Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Reports of our death remain premature; indeed, some recent reports on public library services and buildings, as well as the much vaunted People's Network, indicate that we remain alive, well and kicking. Still, if reading itself dies out, what future for libraries? We have an obvious role far beyond the collection and circulation of books and information, a role that libraries have fulfilled with often great success over the many years of my career, and which they continue to fulfill. Doing is the most important part of the process, but it does not go amiss to remind the world of how great our successes have been, and remain. One of the many virtues of this book is that it refers to or treats as case studies wide ranges (both thematic and geographic) of library‐based initiatives alongside initiatives of other agencies; and there are plenty more library examples beyond those identified here.
Given the nature and fundamental importance of the subject, this is just the kind of book a professional body like CILIP should be publishing, and its members, and others, reading. It is academic‐based research of an ideal kind, giving a theoretical underpinning to practice within working libraries. The first chapter, by Judith Elkin, sets this theoretical framework with an analysis of what is reading, why do people read, what benefits do they derive consciously or sub‐consciously from reading, and how do they go about reading and we go about encouraging or supporting them. Briony Train gives a similarly thorough and systematic account of reader development while the next five chapters deal with specific foci:
reading and agencies in the UK;
the international focus (the IFLA reading survey);
cultural and multicultural perspectives;
special needs/special places (including such as reading in hospitals, prisons or prisoner of war camps, as well as bibliotherapy more generally); and
ICT and reader development.
This book works on at least three levels:
It is a systematic manual with plenty of sound practical advice.
It bases that advice on its own research and a consistent theoretical basis derived from it.
It is itself a good read.