28 January, 2009

Fiction Reading Increases for Adults

The "Oprah" effect is credited with an increase in fiction reading

A report in the New York Times recently gives the perhaps surprising news that fiction reading has increased for adults.

After years of bemoaning the decline of a literary culture in the United States, the National Endowment for the Arts says in a report that it now believes a quarter-century of precipitous decline in fiction reading has reversed.

The report, “Reading on the Rise: A New Chapter in American Literacy,” being released Monday, is based on data from “The Survey of Public Participation in the Arts” conducted by the the US Census Bureau in 2008. Among its chief findings is that for the first time since 1982, when the bureau began collecting such data, the proportion of adults 18 and older who said they had read at least one novel, short story, poem or play in the previous 12 months has risen.

The increase has been attributed to community reading programs, such as the One Book One City programs, to the Oprah Winfrey’s book club, the huge popularity of book series like “Harry Potter” and Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight,” as well as the individual efforts of teachers, librarians, parents and civic leaders to create “a buzz around literature that’s getting people to read more in whatever medium.”

We have experienced a similar growth in our fiction borrowings, between 2007 & 2008 there was a 5% increase at our libraries. Anecdotal evidence suggests that in tough economic times people use public libraries more and this will also translate to more fiction borrowing and reading.

Reading a novel is a wonderful way to experience someone else's life, to get insights into how others think and behave. My current bedside reading is a Henning Mankell book, a Swedish detective story that features Kurt Wallandar, who solves murders around Ystad. There's something cooling about reading a novel set in cold, foggy, wet Sweden on a hot Melbourne night!

If you would like to share your bedside reading we are launching a new program soon that will be running at all libraries. It is an ongoing bookchat program designed to encourage and create opportunities for people to share reading experiences. Unlike the traditional Bookgroup format, Bedside Reads is designed for people who wish to share what they are currently reading without having to read a set book. We will be putting all the details on our Yarra Plenty Reads when the program starts in February.

Are you reading more fiction? Let us know!

21 January, 2009

Welcome to our new Board members

Cr Jenny Mulholland at Rosanna Library last year

Last week it was my pleasure to show our new Board members around the region. We visited all the libraries as well as Library Support Services. The main comment was how different each branch is and how well each reflects its own community, through its architecture, collections and programs and services offered.

Cr Jenny Mulholland is the new representative for Banyule. Jenny has been a councillor for 9 years and has always had a keen interest in the library service. She has also been involved in library programs, and is quite a storyteller!

Cr Chris Chapple and Cr Lewis Brock are the two Nillumbik representatives. Both these councillors were first elected in November and will bring a fresh perspective to the Library Board.

Our new representatives join Cr Anthony Carbines from Banyule, the most recent Chairperson, and two Councillors from Whittlesea, who have not yet been appointed.

The first meeting of the new Board will be held on February 19.

12 January, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to you all, already things seem to be settling down after our Christmas and New Year break. Of course our libraries have been open and I was particularly impressed with how busy Lalor Branch was when I visited last week. There are plenty of activities on during the holidays for the children, as well as adult programs and various summer reading programs too for adults and children.

The Summer Read runs through to the end of February.

The summer read invites you to take a trip through the pages of 20 books either set in Victoria or written by authors who call Victoria home. This summer, remove yourself from your hectic life and relax between the covers of a book. Vote for your favourite to go into the draw to win some fabulous prizes.

For more details visit slv.vic.gov.au/goto/summer-read
As part of the Summer Read Yarra Plenty Reads are hosting author events with:
Peter Steele, Tuesday 17 February, Watsonia Library, 6.30pm
Alice Pung, Monday 23 February, Mill Park Library, 6.30pm

Summer Reading Club for kids is also in full swing, and there are over 1,100 kids signed up to read books and have the opportunity to win great prizes. And the activities are great! check them out.