The first exercise in the Front Line program required short interviews with at least five library users in different age groups. I spoke to nine people - a child aged 11, two teenage boys, one younger adult in the 18-30 year group, two older men in their 70s and two older women one in her 50s and one in her 70s. The people chosen largely depended on who was in the library on an afternoon when I had the opportunity to talk briefly to people in between answering phone calls and general library enquiries. The selection of people to talk to was random and often occurred when I was taking books out to the returns trolley and there was a moment for a chat about how a person selected their books.
Recommendations from friends and family were common responses from most in the sample. This was a main method used by the younger readers. One older reader had belonged to a book-club but was not keen on the books selected. Reading the blurb was also a common response. A younger reader said he sometimes looked for books he had seen in bookshops.
Older readers, in particular often had definite tastes in types of books read – fantasy, westerns, crime etc. One reader chose only large print books. Another preferred books written by female authors and Australian or British authors rather than American. Another said she normally chose familiar authors. One of the teenagers deliberately chooses books for recreational reading that are different from those he has to read for school.
However some of the older readers regularly select their books from the Best Sellers display, return trolleys and displays at the end of the bays of books. A comment frequently made was that using a library enabled them to try different books and if they didn’t like them they did not have to read them.
The effect of the media and outside resources was also mentioned but was not a major factor. One of the students mentioned that he did not read a book if he had seen the movie. The internet will increasingly sway some readers' choice of books as indicated by my chat with the reader in the 18 to 30 age group who sometimes uses Amazon or GoodReads for recommendations when looking for new reading material.
This was a very small sample of library users and therefore it is not possible to generalise about the responses. However I found the range of responses provided interesting with some core threads appearing in most responses. Even this small sample provides a snapshot of how some of our library users select their books.