How Can I Find Book Reviews?

While at the reference desk today, someone called and asked for help in finding book reviews. As a librarian I was a bit embarrassed to suggest Amazon.com first. It came to mind first, because I use it frequently in my collection-develop- ment duties. There was a book review for the title she needed; however, it was not lengthy enough or fit her criteria.

Next, I thought to search for the New York Times Book Review in our A-Z Journal List, so we searched within EBSCOhost’s Academic Search Complete, but not book review could be found for her book.

As a last result, and somewhat reluctantly, I suggested we conduct a Google search. By placing quotation marks around the words in the title, plus the words “book review” we succeeded in finding at least one book review that satisfied this particular student’s needs. Interestingly enough, the first result was link to the Amazon entry we had looked at first, but the second looked more legitimate as it had a .edu domain.

Anyway, it should not surprise me that book reviews are freely available on the internet, since book sellers want people to find out about their titles to increase sales.

Out of curiosity, I searched our Library’s website to find out if we had a guide for finding book reviews. We do. With the straight-forward title “How to Find Book Reviews,” you can find out which resources in the Eli M. Oboler Library system contain book reviews. Print titles are mentioned, such as Book Review Index [Reference Collection: Z1035.A1 B6] and Book Review Digest (which we only have in paper copy [Ref. Coll.: Z1219 .C96], but a lot of the full-text reviews are in materials that we can get to with our A-Z Journal List). A colleague of mine tells me that when she was in MFA school, they were the standard references/indexes for finding quality book reviews and citations, and she still uses them on occasion. Additionally, they also relied on Contemporary Literary Criticism (Ref. Coll.: PN771 .C59).

Still, the internet seems to be the easiest way to find book reviews. Where they come from and how useful they may be is a different question, though.

Posted By Spencer to Information Literacy at ISU

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