I got an interesting phone call yesterday from a SLIS student. She’s taking a summer course on children’s literature and was looking for information* about librarians using children’s lit blogs as part of their collection development tools.
Well, yes, of course I use blogs, I said. There are so many goods ones out there! She seemed surprised and rather dismayed (at least, that’s how it sounded to me), which made her reaction stick with me. And since this is my own little soapbox, I get to elaborate here.
As I’ve addressed in a couple of articles recently, my primary resource is the professional journals to which my library subscribes. This includes Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, School Library Journal, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, andVOYA. There might be others but that’s all I can think of/find on my desk right now. Those reviews go through editors, are recognized throughout the industry, and can be a line of defense should something get challenged.
But that doesn’t mean that’s the only place I find things. I get publisher catalogs in the mail regularly, get emails daily, have wide eyed and eager or subtly shy kids making requests, parents leaving me formal acquisition request slips….and I read blogs, browse bookstores, and look for books wherever I can.
The student was concerned about the quality of blog book reviews. I said I can usually tell the quality based on the overall quality of the blog, which usually is pretty apparent if you read five or ten posts. If someone is caustically slamming everything they read, then yes, I’m going to be a little suspicious. If they are only ever staunchly cheerleading every bleeding title, also potentially suspect. I know Tasha Saecker only publishes reviews of books she enjoyed (her policy) but she’ll also note if there are weaknesses in those books and I know what her policy is. It’s my job to evaluate information and that’s something I do every day, so wouldn’t it be reasonable to say that after reading quite a lot of them, I have a pretty good idea which kid lit blogs have usable reviews on which might I rely? And while a blog is someone’s opinion, so is a review printed in a journal. For example, Madame Storyteller reviews for School Library Journal. Her reviews are absolutely her personal, informed opinion–they just happen to go through an editor and into print rather than cross my eyes via Blogger. Why wouldn’t I trust another informed librarian who chooses instead to blog?
I referred the student to Kids Lit and Fuse #8, pointing out that Betsy Bird made Forbes this year, so it’s not like children’s lit blogs are running completely under the radar. I suggested that she email ALSC-L and ask for opinions there. I hope she does, though I’m sure they’ve had the conversation before, it would be interesting to have again and see what new additions I can add to my blogroll.
So yes, kids lit blogs are an important part of the collection development toolkit.
Unfortunately I didn’t get the student’s name and email. I wish I had–I’ve thought of five other blogs she should look at, two other mailing lists, and had three interesting conversations about it. Oh…and now it’s documented on my blog….
Those other blogs:
Zooglobble (Children’s Music–I get TONS of great indie stuff here)
*I think she was hoping I’d say “ah yes, there was a recent study in Peer Reviewed Journal by Most Highly Respected Children’s Lit Professor entitled How the Reading of Blog Reviews Led to the Downfall of Children’s Fiction Collections.”