The conference Reading Culture and Libraries in Change will be held on May 22–23, 2019 in Turku, Finland.

Reading culture is changing rapidly today. Radical developments in use of time, values and attitudes towards reading in contemporary Western 24-h society as well as changes in book publishing and marketing have influenced our reading habits, which have been subject to major changes also due to the impact of digitalization and new reading technologies and platforms (desktops, laptops, e-readers, tablets and handheld devices).

Instead of turning a page of a book in a traditional paper format, reading can include navigating and clicking in a media environment. Also use of audiobooks has grown notably in recent years. Worries concerning declining rates of literacy and interest in reading, especially among young people, are being constantly discussed in media.

Due to these developments, the central institutions of reading – libraries, schools and universities – face new challenges and tasks. Likewise, the means and methods of studying reading culture are changing in the era of the growing field of Digital Humanities. The digital Big Data (e.g. library loan data) and new computational methods are calling for new ways of studying literary culture. In earlier studies of readership, reception and reading culture, methods such as interviews and queries were widely used. Digital data offers a new resource for understanding contemporary literary culture.

The conference ”Reading Culture and Libraries in Change” seeks for answers to the changes in reading cultures and library use, and for new ways of exploring these changes.

Image: City of Turku, Vesa Aaltonen

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