A Publication of the Public Library Association Public Libraries Online

Authors For Libraries

by on May 5, 2015

Calling all authors and libraries!

United for Libraries has created Authors for Libraries, giving authors and libraries an opportunity to connect via the Internet. This innovative website gives authors a way to feature their books in a searchable database that can be accessed by libraries nationwide. For the relatively low cost $39 annual membership fee, authors get:

  • A link to the author’s or book’s personal website where library staff or Friends of Libraries groups can research information and make contact.
  • A subscription to the “Voice for America’s Libraries” newsletter, with information on how to become a better advocate for libraries.
  • To add a personal quote about libraries to the Library Quotes database for Friends of Libraries to use in their publicity and marketing materials.

The program not only connects authors and libraries but also informs authors about library issues. United for Libraries could not recruit better advocates.

Barnes and Nobles already knows it, as does any small bookstore. Marketing 101. Getting customers in the door is half the battle. After that, it’s easy to make a sale. United for Libraries, a national network formed in 2009 from The Friends of Library and the Association of Library Trustees and Advocates, shares the same belief: libraries need users. They need people to come in the door. Libraries should be the heart and soul of social and intellectual activities in every community. Past-President Peggy Danhof explains the group’s mission. She urges library advocates to unite citizens’ voices and “strengthen all voices in support of libraries.” And what better way than to host an author talk or presentation? Author talks are a wonderful way to generate interest in visiting the library for all users—children, young adults, and adults. The Authors for Libraries program makes it easy. Authors can easily join online with credit card, via paper form, or by contacting the ALA offices at (800) 545-2433, ext. 2161 between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Here are a few of the “Tips for Contacting Libraries to Present a Program” from the Authors for Libraries site:

1. Join the United for Libraries “Authors and Libraries” listserv that invites authors, librarians, and other interseted individuals to exchange ideas, information, opportunities for author programs, announcements of new books, and more.
2. Use http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/libraries/librarysearch/ to find libraries in your touring range or region.
3. Call or email selected library or libraries. Check the library’s website to see to whom you should address your request.
4. Introduce yourself and let them know about your book(s). Include information about your webpage, reviews, special area of expertise, and experience in speaking to audiences.
5. Discuss your idea for a program opportunity with them including all the details.
6. If the library is interested, what would you require in return?

In addition, the site offers “Tips for Booking an Author” to Friends of Libraries groups and librarians as well. Finding an author and then finding one within a library’s budget can be a daunting process. The tips for these groups include:

  • Joining the “Authors & Libraries” listserv
  • Plan ahead (they recommend a six month window)
  • Select author based on this three prong approach—budget, author’s proximity, and subject matter.
  • Contact via website, email, or publisher.
  • Provide author with information about the event, the budget, the type of program, schedule, the amount of publicity that will be provided, and whether they will be able to sell books or not.
  • Prepare for the event by ordering books (if needed), ensure publicity (at least two months in advance), and include notices to the community via library website, newsletter, twitter, and email blasts.
  • See also United for Libraries Fact Sheet #9: Planning a Book and Author Event for more tips and suggestions.

This, of course, cements the rationale for establishing Authors for Libraries in the first place.  By bridging the needs of author and library, United for Libraries can fulfill and envision some of its mission: education, governance, fundraising, promotion, and advocacy of libraries through the formation of Friends of Libraries groups, Library Foundations, or Trustees at the local, state, and national level. Simply put: Authors for Libraries is one more reminder to the community—libraries matter.  They are vital to you.  They meet your needs. Inviting authors into the library is certainly one way of inviting the community in. It is also certainly one way of building an advocacy base in support of libraries.

Authors for Libraries is a new way for authors and libraries to connect.  Whether you are an author or a librarian, this program is well worth exploring.

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