May 17, 2022

Journal Article: “Keep the Books on the Shelves: Library Space as Intrinsic Facilitator of the Reading Experience”

The following article (in press, corrected proof) was recently posted online (full text, open access) by the Journal of Academic Librarianship.


Keep the Books on the Shelves: Library Space as Intrinsic Facilitator of the Reading Experience


James Donovan
University of Kentucky


Available Online December 18, 2019
DOI: 10.1016/j.acalib.2019.102104


Library literature frequently reports projects to remove print collections and replace them with other amenities for patrons. This project challenges the untested assumption that the physical library itself serves no useful function to its users unless they are actively consulting books from the shelves. The alternative hypothesis is that readers benefit from the mere act of studying while in a book-filled environment.

To test this possibility, ten subjects completed SAT-style reading comprehension tests in both a traditional library environment, and a renovated chapel that strongly resembles library space except for lacking books. Results provide a reasonable basis to support an expectation that readers perform better on reading comprehension tasks performed in book-rich environments.

Direct to Full Text Article (HTML Version)

Direct to Full Text Article (PDF Version)
7 pages; PDF.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.