Librarian's Corner Article

Encouraging Adult Readers In A Community Of Children

I have been with a large metropolitan library system for ten and a half years, but have just been at my current library branch for a little over one year. It is only 2 miles from my home and the busiest in the whole library system. The main reason for this is that is only five years old and its location. The library is literally surrounded by newer townhouses, apartments and condominiums, as well as huge older subdivisions. There are several schools nearby, too. All of this leads to the branch's circulation being about seventy-five percent juvenile and young adult items. In this community of children how can library staff encourage adult readers?

One of the best ways I have seen to help adult books fly out of the library is to set up a display of staff recommended books in a prominent place. Bookstores do this with great success, so we have copied their idea.

A library branch sponsored book club often helps adult readers to try new books and meet with other avid readers. The most successful clubs seem to be those that have staff members involved in moderating the group, as well as getting access to copies of the monthly discussion books from other branches.

There are many adults in the whole metropolitan area who have long commutes, so having a good supply of audio books is a huge help. Before my present branch I had a sixteen mile commute through frustrating traffic and audio books saved my sanity. Perhaps road rage could be eliminated if more people discovered the joys of books on CD.

In this day of massive budget cuts, our library system gets newer books by having a floating collection supplied by lease from Baker & Taylor. Having the bestsellers travel from branch to branch through the holds system and regular returns allows patrons to have more books to browse on the shelves. Donations of paperbacks in good condition are a way to have more in the collection. We don't catalog our paperbacks, so there is little work involved and no remorse if they are damaged or wear out quickly.

We have an active Inter-Library Loan system that helps patrons with both their research and pleasure reading. The numbers for that and regular holds that are swapped between library branches in the system have gone up dramatically in the past year as the economy has worsened.

The sluggish economy has accounted for an upsurge in non-fiction book circulation of books on resumes, cover letters and job interviews. When budget cuts are made, government agencies need to remember that libraries play a huge role in the community.

Even with all the emphasis on gadgets and technology, those of us who work in libraries and love books can still share our love with people on a one on one basis daily. 

- Roberta Austin, Librarian