At BookNet Canada, we know that public libraries stock ample Canadian content and many libraries promote Canadian authors through displays and library events. But through our recent research, we discovered a declining awareness among Canadian consumers when it comes to reading Canadian content. In a 2012 consumer study, we found that 43% of book buyers did not know whether they had read a Canadian author in the prior year, up from 19% in 2002.
In 2013, we conducted follow-up research to see whether these same findings apply to book buyers who use the library. We found that 30% of library users were aware of reading a Canadian author in the past year (higher than non-library users) but we were surprised to discover that library users were actually more uncertain (38%) than non-library users (29%) about whether or not they’d read a Canadian author.
We explore this topic in detail in our new study, Checking Out Canadians: Are library users interested in reading Canadian content? (Click here to download the free PDF.) The report looks at whether we feel library users are interested in Canadian content and consider it to be important (spoiler alert: they do, but they often have trouble finding or identifying Canadian content).
The focus of this work is not to review or question library collections—as we assume that Canadian public libraries provide their patrons with exceptional access to Canadian authors and content—but rather to assess patrons’ ability to discover Canadian content, with a particular focus on online discovery.
So why do we care?
BookNet Canada works extensively with publishers in order to ensure that their bibliographic data includes the data points that are needed by the book industry, including Canadian authorship. We know that publishers have gone to a lot of effort to create high quality bibliographic data, and we want to make sure that data is being used by everyone who’s looking for it, from readers to retailers and everyone in between.
BookNet Canada’s bibliographic database, BiblioShare, contains over 1.6 million records (including book covers and Canadian contributor information) submitted by publishers—and all of this information is available free to libraries. For more information on how to use BiblioShare data, just contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.