Monday, June 6, 2011

Selection Tools and School Libraries: What Canadian Teacher-Librarians Need

I think the biggest problem facing school libraries in regard to selection tools is their accessibility. There are many useful sources and reviews available but most rely solely on sharing this information in a chronological format. The latest books and resources are reviewed in in the latest publication or post. If I don't keep up (and no one possibly can) with all the websites and print resources I will miss some very good recommendations and perhaps worse yet miss a heads up on resources to avoid.

As a librarian building a collection, especially when I am looking at my nonfiction and reference collection, I often am looking at filling deficits or updating. I want to search for recommendations by topic, subject or resource type. I certainly want to look for new publications but I certainly do not want to be constrained to just the current publication year or even the last two years. The biggest problem I have is that I need to browse a wide number of publications and reviews just in the hope of finding something that matches my need. Each resource is often fairly limited in scope and size and thus requires one to consult many resources. This is far too time consuming.

Canadian teacher-librarians need more robust searchable databases that pulls together the wide array of selection tools. Novelist does this very well. This database is accessible by subject, genre, author, and reading level. From my limited use of this resource I would like to see reviews from a wider number of sources. It also should be a resource that is promoted more agressively and be bundled in with larger district or province wide subscriptions.

I am thinking we should be developing Novelist or tools like it with with capabilities like Follet's Titlewave. With Titlewave I can search by subject, author, item type approximate reading or interest level and by publication date and a myriad of other data types. When I find an item (among the million available) that matches my need I can also read the reviews that are available from a number of reputable sources (and a few biased ones). Certainly, fairly comprehensive databases that are not based on inventory of books that a retailer wants to sell, but rather a database of reviews tailored to the needs of Canadian librarians, and teacher-librarians is technically feasible as Novelist shows. The ability to catalogue the reviews does entail costs and the use of these reviews also requires some compensation to other publications in which they first appeared. I believe these costs still can be covered by a fairly modest subscription fee especially if whole districts and whole provinces sign on. As Anne stated in a later post, the cost of not having good selection tools is in the long run much more expensive for cash strapped libraries.

1 comment:

  1. Titlewave is probably the biggest (or maybe second to Baker and Taylor) DB available. One of the best features is the ability to make and create lists and archive them - so you always have a record of what you've bought and if you hit duplicates, Titlewave will out them. It's actually quite good on special orders. However, it does not do the Canadian thing very well, and ULS needs to clean up its act w/r to reviews etc.
    Sadly, the Calgary (CBE) lists are about to be eliminated and they were among the best in Canada for solid purchasing.