Applications of ICT in Libraries/Supporting Reader Development

This page is designed for the use of students undertaking the Level 7 PDA (previously called Diploma) in Applications of ICT in Libraries.

This qualification was developed by the Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) and are validated by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA)

Supporting Reader Development is an optional unit in the programme.

Information regarding the background to the courses, content and certification opportunities can be obtained by following the old (Diploma ICTL) or Level 8 PDA (Advanced Diploma ICTL) links.

Further information can be obtained from

Objectives of reader developmentEdit

In recent years libraries have moved towards fostering reader development, a more reader-centred approach. A good definition of reader development is:

active intervention to:

  • increase people’s confidence and enjoyment of reading
  • open up reading choices
  • offer opportunities for people to share their reading experience
  • raise the status of reading as a creative activity


Add alternative definitions below.

Reader development techniquesEdit

Reader development is not about reading “better” books, in the sense that these are more worthy literary titles - the objective is that the reader relishes the reading experience and reads the books with a sense of satisfaction. Reader development can involve:

  • reading promotions
  • use of genres
  • literacy initiatives
  • reader centred selection skills

Reading promotionEdit

It is important at the outset to distinguish between reading promotion and reader development.

A reading promotion aims to market a small number of titles while reader development sells the whole reading experience and what it can do for you, rather than promoting individual books or writers.

That said, however, reading promotions can still play an important role as part of a wider reader development programme, as they can alert readers to titles which they might otherwise remain unaware of.

Reading promotions may be local (within the library or local authority library service), national or even international. Reading promotions focus on small or moderate numbers of book titles which are grouped together and marketed as a list or reading pathway for the client group. This group might be adults, younger clients or clients with special needs or specific language requirements. Sometimes, language, subject or publisher links them together.

Although reading promotions are not reader-centred (their objective is to increase sales or issues), they do bring books to the attention of readers and may attract new readers because of their display and supporting print materials. Grouping books together in a promotion centres the reader’s attention on them and will lead to increased client use of this stock.

Activity: Find some examples of recent book promotions in which your library service has participated. Discuss with colleagues what was successful or unsuccessful about these promotions.

Current book promotionsEdit

There are so many book promotions that we could not attempt to give a comprehensive listing. However, here are three examples of current book promotions which could be applicable to public libraries, together with our comments on these. Maybe some of them were included in your list.

Richard and Judy’s Summer ReadsEdit

Celebrities Richard and Judy promote reading through their Summer Reads and Book Club. Whilst this is a small range of titles, these titles receive a high profile in the media and outlets like supermarkets, bookshops, stations and airports. It is always important to be aware of what is in the media spotlight, as requests from clients will follow. Richard and Judy’s titles are contemporary paperback fiction.

Welsh Book CouncilEdit

This website promotes access to books by Welsh publishers and contains useful reading suggestions for readers. It is important that local/national authors and publishers are promoted to encourage and sustain the growth and development of the local/national cultural industry. In addition Welsh/Gaelic language material should be made available to meet the needs of readers.

Mills and BoonEdit

Mills and Boon publishers are well known for their range of romantic fiction. Their website includes a large number of titles but it will only appeal to a limited group of readers and has a commercial rather than reader-centred objective.


A genre is a “family” group of books which share style, form, or content, e.g.: crime fiction.

Activity: List other fiction genres which are common in public libraries.

Fiction genresEdit

When you look round any bookshop or library, you see that it is possible to group fiction into many genres. New genres emerge all the time – a few years ago, for instance, “chick lit” was unheard of; now it is one of the best selling fiction genres. The most common fiction genre groupings are:

  • literary fiction
  • crime
  • romance
  • fantasy and sci-fi
  • blockbusters
  • historical
  • short stories
  • westerns
  • defined by country, e.g.: Canadian literature

Arranging collections by genreEdit

Many libraries organise part of their fiction collection by genre and the identifying spine labels for the different genres (e.g.: a gun for crime) will be familiar to many library clients. Libraries do this to help clients who habitually read, for example, crime novels. This means that clients regularly go to the same area of stock for their reading material and can miss out on wider reading choices.

Some might argue that arranging the non-fiction stock using a classification system removes the need for genres in this area of the library. However, many libraries use genres for some of their non-fiction stock. Common examples are biographies and travel books.

For the client who is completely focused on one genre it is undoubtedly helpful if they find all the books in this genre in one place in the library. But the disadvantage of this approach is that it can discourage more adventurous reading.

The client may never look beyond the few shelves which contain the selection of “his/her books”, even though other books elsewhere could be of interest to them. While some clients will always limit their reading choices to a particular genre, others can, with support, can be led to enjoy reading across a wider range.

Literacy initiativesEdit

Literacy initiatives can make a significant contribution to reader development. Such initiatives exist at both local and national level.

There are many literacy initiatives related to education. These include the National Literacy Strategy, National Priorities for Education and Literacy Hour.

The ability to read fluently is an important life skill and opens doors to better job prospects, improved economic prospects and more leisure choices. In the UK, the issues are about low levels of literacy rather than illiteracy, but 23% of adults in the UK struggle with basic literacy.

The website of the National Literacy Trust, has lots of statistical information. Good functional literacy is important to the well being of individuals as well as the economy of the country and reading/writing abilities are essential for everyday tasks such as writing shopping lists, texting and using medicines properly.

Government initiatives to improve literacy in education include the introduction of the Literacy Hour. The National Literacy Trust was established in 1993 to improve skills, confidence and pleasure in reading. The NLT goes wider than formal education and there are well-developed national networks for Adult Literacy and Numeracy support and development.

Activity: Go to and look at the details of the latest literacy initiatives applicable to libraries. Choose those of interest to your own library service and consider how you could use them as part of reader development.

Examples of literacy initiativesEdit

In England, The Reading Agency brings libraries and adult literacy together in partnership and promotions include Got Kids? Get Reading! and First Choice.

The Reading Agency runs an annual literacy initiative - the 'Six Books Challenge' aimed at adults and learners in further education.

You can find out more at

In Scotland, the Big Plus brand promotes adult literacy and numeracy. There is a partnership between Communities Scotland’s Learning Connections and libraries which is developing projects, collections and providing training.

Activity: Browse through the following literacy related websites for younger clients. Do any of them have activities which you could link into or adapt for your library service? Note: most of these sites give links to other related sites which may also provide you with inspiration.

The Child Literacy Centre

My home library

Reader-centred stock selectionEdit

When choosing stock it is important that you consider the reading preferences of clients. Using reader-centred selection skills in general stock selection is good practice. You will keep your clients’ reading preferences in mind as you take account of current demands, gaps in stock, levels and formats of stock and the condition and currency of stock. You may need to think about developing specific areas of stock. You may also need to select specific items or generate lists for individual clients and their meeting their needs should be the focus.

Later we’ll discuss what is involved in carrying out an interview with the client to establish their reading history and preferences and in building a reader-profile. Following on from that you will draw on your knowledge of the reading resources available in order to develop a reader-centred list or pathway. Here we discuss some of the resources which are available to assist you in stock selection.

Activity: Make a list of the range of resources which are available to you when you are selecting stock to recommend to a reader whose reader-profile you have established. Remember you can be accessing stock which already exists in your library service or you may be ordering new stock for the client.


For stock within your library service you will use the library catalogue and themed lists such as the Quick Reads collection for emergent readers:

To identify new stock you can use online sources – there are many online selection tools which are useful in locating resources which your own service does not have. Examples include:

Scottish Bibliographies Online:

Which Book - for widening fiction choice (with reviews from library staff)

Other resources for assisting in stock selection include:

  • catalogues of other libraries
  • bibliographies
  • review journals
  • publishers’ lists
  • pre-publication lists
  • specialist suppliers
  • showroom and bookshop visits
  • trade publications

Library cataloguesEdit

Online library catalogues can assist you in your search for appropriate material. Most UK library catalogues can be searched via the Internet.

The UK Public Libraries Page is a useful resource, linking to the web-available catalogues.

Some services “clump” together the catalogues of several libraries. A single-search interface is used to cross-search multiple catalogues in a single search action, such as for Northern Ireland or CatCymru for Wales


A bibliography is a list of materials on a particular subject or by a particular author.

The publication, in either printed or electronic format, is usually arranged by author, date or subject, and provides information such as author, title, publisher and date of publication. This can then be used to identify sources and place orders for clients.

Activity: Find out which bibliographies are held in hard copy in your library service and consider how each might be of use to you for reader-centred stock selection.

Review journalsEdit

Review journals offer more information about books, articles or research than is found in bibliographies. A review will summarise the contents and make an evaluative statement about its contribution within its context. Good examples include newspapers such as:

The Sunday Times

The Guardian

Remember though, however respected the journal or reviewer, reviews are the views of one individual and so need to be evaluated carefully.

Publishers’ listsEdit

Publisher’s websites and lists offer useful information. Caution must be exercised when using these to select material as publishers and booksellers have a commercial imperative. So you must always apply your selection criteria.

Books from Scotland ( is supported by Publishing Scotland’s website and highlights new books as does their Facebook page ( and Twitter feed ( They also have an RSS news feed.

Pre-publication listsEdit

These lists offer useful information about forthcoming publications.

However, library staff know that they must be especially careful when using information from pre-publication lists as these lists may be produced many months before an item is actually published. In the interval between the pre-publication list and the actual publication of the item, the date of publication, length, format and price may change.

Specialist suppliersEdit

Specialist suppliers are used to ensure that range and depth is developed within collections. This might be a particular interest, specialist language material, dual language material, or alternative formats such as Braille or for emergent readers.

Showroom and bookshop visitsEdit

Visits to showrooms and bookshops offer the opportunity to browse through the books. The downsides are that the range is limited to what is available in stock and that it takes considerable time and travel to select from a wide range of stock effectively and efficiently.

Trade publicationsEdit

The Bookseller is a weekly trade publication, which lists new publications and forthcoming titles

Locating Information · Supporting Client Learning