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Exploring reader response to minority ethnic fiction

Briony Birdi (Information School, Universityz of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)
Mostafa Syed (Information School, Universityz of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)

Library Review

ISSN: 0024-2535

Article publication date: 11 October 2011




The purpose of this paper is to present findings of a study investigating the reading of, and engagement with minority ethnic fiction in UK public libraries, with a particular focus on Black British fiction and Asian fiction in English.


A quantitative study of the reading behaviour of a large population of public library users (n=1,047) from the East Midlands region. A survey was distributed at issue points in 16 libraries in nine participating local authorities, to investigate respondents' reading choices, and factors that may affect these choices.


Findings have emerged regarding the readers and non‐readers of Black British and Asian fiction in English. Social identity theory and reader response theory, whilst initially appearing contradictory, are helpful in understanding patterns of reading behaviour.

Research limitations/implications

The paper provides a valuable starting point for future research in materials portraying, and originating from, minority ethnic communities.

Practical implications

The paper identifies areas in which public libraries, publishing houses and minority ethnic community groups can improve the provision and promotion of minority ethnic fiction.

Social implications

It is hoped that longer‐term effects will be to increase the involvement of members of all communities in the selection and promotion of culturally appropriate materials.


The paper addresses a gap in previous research and practice, whereby the provision of multicultural resources was always considered only in linguistic, rather than in broader cultural terms, the latter felt to be more appropriate to contemporary society.



Birdi, B. and Syed, M. (2011), "Exploring reader response to minority ethnic fiction", Library Review, Vol. 60 No. 9, pp. 816-831.



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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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