How Adult Fiction Readers Select Fiction Books in Public Libraries: a Study of Information-Seeking in Context
This study examines from the viewpoint of twelve adult fiction readers, who are members of book clubs, how they go about selecting fiction books to borrow from the public library. The methodological approach taken was a qualitative one in that each participant took part in an individual, semi-structured, face-to-face interview. The central premise of the study was that information seeking occurs in a context and must therefore be understood as influenced by context. In attempting to understand how adult fiction readers select their books then, the study examined a variety of contextual factors that influenced book choice. Personal characteristics such as mood and lifestyle were found to have an impact on book selections. Family and friends, and peers from book clubs, also played important roles in participants' book choices. The mass media, including the Internet, radio, television and the printed press also impacted participants' choice of books. Radio, in particular, was a popular source among participants. The study also examined the role that the public library played in fiction readers' book choices. It was found that while the public library provided a range of readers' advisory tools to assist fiction readers in their book selections, not all the tools were helpful to the study's participants. Library staff also played a largely invisible role in participants' book choices. Implications for public library services are discussed in the study.