Shmuel SeverUniversity of Haifa
The Public Library and Reading by the Masses: Historic Perspectives on the USA and Britain 1850-1900
The contribution which the public library, as a resource for popular reading, can make to the spread and strengthening of literacy amongst the masses of industrializing societies has been a constant theme in the rhetoric of library promoters and founders. However, the argument tends to be dogmatic and most evidence used is anecdotal. Historical evidence on both the progress of literacy rates and the development of public libraries is available for the USA and Britain. These two countries were the first to establish widespread provision of public libraries of a type that gave genuine scope f or them to function as centres of popular reading. In both cases, libraries were set up only if local political opinion, as opposed to national planning, permitted their founding. This offers some po ssibility to show how library provision related to explicit demand, and therefore, by extension, to popular reading and literacy. A series of other elements - the spread of schooling, increased leisu re and domestic comfort across large parts of the population, mass availability of cheap newspapers, magazines and books - has also to be introduced into any such model for it to offer worthwhile abi lity to suggest the presence of causal connections. Some provisional presentation of historical statistics associated in this way is offered as a contribution to this line of argument.
Investigaciones sobre la lectura en Cuba
Se identifican las instituciones mas representativas del pais en las investigaciones de la lectura y se exponen los principales resultados obtenidos por ellas y su utilidad. Se incluyen consideracion es, derivadas por el autor de las reflexiones mas recientes del Grupo de Promoción de la Lectura de ASCUBI sobre el proceso experimentado por la lectura en Cuba despues de 1959, su estado actu al y perspectivas.
Two Decades of Reading and Library Development 1970-1990: Progress or Regression
There was a marked decrease in active reading of books in Israel during these decades. From 50% active readers in 1970, it decreased to 40%, while video watching increased to 57%. Reading of newspape rs or of one book a year did not decrease. It seems that video, along with a growth in professional reading, and historical events that increased alertness to news are, in part, responsible for the d ecrease in active reading for pleasure.
Five Years of Freedom in Culture
The paper summarizes the characteristics of the social process that determines the situation of the book, reading, and public libraries in Poland. An attempt is made to interpret the socio-economic c hanges and transformations brought by the year 1989 and their significance to the development of culture. Attention is given to the relationship between the publishing market and the dissemination of the book according to reading needs.