Monday, February 15, 2010

What Libraries Want in an Author's Book

The following announcement came from the Pima County Library in Tucson, Arizona. Most libraries feel this same way. Notice how they specifically tell you what it takes to land on their shelves (and that means they BUY your book, by the way). The guidance here ought to apply to most libraries, and it's generous of them to post it online for all to see.

The Pima County Public Library

The Pima County Public Library (PCPL) actively seeks books that are written and/or published locally. We are especially interested in titles about the Southwest/Sonoran region. As a public library we select books containing content that is written for the general reader rather than for the specialist or professional. We do not, in general, buy textbooks. Books with pages designed to be filled in by the reader or torn out are not appropriate. Because library books get heavy use, we look for those which are sturdily bound, preferably sewn or glued. Spiral and comb bindings do not stand up well to the multiple uses library books will receive.

The best way to bring your book to our attention is through reviews. A positive review in one or more of the review journals, such as Library Journal, School Library Journal (for children's books), Publisher's Weekly, Booklist, Kirkus, or in the Arizona Daily Star book review section, will give your book an excellent chance of being bought by PCPL (and other public libraries as well). A list of contact information for these publications is listed below.

The next best method is a flyer mailed to the Collection Development Office. The Collection Development librarians generally only have a few seconds to look at a flyer, so your best bet is to emphasize the essentials. We look for:

WHAT the book is about. This should be brief.

WHY the book is appropriate for our collection. Here you should include quotations from reviews, or reader testimonials if you have them. If the book has been reviewed you should also attach a copy of the review.

WHO the intended audience is for the book. Is it intended for adults, young adults, or children? Parents, business persons, hobbyists, etc?

WHO the author is. This should include qualifications, such as education, experience in the field, experience as a writer. Be sure to mention that you are a local author or publisher, since this is a factor in our selection decision.

WHEN and WHERE the book was published. We need complete bibliographic data, including date of publication, price (including discount if multiple copies are purchased), ISBN (very important), edition statement, type of binding. If the book is self published, please give some indication of its physical appearance, including how it is bound.

HOW the library can purchase your book. Pima County Public Library is under contract with a limited number of wholesale vendors. We purchase the majority of our books through Baker & Taylor, for more specialized (Arizona/local) items we obtain materials from Antigone Books in Tucson, Arizona. If the book is only available directly from you, be sure to provide an email address and URL for your website or blog. A review copy of your book is not necessary and if included in materials sent to us will not be returned regardless of the library's ultimate purchase decision.

Drop in visits are not encouraged.

You may also want to consider attending library conferences. This is one way to reach many librarians in a short space of time. National conferences such as the American Library Association can be overwhelming, but smaller ones such as the Arizona Library Association (AzLA) attract many librarians from this area.

Send flyers to:
Collection Development OfficePima County Public Library101 N. StoneTucson, AZ 85701

Write or see web site for information on how to submit a book for a review:
Arizona Daily Star - Southern Arizona Authors, Att: J.C. Martin, P.O. Box 26807, Tucson, AZ 85726

Kirkus Reviews
Library Journal
Publishers Weekly
School Library Journal

The American Library Association Events Web Page ( ) lists upcoming conferences. Information on exhibiting at each conference is available through the links for the individual events.

NOTE: Wow, this is great information. Libraries can be goldmines. Don't forget about yours.


That Gal Kiki said...

What a wonderful post. Thank you!

Karen Lange said...

Great info. I have a self published how-to booklet being carried in one library system but have been meaning to spread out and check out other libraries. These guidelines will be helpful. Thanks a bunch!

Rebecca @ Diary of a Virgin Novelist said...

Good post. I have always wondered about this. I live in NYC so we have a massive library system but sometimes it doesn't have a book I am interested in - which always shocks me. It makes a tad more sense now.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I appreciate this information so much. We often wonder about how our books get into libraries (or not), so this is very helpful.

Debbie Maxwell Allen said...

Loved this. I don't know if I've ever seen a post on this before. Thank you, Hope.

good book about hope said...

I must assume it is a perfectly good book which was requested by one of my faculty. I welcome your writing however you choose to do it.

Anthony J Langford said...

Thanks again for your helpful information... That's a great looking library by the way.

Abby Gaines said...

useful post, thanks!