Library Book Selection Decisions and Selectors’ Effectiveness: Differences among Librarians, Faculty, and Students

William H. Walters, John Gormley, Amy E. Handfield, Bernadette M. López-Fitzsimmons, Susanne Markgren, Laurin Paradise, Sarah E. Sheehan

Abstract

This study examines the book selections of 22 Manhattan College librarians, faculty, and students who were asked to make yes or no decisions for 287 books reviewed in CHOICE. It focuses on four research questions. First, What characteristics are associated with selected and nonselected books? Although there is only modest agreement among selectors, yes decisions are associated with favorable reviews, appropriateness for lower-division undergraduates, reasonable price, publication by a university press, and the absence of caveats in the review. The results suggest that selectors are willing to relax certain selection criteria if others are exceeded, that selectors’ generally favorable attitudes toward multidisciplinary works do not extend to all such books, and that titles in areas unfamiliar to the selector are less likely to be chosen. Second, What are the key differences among the book selections of librarians, faculty, and undergraduates? Although there are minor differences among all three groups, the main finding is that students’ selections are relatively unpredictable and less closely linked to particular book and review characteristics. Third, What are the key differences among the book selections of specialists (faculty and librarians) in the natural sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities? Although the three subject groups are similar in their yes/no decisions and in the characteristics of the books they choose, most selectors demonstrate a strong tendency to favor books in their own subject areas. Finally, What individual characteristics are associated with effectiveness as a book selector? Librarians and faculty are equally effective, overall. Faculty have an advantage among selectors without book selection experience, but the positive impact of experience is greater for librarians than for faculty. In contrast, students are relatively ineffective selectors, and their choices are not closely related to those of other students, faculty, or librarians.

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Copyright William H. Walters, John Gormley, Amy E. Handfield, Bernadette M. López-Fitzsimmons, Susanne Markgren, Laurin Paradise, Sarah E. Sheehan


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