Editorial July 2014

Choice: The Connector

Photograph of Mark Cummings

One of the more challenging aspects of writing this letter each month is the fact that it won’t be published for another six or seven weeks, nor read, charitably (!), for another eight. Events that are fresh in my mind today will be historical artifacts by the time this issue is published. So while you are reading this letter in the haze of summer, I am writing it in the perplexing Connecticut spring: it was thirty-nine degrees this morning, heading for a high of seventy-eight. If you will bear with me, then, I will write this as if it were July, because in July I will have been at Choice for exactly one year. Time to look back, if only for a moment.

Much of the past year has been devoted to an ongoing discussion at Choice regarding its position in the contemporary academic library, a reappraisal, if you will, of its core identity. As I said in a recent interview in Against the Grain, so much has changed in the fifty years since Choice was first published that it is worth a fresh look at how we can best serve our community. For me, the highlight of this process has been the opportunity to hear librarians speak about the state of their profession. Their comments on the challenges they face, particularly regarding the diminished role of reviews in the collection development process, have caused us to look hard at our mission and its applicability to contemporary academic librarianship.

Choice provides librarians with critical evaluations of texts. In this sense, it mediates the relationship between libraries and publishers. But we support this relationship in other ways as well. One of the signal successes of the past year has been our fledgling webinar program, a joint project between Choice and our parent division, the ACRL. Designed as a means to foster communication between librarians and content providers, the program is now averaging about 600 registrations per session, a forty-one percent attendance rate, and well over a thousand archive views per presentation. The success of this program, and that of another of our librarian-to-publisher tools, Resources for College Libraries, has set us to wondering: are there other relationships in the academic library ecosystem we should be supporting? What about helping library patrons discover reliable sources for their research? Can we help libraries share information with each other?

All of this speaks to an expanded mission for Choice, reflecting the fact that we are not simply a journal but an eponymous publishing unit devoted to connecting, connecting librarians with information resources, connecting scholars and students with the information they need to evaluate sources, connecting librarians with scholars and publishers, and so forth. So as my first year draws to a close, we have launched a new “marketing” website—http://choice360.org—designed to showcase the entire range of Choice activities, not simply the journal. The site features detailed information on all our tools and services, sample content, links to social media, and ways to contact us. More important, it is designed to grow and expand as we do. We invite you to visit it and watch as our plans develop over the year to come.—MC