My unfortunate "mother of all booklists" experiment

photo-1431608660976-4fe5bcc2112cHave you noticed the abundance of “best books” lists? It is starting to feel a bit daunting, I must say! Here at CMLE, we seek to manage the noise for our readers, keep the clutter from your inbox, and find tools or solutions to make the tsunami of information more manageable. So, I was on a mission!

I valiantly decided to get my arms around the many entities that are creating these book lists. And, a real plum in the process would be to find a mega site that was the ultimate list of book lists; the mother of all book list sites! It started out as all fun and games with a Google search on “best books” 2015.  I was happily copying the sites and lists into a Word doc in hopes of later creating a possible LibGuide, maybe nicely categorized to further “containerize” the content. Suddenly, I sat back, looked over my list, and became very sad. It became really apparent, very quick, that my list contained almost all commercial sites, and that libraries were nowhere in the first four pages of search results.  Yes, I know the average user will not last this far into the search results! Amazon, Time, New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, etc…. filled my screen. How sad is that and why is it true? Where are libraries? Librarians are the ultimate content curators, aren’t they? What started out fun, became depressing.

A recent post I did about the absence of libraries in typical book search results online, A Great Big Cloud Catalog for the Greater Good of All? came to mind. In it, I questioned why it is that if libraries are the biggest book “containers” online, they don’t they show up in search results? Is it any wonder libraries often feel marginalized, and are often scrambling to find opportunities to “tell their stories” or even change what it is that they do altogether? If we could get library holdings front and center in online end-user search results, is it possible there would be less scrambling?

How did my experiment come out?

  • I further wondered what criteria is used to create all of these individual lists. Are they  based on sales or actual quality of writing? Doubt prevailed. What if we harnessed all of the creative power of librarians nationally, and built a “go to” site with all possible book lists? Now that would be phenomenal!
  • Inevitably, I abandoned my Word doc when doubt overtook me, and Pima County Public Library in Arizona and the Los Angeles Public Library (scroll down) showed up, among others. While I am impressed with their lists, I am still not sure they are the best, the most comprehensive. More of everyone “doing their own thing?” Click on their links here to see what you think.  If you know of a better, more comprehensive “list of lists” please share! Send email to or use the comments field to further enlighten me!


Image credit: Noble),licensed under CC0 1.0