Reading Chicago Reading

Who reads? What do they read? How do they read? These are questions essential to the study of literacy, yet fine-grained answers to these questions are difficult to come by, as noted in To Read or Not To Read, a 2007 report from the NEA. Our project Reading Chicago Reading represents a rare opportunity to seek empirical answers to these questions within a large metropolitan area, with a wide variety of texts, and across a great diversity of readers. Read more

Do Americans Read for Leisure?

According to a 2014 American Time Use Survey, on average people aged 15 and older spent more than three-fourths of their leisure time – a total of 234 minutes (77.4% of their free time) on any given day – either watching TV, socializing and communicating, playing games, or using the computer. They spent only 19 minutes a day on leisure reading, 6.2% of their free time. The rest (52 minutes) was spent relaxing, thinking, or on other leisure activities.

Time Use GraphRead more

Capturing the “Virtual Text” of Book Groups

Academic studies of book groups have noted the “virtual text” created over time in the process of a book’s discussion. In the useful account of Elizabeth Long (2003), the virtual text of a reading group is that evolving and largely ambient set of aesthetic claims, wishes for and production of additional tools (maps, historical footnotes, illustrations, fanfic spinoffs, lists, etc.), and social bonds of elective affinity that make reading — despite its solitary default — a social phenomenon, particularly outside of academia.

By drawing on actual circulation… Read more

Thoughts on “The Library Beyond the Book”

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 1.13.19 PM

Public libraries, like many institutions, are data-rich but information-poor. In their recent investigation of “the library beyond the book,” Harvard’s Jeffrey T. Schnapp and Matthew Battles muse over the massive data-stream radiated by contemporary libraries: “Every time a book is taken off the shelf, a file is downloaded, or a computer work station is booted up, a story is told, and cataloged, and filed away in a database. In this way, each act of reading in the library broadcasts a handful of seeds, from which new growths of data will either spring—or disappear into a forest of… Read more

NEH Office of Digital Humanities Level II Start-Up Grant

“Reading Chicago Reading” would like to thank the National Endowment for the Humanities Office of Digital Humanities for a Level II Start-Up grant.

This NEH ODH award allows our project to continue its efforts to combine humanities and computing to capture — and ultimately predict — the reading habits of a city by studying a repeating series of literary events, the “One Book One Chicago” program.

We also want to thank the Chicago Public Library, DePaul University, and Microsoft for previous and ongoing grant support.… Read more