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The reader's way: student process guiding library practice

Annie R. Armstrong (University Library, University of Illinois Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA)
Glenda M. Insua (University Library, University of Illinois Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA)
Catherine Lantz (University Library, University of Illinois Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA)

Reference Services Review

ISSN: 0090-7324

Article publication date: 8 February 2023

Issue publication date: 7 March 2023




This paper explores the academic reading behaviors of first-year students in an attempt to understand their experiences and develop potential reading interventions to support undergraduate students.


Researchers used qualitative research methods to elicit in-depth findings regarding reading behaviors. They interviewed fifteen first-year students who had completed a required writing course regarding their reading habits and used open coding to analyze interviews.


Investigators discovered that the narrative from national media that students do not read discounts the volume and variety of texts that students regularly interact with in a variety of contexts. Several themes emerged from the interviews: (1) Students like to read in a variety of designated spaces at any time of the day or night, (2) Students prefer reading in print, but mostly read online, and (3) Students reported difficult vocabulary as the most significant challenge in reading academic texts, but also reported emotional concerns regarding reading.


While previous studies have focused on factors such as format preference and time limitations that influence reading behaviors, this study contributes to the body of research looking at the reading behaviors of college students more holistically, providing new insights informing a range of library interventions to support student success in academic reading. In its use of student interviews, this study offers a student-centered contribution to the literature on student reading behaviors and considers the implications of these behaviors on librarian practice.



Armstrong, A.R., Insua, G.M. and Lantz, C. (2023), "The reader's way: student process guiding library practice", Reference Services Review, Vol. 51 No. 1, pp. 52-64.



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