| By Tiffany Duck |
As a peer reviewer for the Black Voices Standing Order Plan, I am excited about reviewing and selecting titles from diverse voices. It’s important to have representation from authors who identify as Black or African American but hail from countries all over the world. I’m also a member of the Literary Award Committee for the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, and it’s a pleasure to select outstanding literature from veteran authors in the literary field, as well as new voices that might not have previously had a platform.
I’m proud of the work of the eBook Committee, which I chair. One of our past presidents, Kelvin Watson, worked with BiblioBoard to sponsor an award for Black authors who have self-published eBooks. It’s a way we’ve dedicated ourselves to working with different companies and platforms to highlight diverse voices and provide an avenue to bring them to the forefront. This is our fifth year sponsoring the award in partnership with BiblioBoard.
I enjoy great stories! I am not tied down to any one genre—and will read anything. When selecting titles, it’s important to get into the mind of the average reader and how they choose books. I check the title of the work and the book jacket to see if the story summary may be interesting to a wide audience. Reviews are great for determining literary merit; however, I also look at the public opinion of a title. There may be some stories that haven’t been selected for major literary lists but may need to be highlighted.
I review advanced reader copies or manuscripts to find works that set the scene for a compelling story with a strong opening. When readers pick up a book, they often flip through those first few pages to see if the story intrigues them. The writing is key! It’s imperative to examine diverse styles that create believable characters and make the dialogue engaging. I look for a book filled with some type of action and that may be of interest to our patrons. Popularity has also played a part when selecting titles for large print.
It is vital to diversify our large print collections as well. We have a big population of seniors who check out our large print books. And we’re also getting requests for large print items from patrons who may be experiencing difficulties with their eyes or back. So large print has become another resource to offer people when they’re working with individuals who may have a disability—and even people who are experiencing temporary ailments or are just learning to read. This way, we can include multiethnic and unique titles for everyone to enjoy!