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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Popular Reading Collections in Academic Libraries

I have been interested in popular reading collections in academic library collections for years. Click here to pull up my posts on the topic including slides I created for a 2016 ILA Annual presentation where I talk about all of the reason WHY it makes sense for every academic library. [Major reason: your patrons, students, staff and faculty like to read for fun too, maybe even more than the average library user].

The recent issue of RUSQ has a feature article on the topic. It's a real life, researched, academic article and not just me telling you why my opinion is right. But spoiler alert, I was right.

Although RUSQ allows reproduction of their articles in entirety for educational purposes, I would rather  link to the article and simply repost the title, author info, and summary below. It is a bit longer than the material I usually post, but there is much here that we all can learn about popular reading collections, public, school, academic, or special libraries.

Again, click here to read the full article.

Don’t Call It a Comeback
Popular Reading Collections in Academic Libraries

Elizabeth Brookbank, Anne-Marie Davis, and Lydia Harlan
Elizabeth Brookbank (brookbanke@ is Instruction Librarian, Hamersly Library, Western Oregon University. Anne-Marie Davis ( is Collection Development Coordinator, Odegaard Undergraduate Library, University of Washington. Lydia Harlan (lharlan@ is Acquisitions Budget and Receiving Coordinator, Knight Library, University of Oregon.

Despite the persisting notion that recreational reading does not have a place in the academic mission of college and university libraries, these libraries have a long history of providing pleasure reading for their patrons. During the latter half of the twentieth century, the idea of academic libraries meeting the recreational reading needs of students seems to have fallen out of favor, but a literature review of that time period shows that the collections them- selves still existed. Discussion of—and jus- tifications for—these collections, however, has enjoyed a resurgence in the library literature over the past decade. Given this renewed interest, this study seeks to assess just how common these collections are in US academic libraries today, and whether or not they are, in fact, enjoying a come- back from previous decades. This study surveyed the thirty-nine academic libraries that make up the Orbis Cascade Alliance in the Pacific Northwest, a diverse group of libraries in terms of size, type, budget, and student populations. The results of the survey show that a majority of librar- ies have a recreational collection and that these collections are valued by patrons and librarians alike. Recommendations are made for shifting the perspective on popular reading collections and their place in academic libraries, as well as for how to study them in the future.

Reference & User Services Quarterly, vol. 58, no. 1, pp. 28–39
© 2018 American Library Association. All rights reserved.

Permission granted to reproduce for nonprofit, educational use.

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