I've written before about the Michigan eLibrary databases, a resource that Michigan residents are extremely lucky to have access to. A recent contract change removed NoveList from MeL, which outraged many Michigan librarians who had come to know and love it. I'm not here to talk about the politics of how and which databases are chosen by MeL. My angle is to look at both NoveList to Gale's Books and Authors database, which is still available in the MeL databases lineup, and see what each has to offer.
1. We subscribe to NoveList Plus, which integrates with our library's online catalog. Patrons can find a title in NoveList and click a button to see if it is available in the library.
2. Includes description information that explains why a particular book was chosen as a read alike for another.
3. Book discussion guides are available for lots and lots of titles.
4. Has some great reading lists by suggested age level and genre
5. Includes children's and teen books
6. Lots of articles on readers advisory and fiction topics.
7. Pre-made book talks!
8. Very, very easy search interface
9. Includes links to GoodReads reviews for titles.
10. Ability to share titles via Delicious, Facebook, Twitter, and many more places.
Books and Authors
1. Available to all Michigan libraries through a contract with MeL.
2. Very, very easy to browse genres. Just click through from the database homepage!
3. Finding read alikes is also easy. Once you choose a title, you can click through to lists of titles by the same genre, subject, and setting. There's an easy "Read Alike Wizard," too.
4. Expert Picks lists, like "15 Memorable Apocalyptic Novels."
5. Lots of ways to keep your own lists, from "My Author lists" to "My Book Lists" to "My Ratings and Reviews."
6. Non-fiction lists and read alikes are included. This is big. If NoveList includes non-fiction, I couldn't find it. Of course, NoveList has "novel" in its title, so maybe they just don't want to go toward non-fiction.
7. Ability to share titles via Delicious, Digg, and a few other sites. Not as many places as NoveList.
8. Very browsable format. NoveList feels like a database. Books and Authors feels more like a web site.
9. Very easy to find award winners, bestsellers, and newly published titles from the home page.
10. Has a "Meet the Editors" link where you can see who did the work. I couldn't find this on NoveList. I guess NoveList staff does the work of selecting and writing, whereas Books and Authors contracts outsiders.
The verdict? Which is my favorite? Tough call. I like them for different reasons. Since I don't currently have to give one up, I don't have to choose. Maybe that's a cop-out, but it's my answer. I use them both and I like them both. I'm glad that MeL still has a readers advisory database in their line-up, and I hope that library staff and patrons are giving Books and Authors a fair try. I also hope that those who could afford to keep NoveList around did so.