We interviewed José Verdiá, director of www.delibris.org: a site that offers free orientation to literary content in English and Spanish.
Delibris.org is an international initiative, open to participation by all its users. It springs from an exchange of experiences from people united by the same passion for reading, and it follows a Catholic orientation.
Books are labeled under categories to favor quick consultation, which can be carried out by a free search, or according to author or topic. With over 80 thousand books, the site has a vast database of literature. The goal of Delibris.org is to offer the reader an evaluation on doctrinal and moral content of the book under investigation. These evaluations are the fruit of an entire team of collaborators. In many cases, even brief notes that explain the contents of the books or information about the author are offered. Furthermore, the most influential or successful works are given a more extensive and detailed commentary. The site counts on the support of the Midwest Theological Forum , an American non-profit association that collaborates through evangelization projects.
But let’s delve deeper into the spirit and philosophy that drives Delibrisi.org.
What type of books do users search most: essays, romance novels, philosophical works…?
Users usually don’t turn to the coordinators of the site for advice; they rather manage their own inquiry independently through particular windows of research. In this manner, the research is immediate and direct, without filters or mediations that can prolong the response and consultation time. From what we can see, romance novels are generally the most researched. But naturally, all other literary works, including specialized topics and scientific materials, are sought out through the site.
How many consultation requests do you receive each year and what type of public do you have?
About 400 people from all five continents enter Delibris.org on a daily basis. If we make an annual projection, the number is definitely higher. Most searches are coming from English or Spanish speaking countries. The service that Delibris.org offers is for all people, of all kinds and all ages. In fact, users can find evaluations and information on various types of literature, from children’s books to specialized scientific publications, to philosophical works, to simple light reading.
What type of people writes the book reviews and what are their qualifications? Are they volunteers without any particular training or do they have a specific intellectual formation?
The site is open to all and builds upon the collaboration of all users. At most, we have a team of about 30 people who send us reviews on a regular basis. These are people who read over 50 books a year and are willing to place the information and impressions they received from their reading at the service of others. Many are either university or high school professors. They therefore have a great cultural preparation, in addition to their passion for reading and Catholic formation.
Besides the moral and doctrinal indications relating to the Christian faith, is guidance given as to the literary quality of the work?
This is certainly not our aim. The Internet is full of sites that perform this task, and do so quite well. We normally recommend books that possess a certain literary quality or have struck out in their genre. These suggestions and advice are offered directly on the home page. In the notes, we sometimes offer brief information that refers readers to other literature by the same author, or outline biographical facts. In some cases, we even offer assessments of the book’s quality, without however, wanting to transform into a literary review site that focuses on the artistic value of the work. We prefer to remain faithful to our task of offering doctrinal and moral guidance, and let professional critics make other evaluations.
There’s nothing left but to wish all a good consultation!