One-Minute Book Reviews

May 8, 2008

‘Librarians Need Two Book Reviews to Justify Book Purchases for Libraries’ (Quote of the Day / Jane Ciabattari)

Media coverage of the decline of book-review sections has focused on the effect of the trend on authors, readers, and publishers. Jane Ciabattari, president of the National Book Critics Circle, raises a frequently overlooked issue in the Winter 2008 issue of the Authors Guild Bulletin (“Book Reviews: In Print, Online, and In Decline?”) when she says that “librarians need two reviews to justify book purchases for libraries.”

© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.


  1. Really? I’m a librarian, and that’s news to me.

    Comment by speedytexaslibrarian — May 8, 2008 @ 6:00 pm | Reply

  2. I hadn’t heard that before, either. Would love to know where the quote might be true . I have heard many librarians say that they buy on the basis of reviews but had never heard a number requirement, which is why this quote interested me …

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — May 8, 2008 @ 6:32 pm | Reply

  3. Do librarians really purchase books based only on one book review??? I can’t even imagine that being the case. We often purchase books because several people have recommended it, or we’ve read a myriad of reviews about a particular book.

    Of course, sometimes I’m sure that we choose books simply because we, as librarians and readers ourselves, find a topic interesting, or a particular book “speaks” to us. Should there be a requirement for choosing books? I’m not so sure that someone else should regulate how books are chosen by librarians.

    Comment by Carleton Place Public Library — May 9, 2008 @ 1:06 pm | Reply

  4. Absolutely no one should regulate how books are chosen by libraries. That’s just scary! What concerns me is that there are so many wonderful books that, these days, don’t get a lot of reviews.

    If librarians typically read myriad reviews before buying a book, what if a great book gets only one or two? This seems especially likely to happen with regional books or those from smaller presses.

    Will libraries become as market-driven as the publishing industry as a whole? Are they there already? I don’t know the answers, but I think about these questions a lot and am grateful for the responses from librarians.

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — May 9, 2008 @ 1:34 pm | Reply

  5. Will libraries become as market-driven as the publishing industry as a whole? Are they there already?

    I think that’s becoming more true of public libraries, especially in urban areas. I know in the large two-county suburban system I used to work for (in another state), items that had not circulated in the past three years were considered for weeding/withdrawal. Space is at a premium.

    I think it is less true of academic libraries, since we’re supposed to support research and therefore have to hang on to stuff a bit longer! We have offsite storage for some of our oldest, least requested stuff.

    Comment by speedytexaslibrarian — May 14, 2008 @ 9:38 pm | Reply

  6. Thanks for making the distinction between public and academic libraries, which is useful. They do serve somewhat different purposes.

    I often find that when I request a book on Inter Library Loan, my library has to get it from an academic library — even if the book I need is a trade or mass-market book that is intended for a general audience and no more than a few years old. I never quite understood this, because many nearby public libraries should have some of these books. Your comment suggests why this might be happening: The public libraries may have had the books but have already weeded them out.

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — May 14, 2008 @ 11:05 pm | Reply

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