Reading Groups, Communities & Libraries – An exploratory study

Published last month, the study explores the important role reading groups, such as Shared Reading, play in library and community services.

Published in May 2017, this study by Lesley Dee, Susan Hart and Cathy Jennings explores the role that reading groups have to play in the work of a library service and how they can be supported at a time when libraries are being forced to reexamine their role within the local community.

Drawing on the expertise of the Society of Chief Librarians, The Reading Agency and a range of library services across the UK, including The Reader, the study seeks to exemplify good practice in light of the mounting challenges to the delivery of library services, including:

  • limited opening hours
  • reliance on volunteers
  • closure of library branches
  • reduced availability of books.

We document here how, despite these challenges and difficulties, the library services we visited are continuing to support reading groups and in so doing bring immense benefits and value to their local communities.

We met inspiring individuals who believe passionately in the power of literature and reading to make a real difference to the quality of people’s lives.

As part of the study, the authors met with The Reader’s director and found Jane Davis to discuss Shared Reading groups in libraries as a “powerful emotional and social experience”.

The study recognises the role reading groups play in the health and well-being of participants, in particular Shared Reading which has been proven to improve health and well-being, does not have a primarily therapeutic focus.

“People came together as readers. It was the power of literature itself, together with the process of engaging with good literature as a member of a supportive group, that brought about the feelings of increased well-being frequently noted by members and facilitators alike.”


To read the study in full: Reading Groups Libraries and Communities May 13 2017.

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