Team member and Deakin University PhD candidate Anne-Marie May is researching how booksellers and librarians influence teen recreational reading at the physical sites of bookstores, school libraries, and public libraries. She takes a geographically located approach to investigate the sites of book culture and the networks between them that comprise a local reading ecology for teens. Anne-Marie has selected an inner-Melbourne local government area for her study for its distribution and density of secondary school campuses, public library branches, and independent bookstores, as well as for the cultural and socio-economic diversity of its residents.
Anne-Marie identifies and analyses intermediary practices that impact teen recreational reading from data collected in interviews with booksellers and librarians, and focus groups with secondary school-aged students. These include direct and indirect practices such as book talk, readers’ advisory, read-alikes, shelf-talkers, promotion of local authors, gatekeeping, displays, genrefication of collections, and book clubs. Affective labour underpins the practices of booksellers and librarians and is key to their networks. Anne-Marie’s work promotes understanding the commonalities and differences between the occupation groups, the barriers they face implementing their practices and how their specific positions in a localised reading ecology impacts their work with teen recreational reading. By doing so, her study aims to answer how these cultural intermediaries can increase their impact on teen recreational reading.
The Teen Reading pilot survey found that a higher proportion of students rated the provision of good books by their school library as a better motivator of more reading than local public or community libraries. While browsing the informative website of the Australian Association of School Libraries we were interested to find a recent study which investigated the differences in learning outcomes for schools with or without trained librarians. It found that:
Students are more likely to succeed when they have library programs that are well staffed, well funded, technologically well equipped, well stocked, and more accessible. And, the neediest learners may benefit the most from trained librarians and quality library programs.
In the UK, children’s laureate Chris Riddell, with the support of all eight former laureates including Quentin Blake and Julia Donaldson, has sent an amazing letter to the Department of Education to address current policy that has led to hundreds of school libraries losing a dedicated librarian over the last decade. To see this beautiful letter, click here.