CHICAGO - For more than 100 years, librarians have turned to the trusted reviews in the American Library Association's (ALA) Booklist magazine. On April 1, the popular collection development and readers' advisory tool leapt forward with the launch of a new product, Booklist Online.
More than simply an online version of the print magazine, "we wanted to be sure that Booklist Online built on everything good about Booklist while adding plenty of interactive features and giving a more personal voice than you find in print," said Keir Graff, Booklist Online senior editor. "Librarians embrace technology as a way to make information more readily available."
As a tester for the new product, school librarian and Booklist Advisor Cindy Dobrez responded enthusiastically. "I envision Booklist Online will become as invaluable to librarians as the print version is," she said. "The rich tradition, history, and the expertise of their current editorial staff and reviewers provide the backbone of selection, collection development, and readers' advisory for most public and school librarians. Having that wealth of content available in an online product with great searching and customizing features is sure to be popular."
Dobrez is excited about specific benefits such as archived access to features, the top 10 lists, and read-alike recommendations, "and to be able to get even more recommendations from the linked reviews to similar titles." Unlike other virtual readers' advisory databases or websites, Booklist Online doesn't rely simply on computer-generated answers to find similar titles," and also incorporates nonfiction-described by Joyce Saricks, author of ALA Editions' Readers' Advisory Service in the Public Library, as "the hottest topic in the R.A. world."
"Booklist has a reputation for reliable collection development and readers' advisory support for busy librarians that surveys consistently tell us is surpassed by no other print publication," said Booklist's editor and publisher Bill Ott. "We're excited about making this support available in an even richer way by taking advantage of the web's flexibility, as well as making it easy for libraries to share access with patrons."
Dobrez agrees about the wide appeal. "I've always thought that the witty and intelligent writing of the Booklist staff would be marketable to the general public-the online product is a perfect way to deliver it."
Numerous interactive features bear out what Graff says the editors wanted to add: Subscribers can sign up for e-mails of fresh reviews in their areas of interest, make lists, share reviews with friends, save favorite searches, and choose their own point of entry to the site. "But there's a lot of free stuff, too," Graff added, "from the Review of the Day to the Booklist Book Club, which will be led by our editors and contributors."
Graff also will be blogging about book reviewing. Dobrez is delighted. "With Keir Graff writing the book blog, I'll be tuning in and so will other readers. If he could make me laugh out loud with his Reference on the Web columns in Booklist, imagine what he can do with a blog. I can't wait."
Free 30-day trial subscriptions are available on the site at www.BooklistOnline.com.