Public and school libraries must use their limited resources to keep their shelves stocked with material that is relevant and of interest to their patrons. They are constantly confronted with a bewildering array of potential acquisitions – newly-printed books, books on tape, movies, and other resources for their patrons to borrow or use in the library. The American Library Association began publishing Booklist Magazine in 1905 to provide libraries with a tool to help them sort through the many new offerings and determine which would be the most suitable for acquisition.
The magazine, which is published monthly during July and August and semi-monthly for the rest of the year, originally published very brief reviews of newly published books. These reviews were intended to be used by librarians when determining which books to buy. By World War II, however, the reviews had become more substantial, and the magazine had begun including articles of interest to librarians.
Today, Booklist continues to publish and distribute its traditional printed editions and also maintains an active online presence with exclusive content and a vast database of searchable reviews. Librarians can access short reviews of books and search the database by genre, author, or other variables to find suggested reading lists. One of Booklist Magazine’s most popular features is its Editor’s Choice list of outstanding books and other media presentations. The Editor’s Choice selections culminate in annual “Top of the List” awards, given to the best work in each of a number of categories. In addition, Booklist produces Book Links, a quarterly supplement targeted to a broader audience interested in helping children find and use resources based on high-quality literature.
About the author: A professional editor and graduate of North Park University in Chicago, Jerome Eberle is a former member of the editorial staff of Booklist Magazine.