Reader development has proved very successful in the UK and has helped to shape literature and wider cultural policies at local, regional and national levels.
Opening the Book Ltd is the UK's leading agency in reader development and has provided consultancy advice over the last ten years to the Society of Chief Librarians, the Arts Council, the BBC, Waterstone's, HarperCollins, regional arts boards and many library authorities in the UK.
To give an idea of the range of our consultancy services we highlight three very different clients:
- Audit Commission
- Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council
- National Library for the Blind
Opening the Book was commissioned in 2000, as part of the Audit Commission's Best Value inspection service, to develop and test a tool to measure the quality of adult fiction stock in a public library service.
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport published Comprehensive, Efficient and Modern Public Libraries - Standards and Assessment in January 2001.
Public Library Standard 16 states:
Quality Index for: adult fiction; adult non-fiction; children's books; reference materals; large print books and books on tape; materials in languages other than English
These indices will be developed in 2001-2, taking account of existing work by the Audit Commission in respect of fiction.'
Blackburn with Darwen Council
A major consultancy with a central library which uses observation and knowledge of user behaviour to:
- plan the layout of library spaces
- redesign work processes to provide efficient reader-centred services
- adjust stock policies and buying patterns to meet the needs of a wider range of readers
- apply professional design to improve the image of the library and increase its appeal to a younger audience
Opening the Book is working closely with the senior management team to:
- plan and deliver a training and development programme which fully engages staff at every stage of the process
- plan and deliver a strategy for public consultation which fully involves users, including those with special needs
National Library for the Blind
Opening the Book designed the Fiction CafÈ for the National Library for the Blind to give visually impaired teenagers the chance to choose their own books. www.nlbuk.org/fictioncafe
A Touch Of ... is a major reader-centred promotion which offers new ways of choosing books to readers who use large print, Braille and audio.
Using A Touch Of ... as the focus, Opening the Book worked with NLB management and staff to redesign work processes and delivery systems to meet the changing demands of direct users and referrals through public libraries.