During the fourth edition of the LecturaCentral National Program, the project implementation team decided to conduct a national sociological study “Intergeneration reading comparison”. For many years, this type of study has been an aspiration for librarians of the Republic of Moldova, especially for those studying the component of the education of culture of reading, but also the ways of promoting books and reading. In the West, libraries and professional associations have conducted several studies on this segment, the results of which have led to the implementation of the national strategies of promoting reading, action plans, but also the intergenerational reading programs.
The results of the study will be a useful tool for libraries and other decision-makers for developing policies and strategies for promoting reading within the community. The aim of the study is to provide an insight into the influence of family, school, library and society on the development of reading culture and reading preferences over three generations (grandparents, parents, and children). The specialized company Magenta Consulting was contracted to carry out the study.
The study included conducting a survey in SAQ (Self-Administered Questionnaire) format, so respondents completed the individual questionnaire developed on an online platform. There has been made the pre-test of questionnaire before uploading it to the system and providing it to the respondents. The need to pre-test the questionnaires is a mandatory step. This approach is useful for identifying questions that may be misunderstood or misinterpreted by respondents. Therefore, the questionnaire was improved and adjusted for the target population.
The usefulness of the results is important for making decisions about promoting differentiated reading, particularly for each of the age group, or for the fully opposite direction – to increase the motivation of reading through common activities.
The study was conducted on a sample of 3237 random respondents among public library users of the country. The respondents are part of five age groups, ranging from 5 to 76+ years old. As there were a few respondents in the 76+ age group, it was analyzed together with the category of 56-75 ages. The data collection period was between November 29 and December 17, 2021.
The Study hypotheses were the following:
The formulation of the hypotheses focused on the development of scientific knowledge about the phenomenon of reading in relation with the factors that influence it. The stated hypotheses represent an assumption of the factors that influence the development of reading taste and pleasure, which expand the horizons for young people’s reading, but also the conditions that stimulate the reading process of the analyzed generations.
The hypotheses were developed based on the twelve focus groups conducted in different areas of the republic, according to the following chart:
|Chisinau (Ovidius Branch Library, Municipal Library “B.P. Hasdeu”)
|Chisinau (Stefan cel Mare Branch Library, Municipal Library “B.P. Hasdeu”)
The category of researched population was the users of the territorial public libraries from all over the country. Of the total number of respondents, 61% are women and 37% are men. This confirms that there are more women than men among library users. Likewise, the majority of participants (59%) are up to 25 years old, are speakers of Romanian language (71%) and the number of representatives from rural areas is equal to the urban one.
One of the hypotheses stated in the study is the development of reading culture of children through the examples provided by adults, parents, educators, teachers or librarians. The role of at hand communication in the family and in educational institutions is essential for the harmonious growth and development of the child. The answers given to questions 10 and 11 of the questionnaire allow us to express the idea that participants, who had closer relationships with teachers / parents and discussed with them on various topics, have read more often than others. Thus, more than a third (33%) of respondents who discussed with parents / teachers on various topics has read books several times a week.
In the UK, there is an idea that children’s learning and development is difficult when it is not supported by their parents; because of that the adult learning programs have been set up. Poland has started a national reading program (Cala Polska Czyta Dzieciom / Whole Poland reads to children) which encourages parents to read to their children. The “Let’s Read Together” National Campaign, organized annually by the “Ion Creanga” National Children’s Library, usually features two books by Bessarabian authors at each edition and encourages children and adolescents to read. Another platform for promoting reading among children and adolescents is the reading contest “Battle of the books”, organized annually by the Municipal Library “B. P. Hasdeu”.
The reasons for reading are different; they depend on the age group. The generation Z (5-25 years old) reads to prepare for exams / tests (26%). One-third of the Millennials (26-40 years old) and the Generation X (41-55 years old) read books related to their work or occupation. According to the respondents of the study, the pleasure of reading (65%) is among the top reasons of reading, followed by those, who are motivated by professional needs and by those, who read to have a reason to socialize.
The frequency of reading determines the intellectual level of development, the degree of socialization, new ideas; develops critical thinking and, of course, makes us better facilitators. The literary critic Nicolae Manolescu said that: “Reading means learning”. Thus, the learning is the possibility to face the demands of time in today’s society. The reading frequency of the Z and Millennials generations does not correspond to the reading frequency of the other two analyzed generations. According to the results of the study, people aged 56+ read books more often, compared to other age groups. At the same time, according to the results, women (27%) read daily more than men (19%).
The answers about the domains of interest for reading are varied, but the reading of fiction literature predominates (72%), followed by the field of history, health and environment, but also arts. In terms of intergenerational age, respondents’ interest for reading books on health, psychology, social sciences, biographies, memoirs and journals is growing.
The encyclopedias (48%) and books about the nature and the environment (35%) are read most often by children up to 10 years old.
The respondents state that individual literature lists are based on the offer of the libraries and bookstores they regularly visit. A significant number of respondents choose their readings based on the recommendations of friends / acquaintances or popularity (40%). In this context, we can note the role of advertising, promotional campaigns, promotional prices for books and other ways to increase interest / passion for books and reading.
Among the methods for motivating reading among the analyzed are sampling the following:
The results of the national study “The Top of the Most Read Books of the Year”, conducted by the National Library of the Republic of Moldova, can serve as a source for completing the book exhibitions organized by libraries, along with other national and international tops. Among the top reasons to read, invoked by the respondents, there are also the receipt of gift books, the recommendation of librarians, but also the existence of contests with prizes for reading. The LecturaCentral National Program, implemented in the Republic of Moldova, offers readers the opportunity to compete within the contest for the most active reader. In intergenerational comparison, the motivation for reading does not vary.
As the national study was conducted among the users of the territorial public libraries, a section of the questionnaire is dedicated to the depiction of the library user. Compared to respondents in urban areas (21%), those in rural areas come to the library twice as often (43%). The cause of this phenomenon is that in rural localities the possibility of cultural consumption is not so diverse, and in some localities, the libraries remained among the few spaces of culture and interaction, offered to the community.
The majority of respondents (56%) visit libraries to borrow books for non-school reading program. The second reason why the study participants visit libraries is to participate in library events (40%). A large part of the interviewees stated, that they visit the library due to the collection of documents (59%), the professionalism of the library staff (56%), and the third place in this top, that encourages users to visit the library, is the technological infrastructure (41%).
The study is a multi-aspectual one, and all those who want to use its results in their own research or in pro-reading approaches, are invited to do so. [see the link]
In conclusion, we can mention that most of the respondents read weekly; people from category 56+ (Baby Boomers generation) read daily. It is read mostly for own pleasure, and this gives us hope that the efforts of the reading programs initiated at national level will be fruitful. But the reasons for reading also depend on the age criterion, but also on the recommendations and subjects with which they socialize: for example, younger people (5-25 years old) read books to prepare for exams / tests, and the older ones – for professional or self-development purposes; or respondents, whose topics of socialization are the topics of the books they read usually when discussing with librarians. The difference in the formats of the read books is important only for the generation Z; the other generations of users, participating in the study, prefer books in the traditional format.
The results of this study will serve as a basis for analysis and studies conducted by those interested, but also will serve as a start for improving or initiating the supply of resources and services, offered by local public libraries.