Reading groups have grown rapidly in popularity and continue to be a significant cultural phenomenon. Reading groups in public libraries, linked to the learning and social inclusion agenda, have expanded to include a wide range of groups within society, including people with visual impairments (VIPs). This under-researched area is the focus of this book. Library-based VIP reading groups are interesting on many levels. Given that these groups predominantly use audio versions of the text (rather than print), this links to debates about the changing nature of reading in a multi-modal age. This book discusses whether contemporary society still defines reading as a visual activity or whether technological developments have led to a broadening of the definition of reading. The author goes on to discuss how policy is translated into practice within the library context and whether the wide range of reading groups linked to libraries suggests that libraries understand and are taking the social inclusion agenda seriously. She also explores how effectively libraries are using reading groups as a tool for delivering on the agenda for learning and how this sits within wider priorities for post-compulsory education and lifelong learning. Finally the book suggests ideas for future development for these groups, outlining ways in which their potential could be maximised for the benefit of both the library and the reading group members. The book will be of great interest to professional librarians as well as students and scholars of librarianship. It will also be of interest to those working on the emerging field of reading groups in literary studies. Those interested in the role of reading in education, as well as disability scholars, will also find the book useful.
Eileen Hyder, University of Reading, UK.
’For anyone wanting a deeper understanding of the role of the reading group - particularly the impact they have on the lives of blind and partially sighted people - this book is a must. Drawing on in-depth, participatory research, Eileen Hyder sets the reading group in the context of the readers’ daily lives - and also the daily lives of the libraries where they meet.’ John Vincent, The Network - tackling social exclusion in libraries, museums, archives and galleries, UK ’Those who take part in or run reading groups for people with visual impairments, and anyone with an interest in disability studies, will welcome this thoughtful and well-researched book. Hyder discusses important issues about social inclusion, as well as providing practical suggestions for the future.’ Jenny Hartley, University of Roehampton, UK ’Eileen Hyder uses one reading group for visually impaired people as a case study to raise thought-provoking questions about reading groups in general, about reading, about life-long learning, and about the role libraries play in the social inclusion of marginalized populations. As publishers explore new formats that might replace print books, and readers discover new ways to enjoy literature, will blind people be at the forefront of new reading technologies and methods, or continue to lag behind? How will librarians advocate for universal access to their collections? Reading Groups, Libraries and Social Inclusion will be a valuable resource for librarians, educators, blind and partially sighted people and any reader interested in the future of the book.’ Georgina Kleege, University of California, Berkeley, USA ’I now feel far more informed about not only reading groups but the issues faced by VIPs and would recommend this book to anyone involved in running reading groups, working with VIPs or who are interested in the idea of setting up groups of this nature. I also think it would be of interest to anyone with a passion for encouragi