About Our New Website: Choice360.org

Choice editor and publisher Mark Cummings offers his thoughts on the redesigned Choice website

[In response to the many comments we are getting about our rebuilt website, our editor and publisher, Mark Cummings, offered these remarks.]

Five years ago, when we set out to remake Choice, we looked upon our work as a relaunch of a venerable institution increasingly threatened by wholesale changes in the academic library, changes brought about largely but not exclusively by technology.  Our traditional mission, supporting collection development, seemed more and more out of step with the needs of our readers, and the publication we had started a half-century earlier no longer attracted the audience it once did.

Reasoning thus, we were confronted by a dual challenge: how to publish materials that respond to the changing needs of our audience and, every bit as important for our survival as a publishing unit, how to remake the perception of our products, a perception rooted in the training received by generations of librarians and reinforced by years of practice in the field.    

As we probed more deeply into this issue of perception, we came to understand that underlying the work we do is a set of core values recognized by our audience as a reflection of their own: objectivity, respect for contending viewpoints, fairness.  These values, we realized, could be leveraged in a host of ways, beginning with the improvement and expansion of the curatorial tools we provide so that they serve a broader audience, followed by the creation of readings, presentations, and studies designed to support the needs of both practicing librarians and the audience they serve.  In each case our goal was to present high-quality, well-edited and produced, content, authored by recognized specialists in their respective fields.  

Over the years we have pursued this mission with single-minded resolve, building many new products—most of them available free of charge—and reaching an audience of over 50,000 regular readers and viewers, several times larger than before.  But despite this, our readers told us time and again either that they were scarcely aware of these new materials or that they wanted a faster and easier way to access them. 

The relaunch of our website, Choice360.org, is our response to these legitimate concerns.

Rather than making our traditional subscription products its focus, the new site provides immediate, one-click access to our more popular offerings: our acclaimed webinars, “The Authority File” and “Patron Driven” podcasts, forthcoming titles lists, bibliographic essays, white papers, newsletters, and others.  And rather than challenge visitors to “intuit” the content of these offerings, we have organized all our material, some 800 pages’ worth dating back as much as four years, under more than thirty topical headings, from Archives and Record Management to User Experience.  The attractive design and contemporary navigational features of the site will be instantly familiar to anyone who uses the web, whether by desktop, tablet, or mobile device.

As much as anything, then, the new site is designed to remake perceptions of Choice and to expose the wealth of content our editors and contributors have created to a broader audience, eager for new ideas.  If by so doing we have solved a problem, suggested a new workflow, or simply piqued your interest and curiosity by something you read or heard on our site, our mission will have been accomplished.

So for those who still believe Choice is nothing more than a magazine for collection development, we invite you to take another look.  Spend some time on the site and tell us what you think!  Share your thoughts on social media or write me directly.  I’m looking forward to hearing from you.