In Response reply to:
236 East Gunhill Road
New York 67, NY

December 20, 1953


Editor
New York Times
New York, New York

Dear Sir:

I read with interest as well as a degree of trepidation your December 20th news report headlined, "READING SPEED-UP EYED BY INDUSTRY."

It is almost alarming indeed to notice any attempt to reduce the amount of reading of any segment of our population. It should also be no surprise that executives spend a lot of time reading reports, articles, etc. The problem in most cases is not the reading rate, but rather the type of material read.

Studies at the Johns Hopkins University have indicated that we should be concentrating on determining the information gathering of personnel. This enables those responsible for providing information to see the gaps in out existing information tools. The diligent scientist finds new and better ways of keeping abreast when conventional methods fall. To suggest that the solution to the problem of a voluminous literature is increased reading rates is futile.

If any rules are to be suggested they might include teaching personnel to be more selective in their reading while increasing the amount of reading, for the indication is that the more reading done in a wider area of information sources (journals, abstract publications, newsletters, etc.) the more productive that reading becomes. It is also imperative to teach scientists and business executives how to use existing sources of information, especially libraries, and for administrators to urge their personnel to work more closely with librarians and information officers.

I might also add that generally the best way to increase your reading rate is to read more of what is pertinent to your own interests. This countryís scientific and industrial effort is already suffering greatly through the failure to more efficiently utilize the written record. This is in part due to our failure to properly organize the written record, i.e. poor documentation. We need to develop new methods of bringing together the totality of literature pertinent to the individualistís needs. He must then learn to select the most important segment and spend more time profitably digesting the wheat, rather than hurriedly scanning the chaff.
 
 

Sincerely Yours,
 

Eugene Garfield
Grolier Society Library Fellow
Columbia University