Readers’ histories as a way of studying and understanding multicultural library communities

Keren Dali (School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada)

Library Review

ISSN: 0024-2535

Publication date: 7 November 2016



Personal readers’ histories have long had a respected place in reading research. They add a human, personalized dimension to the studies of reading practices, often reported through aggregate findings and generalized conclusions. Moreover, they introduce a private context of readers’ lives, which complements other reading contexts (e.g. historical, socio-economic and cultural) required for an understanding of reading behaviours. The purpose of this paper, based on a selected data set from a larger reading study, is to introduce a gallery of portraits of immigrant readers with the aim to facilitate the library practice with immigrant communities.


Qualitative face-to-face intensive interviews with immigrant readers.


The knowledge of reading contexts and the opportunity to see readers as individuals rather than anonymous statistics are crucial for librarians who come in contact with multicultural populations. Personal histories can also serve as a step in building interpersonal relationships between librarians and community members.


The value of the study is in introducing a methodological approach which, through collecting and writing reading histories, allows librarians to gain insight into the cultural practices of multicultural communities and to adjust their work accordingly. This approach can also be used as a prototype for researching other community groups.



Dali, K. (2016), "Readers’ histories as a way of studying and understanding multicultural library communities", Library Review, Vol. 65 No. 8/9, pp. 519-534.

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