The Society of Chief Librarians today published a review that highlights the ways that public libraries encourage and promote reading and how reader development activities could be further supported. Based on research and interviews with libraries and library staff across the country, the report identifies that the highest priority for developing reader training in libraries is outreach and work with non-readers. The report also identified a need to develop ‘soft’ skills such as having conversations about reading with the public.
There is some evidence that existing reading development training may not be suitable for volunteers and community-run libraries because it does not employ suitable language/approaches or delivery mechanisms. A co-created approach may need to be undertaken to develop training for community-run libraries to ensure it is relevant and taken up.
Key findings from the review include:
—Reader development is a high priority for public library services but less than half of those responding to the survey had any form of training in reader development. 77% wanted training to be made available for reading outreach.
—Many reader development activities focus on non-readers
–Reading doesn’t just happen: it is nurtured and encouraged by the right kinds of activities, groups and support.
—Most library services still employ specialist librarians to support their reader development work. However, volunteers are also very commonly deployed to support reading development. Despite the fact that 77% of services are using volunteers to support reading, volunteer training was identified as a priority by only 44% of respondents.