My office mate is a collection development prodigy, with RSS feeds to publications, blogs, and libraries who have strong collections in her fields. She devotes time each week to selection. I’m less methodical. I love reading reviews, and submit books a couple at a time when I happen upon them, but mostly I save up my funds and wait until the “best of” lists come out in January.
I read The Economist, and Foreign Affairs, and the New York Review of Books, and a few other publications in my area. And then there’s the Choice Outstanding Title list. As a treat, I set aside a couple of hours this Sunday to read through the reviews in my selection areas, and it’s like dessert. The scope of subject matter is broad. I’m a little suspicious of the reviews, because I’ve often wondered how qualified the reviewers are to evaluate the complex theories their authors write about. But putting that aside, reading these reviews is exhilarating. To skim the “humanities” subject area is to be constantly presented with the limitless capacity of humans to be curious. You can glimpse the contours of human intellectual endeavor in book reviews. You can imagine your patrons finding this book on the shelves, and the the ways it might change their world view. To be able to buy library books is to get a chance to live vicariously through your patrons, to imagine flying along with them on their wild ride.