Non-Fiction in Public Libraries:
: with reference to North Hampshire

  • Catherine Mary Randewich

Traethawd ymchwil myfyriwr: Traethawd Ymchwil MeistrMeistr yn y Economeg ac Astudiaethau Cymdeithasol


The purpose of this research is to investigate the current situation concerning non-fiction books in UK public libraries, the future of which is uncertain due to funding cuts. The aims are to discover who is borrowing non-fiction, which subjects, and why. Improvement of stock collection management policy on non-fiction acquisition is to be enabled. The following objectives are chosen to achieve these aims: the investigation of the breakdown of library users by demographics of age, gender, terminal education age and work status to place non-fiction usage in context, the analysis of library user behaviour such as frequency and purpose of visit for frame of reference, and the analysis of non-fiction buying and internet use, to determine if these activities impact on non-fiction borrowing.

The methodology is mostly quantitative, comprising primary data collection from self-completed questionnaires and circulation information from the library management system in five case study public libraries in North Hampshire. Secondary data from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, and historical data on stock and issues from Hampshire Libraries and Information Service are also collected. Eighteen subject areas are chosen for longitudinal comparison with previous studies. Limitations of the research are that only adult non-fiction could be analysed rather than a combination of adult and children’s non-fiction.

The data is analysed and manipulated using Microsoft Excel. The results show that the amount of non-fiction borrowing as a proportion of total borrowing is declining, although the proportion of people borrowing non-fiction is reducing more slowly. Whilst males are more likely to borrow non-fiction, the greater proportion of female library users overall means that more non-fiction is borrowed by females. Older people and people who use the internet to search for information are more likely to borrow non-fiction. Library users who borrow non-fiction also buy the same subjects.
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  • Prifysgol Aberystwyth
GoruchwyliwrPauline Rafferty (Goruchwylydd)

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