Public Library Reading Clubs and Singapore's Elderly

Brendan Luyt 1 , Yaw Huah Chow 2 , Kiak Peng Ng 2 ,  and Jillian Lim 2
  • 1 Associate Professor, Division of Information Studies, Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
  • 2 Librarian, National Library Board, Singapore

Abstract

The public library system of Singapore has taken an interest in developing programs for the elderly, an increasing component of the nation's aging population. One of these programs involves the establishment of reading clubs. This article reports on a qualitative study of one of these clubs, the Seniors' (Chinese) Reading Club. Club members were asked to describe their reading behaviour, how they learned about the club, why they decided to join, what they felt they gained from the club, and why more elderly people did not participate. Three themes emerge from the responses: an instrumental view of reading or, in other words, a notion that reading is done for utilitarian purposes rather than intrinsic enjoyment; gender issues, in so far as club membership appears to have created a public space for elderly women, but not men; and social exclusion in that word of mouth is the main way that people learn about the club, and that its members appeared to be from a specific socio-economic group.

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Libri investigates the functions of libraries and information services from both a historical and present-day perspective and analyses the role of information in cultural, organizational, national and international developments.

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