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The Pleasure of Leisure Reading

Ms. Louise Jones and Mr. Dominic Chan (Photo by ISO staff)

Go straight after walking through the turnstiles at the University Library entrance, and you'll find an area with free-form bookshelves and some colourful stools. About 200 books are available on the shelves. Some are vertically stacked with their spines facing out, some are displayed in a face-out style, tempting you with a mere glance of their covers.

This is the Good Reads Corner. If you need a break from course readings, an interlude in your hectic life of research, or if you are simply looking for a good book to read, this is the place. As Ms. Louise Jones, University Librarian, says, 'Besides reading for academic purposes, you can read just for sheer pleasure and enjoyment as well. We know that the more you read for your course, the better your academic scores are likely to be. But actually university life is not just about your academic development, it's about your whole person development. As a person, you're going to develop greater insight into what you want to achieve in life with reading for pleasure. That's what we're trying to achieve with the Good Reads Corner.'

First set up in 2005, the Good Reads Corner is intended to promote a wider reading culture and encourage more leisure reading within the CUHK staff and student body. This rotating selection of popular reading materials is updated every six months.

Ms. Jones explains, 'The selection is made by colleagues of the Library's Learning Support Team. We also use international and local book awards, bestseller lists as our criteria. There are fiction and nonfiction titles of the Chinese and English languages. We try to appeal across the board. So you'll find the most popular science books there, as well as classical literature.'

Mr. Chan Chin-bongDominic, Assistant Librarian of the Learning Support Team, adds, 'We also pay attention to hot topics. For example, when Nelson Mandela died, we put his biographies on the Good Reads shelves.' I am Malala was also put on the Good Reads shelves when Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Library produces check-out statistics every six months to gauge the tastes and needs of its patrons. Guess what tops the list of the most borrowed Good Reads Books in its latest statistics? It's TheHunger Games trilogy.

In addition to print books, those who are more willing to embrace new technology can check out Kindles loaded with Good Reads titles in e-book format. 'We started the Kindle development with the general education collection books and that proved very popular. So we decided to extend and include Good Reads titles,' says Ms. Jones.

But the e-book collection is not the same as the print collection. Mr. Chan explains, 'When we receive the recommended titles from our colleagues for the Good Reads Corner, we'll look for both print copies and Kindle e-books. But not all titles are available from Amazon.'

Now 20 sets of Kindle are available for borrowing. They are also available at the Elisabeth Luce Moore Library at Chung Chi College.

The books at the Good Reads Corner are an evolving collection. The Library is interested in learning what its patrons are eager to read and wants to ensure that relevant titles are not inadvertently omitted from the collection. So it welcomes its patrons to suggest additional titles by using paper forms available at the Good Read Corners bookshelves or the e-form on its website. 'We need to keep in touch with what is popular with our students in terms of popular culture,' says Ms. Jones.

Though she considers the Good Reads Corner a success, she believes that there is always more they can do to promote reading. 'One idea we have is asking our academic leaders to recommend and talk about the books that have inspired them. I think that would be appealing.'


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