Materials are to be selected in accordance with one or more of the following criteria:
1. Popular demand.
2. Contemporary significance or permanent value.
3. Scope and authority of the subject matter.
4. Reputation and/or authority of the author, editor or illustrator.
5. Literary merit.
6. Relationship to the existing collection and to other materials on the subject.
7. Price and availability.
8. Format and arrangement.
9. Scarcity of information in the subject area.
10. Availability of material in the area.
11. Attention of critics, reviewers and the media.
A moderate budget and a finite amount of shelf space, as well as "so many books and so little time" make professional reviews a huge part of my selection process. This is especially true for genres and subjects that I am not as well versed in. I value these reviews and find it useful to compare their positive and negative comments for an item. Sometimes, the negatives outweigh the positives for my needs and I am grateful that a reviewer has pointed out the drawbacks and saved me from purchasing an item that is not the best use of my budget and would not be meeting the needs of my community. Our library's collection would look very different if I based collection decisions on customer reviews. There would probably be a lot more romance and erotica and a lot less non-fiction. Developing a children's collection would be extremely difficult without professional reviews, even if you had the time and ability to physically examine each item in hand.
Romances are a tough one because of the lack of credible, professional reviews. The two reviews given for the contemporary romance novel (I couldn't find any reference to it being a romantic suspense) were so different. The Amazon review was short and sweet. The short synopsis and her reasons for liking the novel were positive enough that I would suggest it to patrons. I was curious why she only gave it four stars as it seemed to be such a satisfying read for her. The blog review, on the other hand...I assume that the "Blurb" was taken from the back of the book because the language and usage in the blog were so markedly different. The review is poorly written, is contradictory is a couple of places and is not reliable at all. I might have purchased this novel in 2014, but the reviews are not convincing enough for me to purchase it in 2017 because my past experience leads me to believe that there will be plenty of holiday romance novels to choose from for this year's holiday season.
After reading the supplied reviews for Angela's Ashes, I read additional ones by the Washington Post and the New York Times, which were very similar to Library Journal, BookList, and School Library Journal reviews. These reviews were very descriptive as to what a reader would encounter in this memoir, citing the reality of a desperate childhood balanced by the humor and the quality of the storytelling the reader would experience. I also checked Amazon customer reviews where this memoir received five 5-star reviews in the last 10 days. For all of these reasons and the fact that this title won the Pulitzer Prize would make it a winner and I would definitely add it to my collection if I didn't already have it.
As the sole selector across all forms and genres for my library, reviews weigh heavily in my decision making. I strongly wish that there were professional reviews available for all types of books. Their lack is definitely a consideration when selecting titles for my collection, especially if the title is about a "hot-button issue" or is written with a certain "slant." We often cite the lack of credible, professional reviews as a reason not to purchase an item or to defend an item on our shelves. Including negatives in reviews is especially important with non-fiction titles. As long as the negatives are presented about the content, layout, or physical aspect of the book, such as no pictures in a cookbook, I really value the negative content in professional reviews, particularly with non-fiction titles, across all age groups. I count on the reviewers pointing out negatives so that I can weigh those against the positives before adding the item to my collection. I also read reviews when choosing books for my personal reading.
For collection purposes, I rely on Library Journal/School Library Journal, BookList, Kirkus, and Baker & Taylor's Forecast and Pre-Pub-Alerts. I also regularly use Smart Bitches; Stop, You're Killing Me; Shelf Awareness, Early Word; Book Browse; and BookSpot.com (http://www.bookspot.com). EarlyWord and Bookspot have a wealth of information all in one spot. If you aren't familiar with these sites, here the links: http://www.earlyword.com/ and http://www.bookspot.com/.