Read Books. Win Prizes.

Library Summer ReadingWhat are you reading this summer?

Let us know by joining the Library Summer Reading Program. From June 2 to August 15 you are invited to share your opinions about books you loved, hated or can’t stop talking about. Whether you are reading this year’s big beach book, revisiting the classics, cracking open a literary masterpiece or finally reading that fantasy or YA novel everyone is watching; we want to know if we should read it. We will even give you prizes if you tell us. Not sure what to read? We have recommendations and Kindles full of books for students, faculty and staff on campus.

The Summer Reading program is open to all members of the SMCM library community including students, staff, faculty, alumni and residents of the Tri-County area (St. Mary’s, Calvert and Charles counties.) You may read anything you want as long as a copy is available at the SMCM Library or via USMAI or the Southern Maryland public library (COSMOS). You don’t need to check the book out of the library. To get points you must post a review on the blog.

For more information visit the Library Reading Circle.

Reading is . . .

A recent survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project asked questions about people’s reading habits and about where they live.  Any guesses about what they found out?  Do city mice read more than country mice?  Do lots of people have library cards and still think libraries are important?  Why do people say they read?

Well, 78% of Americans over the age of 16 say they read a book in the last year, and 79% of those asked said they read for pleasure.   That’s 80% of the urbanites who responded and 71% of the rural residents.  Americans read, on average, 17 books last year.  That’s more than one a month.  Pretty good numbers.    About 58% of everyone surveyed has a library card and 69% say the library is important to them.

At SMCM 100% of the community has a library card (!).  How many of you would say the library is important to you?  How many of you read a book last year not for class or research, but for fun, to learn something, or to keep up with the news?  Do you read a newspaper?  Do you read?

Here a few more of those interesting numbers.  19% of those asked own an e-reader, and 93% of those asked read a print book in the past year (22% read an ebook and 14% read in both formats).   And the study showed that age, education, and household income may determine your reading habits, not where you live.

So – what does it all mean?  Maybe it means that formats matter, that libraries need to be sure we can offer opportunities to read in print, online, and using e-readers (and audio devices).  Maybe it also means that we should be thrilled that people are reading, and they get why public libraries are so important.  You may not know this but many librarians are feeling pretty insecure these days.  Warnings of our impending obsolescence are everywhere and have been around for a long time [“The Obsolete Man,” Twilight Zone,  June 2, 1961].

I think books, libraries, and librarians probably don’t have to worry too much about being unloved or obsolete any time soon.  We want people to read, not because it keeps us employed.  Because reading can help you find out how something works, or why we do the things we do, where we came from, where we might be going, or just let you escape from it all for a while.

How do you read?  What do you read?  Why do you read?

Welcome to the Post-Literate Future

Reading and writing are doomed.

Literacy as we know it is over.

Welcome to the post-literate future.

No – it’s not April 1st.  Beyond Literacy: Exploring a Post-Literate Future is the name of a new freely accessible e-book published by the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) and the Ontario Library Association.  The site provides opportunities for readers to comment and contribute to what will undoubtedly be a vigorous and passionate conversation about whether reading and writing as we know them are really disappearing.  What will replace them?  What is already replacing them?

Do you read?  Do you write?  Is texting writing (by the way-the WordPress spell checker thinks texting is a spelling error).  If we no longer use reading and writing as the most common way we communicate, we do/will we use?  Is spoken language a kind of literacy?  Lots of questions.

I don’t have many answers.  It is hard for me to conjure up the image of a world without reading and writing.  I still send letters through the mail.  I always read something before I turn out the light before going to sleep.  And the author isn’t claiming to have all the answers either.  But the questions are provocative and worth thinking about.

What do you think?  Will traditional reading and writing eventually disappear?  In what ways are reading and writing important to you (or not)?  What will a post-literate society look like?  Join the dialog.