    But that’s cause I like scifi/fantasy. 😉

    Posted by Gen | 16 Oct 2009, 1:04 PM
  3. Hi Devon, that was actually my strategy to get back into reading after university. Probably half of what I read every year is children’s or YA literature.

    Gen, that actually was a method I used last year too when I was looking for something to read. Award winners are usually good picks! Did I tell you I went to the Hugo awards this year? :-p

    Posted by canucklibrarian | 16 Oct 2009, 3:23 PM
  4. My colleagues and I were just discussing the frequent requests for leisure reading at our library, too. We have plenty of fun books, but they’re so hard to find in an academic library. I’ll be very interested to hear if you start a blog or Delicious account (the Laval one is nifty).

    McMaster has a nice page for their popular reading collection: http://library.mcmaster.ca/popular-reading

    And U of Chicago has a useful guide: http://www.lib.uchicago.edu/e/su/fiction/

    Also: two articles!
    Bosman, Renée, John Glover, and Monique Prince. “Growing Adult Readers: Promoting Leisure Reading in Academic Libraries.” Urban Library Journal. 15.1 (2008). http://lacuny.cuny.edu/ulj/1501/bosman.htm

    Smith, Rochelle, and Nancy J. Young. “Giving Pleasure Its Due: Collection Promotion and Readers’ Advisory in Academic Libraries.” The Journal of Academic Librarianship. 34.6 (2008): 520-526.

    Posted by Megan | 16 Oct 2009, 8:18 PM
    • Thanks Megan! I hadn’t seen the UChicago site at all before!

      Those articles are some of the few that broach the topic. I find a fair bit of research focus on creating a leisure reading collection, but I’m interested in the other tools librarians are using to promote reading.

      I like the reading programs some places have started too. Just so many possibilities!

      Posted by canucklibrarian | 16 Oct 2009, 8:46 PM
  5. Hi,

    Just an idea – maybe you could develop fiction reading lists based on disciplines, so that if students wanted to “relax” but read fiction based on what they are studying they would have a ready list..

    EG – Blood Letting and Miraculous Cures (Medicine)
    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Criminology)
    Sacred Hearts (History, Religious Studies)


    Posted by Tricia | 29 Nov 2009, 1:02 PM
    • Thanks Tricia! That’s a good idea too.

      When talking with a student librarian we thought this might be one way of organizing titles other than standard genres lists.

      Posted by canucklibrarian | 2 Dec 2009, 11:34 PM


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