Founded in 1963 with a grant from the Council on Library Resources, Choice is the Middletown, Connecticut–based publishing unit of ACRL. Choice has a staff of 21 and an annual operating budget in excess of three million dollars. In 2008, after renting space for more than 40 years, the ACRL and ALA Boards approved the purchase of office space for Choice in the form of a condominium. Located in Middletown, Connecticut on Main Street in the newly constructed Liberty Square, Choice moved into its top floor space in spring 2009. The new space provides a comfortable office environment for Choice staff; its design was LEED-certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. Choice is the publisher of Choice magazine, the premier U.S. academic review journal; Choice Reviews, a continuously updated database of our reviews; and other publications, described below.
As the number and variety of Choice publications and services has grown, so too has the need for a single site providing information about and access to them. The Choice website, www.choice360.org organizes our content and provides librarians with an easy way to view our webinars, download bibliographic essays, listen to our podcasts, get free trials for our subscription products, or contact our editorial staff. A prominent feature of the site is “The Open Stacks,” the Choice blog, which publishes a wide variety of Choice content, including guest editorials, recommended resources for community colleges, forthcoming titles, Choice newsletters, our digital resources directory, and other topics.
Choice’s concise, critical, and authoritative reviews have been called “the best short critical evaluations of new titles available anywhere.” By a wide margin, subscribers rate Choice #1 among the review sources they use to select materials for academic libraries. Choice Reviews (www.choicereviews.org) contains every review published by the Choice staff since September 1988, some 207,000 records as of the fall of 2018, with some 5,000 records added each year. Updated daily, the database functions both as a collection-development resource for academic libraries and as a discovery tool for bibliographic research by students and researchers.
Long the flagship of the Choice imprint, Choice magazine has been in continuous publication since 1964. In addition to its reviews, Choice is home to “Ask an Archivist,” a series of interviews with curators of special collections; guest editorials; lists of forthcoming titles in various disciplines; an annual guide to academic book pricing; the “University Press Forum”; and our “Digital Resources Buying Guide,” published each August. Choice’s highly esteemed Outstanding Academic Titles list, representing the “best of the best” new titles reviewed during the preceding year, is published each year in January and is widely regarded as comprising the essential titles for purchase by undergraduate libraries. Choice reviews are also available under license in a number of other widely used products and services, e.g. Booksinprint.com, Baker & Taylor’s Content Café, and ProQuest’s Syndetic Solutions, to name but a few.
A collaboration between Choice and The Charleston Company, publishers of The Charleston Advisor, ccAdvisor (www.ccadvisor.org) is an all-new review service dedicated to the identification and assessment of academic databases, web sites, and tools. Itself a database, ccAdvisor draws upon the traditions of objectivity and scholarly excellence that characterize both Choice and the Advisor to create the authoritative source for the evaluation and selection of digital resources for academic libraries. ccAdvisor reviews are long, typically some 2,000 or more words, and are written to a consistent structure that pays particular attention to competitive products. Each review features a scoring matrix that rates resources by the quality of their content, user experience, price, and purchase and contract options, and each review has itself been subjected to peer review, strengthening the accuracy and integrity of the evaluation.
Resources for College Libraries
Released in the fall of 2006, Resources for College Libraries (www.rclinfo.net) is the long-awaited digital successor to Books for College Libraries, 3rd edition. The product of a collaborative effort between Choice and ProQuest, RCL is published under the direction of more than seventy subject-area experts, who update the work on an annual basis, and lists some 92,000 works across sixty-one curricular areas. With the publication of its companion product, Career Resources, in 2009, RCL now includes over 4,600 core works for vocational-technical subjects as well. This fall, RCL will feature the introduction of content and functionality from ProQuest’s Syndetics Unbound, enhancing the discovery of core titles.
Originally proposed as a combined repository, review service, and peer-to-peer platform supporting the adoption of OER, Open Choice has recently been the subject of intensive market research and discussions with major university consortia. As the result of this outreach we are in the process of rethinking the structure, format, and business model of the service. Currently, we have commissioned and are editing 150 lengthy reviews, written to a standardized template that evaluates a work’s provenance, licensing, accessibility, adaptability, content quality, pedagogy, interface design, ancillary materials, and competing works. Under consideration now are ways to publish these reviews in an open forum, with community comment and annotation functions provided via open-source software.
Choice Bibliographic Essays
Eleven times a year Choice publishes a lengthy bibliographic essay on a topic of interest to students and teachers. Written by subject area experts, these comprehensive essays typically run to some 7,500 words and contain discussion and annotation on hundreds of titles. Recent essays have treated such diverse topics as museum studies in the 21st century, the history of human-animal relations, and evolutionary responses to climate change. Essays from recent years are available on the LibGuides platform (www.ala-choice.libguides.com), where they can be browsed by year or subject. Also included on the LibGuides platform are eleven collections of recommended community college resources drawn from Resources for College Libraries.
Choice-ACRL Sponsored Webinars
The popular Choice-ACRL sponsored webinars have attracted over 27,000 attendees over the past five years and are a valuable source of information on library trends, issues and best practices. Underwritten and presented by industry experts, these webinars explore topics in six major areas: reference works, the future of libraries, collection development, ebooks and digital resources, special collections, and open access resources. A library of some 100 webcasts is available on the Choice Media Channel on YouTube.
The Authority File
In the summer of 2017 Choice launched a new, sponsored podcast featuring conversations about academic libraries and librarianship. “The Authority File: A Choice podcast” features weekly episodes in formats that include author/editor conversations about new books and products, thought-leadership interviews and discussions, and technology and product case studies During this past academic year (2017-18) the Authority File presented some 12 podcasts, each consisting of four fifteen-minute episodes, a total of 48 in all. These episodes were downloaded 8,500 times and streamed an additional 8,000 times. The Authority File is available in the librarianship section of Choice’s website, www.choice360.org/librarianship, and directly via iTunes, Google Play, and Stitcher.
Choice Social Media
Choice’s primary social media platforms are Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/choice.reviews, 11K likes) and Twitter (1K followers). We use social media to help keep readers, subscribers, and ACRL members engaged with and informed about the Choice brand. There are four primary thrusts to our social media outreach: Promote selected existing content, promote upcoming content releases such as new webinars and podcast episodes, announce major new initiatives, and support and extend the social activity from our association friends at the ACRL, the ALA, and the broader academic library community.