While the majority of University of Minnesota library collections support academic research, staff members are trying to appeal to the casual reader with more accessible popular literature.
A new exhibit located at the main entrance of Wilson Library titled “From Our Collections” cycles through a new theme every two months, showcasing patron recommendations that can be checked out from one of the Twin Cities campus’s 13 libraries.
“We recognize that students are busy, but we still want to provide them with opportunities to read for fun,” said library assistant and exhibit co-creator Becky Adamski.
Library assistant and exhibit co-creator Kaia Sievert said she hopes the exhibit raises awareness of lighter reading opportunities at Wilson Library and makes popular literature easier to locate.
“I think there’s a lot of value in fun reading,” she said. “But it’s just harder to notice in an academic library.”
The exhibit debuted this summer with the theme “Beach Reads.”
This month, the display is running in conjunction with the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week, featuring a number of titles that have been challenged in libraries and schools across the country.
Sievert said this month’s theme is not only supposed to raise awareness of free speech, but also highlight how many books are challenged in other parts of the world.
“The exhibit is intended to create conversation around the topic of banned books,” she said.
Sievert said some of the banned titles may be surprising, like J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series and “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin.
In addition to reading the books on display, library patrons can learn more about them or make recommendations for future displays on the University Libraries Pinterest page or in person.
Sievert said reader recommendations can help further engage those interested in reading for pleasure.
“The new exhibit will pull things out and give people a better chance to see what kinds of popular literature we have in our stacks,” she said.
Undergraduate services librarian Kate Peterson said research has shown that more reading overall helps improve writing and academic achievement. She said University Libraries staff members are always looking for new ways to engage students and highlight the collections.
Political science and Spanish sophomore Evan Hromada said it’s good that the libraries are working to promote reading for pleasure, but it might not have much of an effect on students.
“I think college students in general don’t have a lot of time for it,” he said. “They come to the library to do homework.”
English and German freshman Jordan Ecker said she makes it a priority to read for pleasure despite academic time commitments.
“I’m going to be an English major,” she said. “So naturally I’m going to try to find time to read books for fun.”