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61st IFLA General Conference - Conference Proceedings - August 20-25, 1995

Round Table on Research in Reading

Annual Report 1994

Martine Poulain
Bulletin des Bibliothèques de France
61-65 rue Dutot
75732 Paris Cedex 15
Fax: (33-1) 40656093
is Chair of the Round Table on Research in Reading.

Shmuel Sever

University of Haifa
Mount Carmel
31905 Haifa
Fax: (972-4) 257753
e-mail: sever@lib.haifa.ac.il
is Secretary.

Executive Committee

The Executive Committee has 22 members from 15 countries, and nine corresponding members. During the report period the Round Table applied to the Professional Board for Section status, listing its ac tivities over the past 10 years, since it was established as a Round Table, and providing an updated plan of action for the future.


Annotated Review of Reference on Literacy Comparing Printed and Visual Approaches with Virtual Reading. The project, to be directed by Irene Sever (Israel) has been presented to the Professional Boar d as a new project. Its aim is to compare users' behavior facing the traditional printed material to the actual behavior facing visual images and virtual information. The act of reading in itself is changing, and the Round Table plans to analyze these changes and compare research conducted in several countries. Bibliographic contributions by all members of all countries are welcomed.



The Round Table published two Newsletters during the report period, with a print run of 150 copies each.

Proceedings of the Moscow Workshop

The proceedings of the joint workshop held in Moscow in 1991 by the Section of Children's Libraries and the Round Table were published with the title, Young People and Reading: An International Pe rspective in the series, IFLA Professional Reports in 1994.

Image of the Library

The title prepared by Valeria Stelmakh (Russia) was published by Haifa University Library and can be ordered from Shmuel Sever at the address above. A translation into Polish will be prepared by Jadw iga Kolodziejska and published by the National Library of Poland.

Proceedings of the Haifa Seminar

The proceedings of the seminar held in Haifa in 1993 have been edited by Irene Sever and will be published early in 1995 through the University of Haifa Library.

Havana Meetings

The Round Table held an open session at which the following papers were presented to an audience of more than 100 participants.

The Public Library and Reading by the Masses: Historic Perspectives on the USA and Britain 1850-1900

The contribution which the public library, as a resource for popular reading, can make to the spread and strengthening of literacy amongst the masses of industrializing societies has been a constant theme in the rhetoric of library promoters and founders. However, the argument tends to be dogmatic and most evidence used is anecdotal. Historical evidence on both the progress of literacy rates and the development of public libraries is available for the USA and Britain. These two countries were the first to establish widespread provision of public libraries of a type that gave genuine scope f or them to function as centres of popular reading. In both cases, libraries were set up only if local political opinion, as opposed to national planning, permitted their founding. This offers some po ssibility to show how library provision related to explicit demand, and therefore, by extension, to popular reading and literacy. A series of other elements - the spread of schooling, increased leisu re and domestic comfort across large parts of the population, mass availability of cheap newspapers, magazines and books - has also to be introduced into any such model for it to offer worthwhile abi lity to suggest the presence of causal connections. Some provisional presentation of historical statistics associated in this way is offered as a contribution to this line of argument.

Investigaciones sobre la lectura en Cuba

Se identifican las instituciones mas representativas del pais en las investigaciones de la lectura y se exponen los principales resultados obtenidos por ellas y su utilidad. Se incluyen consideracion es, derivadas por el autor de las reflexiones mas recientes del Grupo de Promoción de la Lectura de ASCUBI sobre el proceso experimentado por la lectura en Cuba despues de 1959, su estado actu al y perspectivas.

Two Decades of Reading and Library Development 1970-1990: Progress or Regression

There was a marked decrease in active reading of books in Israel during these decades. From 50% active readers in 1970, it decreased to 40%, while video watching increased to 57%. Reading of newspape rs or of one book a year did not decrease. It seems that video, along with a growth in professional reading, and historical events that increased alertness to news are, in part, responsible for the d ecrease in active reading for pleasure.

Five Years of Freedom in Culture

The paper summarizes the characteristics of the social process that determines the situation of the book, reading, and public libraries in Poland. An attempt is made to interpret the socio-economic c hanges and transformations brought by the year 1989 and their significance to the development of culture. Attention is given to the relationship between the publishing market and the dissemination of the book according to reading needs.