Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Library Journal Reviews Shift Their Focus

I often question whether I am writing this blog more for readers or librarians. I compromise sometimes and write for librarians that read. I never suspected that Library Journal was in the same situation. So, I read "The 'Verdict' on Reviews" with interest.

The change of focus from writing for librarians to writing for readers makes sense, for the reviews are increasing available electronically in databases and online catalogs aimed at library clients. These readers may be puzzled by phrases such as "for academic libraries" in reviews of books that they got at their small public libraries. Someone with a passion for a subject might not appreciate indirectly being labeled an "academic." With WorldCat, Amazon, and the Internet in general identifying books that they borrow through interlibrary loan, it makes little sense to tell them that their reading choices are in or out of the mainstream. There is virtually just one large collection of books now, and all the readers worldwide are our clients.

I am not sure that I want my reviews to be twitterable. I like the idea of selectors spending a few moments thoughtfully considering titles, but I know how busy librarians are. Ironically, I will miss the "academic libraries only" statements because they gave me an excuse to skip over reviews.

With limited budgets during hard economic times, some librarians are going to struggle to identify the few books that they can buy. It may have just gotten harder.

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