Close reading IV: The reader-friendly library service

Open book

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Chapter four: Reader-centred stock management

This chapter raised some interesting points for me. The buying plan in my school library is fairly simple: BUY WHAT THE BOYS WILL READ. But there are other points to consider too.

One of the most important ideas to think about from this chapter is the reminder to consider the “invisible” borrowers as well. I have a lot of students who are comfortable telling me what they want me to buy, however, I also need to think about the boys who aren’t demanding and those that don’t even consider themselves readers.

Another significant point is to use “evidence-based stock management”. That is to base decisions on evidence derived from loan and collection data: what is being borrowed? what is not being borrowed? what is worn out? what is in the collection? what is not in the collection? what has big reserve lists?

Reader development is about opening up reading choices and helping people find books they didn’t know existed, not only about managing the most popular titles.

This (page 114) is why it is really important to know the book stock in your collection, and also to keep up with new releases. I know I need to have multiple copies of Muchamore’s perennially popular Cherub series, but I also need to know what other books and authors are similar. This way, when all the Cherub books are out, or a student has read the whole series, I can point them to other books that may keep them reading.

Does a library service have a responsibility to meet needs as well as wants? But who determines what those needs are?

These questions (page 132) are easier to answer in a school library because we are not solely focused on recreational reading, we are also concerned with the curriculum. These “needs” are mostly determined by teaching staff, so it is important to keep in regular contact with these stakeholders as well.

Actions arising from this chapter:

  • update collection management policy and buying plans
  • survey reluctant and non-readers to see if their wants and needs are being met


Riel, R. V., Fowler, O., & Downes, A. (2008). The reader-friendly library service. Newcastle upon Tyne: Society of Chief Librarians.


2 thoughts on “Close reading IV: The reader-friendly library service

  1. I agree totally! and have blogged myself about the bias we have towards our avid readers as well as our own preferences with fiction. We end up oiling the squeaky wheel and over time keep reinforcing the collection as inclusive for the avid readers and less likely to have something for the outliers. One of the benefits of genrefying the fiction was to get the series similar to popular ones like Cherub, together and this has worked beautifully.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s so hard at times to get info out of reluctant readers. A teacher asked me to help a boy who was driving her crazy at silent reading time by grabbing the nearest book and then not being engaged by it. I asked him about his interests, he said, “Sports”. When I asked him if book length was a problem he said he wasn’t worried about length if it was a good story. When asked whether he wanted fiction or non-fiction he said Fiction. I gave him a few fiction titles to choose from, he selected one and assured me it looked good. But I had a feeling he was saying that to get away from me. On the off chance I went and grabbed a couple of NF books and put them on a table close to him. He ended up choosing Maria Gill’s NZ Sports Hall of Fame. So, yeah, pretty much the opposite of what he described!!
      Reminds me I must check in with the teacher to see if it’s kept him more engaged…


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