Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Article from Library Journal, commentary from Miss Ami

 Library Journal XPress has an interesting article this week about book review blogs. When I first started working as a librarian, I came fresh from years as a teacher. I knew what my students liked, and filled in some holes in the collection accordingly. Like a good little librarian, however, I relied heavily on published reviews - like those in the School Library Journal - for the rest of my ordering.

And bombed heavily.

Readers everywhere are different. While the time-honored review sources should be looked at, they are just one of many tools. As I got to know my patrons better, I became better able to choose books they would need or want (there is often a difference - very seldom to kids come to me and ask me to please buy more books about the constitution - but they sure do go out when US History report time comes around!)

We had one director, briefly, who believed heavily in the power of reviews. We frequently had one of two conversations:

D: We don't need this book, it didn't get good reviews.
A: There are already two patrons on the waiting list.


D: You need to order this book, it was on the Land of Enchantment list.
A: But it's stupid. No one will read it. (P.S. - I was right, no one did)

Not that I don't make mistakes. I really thought the video series on authors that followed them around their homes, etc., was pretty cool. So it irked me to discard them this week, after acknowledging that they have only gone out once or twice each in the past four years. I recently made a quick check of books I have ordered for YA recently, and they have all been checked out at least once already.

I don't really get the credit for that, though. Neither does the School Library Journal. Credit for the YA selections mostly goes to Miss Amanda at A Patchwork of Books, who is NEVER wrong about YA. I mean it, never! For picture books? Amanda again, but Bookie Woogie is a also good source of both new titles and old ones we may have missed. For scifi? Charlotte's Library, or A League of Extraordinary Writers. Abby the Librarian is a great source for middle grade fiction titles.

My point? If it weren't for book bloggers, each with their own little niches, I would miss out on a lot of titles my patrons enjoy. I would also probably order books that look great in a catalogue, but fail to deliver. Do I buy everything that gets a good review from a blogger? Heavens no - but through blogs, we can get to know the reviewer, get a feel for how in sync they are with our patrons, and order accordingly. With the New York Times, not so much.

So, yay for bloggers! I give us all a

10 out of 10.


  1. Thanks! I'm so glad you are finding my blog useful!

  2. Yay for book bloggers! :) I, too, am glad you find useful things on my site. I get tons of great ideas from all my blogger friends, too!!