May 22-23, 2019, University of Turku, Finland, Sirkkala Campus

Reading culture is changing rapidly today. Radical developments in use of time, values and attitudes towards reading in contemporary Western 24-h society as well as changes in book publishing and marketing have influenced our reading habits, which have been subject to major changes also due to the impact of digitalization and new reading technologies and platforms (desktops, laptops, e-readers, tablets and handheld devices).

Instead of turning a page of a book in a traditional paper format, reading can include navigating and clicking in a media environment. Also use of audiobooks has grown notably in recent years. Worries concerning declining rates of literacy and interest in reading, especially among young people, are being constantly discussed in media.

Due to these developments, the central institutions of reading – libraries, schools and universities – face new challenges and tasks. Likewise, the means and methods of studying reading culture are changing in the era of the growing field of Digital Humanities. The digital Big Data (e.g. library loan data) and new computational methods are calling for new ways of studying literary culture. In earlier studies of readership, reception and reading culture, methods such as interviews and queries were widely used. Digital data offers a new resource for understanding contemporary literary culture.

The conference “Reading Culture and Libraries in Change” seeks for answers to the changes in reading cultures and library use, and for new ways of exploring these changes. The conference consists of keynote lectures and sessions by researchers from all career stages. We invite papers and presentations that discuss the following or related questions:

  • In what ways and why has the reading culture changed during the past decades?
  • How do digitalization and new reading devices change our reading habits?
  • What do people read nowadays? Which genres and books are most popular and which actors contribute to the preservation of literary culture?
  • How do libraries react to the changes in reading habits, as well as in publishing and marketing?
  • How do schools, especially the secondary and upper secondary level, react to new modes of reading? What are the challenges and problems in students’ reading practices? Is there a need for new methods of instruction? Which aspects should be taken into consideration in teaching literature?
  • In what ways do the digital Big Data and new computational methods enrich and open up new directions in literary and library/information studies? What are the computational methods to analyze and visualize contemporary literary culture?

The language of the conference is English, yet some of the sessions may be in Finnish/Swedish. To contribute, please submit your proposal for a 20-minute individual presentation (200–300 words) or session (with three 10-minute presentations, max 600 words) addressing one or more of the above questions to the conference secretary Juha Väisänen ( by January 7, 2019. Notifications of acceptance will be sent by January 31, 2019. Participating in the workshop is a great opportunity to receive comments and meet people working on related topics. The preliminary program will be announced later.

Confirmed  Keynote speakers:

  • Janet Alsup (Purdue University College of Education, USA)
  • Katherine Bode (Australian National University, Australia)
  • Tomas Eklund (Uppsala University, Sweden)
  • Brigitte Ouvry-Vial (Le Mans Université, France)

There is no conference fee for participants. (There is an extra fee for the conference dinner.)

The conference is organized by:

* Consortium LibDat: Towards a More Advanced Loaning and Reading Culture and its Information Service. A project financed by the Academy of Finland for the years 2017–2021. Its research partners are from the University of Eastern Finland, Åbo Akademi University and from the Finnish State’s Technological Research Center.

* How to Read? Forms of Reading in Teaching Literature in the Upper Secondary School. A Project financed by Koneen Säätiö (Kone Foundation) for the years 2018–2020. Its researchers are from the University of Turku.

* Department of Finnish Literature, University of Turku.