This week while I was trying to learn more about how the normal college student reads (I’ve come to terms with the fact that I am not normal) I stumbled upon a really great article. U.S. News and Report did a write up of a study about college reading. The article talks about how the popular opinion held by the press and most adults is that college students no longer read for pleasure. This view seems to be supported by data such as the fact that almost half of 18 year olds only read for pleasure twice a year. However, the study seems to show an entirely different view of the problem.
One of the most shocking things that I found in this article was a single statistic, 93% of college students enjoy reading for pleasure. Whoo! Faith in humanity restored! But wait… if almost everyone says they enjoy reading for pleasure, why do so few do it?!
Well… it turns out that it’s not that difficult to explain actually, my first guess was right on the money, 77 percent of students reported having too much reading for class to read for fun. So, you say, we already knew this… and we all know it’s a problem, but there aren’t any solutions! Wrong!
The study seemed to point the finger at college academic libraries. It takes a pointed look at the way these academic libraries aren’t helping students find books. In fact, I even have to own up to the fact that I was unaware academic libraries even had leisure reading! All you see when you walk in are the rows upon rows of big scholarly books, which the study says most students find too intimidating to actually investigate.
It did, however, suggest some strategies for improvement. The first method they outlined was to try and create some displays of books that college students might find interesting to read for pleasure. This will help create the “serendipity factor” of a student walking through a library to study and picking up a book to read because it catches their eye. As we have it now, there are no opportunities to stumble upon these books, because they’re hidden away on shelves! The study showed that 60% of the respondents felt reading for pleasure would be a lot simpler if they had an easily accessible list of recommendations and easy access to the books.
This is great news! Because this is exactly what I am setting out to do with this blog, I want to give you all some great recommendations for books that I know you’ll love, and show you where to find them on campus! If the Purdue libraries want my help setting up any displays, they know where to find me 🙂