This week, Vol. 66, Issue 1 of The Christian Librarian was released. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal includes an article I wrote on ways academic librarians can foster contemplative reading. Titled, “Academic Library Book Digitization and Contemplative Reading,” my article explores technological and structural challenges to good reading habits that face the contemporary student. Some of the questions I explore include:
- Is there a cognitive difference between reading printed materials vs. reading off a screen?
- Does digitally-mediated content encourage quick browsing at the expense of engagement?
- What role does the physical space of a library play in fostering good reading habits?
- How might academic librarians partner with other faculty to help foster intellectually-rewarding reading habits?
- Just as academic librarians were at the forefront of book digitization, can they also be at the forefront of a renewed conversation on leisure reading as a spiritual practice?
Just as many universities offer workshops on skimming techniques, it may be worthwhile to offer workshops on how to read slowly and deeply. To facilitate this, freshmen engagement librarians can assign students certain non-graded activities in contemplative reading spaces, and then ask the students to journal afterward about their experiences… Librarians and professors can use strategic activities to instill in students the values of contemplation, slow-reading, and quiet. They can begin pushing back against the values of a society increasingly designed on cost-benefit models through emphasizing that more is not always better and that sometimes the most rewarding reading occurs when we have turned off our technology.
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