Making the reader visible

Making the reader visible

Reading is something we do by ourselves in private. There are more readers than there are practitioners of any other art form but because reading is largely an individual and domestic habit, this is often overlooked. Imagine all the readers of a bestseller brought together in one space as happens with music or sport ....

Reader development celebrates the act of reading and recognises the role of the reader as an active rather than a passive one. Most visual representations of literature concentrate on the writer or the book; it's our job to get the readers visible too.

A simple example, run in many libraries, is to take photographs of consenting borrowers as they leave the library with the books they have chosen. The photographs are always interesting and lively and often serve to challenge stereotypes about the type of people who read particular kinds of books. The photographs are a good way to start a readers' board or a series of reader-centred promotions. Above all, they announce that readers are present as a creative, critical and active force in the world of books and literature.