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Utilization of Reading Materials by Executives

by Raymond Boyer, Graduate Assistant, (WIU), Peoria Park District

A survey of chief executives was conducted to determine how effectively they utilize research and reading materials. For the purpose of this study, research and reading materials were denned as magazines, journals, newspapers, books, government publications, and university publications. The study population consisted of 195 chief executives who were employed by park districts and municipal park and recreation agencies throughout the State of Illinois. One hundred and eleven or 56.9 per cent of the questionnaires returned were complete enough to be used for this study.

The study was designed to determine: 1) How much time is set aside or utilized for the reading of research and reading materials, 2) What categories and kinds of research and reading materials are utilized, 3) Why certain categories and kinds of research and reading materials are not utililized, and 4) What specific ways research and reading materials are utilized.

It was found that 59.5 per cent of the chief executives read research and reading materials on an unscheduled basis. The majority of chief executives indicated that they utilize 1 to 2 hours per week for the reading of research and reading materials.

Seven categories of reading materials were devised to cover a wide range of materials. These categories were: 1) General News, 2) NRPA Publications, 3) Recreation and Parks in General, 4) General Business Publications, 5) Conservation and Outdoor Publications, 6) Government Publications, and 7) University Publications. Table I shows the number and percentage of chief executives who utilized materials from each category.

The following publications were utilized the most frequently: 1) local newspapers, 2) major metropolitan newspaper, 3) Parks and Recreation Magazine, 4) Illinois Parks and Recreation Magazine, 5) Park Maintenance Magazine, and 6) Publications by the State of Illinois. Only 29.7 per cent of the chief executives indicated that they read materials from category seven, University publications.

The chief executives indicated that they have read, examined, or browsed through 169 books during the six month period from December 1974 to May 1975. The majority of these books fell into the category of business administration followed by books in the category of recreation administration. The majority of chief executives, indicated that on the average they read, examine, or browse through more than 4 books each year.

Chief executives utilized research and reading materials for the following purposes (listed in order of importance): 1) program development, 2) maintenance operations, 3) financial management, 4) general business procedures, 5) purchase of supplies and equipment. This may suggest that chief executives are interested in research in these areas and that additional research should be directed in these areas on a prioritized basis.

It is hoped that the results of this survey will: 1) make chief executives aware of the reading materials available to them; 2) stimulate chief executives to more carefully consider the value of research and reading materials, especially university based research; 3) stimulate a conscientious effort to update and improve the dissemination of information concerning university based and other kinds of research being conducted on a state wide basis.

Chief executives should also make information

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Per Cent

General News ......................................



NRPA Publications ..............................



Recreation and Parks in General ........



General Business Publications ..........



Conservation and Outdoor Publications ....................................



Government Publications ....................



University Publications ......................



All Seven Categories............................



Illinois Parks and Recreation 22 May/June, 1976


(Continued from Page 22)

available about specific problems they face. This would direct research to immediate problem areas. Finally, additional research is needed to determine why certain materials are not utilized by chief executives. Through such a study perhaps ways can be found to make these materials more beneficial and meaningful to the chief executives.

At the present time the Peoria Park District is establishing a Reading Material Resource Catalog. The purpose of this catalog is to: 1) Determine what kinds of reading materials are in the possession of park district personnel, 2) Act as a central clearinghouse for making reading materials available to park district personnel, and 3) Act as a control mechanism for the distribution of reading materials.

(Editors note: The IPRS office also has a small library of materials available. A list of these publications will be distributed later this year.)

Illinois Parks and Recreation 25 May/June, 1976

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