Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Broadus, Robert N.||Walther, LaVern

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Library Science


Books and reading; Academic libraries


In this age of ever-burgeoning college and university enrollments, the university library is confronted with the problem of using its existing facilities to their fullest extent. Studies of the past thirty-five years have shown that students do not know how to use their libraries effectively and that their reading habits should be improved. In order to remedy this situation, librarians will require extensive information about students' reading and library habits in relation to academic capabilities and achievements. The present study attempts to determine the reading habits and library skills of 232 freshman, sophomore, and junior women living in a residence hall at Northern Illinois University during 1964-65. The data, obtained directly from the women by means of questionnaires, were arranged according to class and then according to six groups based on grade point averages. To ascertain the relationship between aptitude and reading and library habits, the freshmen's questionnaires were later rearranged according to percentile rank on the American College Test. All results were computed by simple arithmetical methods. The body of the study encompasses three major areas: (1) the amount and types of materials read and the sources of the materials, (2) subjects' attitudes toward the library, the amount of time spent using its facilities, and research methods employed, and (3) the extent of the subjects' training and skills in use of the library. For the most part, the conclusions of this study join the consensus developed by earlier investigators. Yet, several of its points must be emphasized. It is not so much the quantity, but the content of student reading that merits criticism. Extra-curricular reading accounts for less than one-third of the total, and within this category, fiction and popular magazines dominate all other types of material. Because of the inconsistency of results among various portions of the study, it is difficult to make conclusions about the relationship between reading and library habits on one hand and class and academic achievement on the other. However, these factors all attest to a significant relationship: the increased reading among better students, the more mature periodical reading and the greater amount of time spent in the library by upperclassmen, and the greater popularity of the library as a source of reading among better students. Aptitude does not appear to be a more meaningful basis for comparison, but findings in this area are too limited to be conclusive. The instances in which no relationship is evident form an indictment of librarians and educators for not making reading and libraries more vital factors in higher education. Most students do not consider the library their primary source of materials, nor do they spend more than a few hours a week using its facilities. Although most believe themselves to be fairly competent library users, they employ only the most common research aids and demonstrate little knowledge of general reference books. It is evident, then, that students must be brought to a greater awareness of the value of reading and libraries. Only when instructors make reading and library assignments essential elements in the university curriculum will the library take its place as the vital institution educators have envisioned.


Includes bibliographical references.


ix, 59 pages




Northern Illinois University

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