Subject bibliographies are useful selection tools for retrospective books. If they are compiled by professionals with a subject background of the field, these bibliographies could be of great value in selection and collection development. The limitations of this type of tools are the quality of items selected, currentness and availability of documents listed. As indicated earlier, no single source can meet all the requirements of selection and collection development. A judicious combination of selection tools, both for current and retrospective publications has to be made and their inflow into the library must be assured.
Review columns appearing in newspapers and periodicals are an important aid. for book selection. While selection tools discussed so far do not give sufficient information to judge the value of a book in terms of quality, or suitability to a particular requirement, one can infer the quality of a book to a certain extent from the reputation of the author and the publishers. Book reviews appearing in newspapers and periodicals are often reliable sources to evaluate the quality of books.
A book review, in general, gives information about the contents of a book, the treatment of the topic discussed in it, its quality as also its suitability for a particular type of user in a library. It is, in essence, a critical evaluation of it. Book reviews can be divided into three general types:
reviews for persons in the book trade and for libraries;
reviews for specialists in different subjects;
reviews for the general public.
Book selectors use all three types, but the greatest use is made of trade and professional re-views. Some differences in emphasis do exist among types of libraries in making use of book reviews. As noted earlier, special libraries make the least use of reviews, but when reviews are needed the first two categories are given the greatest credence, with a preference for the specialist review. In academic institutions also, the first two types of reviews are used extensively. Public libraries, on the other hand, make use of popular reviews more often.