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New year, new reading data

As tends to happen, the end of the semester bustle combined with the holidays kept me from posting here — but I did get in some wonderful end of the year reading time. For more on that, check out my other blog, bookconscious. Here at Nocturnal Librarian, I write fairly often about examining assumptions, so when I came across this reading habits infographic page today in a newsletter, I was intrigued. I was fresh from absorbing the many wonderful examples of graphical presentation of data at the Information Is Beautiful 2018 awards page over the weekend so I was primed for some more infographics.

I find some of this unsurprising — it’s well known among people in the book world that reading is still quite popular, for example. But bits of this were really interesting. For example, I had no idea Estonia and India were such book loving cultures. Or that all but one of the eight most checked out books from Australian libraries are Harry Potter volumes. Hey America, do we ever try to determine the most checked out library books here? We apparently DO track the bestselling books, but I know the infographic is not accurate because it doesn’t list Becoming, which Publisher’s Weekly reported was the bestselling book of 2018, in the “Top 20 Print Books of 2018.”

The part most relevant to me as a college librarian are the reading “myths” and the stats on eReading.  I was especially interested in the data on reading eBooks on computers, which happens more than on eReaders, a stat I can only assume is related to the increase in academic eBooks, which students (including this one) often read on their laptops rather than phones or tablets. And I love that indexes are still popular with readers.

I’m not sure that I’d swear by this infographic, but it certainly got my attention and got me thinking about the assumptions we make in my library about readers and reading — that people aren’t reading for pleasure, that they won’t read eBooks, that we have to teach them how to download eBooks, that for our busy students, magazines might be preferable.  I’d like to learn more in the new year about our patrons’ reading tastes and habits. College campuses are survey-saturated, but I’m hoping to talk to our regular borrowers and also to get out of the library more and ask people who maybe aren’t coming in what they read. Most of all I’d like to keep on questioning assumptions!


About Deb Baker

Deb Baker is a writer and insatiable reader, and library director at a community college. She muses about library issues at The Nocturnal Librarian ( and blogs about books, reading, and life at bookconscious ( Her family includes two awesome offspring, a husband, and the cat who adopted them. And a crazy rescue kitten.

2 responses to “New year, new reading data

  1. Hello, thank you for your posts on reading and Libraries. My lady and I read all the time, we have a small library here in our log cabin built from Homer Library book sales. We have not looked at a T.V. in 35 years. When I arrived in Homer, Alaska in 1989, just in time for the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Homer had a really nice small library, well as the town grew we realized that a new larger library would be nice to have, so the town pulled together, had many fund raisers, sold copper salmon with your name on it $100. for a small one $200. for a larger one and they all gracefully sit on a border fence outside the new library. We have a Friend’s of the Homer Library group that puts on all kinds of interesting programs throughout the year. It is a wonderful place to spend time, fireplace, reading rooms and great Librarians to help us find anything. We are really proud of our Library. Before we got so old we used to bring in baby lambs and goats for children’s hour, once in awhile we brought in a couple of ducks, that was fun.What is a cold, dark winter without some good books? I am a big fan of Louis Lapham’s Essays. I subscribe our library to Lapham’s Quarterly, which is all about history. I think one of my favorite books is “The River Why” by David James Duncan, because it is a joy to read aloud, to share with someone you love. Also,I am trying to get people to read “The Experience, A Celebration of Being” by Sirio Esteve, Random House 1974. I made it available on Amazon used books, by buying at least 35 copies and giving them to people who I thought would like it and share it with others. Well, if you read this far Bless you and keep on telling us book stories. You Alaskan fans George & Susan…. ________________________________

    • Deb Baker

      Thanks George and Susan — I think the Homer library and your home library both sound wonderful. And The River Why is one of my favorite books! Thanks for reading and leaving a comment

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