Why Professional Book Reviews Matter to Librarians

Curation specialists and book selectors—great news! Third party book reviews from trusted literary sources like Kirkus Reviews, and our sister companies School Library Journal, Library Journal, and The Horn Book are now available on our website. Maybe you’re a self-selector who doesn’t have the capacity to read every book that passes through your door, or a librarian who needs professional reviews to get approval for the titles on your shelves—whatever the case, we think you are going to love the ease and peace of mind that these book reviews bring you and your collection! Read on to learn more about how professional book reviews can help your library thrive and make sure to check out JLG’s newest membership benefit on our website.

Improve Your Collection Development 

Keeping your collection fresh, relevant, and accessible to your community of readers is an ongoing challenge, and that is why worthwhile curation tools like professional book reviews are so important for libraries. While every collection is unique—curated by a librarian’s expertise and judgment— we recognize that not every library worker has the capacity to read upcoming releases in their entirety like JLG’s editorial team does. Professional book reviews, like Kirkus Reviews, can help take away some of that pressure, offering early editorial insight to the library market:

“By giving booksellers, librarians and eventually the film industry an early, honest assessment of books, Kirkus gave buyers more control in the decision-making process, forever changing the balance of power and helping book buyers become more discerning.”—Kirkus Reviews, History

Furthermore, the American Library Association (ALA) provides Resource Guides to librarians to aid their curation and marketing efforts because “Individual libraries are responsible for their own book purchases and collections. There is no agency that chooses and distributes books and other library resources to all libraries…” (ALA). Realizing how daunting and tedious of a task collection development can be, ALA lists the most trusted literary reviews to help librarians make the best book selections for their readers; included in this list are the four professional book reviewers offered by JLG! You can read more about book review services recommended by the ALA for curation development in the following article: “Marketing to Libraries: Reviews as a Selection Tool”.  

Save Time with Informed Selections 

As library resources decrease, it seems that the responsibilities of libraries continue to increase! Like we outlined in our past blog post, Jobs of the Modern School Librarian, curation development is one small piece of the puzzle when you must focus your time and effort on other responsibilities in your library like…

  • Finding, learning, and implementing new technologies
  • Combating book challenges and book bans
  • Completing professional development and continuing education courses
  • Budgeting and applying for additional funding  
  • Assisting teachers with supervising duties for lunch, detention, and other activities
  • Providing and distributing community resources (like at-home Covid-19 testing kits!)
  • Cleaning and sanitizing your library

The list goes on and on!

With so little time left for collection development, your library may turn to professional book reviews for reliable and informed selections from editorial experts. Trusted literary reviews offer reader guidance and quality assurance for the books you are considering adding to your collection. Furthermore, reviews can help you identify which titles are a good fit for your library and what content is appropriate for every reading level.

We know your curation time is limited, and that is why JLG put 4 professional book reviews in the same place on our website. There is no need to search multiple sites for book reviews or rely on non-creditable “Bookstagrammers” to help you decide what is best for your collection—we have you and your readers covered!

Build a Robust Collection with ANY Budget 

Securing funding for libraries can be complex, and depending on the level of support from your library system and community, you might have to be creative when allocating your budget. For some years, the majority of your budget will be spent on updating technology, which leaves little money for new books. With that little amount of money left over, which books do you prioritize buying?

Editor-in-Chief at Library Journal, Hallie Rich, offers her expertise and guidance when using book reviews to curate your collection with limited funding:

“Librarians rely on professional reviews to help them scan the breadth of publishing and learn about the titles that will best suit their library's collection needs. With the proliferation of content available today in a variety of formats, professional reviews are particularly important to librarians who need to strategically allocate their budgets to build robust and relevant collections.”

By offering insight and relevance to both the library market and readers, book reviews can help you better understand what your library needs and want your readers want, solving the ongoing dilemma of which titles to purchase with limited access to library funding and resources.

Book Reviews are Available on JLG’s Website!

Here at JLG, we want you and your readers to have access to the BEST books on the library market, and we hope to continue supporting your library by offering new membership benefits like professional book reviews. It’s time for you to try it for yourself by logging in to your JLG account and searching for your favorite titles. The best part? The book reviews offered on our website are FREE for members!

About Kirkus Reviews 

Founded in 1933, Kirkus has been an authoritative voice in book discovery for more than 90 years. They review more than 8,000 books per year and distribute their reviews through Kirkus Reviews magazine online through KirkusReviews.com and their weekly email newsletters. Their magazine, published twice a month, has a large readership of librarians, booksellers, and publishing professionals, while their website and newsletters are dominated by consumers looking for books to buy.

About School Library Journal 

School Library Journal is the premiere publication for librarians and information specialists who work with children and teens. A source of quality journalism and reviews for 70 years, SLJ produces award-winning features and news coverage on: literacy, best practices, technology, education policy and other issues of interest to the school library and greater educator community. We evaluate a broad range of resources, from books and digital content to databases, in 6000+ reviews published annually.

About Library Journal 

In the 140 years since it was created, Library Journal has been inspired by the belief that libraries transform lives, at every stage of life.

We were there to help libraries in the United States begin organizing as a profession, and as the national and global network of libraries took their place in town squares, campus centers, and schools. As libraries have adapted, we have been there all the way--leading the profession forward by identifying trends on the brink of impact, surfacing best practices and innovations to invest in, identifying emerging leaders, sharing important news and perspectives that shape the field, guiding purchasing decisions, acting as an advocate for librarians and libraries--leading the field through the great changes and innovations required to keep libraries strong. Each day we build on this storied tradition by fueling the innovation engine at the center of every community--your library.

We can’t think of a community that doesn't rely on its library, and we can’t think of a better mission than having everyone at those libraries -- town, city, campus, school students--rely on Library Journal and School Library Journal to help them inform learning, inspire kids to read, spark the inquisitive impulse and instill a lifelong love of reading—all the while building the community’s capacity to thrive and spurring economic development

About The Horn Book 

Independent, opinionated, and stylish, The Horn Book Magazine has long been essential for everyone who cares about children’s and young adult literature. Our articles are lively, our reviews are insightful, our editorials are always sharp. We have gathered current and archival material to give you a taste of what we’ve been offering since 1924.