Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Sunday, June 04, 2017

This is interesting

Who Doesn't Read Books in America?

I can't imagine life without reading for pleasure, even though I don't have the time to do so that I once did. The Pew Research report predictably found that those who were older, poorer, less-educated, and those who were Latino were less likely to have read a book at least in part in the last year or *ever* visited a library. For some, it's probably that they may not be fully literate, and we fail in helping with that, I think, especially once they've gone through the system and are adults. I have one friend that can read, but almost never does, short of maybe skimming the newspaper. He is visually impaired, and was embarrassed having to use large print books as a child, and it was just more difficult. He never developed a love of reading and I'm still not convinced he's really very good at it, yet he makes fun of others he's encountered who obviously are functionally illiterate. I remind him on those occasions that it's something to be sad about, and to offer help about, not something funny or worth belittling someone.

We're better now at providing books to children whose families might not be able to afford them, and we can promote our library services, but many children live in areas where it is impossible to come to the library on their own if they're old enough, like I did when I was in my pre-teens and teens. My local library branch moved from across a major road from a residential neighbourhood to a business area two streets away, but the distance increased significantly, and to ride the bus, you now have to go downtown, transfer, and it's an hour and a half ride for a five minute trip by car. It's bigger, it's better, but if I didn't have a car, I couldn't really go anymore. Same goes for rural libraries. Urban ones may be easier to get to in some ways, but there are other factors such as crime and drug use that often happens right outside. So if the parent didn't grow up loving libraries enough to take their kids to the library, the children might not develop that love.

Latinos may be less likely read for socioeconomic or language-barrier reasons. There's not a lot available, at least here, in Spanish at most library branches or bookstores. That is, they may be literate in Spanish and have trouble finding books short of Amazon shipping them in. And they may have the same barriers as the other groups. We do have a branch here in Lexington that is an area of town which is heavily Latino which encourages Spanish among its staff and has more selection, as well as programming aimed at this group. I hope that can be expanded.

No comments: