How many times has this happened? You hear about a new book, and, unsure about forking out the money on a writer you don’t know, you head to the library to check it out. And you love it. I’m betting at least some of you have found a new favorite author this way. Maybe you rush out and buy every book the author has written. Or you check out every one of the author’s books that your library carries.
But have you every stopped to wonder how those books end up on those library shelves? Do you know that you can have a hand in their appearance?
Okay, most books on your library’s shelves are there because the library ordered them. No surprises there. Many libraries have at least one person responsible for ordering books—the acquisitions librarian. The acquisitions librarian researches trade journals like Publishers Weekly and Library Journal for potential titles to add to the “New Releases” shelf. Reviews in sources like these play a large role in what you see. But the acquisitions librarian can find suggestions from other sources.
What You Can Do
Yes, you. You can help a book find a home in your library, too. Did you know that most libraries are open to recommendations from their patrons? My lovely local library makes it easy. There’s a form on the library’s web site where we can recommend a purchase. We fill out a few simple fields to give the library some basic key information about our suggestion. And we’re done.
Does that information disappear into a black hole? Not in my experience. Since moving to a new house last March and getting my library card, I’ve suggested two books for acquisition. And the library ordered them both.
Now, both books that I recommended were published by “traditional” presses, not indies. However, they are small presses, not any of the “Big
6 5″ or even mid-sized presses. And my mother, who volunteers at her local library, recommended an indie book. The acquisitions librarian researched it—and ordered it. I can’t think of an easier way to help spread the word when you find a new author (or new to you) who could use some “word of mouth” promotion.
Of course, not every library will make the process as easy as mine does. You may have to contact the acquisitions librarian directly. The library may decide to pass on your recommendation. Budgets are tight, and there might not be enough funds for the one(s) you suggest. But maybe your library accepts book donations. If so, can you spare a few dollars to get that book to fellow readers in your area?
Will You Help?
The recommendation process may take only a few minutes, but the rewards for the author may be immeasurable. All it takes is one reader checking out the book and reading it to began a chain reaction of friends and family saying, “I just read this great book, you should check it out.” And before long, a snowball rolling down a hill becomes an avalanche of interest in that author.
So how about it?
35 inches of snow later (Friday into Saturday), we’re partially dug out. This will have to make its way into a future story somehow!