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66th IFLA Council and General

Jerusalem, Israel, 13-18 August


Code Number: 084-152-E
Division Number: III
Professional Group: Libraries for Children and Young Adults
Joint Meeting with: -
Meeting Number: 152
Simultaneous Interpretation:   No  

Reading and library usage habits of the students whose mother tongue is Turkish in Vienna, Austria*

Bülent Yilmaz
Hacettepe University Faculty of Letters Department of Library ScienceBeytepe-Ankara
E-mail: byilmaz@hacettepe.edu.tr



Many developed countries have some serious problems based on their multicultural structure. They all are trying to solve, especially the cultural adaptation problems of the ethnic communities to be able to live together.All these efforts to solve cultural adaptation problems should be multi-dimensional and long term. Reading and library use habits can be thought as the factors which have important roles in fullfilling the multicultural structure in a country. Affects of these habits to the cultural adaptation of children are usually seen through the agency of the educational achievements and language developments. As known, education and language are the main parts of a culture. In other words, culture is a product of the education and language.

According to Stadler (1980:330-331), reading;

  • will develop the source of word of children in both mother language and householder language.
  • will provide a base (background) for the grammatical efficiency of the children in both languages.
  • will contribute the thinking in both language.
  • will raise the communication in both languages.
  • will help the children to learn the rules of behaviour and life style of householder country.
Shorthly, all of these points mean direct or indirect contributions to the cultural adaptation of the children.

* This paper depends on the research was made by Dr. Bülent Yilmaz and Mag.Kemal Cindi supported by the Ministry of Culture of Austria and in cooperation with International Institute of Children Literature and Reading Research in Vienna, Austria in 1999.

Library using can have these functions in cultural adaptation:

  • To develop the intercultural understanding and relationships.
  • To facilitate the intercultural passings.
  • To increase the cultural diversity.
  • To provide social integration.
  • To give an educational support to language development. (Mylopoulos 1985:23-24).
Reading and library use habits of ethnic groups' children in multicultural societies must be seen as the main parts of the national education and cultural policy in connection with these contributions mentioned above.

The outcome of our research stresses the importance of reading and library use habits in cultural adaptation of the children.

The Aims and Scope of the Research

The main aims of the research were that:
  1. To identify in detail the problem of reading and library use habits of the students1.
  2. To find out the effects of these habits on their language developments, educational achievements and consequently cultural adaptations.
  3. To develop some suggestions for solution of the problem.
Data was collected in 7 primary schools through the questionnaires which were completed by 108 students (in 4th class), 94 parents, 17 class teachers, 7 Turkish teachers, 7 school directors, 12 public librarians and 1 school librarian in Wien.

The population of Wien is 1.600.280 out of the total population of the whole country, 8.072.182. 9.1% of Austria's population and 16.9% of Wien's is non-Austrian citizens. The ratio of Turkish people who do not have Austrian citizenship is 1.8% for Austria and 2.9% for Wien. 18.9% of non-Austrians in Austria is Turkish. 17% of these Turkish population live in Wien.

The mother tongue of 13.6% of Austria's population and 30.3% of Wien's population are not German. The ratio of the population whose mother language is Turkish is 3.6% for Austria and 8.5% for Wien. 26.8% of the population whose mother language is not German in Austria and 27.7% in Wien is Turkish (ÖSTAT 1998).

Findings of the Research

Reading Habits of the Students

Reading frequency is the most useful criter for reading habit.

Frequency %
Non-reader 42.6
One book and lower for two months 35.2
One book for a month 15.7
Two books or more for a month 6.5

Table 1. Reading frequency of students

1Primary school students in our research.

It has been understood that the majority of the students do not have reading habit. The ratio of the students who do not have reading habit and have a little reading habit reachs to 80%. The smallest ratio belongs to the heavy readers.

The data concerning the language students prefer to read:

Language %
German 48.4
German and Turkish 45.2
Turkish 4.8
Other 1.6

Table 2. Book language students prefer to read.

It has seen that the biggest part of the students who have reading habit prefers German books to read. Students who prefer only Turkish books are quite low. About half of the students read in both languages. Reading in both languages is a positive attitude for their cultural adaptation. The main reason of the low ratioinsufficiency in reading Turkish books is related to the problem in finding them. There are not any difficulties to find the German books.

Data concerning the place students go to find books to read shows the role of the public library in gaining reading habits.

Where? %
Public library 41.9
Buying 27.9
From friends 12.9
Other 17.3

Table 3.Where do the students find the books to read?

It is possible to say that majority of the students who have reading habit prefer to borrow the books from the public library. But, public libraries should increase the ratio of lending. It is interesting that school libraries are not among alternatives. Because, there are no libraries in most of the schools.

Public Library Usage of the Students

One of the main aims of our research was to find out about the public library usage of the students. It is important as much as their reading habits.

Usage frequency %
Non-user 63.9
One time for a month 18.5
One time and lower for two months 13.0
Two times and over for a month 4.6

Table 4.The level of public library usage of the students

It has been seen that about two third of the students do not use the public library. The proportion of the non-users together with little-users reaches to 77%. The smallest group is heavy users. It has been understood that the problem of library usage is more serious than the problem of reading habits of the students. Because, the ratio of the non-users is higher than non-readers.

Purposes of library usage of the students is reflecting the current role of the libraries.

Purposes %
To borrow books 66.6
To read newspapers and magazins 12.8
To study, do homeworks 12.8
To borrow non-book materials
(e.g.CD, casettees etc.)

Table 5.Purposes of library usage of the students.

Students usually use the public libraries with the aim of borrowing books. Borrowing CDs and casettees is not as common as borrowing books. One of the most important reasons of students' use of public libraries as places to study is lacking a personel room in their houses.

It is important to put forward the sufficiency of the libraries concerning Turkish reading materials.

How much Turkish reading materials can
the students find in public libraries?
Very little 54.6
Any 23.1
Most 15.4
All 5.1

Table 6.Sufficiency of the libraries concerning Turkish reading materials.

It has seen that more than half of the students can find only a little Turkish reading materials in public libraries and one fourth cannot find any book. The ratio of the students who have not any problem to find Turkish reading materials in public libraries is only 20.5%. Other data in our research has proved that public libraries have enough Turkish books according to IFLA standarts. But, the problem is actually related to the kinds of these materials. Students said that they could not find the books they are interested.

Reading Frequency of the Students According to the Geographical Background of their Families

Having a family with a geographical background from village or province has a great impact ofn the cultural structure of the students. In other words, geographical origin is also cultural background.

Geographical background
of the families
Reading frequency Village Province
Non-reader 51.0 36.8
Two books and over for
a month
2.0 10.5

Table 7.Reading frequency of the students according to geographical background of their families.

82.4% of the families is from villages and small towns. Being from a village or province affects the reading habits of the students. More than half of the students whose families are from village does not have reading habit and only 2% of them has strong habit. We can say that students whose families are from province read much more than the others.

Who Encourages Students to Read and to Use Libraries?

The data which shows that who encourage the students in reading book and library using is below:

  Parents Teachers Nobody
To read 18.5 21.3 39.8
To use libraries 10.2 15.7 57.4

Table 8.Who encourages students to read and to use libraries?

It is seen that neither parents nor teachers encourage the students sufficiently to read and to use libraries. The ratio of students who cannot take any support from eltern and teachers is very high. Encouragement of students by their parents and teachers to use the libraries is lower than to read books.This is well reflected by the results of our research. Library usage ratio of students is lower than the ratio of reading books.

Reading Level of the Families and its Effect on Students

According to the research data, 71.3% of parents does not read book and 83% of them does not use the library.Effects of this situation on students are shown below:

Students They do not read They read
Do not read 60.0 -
Read two books or more
for a month
1.8 33.3

Table 9.Effect of the parents' reading habits on students' reading level.

60% of the students whose parents do not read books do not have reading habit. In other words if their parents read they read, if not they don't. But none of students say he/she does not read if he has an eltern who read. A similar difference is seen in the level of the frequent reading, too. It is clear that the reading habits of the families affects the students' level of the reading.

Reading and Educational Achievement

Reading habit is not the single factor which affects the educational achievements of the students. But our data shows that there is a meaningful relationship between them.

Frequency of reading Fail in third class
Non-reader 72.7
Two books and over for a month -

Table 10.Frequency of reading and failure in education.

While 72.7% of the students who failed in third class is non-readers, there is nobody failed among the students who have heavy reading habit.

Reading and Language Development

There is a well known relationship between reading habit and language development.

German mark (in third class)
Very well Medium
Non-reader - 63.3
Two books and over
for a month
37.5 2.0

Table 11.German marks of non-readers and heavy readers.

As seen in Table 5, reading habit affects students' marks in German, positively. There is nobody whose German mark is very well among non-readers. But, 37.5% of the heavy readers has very well German mark.

There is a similar relationship between the level of library usage and the marks students get in German.

German mark (in third class)
Very well Medium
Non-users 4.3 49.3
Two books and over
for a month
60.0 20.0

Table 12.German marks of non-users and heavy users.

Only 4.3% of the non-users have "very well" German mark. But, this ratio increases to 60% for heavy users. Similar difference between two groups is seen base on the "medium" mark. It can be said that there is a significant relationship between the use of library and language development.

The Effect of Watching TV on Reading Habit of the Students

The effect of watching TV on reading habit is a traditional discussion in our literature. In this research, our data concerning this subject is below:

Frequency of reading
Frequency of watching
TV (in a day)
Non-reader Two books and over
for a month
1-2 hours 13.6 57.1
3-4 hours 47.8 28.6
5 hours and over 32.6 -
Non-audience 6.5 14.3

Table 13.The relationship between watching TV and reading book.

According to Table 13, 13.6 % of the students who watch TV for 1-2 hours in a day are non-readers. But, this ratio is 47.8% for the frequency of 3-4 hours and 32.6% for 5 hours and over. While more than half of the students who watch TV 1-2 hours in a day is heavy reader, there are not any heavy readers among the students who watch TV 5 hours and over in a day. Relying on these data, we can say that watching TV affects reading habit of the students negatively.

Cultural Adaptation of the Students

We asked students a question, "where they want to live", to put forward of their cultural adaptation. The preference of living both in Austria and Turkey was the best answer for the cultural adaptation.

Countries %
In Austria and Turkey 39.8
In Turkey 27.8
In Austria 18.5
Other 13.9

Table 14.Where do the students want to live?

It is seen that, the highest ratio belongs to the students who want to live in both countries. It is very positive situation for the level of the cultural adaptation. But, we still can not consider this ratio as a high ratio. Because, the ratio of the students who want to live only in Turkey or in Austria is higher than the students who want to live in both countries.

Another interesting result is that the ratio of the students who want to live in Turkey is higher than the students who want to live in Austria.

In our research, we could not find any direct meaningful relationship between reading frequency and cultural adaptation. That was very natural. Because, cultural adaptation is a very complex fact and reading habit is not a single factor on that. But, the findings concerning the relationship between reading habits and educational achievements, language developments of the students can be accepted as an indirect relationship between reading habit and cultural adaptation. Because, as we said before, education and language are the most important parts of the culture.


The major results of the research* are:
  1. Students have not sufficient reading and library use habits. In other words, they have serious problems regarding with these habits.
  2. Students generally read German books. They have some difficulties in findind Turkish books.There are not enough Turkish books in school libraries.
  3. Students usually either borrow from libraries or buy the books they read.
  4. Students prefer reading stories and comic books.
  5. Students generally go to public library to borrow books.
  6. Students cannot find most of the Turkish books they want to read in the public libraries. They have not any problems in finding German books.
  7. Geographical background of their families affects their use of public libraries.
  8. The education level of the families is low and it is another negative factor which affects their use of public libraries.
  9. Most of eltern do not read book and do not use public libraries. They do not set good examples for their children to develop these habits.
  10. Families and teachers do not support enough students regarding the above mentioned.
  11. Watching TV has a negative impact on reading habits of the students.
  12. There is a significant relationship between these habits and the students' language developments.
  13. Reading and library use habits affect the educational achievements of the students, positively.
  14. These habits have an indirect impact on cultural adaptation of the students.
To generate the right solution for these problems:
  • We should develop our cooperative efforts with families and teachers.
*Some other importants outcomes of our research is also presented here. For further information please refer to the original research paper.
  • School and class libraries which have not enough Turkish reading materials should be developed.
  • The hours of Turkish lessons offered in primary schools should be increased and their outlines should also be reviewed
  • This research must be supported and enriched with the new researches which will be made in other countries and their results must be compared.


Mylopoulos, Chryss (1985) "Trends in multicultural programming", Canadian Library Journal 42(1): 23-25.

Österreichishes Statistiches Zentralamt (ÖSTAT) (1998) Bevölkerung JD 1997, Wien : ÖSTAT. Stadler, Alois (1980) "Children of guest workers in Europe: social and cultural needs in relation to library services", Library Trends 29(2): 325-334.


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