Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Dos and Don't of the Library World for Authors and the Kitchen Sink by Madame S

After two years of being vigilant whenever I am in communication with Tina, I became distracted.  Anyway, I find I have agreed to write another blog posting for you Lovely People.  (Actually, I’m not sure I agreed but she assures me that I did.  I thought I was agreeing to pass the salt.)

This is “Everything you never wanted to know about authors, books and libraries.”

This all began with a discussion of authors and libraries.  Tina, who has some experience in libraries as an employee and patron, was saying that many authors are confused about the advantages of getting their works into libraries and how to go about it.  I, foolishly in retrospect, pointed out that RWA has a librarian day where they invite librarians but has it ever thought about having a session introducing authors to the library process.  Well.  That was all it took and suddenly I went from passing the salt to agreeing to write up Dos and Don’ts of the library world as they relate to authors.

Tina immediately gave me a list of points to cover, which makes me think this was not as spontaneous as she claims… 

Now, I know I should re-number these questions, but Tina made the below question number 8 and it just begs to be the first. 

8.  Do libraries matter to authors?

Darlings, Darlings, Darlings.  The answer can only be, “Yes! Yes! Yes!”

The American Library Association has finally started gathering information about library users and their purchasing of books.  What they found, which is not a surprise to most library users, is that heavy library users are also heavy purchasers of books for their private collections.  Many of the books that are purchased by these library patrons were discovered from reading the title or the author’s earlier works at the library.

I am not joking.  One of the best ways to get to the people who buy books is to get your books into the library.  Libraries are your friends.

Don’t be one of those dreary, whiny writers who view every checkout of their title as a sale that was lost.  It wasn’t.  You never had that sale.  You were lucky the library bought a copy.  Harsh words but true.

You are developing core readers when your books are in libraries.  It leads to people reading this book, deciding they love your book, and then looking for more of your books or authors like you.  These people, in turn, recommend your books to their friends.  As gift giving occasions arise, your books get requested and purchased in real life.  The more they love your books, the more they are willing to do without dining out and purchase your book instead.

I check out books at the library and I buy books.  In fact, back when I collected the hyper-modern mystery, I bought 1st printing, autographed copies of new titles but never read those copies.  I checked out the same title at the library.  If I really loved the title, I bought the paperback to have to read when it became available.  If I really, really loved it, I bought multiple paperbacks to give to friends and family who needed something to read on plane rides.  (I had to.  People would need things to read and we would go through my shelves of paperbacks, looking for something they would like and I would send it off with them.  Only to realize that I didn’t have a reading copy anymore…)

Laugh all you want at word of mouth but then think of the authors who built careers based on word of mouth.  A lot of the people who left my house with paperbacks bought more titles by whatever author wrote it.

Darlings, you want your books in libraries and you want libraries thinking happy thoughts about you.  The rest of these words of wisdom will help you on both counts.

1.  Who’s in charge at the library?

Such a simple question, such a difficult answer.

Generally the answer is “The Library Director.”  But this isn’t as simple as it sounds.

You need to know if you have walked into a branch library or the main library or if there is only one physical building for your public library.  Here’s what I mean.  Some towns have their own library and it is one building.  Generally the person in charge of that building is the library director.

But when you are in a city, you probably have a main library and several/lots of branch libraries.  (Chicago Public Library has a lot of branches.  Kansas City Public Library has fewer branches but still a lot.)  In cases where you have walked into a branch, the person in charge varies a lot.

Libraries can also belong to a Library District, which may be across municipalities or counties.  But there’s still a main library and a library director.

Library directors also have to report to Library Boards and/or County/City managers/mayors.

But the good news is that you really don’t need to care who’s in charge.  Library directors don’t tend to have anything to do with getting your book into a library.  (No, that’s not a joke.  Keep reading.)  As for library boards…they work best when they stay out of the day to day operations of libraries, such as material selection.

2.   Who are all of these people working in the library?

Hard to say.  It will vary from library to library.  Here’s why I say this:

The people working the area where you check out materials are generally not considered librarians.  They tend to be paraprofessionals who check out library materials and handle fines and maybe put the materials back on the shelves.

The people working the reference desk tend to be librarians.  Even that can mean different things.  Generally, librarians have master degrees in librarianship/library science.  They answer questions like, “Where is the bathroom?” (which is a classic reference question), “How much tonnage of wheat did Canada export in 2008?”  (I have no idea.)  “I like to read Tina Radcliffe.  Who else writes like her?”

Children’s librarians keep up with new children’s titles and authors and trends.  They’re also the people doing story time or homework time.

The person putting materials back on the shelf is generally a library page or shelver.

In some libraries, if there’s a backlog in shelving, everyone will shelve.  In other libraries, the job duties are specific and people are not allowed to move between these jobs.  So when you ask the person shelving the books where you can find a book on glutten free cooking and are told you need to go to the reference desk and ask there, s/he’s not trying to be a jerk.  S/he may not know or may know but not be willing to be written up for answering your question.  Also, the reference desk doesn’t generally have change so they may not be able to take your library fines and will send you to the circulation desk.  People are not trying to make your life difficult when they move you to another desk.  They may not be able to do what you need and are sending you to the group that can help.

There’s also an army of people that you don’t see who are involved with libraries.  We’ll get to them as we go along.

3.  Where do the books come from?

(Is it wrong of me to want to say, “When a mommy and daddy book love each other very much…?”  Oh, all right.)

You all have a good idea what it takes to get a book published.  And you have access to information on how physical books get sold/distributed.  (I know this because I wrote that blog and answered tons of questions.)

Libraries have a section in their budget generally known as Collection Development.  This is to buy new materials and replace old copies of things.  (“Green eggs and ham” needs to be replaced on a regular basis.)  Depending on the size of the library and library staff, there is either a backroom of people who research and order materials or it’s one of the duties on the person working the reference desk.  (Remember the reference desk from the last question?)  In either case, specific people are assigned to order either certain types of materials (DVDs, e-books, books on cd, database access) or topic ranges.  (Fiction, computer and technology, health and cookbooks, children’s materials, foreign language materials, etc.)

Most of the time, only the Fiction person can order Fiction.  If you have befriended the DVD ordering person (and who doesn’t want to befriend this person), this guy can’t get your book purchased by the library.  (We will address other ideas many of you have later as a way to circumvent this.  But let me give you a teaser and tell you to start letting those ideas go now and avoid the rush later.)

A lot of libraries will have online or paper forms to allow patron to make requests of titles to be added to the collection.  USE THESE.  (We’ll come back to it.)  But don’t assume that your request will get your book into the library.  Library budgets are tight right now.   (Many library districts/city libraries are cutting back hours the library is opened and closing branches.  What most people don’t realize is that before it gets to that point, the collection development budget has been gutted and only materials that the community really, really wants are being purchased.  So where a library district might have bought 75 copies of Nora Roberts latest hardback, they are now buying 30 copies.  Or 15.)

Also, most places are getting their materials completely or partially processed by the material distributor.  What this means is that the books are being sent with the plastic covers on them, the property stamps on the item added and may actually be ready to unpack and put on the shelves.  This tends to happen when libraries have fewer staff to perform these functions.  (The back room staff tend to get gutted first.)

4.  Okay, how can I get my book on the shelf?

That’s an excellent question.  I’m going to answer you and then list all the ways that your book won’t get on the shelf and tell you again why to do what I’m about to tell you.

Fill out a patron request form for your book.  Don’t do this until your title is within 4 weeks of release.  Many libraries can only order 30 days in advance.  If you fill out the form too early, it will “timeout” before your book is due to be released.

Get your friends who live in your library district to fill out the form requesting your book.  (Yes, this is playing the system.  So what?  Do you want your book on the shelf or not?)  If your friends don’t have library cards, arrange a van, go to the library, have them all get library cards and then have lunch.  Then let them go in one by one to request your book.  Make a day of it.

Encourage members of a Red Hat Society each to request your book.  Odds are they were going out to lunch anyway.  They can stop at the library on the way.

There will generally be a section “How did you learn about this book?”  on the form.  Either refer to a website that has reviewed an early copy or say, “Stumbled across it on Amazon.”  Don’t say, “I know the author.”  That gives people the idea that you’re trying to scam the system.  (Tight, tight library budgets, My Darlings.  Don’t be obvious about scamming the system.  Do it with finesse.)

Now, I’ll give you these variations:

4.a.   Find out how to volunteer to be a speaker at your library.  Libraries tend to be looking for people to speak at free programs.  If you are speaking about what it takes to get a book published, the library will generally try to make sure it has a copy of your book.  (If it doesn’t, don’t worry.  The parts of the group who heard you speak will fill out the patron request for your book.  So make sure you have a card listing the title, publisher, ISBN, price, etc. so they have that information easily and correctly at hand.  Make it easy for everyone.  It’s the polite thing to do.)

4.b.Volunteer at your local public library and try to see other ways to get your book into the library.

Here are things NOT TO DO:

DO NOT walk in the library building and ask to speak to the person who orders fiction.  For one thing, this person may not be at work.  (If your library is opened 72 hours a week, this person will be scheduled to be there for 40 hours.  And they may be leading the monthly Library Knitters program when you appear and can’t leave to talk to you.  Or they may be scheduled to work the reference desk.  Or just working on reports.)  If you really, really, really want to talk to this person, ask how to schedule a time to talk to this person, assuming anyone will tell you who it is.  Generally, just leave this person alone.  Otherwise, you’re going to peeve them unduly and they will remember your name as “Someone whose books we don’t order until they show up on the NYT bestseller’s list.”  Sometimes bad name recognition really is a problem.

Even if you make an appointment with this person, it is unlikely that the book can be purchased while you are there.  Most places have purchasing systems that require things like purchase orders and vendor numbers.  DO NOT expect to walk in and have the library buy your book from you.  It might have happened in the past, but those were still the exceptions and not the rule.  Remember, you’re looking for a long-term relationship with libraries.  As long as you have a book to be purchased, you want libraries trying to get a copy for their collections.

DO NOT send flowers/cookie bouquet/box of chocolates to the Collection Development department with a card including your name, title of the book, ISBN, release date, and price.  It’s not that people wouldn’t love that but most library districts/cities/counties have specific rules about staff not allowed to accept gratuities from people trying to influence purchases by the library district/city/county.  That includes your book.  I know you don’t mean any harm and it sounds like a lovely idea but it can cause a lot of problems. 


There’s nothing more sad than a perfectly good cookie bouquet having to be thrown out uneaten.  Please don’t tell me that this would never happen.  I have seen this happen.  I have seen people get in trouble when they ignored the “City employees may not accept things from vendors while doing their job” rules.  Don’t try to get these people in trouble just because you don’t like the rules.  Again, that’s not the name recognition that you want.

  • DO NOT decide that a flash mob would be a good idea in a library to promote your book.

  • DO NOT put a copy of your book on the shelf.  That’s not helpful.  The title won’t be in the catalog and there won’t be a barcode to allow it to checkout.

  • DO NOT put a copy of your book into the book drop.  That just means it has to go in the Lost Items box until someone realizes that no one has asked for this and then it will generally get thrown out.  It might end up in the library book sale but probably not.

  • DO NOT start passing out copies of your book at the library.  Most libraries have restrictions about no solicitors.  (And I don’t mean the British type, for those of you living the “Downton Abbey” lifestyle.  Every so often, Tina believes she is British and I have to explain gently, lovingly, and firmly that she is not.) 

Just try what I listed at the beginning of this section.  That should get a copy on the shelf.  (Be happy with a copy.  We’ll go over how to keep the copy on the shelf later.)

 5. I donated books.  Why aren’t they on the shelf?

One hesitates to say, “There’s a special place in library hell for people who donate books and then want to track what happens to these books” but only because of breeding.    Here’s why.

Think of your donated books as a gift.  Once you give a gift, you don’t get a say in what happens to it.

Remember in #3 when I talked about tight library budgets and the collection development budget being slashed?  Well, the cataloging and processing department got slashed too.  These are the people who create the record that displays in the online catalog and puts the barcode and call number on the materials.  Getting materials processed by the vendors if often cheaper than hiring staff to do it.  Some libraries have completely eliminated this department and everything they order is cataloged and processed by the vendor.  They can’t add other materials.  Or the department is bare bones and only working on materials that have been purchased from vendors that can’t do cataloging/processing that they can’t handle donated materials.  They don’t have the covers/labels or barcodes to handle donated materials much less the staff time.


Under no circumstances are you to send a question or a comment saying, “But it’s a free book.”   I, Madame S, am emphatic on this topic.  But because one of you Little Dears will ask, let me just say, “NO!  IT IS NOT FREE.”  (And yes, I do mean all caps.)    See above.  You need staff to do the work, you need materials to process the book, and it will take physical space on the shelf.  “Free books” can be very expensive for a library.  That’s why many libraries have a policy that they do not allow donated materials to be added to collection. 

Darlings, it’s not personal.  Libraries have been cutting backroom staff through the ‘90s.  (And those were the boom times.)   Follow what I wrote in the first part of #4.  Do not deviate.

6.  What do the numbers on the book spine mean?

These are call numbers.  Here’s how it works.  (Or should work.)

In a back room, generally in the basement, lives a group of people who catalog materials.  We’ll use your book as an example.

Your book arrives and they create how your name will be searchable in the library catalog.  They will use what is on the title page of your book.  (I can tell you why the odds are that you won’t get a date even if you want one but let’s skip that right now.)

Then they add the title as it appears on the title page.  They add the publisher.  The number of pages, whether there are any illustrations, and the height of the book.  They will also add the series if it’s published as part of a series.  They might add a summary but that’s not a constant.  They probably will add some subject headings but again they may not.

They will add a call number.  (Remember call numbers?  That’s how this question got started.)  I’m going to stick to Fiction since most of you write fiction.  The call number will look something like this:


There may be some variations.  Sometimes the Genre is a part of the call number.


Oklahoma reunion
Radcliffe, Tina.
ISBN:     9780373877027 (pbk.) : $5.75
ISBN:     0373877021 (pbk.) : $5.75
Local call number:    FICTION RADCLIFF
Personal Author: Radcliffe, Tina.
Title: Oklahoma reunion / Tina Radcliffe.
Publication info:    New York : Love Inspired, c2011.
Physical description:     216 p. ; 17 cm.
Series:     (Love Inspired inspirational romance)
Subject term:     Single mothers--Fiction.
Subject term:     Man-woman relationships--Fiction.
Subject term: Love stories.

Now, if there’s a number instead of FICTION, odds are it’s a Dewey Decimal call number.

Don’t try to memorize any of these numbers.  The meaning changes with every new edition of the Dewey Decimal System.  Granted, your favorite topics will be together and no one can beat a library shelver for knowing Dewey numbers.  The time to worry is not when you have to look up the number.   The time to worry is when you know what it means.

The spine label should match the call number in the catalog.  I say should because sometimes it doesn’t match.  There are a lot of reasons and I could do a blog on that if I ever agree to have brunch with Tina again and think I’m passing her the salt.

Some libraries don’t use the last name for the next line.  They use a letter number combo.  (This is known as “cuttering” because it uses a table created by Mr. Cutter.  I can write long about this as well but fewer and fewer public libraries are using this option.  (Although I believe the Free Library of Philadelphia is still using its original system from the time of the Library’s creation.  I’m not making that up but I am having a flashback...)

7.  How do I get an “in” with my library?

It depends on the library and the size of the system.

One of the best ways is to volunteer.  (Hmm…I may have mentioned that before…)

One way is to contact whomever schedules programs for the library/library district and offer to do a program.  (Hmm…I think I said this too…)

 If you are independently wealthy, you can donate a sizeable amount that the library will find it worth its while to buy your books new, but that’s not for the average, starting author.

You can join a Friends of the Library group and see if you can influence them to request your book.

9.  How do I keep a copy on the shelf of the library?

Actually, Tina didn’t ask but I promised I’d explain how to do this earlier.

Check out the book.  That’s it.  Check it out.

Libraries live and die by circulation statistics.  Every time your book is circulated/checked out in a year, libraries get very happy.  It shows the folks that fund libraries that patrons are checking out the materials that have been purchased.  Three times a year is good.  Five times is better.

The more your book checks out, the better the odds it will stay on the shelf.  This is due to decisions that have to be made about what items to get rid of so new books have a place on the library shelves.  (Yes, libraries get rid of books.  It’s also known as weeding and de-accessioning items.  They have to.  Physics takes over.  You have new materials coming into a place with a finite amount of shelf space.  Unused things/lesser used things have to go so the new things have a place to be.  And before everyone gets excited about libraries removing old materials, DON’T.  Everything that is old does not go.  You can still checkout Jane Austen and Charles Dickens and early Stephen King.  Things that circulate/that people want to read, stay.  Things that are outdated, such as “DOS for idiots” or the 1959 edition of “What Catholics believe” get removed from public libraries to make way for “iPhone 5 for idiots” and “Downton Abbey.”

Also the more your current book circulates, the more likely your new books will be added without having to use the patron request forms.  (Remember, Darlings, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.  We’re taking the long view of things.)

Now, I’ve been asked to write on libraries and e-books and publishers, oh my, but that’s going to have to wait.  Tina claims I’ve said too much.  (If she wants a shorter entry, she should ask someone else.)  I’ll be standing by for any questions you may have and will try to give correct and easily understandable answers to questions on this topic.

Madame S has worked in and around archives and libraries and library related businesses since 1985.  Well, she started volunteer work in public libraries in 1976 as a junior high student.  (She was recruited and told if she put the catalog cards from various packets into alphabetic order for filing into the library catalog, she could take and read the paperbacks that hadn't been cataloged yet.  So she began her professional life with an understanding of how the backroom works and who you need to make happy in order to get special benefits.  Plus, she got to see all the books that came in before the rest of the patrons.)

 Armed with this information, she misspent her first semi-decade working for library districts, state library networks, large city libraries, small city libraries, a library system software company and book distributor.  She was taken to the library when she was very young and realized she had found heaven on earth.  In 1968, she got her first library card with her name on it and has never looked back.  She continues to ensure any library or library branch she uses has higher circulation statistics than it did before she arrived in the area.


Today we have a special birthday giveaway in honor of this visit to Seekerville by Madame S. We'll be giving away a $15.00 Amazon gift card to one commenter. Winner announced tomorrow in the Weekend Edition.

Check out the Birthday Prizes!


  1. Welcome, Madame S. I have coffee. Black. Just the way you like it and some lovely (your favorite word) croissants!!

  2. Well, Madame S. You are talking about one of my favorite person or online.

  3. Tina brought black coffee. So I guess all I'll bring tonight is creamer and sugar. Got off easy, huh? huh?

    My little library doesn't have a basement--or very many books. Last time I went there looking for research material I came up with zilch.

    No book store here either.
    So Amazon is my friend!


  4. Helen. I am so sorry. Is it a real library?

  5. Helen, Dearest,

    Does your library have a reference desk staffed by librarians? I ask because some reference desks are staffed by well meaning people who are not proficient at research.

    If you talk to a reference librarian, you can get all kinds of useful information.

    - They can point you to websites.

    - They can request that a copy of a book that you want but they don't have be sent to the library for your use. (This is called "Interlibrary loan" and is a very magical phrase. Most libraries don't promote it because once users discover it, they use it.) But if you want to look a book before buying it, this is very helpful.

    Madame S.

  6. The gal I talked to is a retired teacher. She agreed to order a book I was looking for. I plan to check this week and see if she got it.

  7. THAT's a winner!!!!!!

    Er sorry. The Cardinals won game 5 [after being down 4-0 and 6-2 came back with 4 runs in the top of the 9th to win 9-7] over the Nationals and moved on to the NLDS...

    I was supposed to be working on expanding/polishing a synopsis. I got caught up in the comeback.

    Right. Libraries ;).

    I <3 libraries though I don't patronize as often as I should. I take the kids at least weekly during the summer.

    My next door neighbor is the children's librarian at the branch in my town. I've only met her once. Hey - they just moved in like a month ago. I also know several school librarians. Okay. They're elementary, but still.

    I've used the request form a number of times and checked the books out once they arrived. :)

    Thank you so much, Madam S, for your wonderful insight! It is much appreciated!!

    The Amazon card would be too. I'm saving for a new bookcase for my house... ;)

  8. A true story, by Madame S.

    My father and his wife gad about this country and others with abandon, which I can understand as they live in Florida where it is very hot, very humid and the bugs are large enough to be sentient.

    They had a discussion about purchasing a laptop to take on trips because on the last trip they had been discussing "What's the difference between a mesa and a butte?" (I have no idea and I have no idea why it was such a hot topic because they were somewhere flat as I recall...)

    Anyway, I pointed out that they could save themselves a lot of time and money if they just programmed the local library's reference line into the phone and called with these questions during library hours. Libraries are set up to answer these questions for free.

    Their response was that they didn't want to waste anyone's time.

    Now, remember how I wrote about circulation statistics and how libraries live and die by them? Well, the same is true for reference questions. The more questions, the more it shows that people need and use the library.

    I'm just saying this is something you might not have considered.

    Madame S.

  9. Uh... that's the NLCS. This was the NLDS.

    It's late.

    They won.

    That's the important part.

    If they end up facing the Yankees in a couple weeks, things could get ugly 'round here ;).

  10. I spent a fair bit of time in my local history section of my library this summer as I was researching for the historical I'm trying desperately to finish. They were wonderfully helpful. Clari has been there too I believe.

  11. Thanks for the informative post, Madame S. I've always wondered if those who read books they checked out from the library would then buy copies of the ones they liked. I loved learning that many do.

    I was thrilled to see that my local library had a copy of my debut novel. I was even more thrilled to learn that the book was checked out and had a hold from another patron who wanted to read it. Since we have four main branch libraries, I donated three more copies so they can put a copy in each branch. Sure made the librarian smile.

  12. Thanks so much for that great post, Madame S, the library has been one of my fave places to visit since I was a kid :)
    You have sound advice for both writers and readers (I always learn something new in Seekerville), much appreciated!

    Thanks for the coffee and croissants, Tina, good stuff :)
    Have a great weekend and thanks for the giveaway!

  13. Cool! I always wondered why my author friends got excited about their books in libraries.

    Madame S, can you explain about the magazine? I know I had a friend who was thrilled that her upcoming book was listed in some sort of circulation for libraries. As you can tell I have no idea what it is or does.

  14. So don't leave a book by the bathroom sink. Don't harass the librarian about getting your book. I did get two in through the library acquisitions person and tried to get my buds to call in or check it out.

    I have actually been considering doing some work the library. But if they don't take my book...

    I've been noticing more Kindles to check out as well.

  15. Christina,

    I think I understand what you are asking.

    Most libraries, when making purchases, research what books to purchase. In fact, many libraries have policies that they only purchase titles that have been reviewed by known sources. (What this means is, it doesn't matter how many of your friends wrote glowing things on Amazon, Amazon reviews don't count.)

    One journal/magazine is "Library journal" which is, as you might imagine from the title, heavily used by libraries. "Publishers weekly" is also one used. "Kirkus review" is another.

    The first hurdle is getting your book noticed and given to a reviewer. The second is hoping it is a good review.

    The reviews are short but libraries pay attention to them.

    Did this answer the question?

    Madame S.

  16. Tina P., you darling girl,

    Make sure the acquisition librarian continues to think happy thoughts about you.

    Plus, you can always checkout your own book. Just make sure you return it before fines ensue. Most library systems are not setup to retain who checked out the materials once the materials are returned. They just count the number of times something checked out.

    Also, in January I will tell you why you want your library to have a digital copy so Kindle users can checkout your book but you're going to have to wait until then.

    Madame S.

  17. Madame S, you have made me realize I have not been taking proper advantage of our library's reference desk.

    I wonder what impact e readers are having on local libraries...

  18. Hi Madame S! "...I bought 1st printing, autographed copies of new titles but never read those copies." LOL this is SO me I'm so darn picky about my books that I do this and it pains me when somebody asks to borrow my beautiful, like new books. I guess I wouldn't make a good librarian, having to lend out those new books only to get them back with dog ears or stains. :-(

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE my library even though it is teeny tiny and only open for a few hours in the evening. It's part of the school district here so it's not open during school hours. I was the library's biggest fan when I was in school and I remember recommending that the librarian get books from such and such author even at that age so I guess I was helping out some of my fave authors even then without knowing it!

  19. @Keli- I'm one of those library people who discovered a few authors there & later went out and bought, most importantly Jane Austen, the Brontes, & Margaret Mitchell & contemporary writer Ann Rinaldi's books. I was poor so it made more sense for me to try authors first at the library to see if I liked them before I shelled out $15 for a book I might not have liked. I can definitely say that libraries DO work to get author's new fans!

  20. Donna,

    I will have scads to say about libraries and e-books in January. Be sure to come back. Everything is in a state of flux right now so I don't want to say too much because things will change but I will provide a teaser in a bit.

    And I certainly hope that I have inspired people to use the reference desk. Now, that being said, some people at any reference desk will be better than others at reference questions. It's like anything else. Pay attention, remember who you like and you don't think understood your question

    If you live in a large metropolitan area, many public libraries have a reference number/e-mail address. You can call in/e-mail questions. And you get to help with reference stats. It's a win-win situation.

    Madame S.

  21. Renee, Lovey,

    The joy of being a librarian is that your books are safely at home. People are spilling things on the library books. (This is one reason why I read the library copy and not my pristine one. I do try to be careful but I know I've gotten mayo on a corner when turning a page so I'm certainly not sitting in judgement.)

    Thank you so much for adding your story of how reading authors in the library led to purchasing books at a later point. I really do think authors and publishers forget this happens.

    Madame S.

  22. Teaser for Libraries and E-books which is also critical information you will need to know for the end of December.

    I'll explain why this happened in January but you all need to know to be careful in public libraries the week between Christmas and New Years. This used to be one of the most quiet weeks in public libraries but that changes in 2009 and has only gotten worse in 2010 and 2011. Just be forwarned for 2012.

    Lot of people get Kindles, Nooks, and various tablets (iPads, for example) for Christmas and then come to the library to find out how to use them, what books the library has for them, and how to check them out.

    2009 was completely unexpected. 2010 was still a nightmare and some libraries started scheduling extra people in 2011 for this week.

    If you know a public librarian, you can ask them about this week and their experiences but I recommend having tissues available because the ranting that ensues can be so vehement that people forget to swallow as often as they should. I would also recommend that you have an unobstructed path to an exit because some people, in the throws of a flashback, can't stop at ranting and it's best to leave...

    Madame S.

  23. I am looking forward to learning about digital copies, Madame S. Is it January.

    Unfortunately, the library that has my books is back in Colorado. I have to do digital or wait for my Nook On the Manor of the Ghost to release in paperback then I will certainly, use your great info to get it into my local library

  24. interesting post. Here my local library loves donations. any cant use they will sell off cheap. Most of the christian fiction has been donated. Now most of my books go to the church library but any doubles go to the town library.

  25. Jenny,

    It's lovely that your library will add donations to the collection and that you know this. For most public libraries, donations end up in book sales or as give aways.

    Madame S.

  26. That was supposed to say book In the Manor of the Ghost . Big fingers little keyboard.

  27. Madam S,
    I heard somewhere that the more lending a library does, the more favorable their budgets are in the future. Is that accurate?

    And I absolutely love my local library. But I have to tell a super embarrassing thing that happened. I was working here at my desk one night and got this fantastic, amazing idea to have redbox but for books instead of DVDs and I was feeling so entrepreneurial when all of a sudden some other part of my brain finally fired and said... "They already have those, genius. They're called libraries."

    At least I'm pretty. :-p

  28. By the way, my library (SUPER SHOUT OUT TO Houston Public Libraries - Looscan Branch) also loans e-books. I had to download the adobe program for them but I LOVE being able to log-in in the middle of the night like right now and check out an e-book and start reading it in minutes. And I don't know how "it" knows, LOL, but after fourteen days, the cover disappears and a little banner says "This title has expired" from my Adobe library on the computer.

  29. 2 things
    1) Calling off the flash mob, darn it, I'm losing my deposit, too.
    2) I'm awake and I'm not happy about it. 2:46 am BOO!!!

  30. Dearest, Dearest Nancy,

    Generally, the more lending a library does, the better the CHANCES for funding. Here is the reason I say this.

    If a library is part of a library district, the funding tends to be more stable but that doesn't mean that the funding increases. (Most libraries districts are funded by local property taxes. If the property values go up, so does the budget. If the values go down, so does the budget.

    Libraries funded by counties and cities have to fight for their budgets with the fire department, police department, animal control, etc.

    During these periods, people start looking at what they can eliminate from their own budgets and often they turn to the library for DVDs, books, etc.

    So libraries can have high circulation statistics and low funding during tought economic times. It's not a case of not wanting to increase funding to libraries that are circulating a lot. It's more that you can't get blood from a stone.

    And, in preparation for January, I too love checking out e-books at my library. Especially in the middle of the night. The only thing about Adobe is that you can't "return" the book early. It stays "checked out" to you for those 14 days. With the Kindle, I can return e-books early if I finish quickly.

    And not to worry about your entrepreneurial spirit. You were obviously onto a good idea. And, trust me on this, many people would not have realized that it had already been invented and implemented.

    Madame S.

  31. Madame S, I think it may be different in Australia. They welcome donations. At one stage they gave me the barcodes to add to the books I was going to donate to save them some time and even gave me the covering to cover them. Without the donations there would be little to no Christian fiction and the borrowers love it cos its clean reads.
    They were so helpful when I was starting up the church one.

    Mary welcome to my world of not sleeping. I would give almost anything for a good night sleep from say 10pm to 6am even without waking up once. Hey midnight to 6 would work. this waking at 4.30am after hardly sleeping is getting old fast.

    On a plus I feel much better than I did this morning. God provided just the right person for me today.

  32. Great information here. I don't have a physical book to put on a shelf yet, but I'm going to pass this on to some of my critique partners who do. While everyone's dreaming of seeing their books on the Barnes and Noble book shelf, I've always thought it'd be nice to see mine at the library. That's where I got my books when I was a kid and that's where I decided that being an author would be the coolest job in the world.

    My local RWA chapter is having a full day conference today (which is why I'm up at 4:00). I will be learning about The Book That Writes Itself. If the books actually wrote themselves I'd get alot more sleep :)

  33. Since I live out in the boonies, I was thrilled when a little branch library opened several years. My librarians are wonderful! They both go out of their way to see that patrons are getting the books they want. I've even had them hold a book for me that I didn't ask for, just because they know I would enjoy reading it :) Needless to say, I ♥ our library!

  34. Thank you Madame S for reminding me about the wonderful place known as the Library. You made the statement, "One of the best ways to get to the people who buy books is to get your books into the library. Libraries are your friends." I SOOOOO agree. I developed a love for reading at a very young age. When I got into my 30's I became so busy with life that reading was put on the back burner. About 4 years ago I heard Colleen Coble speaking in a radio interview about her books and that very day I entered our local library and I became hooked on reading all over again.

    When I stepped into our beautiful library I remembered how much I love the smell of a library. You just don't get the smell in a bookstore.

    May you all have a blessed day!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.


  35. Welcome to Seekerville, Madame S.

    I've spent hours at the library. No matter what town I've lived in, I've loved my library.

    I took my boys to the library when they were growing up, and now my 2 year old granddaughter goes to Story time every week.

    Thanks for stopping by.

    Jackie L.

  36. Good morning Ladies, I like to go to libraries but never knew there was so much to learn, thanks for the post today...
    Ours has books sales during the year and I think this is where the donated books are.
    I have asked for books before that werent there and filled out form to request they get for their library...
    enjoy your weekend girls.
    Paula O

  37. Ah, "S"...

    Welcome back.

    Wise words. We were assured of such by "T".

    And black coffee... with Helen's creamers.

    I love libraries. And I love Ben Franklin. Smart guy.

    My one sadness is our local library closes on Saturdays in the summer. I will never understand this from a patron POV.

    From a STAFF POV, I get it. Summer weekends off.

    But with so many single parent or working parents households, Saturdays are one of the only times those folks can have a library day with their kids. And if you're thinking "Ruthy, surely they can go in the evening" we're in the north so if you want your kid to have a chance to play baseball, football, soccer, etc., those weekday evenings disappear until 8:00 PM...

    Library closing time.

    And most kids don't want to go to the library all muddy and yucky anyway, right?

    "S". You are a treasure trove of information.

    A veritable insider-trading guru of the Dewey Decimal System.

    (I saw a mini-version of this on Super Why!)

    I am clearly grasping all educational opportunities life offers, right!!!!

    Hey. Croissants. Choice of fillings? How about custard with fresh strawberries and whipped cream????

    Oh, yes.

    It's Saturday! Time to be BOLD. :)

  38. I wondered about how the library works. Just the other day, I went to the library to ask if they accepted donations. (I want to donate the books I've won.) You should've seen the excitement from the librarian. She was beaming!

  39. Carol...

    Let the games begin! :)

    We have to get through that amazing triple crown Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers first....

    And I loved the Yankees win but hated the Orioles' loss.

    I am a sap.

  40. Oh.


    These poor people.

    Life isn't fair.

  41. Oh, Madame S. Thank you from all my librarian friends for this marvelous post.

    I must give a shout out to our libraries in our area. They put up with all the DON'Ts you mention and still happily host book-signings for a lot of the romance writers in our area. They publicize the signings and wax poetic about the authors.

    I.E. They encourage people to BUY an author's books. It's free publicity. Good publicity!

    Can we give a shout out to our librarians who do this on top of all the other work they do for a salary that might amount to coins in the hand?

    Thanks again, Madame S!

    Peace, Julie

  42. Many of the public libraries around me are in in conjunction with the school library.

    I have always thought this is a great outlet for our books, but some authors feel very strong about libraries being a waste of time for authors...I so don't get that.

    This year, I spoke at two libraries. A small one with Mary Coneally that gave us a thank you gift and let us sell author copies. We had about 35 people in attendence. That's 35 people that not only learned about our books, but inspirational fiction in general!

    The second one was the main library in Sioux Falls. They had lots of rules, the speaker couldn't be paid, I couldn't sell my books but I could promote them. Over 50 people showed up at that speaking engagement, including three men! I donated two books to the library and the librarian told me patrons had been asking for me books after seeing their advertising of the speaking engagement (BTW-The library REALLY advertised!) Three days later the Christian Book store in the area was sold out of all of their copies of my books, which resulted in more sales for me because they had to order more stock!

    So, libraries CAN result in sales...Madame S is right, they are your friend!

  43. If one happens to live in a smaller town, definitely ask about a "local authors" section. Our library has one and they promote a book a month, display it and often offer it for sale. (oh, the glories of small towns!)

  44. Thanks for a great post, Madame S.
    I learned a lot (as a reader)!

    I live in the "country" and use two small public libraries. One of them allows 1 week to read a NEW book; the other one won't hold a new book for me until it is 6 months old. ? I love the librarians and donate lots of books to them. I also donate to my church library.

    Please enter me in the drawing!

    Jackie S.

  45. Libraries: One of my favorite subjects! Thanks, Madame S! They are my bread and butter. Literally. :-)

    I started out in a public library that served a city of 16,000+, now I work in a library that serves a county of 16,000. But although it is a small town library, we have a decent budget and a very nice collection of books. And that's a quote from patrons who've moved from larger libraries.

    My library loves donations of new books that we don't own, especially inspirational fiction. (We also appreciate being asked before someone dumps several boxes of books on our front desk.)

    We host book signings a couple times a year and allow the author to sell their books as well as purchase one for our collection.

    I love the less-rigid structure and friendliness of a small town library. We know the majority of our patrons by name and don't even need their card for check-out; we know what they like and will often call them to ask if they want the new book that just came in, even when they haven't requested it.

    It's fun to visit big city libraries, but small-town libraries are the best. Of course, I might be just a wee bit prejudice.

  46. I am a baby library afficionado compared to Madame S, but this is true, true, true!

    9.How do I keep a copy on the shelf of the library?

    Check out the book. That’s it. Check it out.

    Speaking with my librarian friend the other day, she lamented about patrons not checking out books.

    Libraries live and die on book circulation.

    Do your part to keep libraries alive and well.

  47. Helen, I love little hole-in-the-wall libraries and bookstores. Yes, there is a drawback though, but the atmosphere is so compelling.

    Contrary to the mega-libraries, maybe authors can send you books to donate to your library???

  48. Madame S...i really enjoyed your post and you are right on (as if you ever wondered). i am one of those that loves the library to find new authors. i am a self proclaimed readaholic, and there is no way i have the funds to buy all the books i read. But, i blog about the books i read, whether i bought them or borrow them from the library or get them from the author or publisher. Its all the same to me. Shannon Taylor Vannatter has kindly sent me her LI novels to read and review. You can read my reviews

    Thanks for the giveaway

  49. I got my library card when I was 5-6. I don't think they'd give one before then. We went as least once a week. We were limited on how many books we could check out (2, I think), but there were 5 us, me & my brother, and our 3 cousins.

    That's 10 books.

    The other 4 weren't the voracious reader I was, but I made sure they maxed out their quota each week, and I promised to make sure I returned their book the next week! lol

    PS. I need a glutten free recipe book. Just sayin'

  50. Madame S, this post is so timely for me. I need to frequent the library more, and check on when the Friends of the Library meet.

    And speaking of ereaders and ebooks. I have 2 wonderful small libraries near me. The extra small one just renovated this past year. I heard that they have an ereader for loan! Amazing!

    The other, larger library says they don't have one. At least they didn't the last time I checked.

  51. Julie Hilton Steele...the librarians I know make big bucks. That must be only Littleton, CO.

  52. Great info, Madame S!

    I practically lived in my small city library growing up, and did hard time "reading shelves" at another for a Girl Scout service project. Now I use tiny rural libraries. My two writers groups meet at two of them.

    Mme. S, your parents remind me of an old Firesign Theater routine:
    "That's not a mound, it's a butte."
    "A right purty one, too."

    heh, heh...

  53. Thank you Madame S! And kudos to our revered Librarians and libraries. I can't tell you how many times they've pulled me from the research abyss. I've always found my library to be a place where I have ultimate concentration. There's just something about being surrounded by a room full of books. :)

  54. Welcome, Madame S! Such an informative post today and I do appreciate your taking time to be with us. Libraries have always held a special place in my heart, as I have very fond memories of my precious Mother taking me to our tiny (at that time) library near the Atlanta Airport. ~ One of my dreams has always been to have a designated "Library" room in my home--nothing but books, a comfy chair, and of course my cats would be allowed to relax in there whenever they wanted. (ooops! I've digressed from today's real topic--my apologies). Anyway, thank you again for sharing this wealth of information (including advice!) with us today. Please enjoy the "Lovely" *wink* Georgia Peach Pie I've just taken out of the oven. Blessings, Patti Jo

  55. Wow! This was a super informative post. I've been trying to figure out how to use my tenuous connections at my library, and now I know how (and more importantly, how NOT to). Thanks!

  56. My lovely niece is working as a librarian. She's actually working at two different libraries in order to make it a full time job, but she adores her work.

    Our local branch of the public library just underwent a multi-year renovation and re-opened this month. I haven't made it there yet, but I hear the architectural renovation is spectacular and they installed iPads in the children's section.

  57. Wow, I have a much better understanding of libraries now! Thank you, Madame S. So enlightneing!

    My mom was an avid reader. She took us girls to the library often. I remember checking out stacks of books from the little brick building on 46th street. I fell in love with reading because of the library and my mother's example.

    It's so interesting to get the insider's view of the library, especiall as a writer. Thanks!

  58. Welcome, Madame S! I LOVE this post. You always make me laugh as well as learn. I have a feeling I'd love having you as a friend. However, unless Tina lets you come out of hiding, I'll have to settle for enjoying posts Tina wrangles out of you. :)

    Okay, here's where I admit I committed one of the major no-no's. I dropped by and donated two copies of my first book! Ack. I had no idea. I probably put the poor librarians in a terrible position. However, I'll have to comfort myself with the fact our library keeps paperbacks on a rack for people to take and bring back on the honor system. At least they did back then.

  59. Interesting article. Maybe I should look into volunteering at the library again. Just my thing.

  60. Darlings,

    So sorry to be sleeping. Plus, the long post I wrote went sliding into the ether so I’m trying again. (Such is life.) And it won't take this post so I'll break it up...

    Certainly donate books. But don’t ask what happens to the books. You have no control after you donate them. And do follow the rules for donating/procedures for donating. (Where to leave them, how many can be donated at any one time, etc.) Missy, you did just fine. It doesn't sound like you went back the next week and asked where the books you donated were. That's the big no-no.

    Madame S.

  61. Well, this is a topic dear to my heart, though I'm a bit crushed by the no flash mob comment. Wouldn't that be a grand way to welcome the new Pigeon book at Christmas in a children's department of the public library? :-)

    I'm a library technician at a school board and a college. I don't think you have library techs in the U.S. It's a college diploma as opposed to a university degree. Librarians (Master of Library Science) get the big bucks jobs and tend to be management. Library Technicians come way below them on the pay grade and we do pretty much everything in a library including management if it's a small library setting. Like at my schools I'm it so I get to make the decisions on what to buy. Alas I don't get to make the decisions on how much funding I get. :-(

    I've been recommending Christian Fiction at my public library for a couple of years now. So far they have bought every book I asked them to. I used to keep my own stats on them -- to see how much they got signed out and lo and behold they're almost always signed out and many are on hold. Plus I discovered that the library has put some of the authors on their automatic buy lists! Whooohoooo. And, I'm pleased to say they also have started to buy multiple copies of the books instead of just one like they did in the beginning when they weren't sure that their patrons would go for this whole Christian Fiction genre. :-)

  62. Jenny,

    I know nothing about Australian funding of public libraries and I thank you for your insight.


    I suspect the lack of summer Saturday hours is due to the fact “that they’ve always done it this way” but I’m also sure that it’s based on staffing hours. I’m sure the idea, at some point, was that the library could fund some Saturday hours but not all Saturday hours.

    Now, the needs of the library users may have changed but the hours have not. You can always ask the library board about this. The thing to keep in mind if that if Saturday hours are extended, what are you willing to give up to have them? Fewer books? Fewer hours opened during the week? Also, what is the electric bill like in the summer? Because running the air conditioner longer is going to cost more and that’s got to be included in the decision. And a custodian is going to be needed for clean up…

    It sounds simple but opening a library on a day when it has been closed requires a lot of funding and decisions.

    Madame S.


  63. Jackie S.,

    You’re finding yourself in the middle of two library philosophies of books and patrons and library funding. We’ll do library funding first.

    Because the demand for new books is great but the budget is small, the library has said that new books can only be checked out for a week. This is because there are a lot of people waiting to read the book and if you can’t commit to finishing in a week, wait to check it out later. I’m not saying this is a perfect solution but I’m trying to let you know the reason behind it.

    The other library not allowing holds on new books is the other side of the coin. In libraries there’s the group of patron who know a title is due, track the title in the catalog, put a hold on the title, and read it as soon as they get it. Even in large library systems, books can have such long hold lists that they are not on the shelves for weeks/month. (I’m not joking about months.) So people who walk into libraries and expect to find popular new books on the shelves complain, “Why doesn’t this library ever have anything new on the shelves?” So the other library is trying to accommodate these users.

    My library tries to play both ends against the middle and it splits large orders where half the books can be on the holds list and half sit in the new books area for checkout. (And as a person who is always at the patron hold limit, which my library also has, I cannot tell you how much it annoys me that all copies aren’t available for holds. But if this is one of my biggest complaints, how lucky am I?) Generally the group that yells the loudest is the one a library will try to accommodate.

    Madame X.

  64. Rose,

    You illustrated perfectly my advice about offering to speak at libraries. And while some may send thank you gifts and others cannot, your books sold well in either case.

    Libraries may be happy to hosts signing but not all libraries are going to be able to allow you to sell your books at the library. (It will depend on the district/county/city rules.) The rules will vary but don’t argue with the rules. If you don’t like the rules, find out from where the rules come, make an appointment to talk to whomever and see if something can be changed. But much of this is going to involve a city or county attorney.


    Don’t confuse e-books with e-readers. Most libraries are going to stay out of buying e-readers for patrons. (Some will. Some libraries, back in the 1980s, had VCRs to check out so patrons could watch the videos. But it’s expensive when they don’t come back and trying to keep everything in working order is time consuming and a delicate process for library/patron interaction.)

    Tina and I worked at a library in 2002 where e-readers were purchased and loaded with books for checkout. The e-reader company went out of business and the library ended up with expensive paperweights.

    Could the person nearest Tina slap her has gently or hard as you feel needed? I think she’s in some type of fugue state. Or trying to annoy me. You’d think she’d know better.

    Madame S.

  65. Thanks for telling us what we need to know about the library and getting books we want.

    luvsherfam @ gmail dot com

  66. Madame S, I'm curious, if a person renews a checked-out item, how does that affect the stats for that book?

  67. MARY and JENNY BLAKE--I am so sorry you're having trouble sleeping. I've been there, done that. I had a time in my life where I slept between 2 and 5 hours a night. I'll pray for you both.

  68. Ahhh, Ruthy, croissants. When you offered fillings, I immediately thought of chocolate.

    Okay, I was going to try to "bold" chocolate. I must not have the knack for it. Sigh.

  69. Kav,

    You are clever and illustrate beautifully how recommendations can grow. You had your pulse on the readers before the librarians did. As you all know, there are new genres and a lot of cross genre books available. So Christian fiction circulates but what about Christian romances? These are the kinds of questions librarians have to consider. Librarians are always looking for what the public wants. And when the public shows it wants something, librarian move those authors to the automatic purchase lists.

    Darlings, from Kav’s e-mail you can see the importance of recommending titles to your libraries and where it can lead.


    The job you are describing is what is known in the States as a paraprofessional position. It’s the backbone of libraries in the States too.

    And it sounds like you too have to make the hard decisions about what does and doesn’t get purchased for your library.

    Madame S.

  70. Jeanne T.,

    No two libraries do stats the same way. (Everyone thinks they do but when you get into the nuts and bolts, no one does.) I write this because you asked a simple question and the answer is not.

    For some libraries, renewals count as another circulation. For other libraries, renewals are separate from checkouts.

    What I mean is that for some libraries, you check out the book and it has 3 renewals available. If you renew three times, this library counts this as 4 checkouts. (The original checkout plus the 3 renewals.)

    Other libraries are going to count one checkout and 3 renewals and pay attention to the renewals from the checkouts because the renewals didn't cause a clerk to get the book from the return bin, check it in, sort it onto the right cart, and wheel the cart out for the book to go back on the shelf. Renewals vs. checkouts have an impact on staffing.

    But the renewal will get counted somewhere.

    Does that help?

    Madame S.

  71. I am a recently retired librarian, and I will say that all libraries operate differently. If you want to know how your local library operates, get to know the people who run it--not the people at the circulation desk, but the ones in management.

    From my own experience, we welcomed authors. We appreciated them donating a copy of their book. We appreciated their eagerness to do a program ... so long as you are not an independently published author.

    Self-published books are still something that most libraries will not carry, unless the author is local, and we do it only for public relations purposes. I.e. keep the local person happy. The book's shelf life might in that case be severely limited.

    Libraries have big book budgets to purchase practically everything that traditional publishers put out. We like that books have been vetted by reliable publishers. Shelf space is limited. We cannot allow self-published books to crowd out traditionally published books, which are in almost all cases vastly superior in quality.

    Did our library purchase romance? Absolutely. Collection development decisions are based on readership, and romance always, everywhere, has a great readership.

  72. Well,Madame S...aren't you just doing a lovely job of entertaining everyone.

    I brought a fresh platter of pastries from a delightful London bakery and have Earl Grey brewing.

    Today is my PRETEND I AM BRITISH DAY and I intend to watch Becoming Jane numerous times while affecting a Jane accent.

  73. And on a less British note-

    what is the difference between the 13 and 10 ISBN?

    Is anything really happening with it? As in, they (LIBRARY OF CONGRESS) started the whole trouble making 13 digit mess. But really, do we need it? WHY??????

  74. Speaking of the whole ISBN it possible that two books can have the same ISBN.

    My head says NO!!! Unequivocally.

    But, alas, they appear on Amazon.

    What do you do if it happens to YOU???

    Inquiring authors want to know.

  75. Tina, Dearest, as long as you know it's your PRETEND being British day, that is fine. And your British accent is fine in e-mail, I'm sure.

    It's when you start demanding crumpets but can't explain what one is that you've gone just bit too far...

    Madame S.

  76. Oh ye Gads!

    Tina, Tina, Tina.

    ISBN numbers are assigned by publishers. (Some self-published authors have been known to invent them but that's different.)

    A publisher will, for whatever its sad and misguided reason, assign the same ISBN to different titles. (Generally after the first title has gone out of print.) This causes problems for libraries, bookstores, book distributors, and Amazon. But the publishers do it anyway.

    The 10 to 13 digit ISBN shift had NOTHING TO DO WITH THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS. (Honestly. We've had this discussion before.)

    It had to do with international standards. (ISBN = International Standard Book Number.)

    The 13 digit number is known as an EAN. (It originally stood for European Article Number. It's still called EAN but means International Article Number. Don't ask me why. Just nod.) It's actually based on the Universal Product Code, which has 12 digits.

    Why are you bringing this up?

    Madame S.

  77. Darlings,

    I'll be away for a few hours.

    Someone keep an eye on Tina. Don't try to restrain her, just make sure she's safe and not harming others...

    Madame S.

  78., if you don't mind (there's a lunch date with me in this for you of course!) would you mind explaining the phenomena called INTER LIBRARY LOAN and if any merits it has for authors and readers.

  79. I mention the ISBN thingie as an author I know has been assigned a number...well her book really...and on Amazon the number belongs to another book.

    Forgive me. I have been out of the library business for six years. I did a brain dump recently and some of the library trivia slipped out.

  80. Yes, I'll explain ILL when I return. Start saving your money. I know where you're taking me for lunch and it's very nice. I'll pay for parking. It's the very least I can do.

    Madame S.

  81. While S is away...let's all talk British.

    I am Ann Hathaway in Becoming Jane.

    Becoming Jane

  82. Love the library, it's one of our favorite places. My kids were so excited when they turned ten and old enough to get their own library card.

  83. I was skimming, since I've worked in libraries for 20 years...

    But did you mention 'local author' areas? Most libraries have a small section that touts local authors or people who are from the town.

    My library doesn't carry mass market paperbacks like Harlequin, but they did agree to put mine in the local author section upstairs (next to the genealogy section... huh).

    I'll take it!

  84. Helen, is it connected to an interlibrary loan system? We have a nice library but it's also connected to 28 other Oregon libraries. yee-haw!

  85. It may sound oretenttious of me but I am the exact replication of Emma, as portrayed by Pepper Potts.

    I don't know that I can abide crumpets, or perhaps I can but I do enjoy a cucumber sandwich. And every so often I may inclined to taste bubbles and squeak.

    I am not to be believed on the the latest matter.

  86. Wonderful informative post, Madame S! And done with such style. I love your hat! Where do you shop?

    We have a fabulous library system here that carries the LI lines so naturally I'm thrilled. As you mentioned patrons can ask to have a book ordered and last I knew the library will order it automatically. Amazing. The main library hosts an annual local author event with panels. Excellent support for writers.

    Thanks, Tina, for coerc--inviting Madame S today.


  87. Alas I meant to say pretentious, must blame the fingers on the wee keyboard again. Technology can be so wonderful and awful in the same vein.

  88. Virginia, I'm not sure if they're connected or not. I confess I don't go down there real often like I used to.

  89. You do resemble Emma, Pinson.

    Shall we share a cool cuc sandwich?


  90. Ooohhhhhhh - Interlibrary loans. I have a prime example of how they can benefit an author (though I likely shouldn't confess this.)

    First, an interlibrary loan is when your branch brings in a book from another library because it doesn't have a copy. These days they can be pretty sly about not offering up that info (at least up here) but if you ask them they have to do it for you and it's freeeeee!(to you, not the library.)

    So I set up a Mary Connealy blitz of requests and yes, I played the system because I know how it works.

    My library won't accept book requests (to purchase) with a copyright date greater than a year. In other words, they'll only buy current. But Mary had a slew of books out before I started my Christian Fiction purchase requests at my library so I got to thinking about how I could get them to buy the older ones still in print.

    That's where Interlibrary Loans came in. I kept making ILL requests for Mary's older books, knowing full well that in this modern age all those requests would be documented in a stats report at the end of each month and it's somebody's job to assess those stats. Since ILLs cost the borrowing branch money, they will look at the trends and may just decide to purchase frequently requested authors, subjects or titles. Which is exactly what they did. :-) Please don't sic the library police after me!

  91. KAV!!!! YOU ARE A BLOOMING GENIUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  92. Good advice!! I love birthday parties-Happy Birthday!!!


  93. Madame S, thank you! No, I never asked about them again. I'm thankful I didn't! :)

  94. Definitely agree with Madame S.'s comments: "You are developing core readers when your books are in libraries. It leads to people reading this book, deciding they love your book, and then looking for more of your books or authors like you." I know this post wasn't directed towards e-books but I have recently discovered numerous Christian authors through my library's Overdrive e-book loaning system that I otherwise may not have. Seeker Mary Connealy was one of the authors I was super happy to discover!

    jswaks at gmail dot com

  95. Kav, bless you for working the system! (Does that sound bad to say that???)


  96. Good morning, Madame S! (Or at least it's still morning here in the West.) Such wonderful information. Thank you! I was a library dweller from my earliest childhood, so naturally my life-long dream has been to see my books checked out from a libary and carried home in eager readers' arms. Alas, my own Love Inspired books only appear in mass market paperback. :(

  97. Hi Tina:

    Okay. I’ll be Jim Sturgess in One Day. Ann Hathaway is Emma. After Ann became Jane she wrote Emma. I think we should speak BBC English because the Brits have too many accents that are almost unintelligible even tp other Brits.

    BTW: I've been at the library all morning.


  98. Brilliant excuse, Vince. The library. Putting that in my great excuses file.

    I own the book One Day and need to read it. Did you like the movie?

  99. Madame S said: Don’t confuse e-books with e-readers. Most libraries are going to stay out of buying e-readers for patrons

    That's what I thought, but she said they had a Kindle that people could check out. I haven't seen it myself. Even if they did, it's probably LONG gone by now! lol

  100. Dear Madame S, I am still confused about the 10 and 13 digit ISBNs. The official website has a converter, and when you enter the 13-digit # to convert to 10 digits, there is a slight variance.

    I know because I have used it on several different books.

    And my latest ISBN still brings up a very old different book (not mine!!!!) no matter if I use the 10 digits or the 13.

  101. Madame S,

    Thank you for your post today. Libraries and Librarians are wonderful and have long been a hangout place of mine since childhood. My local branch knows me and will order things on request for me. I know that ILL is an expense, and I try not to bother them with a request unless I can't get it from my college library, but if that happens, they are very accomodating. I love the library!


  102. One of our local libraries are open for three hours on Sunday. I think that is wonderful of them!!

  103. How delightful to come across this informative post about the library system! Madame S, we must get together for tea one day soon. I would dearly love to know the name of your milliner.

    In the meantime, your friends here should be aware that the library is an excellent source for grammar reference books. They may want to study before my next quiz.

  104. OH NO! Madame S meets the Grammar Queen.

    If we get Captain Jack we could have an All Star Panel for writer's reality show.

    I'm thinking.I'm thinking.

    Maybe in March to kick off our Second Annual Speedbo Book in a Month Challenge.

  105. Surely, dear Tina, you could come up with a more refined and elegant guest than Captain Jack.

  106. He slipped me gold coins under the table.

    Yes. I can be bought.

    On the other hand, you should consider that a compliment.

  107. If memory serves, you once had that divinely handsome Orlando popping in at Seekerville from time to time. What happened to him, anyway?

  108. KAV!!!!!!!! Good work!
    Maybe we need a whole blog post on this. (or are we supposed to be sneaky???)

    :D Thanks sweetie. God bless you. And they SHOULD have my older books. C'mon!!!!

  109. Madame S,
    Such a treat to read your post today. Special thanks!

    I was also a lover of libraries. Then, I starting buying books...lots of books written by friends I love to support. I hate to admit that I stopped going to the library.

    You've reminded me of how wonderful libraries are and my need to return.

    So, I should donate books? At least offer to have a workshop, right?

    Have your seen Romance Sells, sponsored by RWA? It's supposed to be sent to libraries. Authors buy a page of promo featuring their book covers, reviews, contest wins, etc.

    What do you think, Madame? Is Romance Sells a viable marketing tool for authors?

  110. Kav, that's exactly how ours works, too.

    I read one Alan Bradley book and wanted the others. I ordered them from ILL, and after my friend read one of my own copies she ordered them, too.
    By the time the third person ordered them from ILL, our library ahd decided they better get their own copies of that series. :D

  111. Read through all the comments.

    So sorry dear Madam S but this is what jumped out at me:

    Second Annual Speedbo


  112. [I do know my library takes donations though I don't know what they do with them - I've seen someone drop them off before.]

  113. Tina R, we live in a land of budget cuts where librarians have to go to bat for buying more books and are willing to have their salaries cut for the privilege!

    Peace, Julie

  114. Darlings, I'm back.

    Kav, you are a marvel. How perfect you worked things.

    A quick overview of Inter-Library Loan. (ILL for the next few posts.)

    There are a few variations of this.

    1) You use a multi-library system or your library has a lot of branches. If the branch you use doesn't have a copy of what you want but another branch does, you can request a copy be sent to you. (Patron holds.)

    2) Your library is a part of a consortium or is in a state with an active State Library that has created a state consortium. In these cases, you may be able to search the consortium database and make your own request for a copy to come to you.

    3) ILL from outside your library/state/consortium.

    This is the one that libraries have done for over 100 years but no one talks about because it's always heavily used, expensive and labor intensive.

    Let me send off this posting before it chokes again.

    Madame S

  115. Our friend ILL - pt. 2

    Back in the days prior to automation, there was a publication called in the US called "National Union Catalog" and libraries could send lists of titles that they owned every year. It would get compiled and published and was always about 2 years behind. It was mostly used in universities or very large public libraries because it was expensive to maintain. (Keep buying copies.)

    Some State Libraries/Regional libraries tried asking libraries for a copy of new library card to file in a massive card catalog with the idea being that librarians would send the requests for materials to these State Libraries/Regional libraries who would look through the catalog to see if a library owned a copy and then send a written request via snail mail to that library. The problem there wasn't that no one participated. The problem was that everyone loved the idea and the groups couldn't keep up with filing the cards. (No. I'm not kidding.)

    With automation, there came groups that setup shared catalog systems. Cataloging is expensive so you would use a record some other library created, edit it for your library and load it into your system or get a set of library cards printed to file in your catalog. With this, librarians could see who had a copy of a title they wanted to borrow.

    The automation systems, being no fools, figured out that they could add the ability for ILL to be automated. You didn't have to write and mail a letter. You send a request via the automated system.

    It was about this time that ILL went from being something that scholars primarily did to something that everyone who was trying to read that title in the middle of the series that they could never find, could find it.

    And ILL really took off in libraries.

    Madame S.

  116. Hi Tina

    Ann Hathaway was the best thing about ”One Day”. The movie failed because Ann was too beautiful and there really was never a good reason why the hero didn’t marry her from the start. The conflict did not make any sense in the movie but it might in the book. The book was an international best seller so I’m sure the book is better.

    I called the library first thing this morning and here’s how they answered the phone: “Good morning, Mr. Mooney, how are you doing this morning?” That’s agreat use of Caller ID. Now I just wish I knew the names of the people who make the calls. I’d say, “Hi, Tina, I’m doing great."


  117. ILL part 3

    As libraries started sending off requests, they also found themselves getting hit with a lot of requests. Looking for and requesting titles takes staff and time and automation. Filling requests takes staff, time, automation, mailing supplies and postage.

    In short, it's expensive.

    But it's cheaper than buying the book for one person. But the same book for more than one it's cheaper to buy, catalog and process the effing thing than to use ILL.

    Most libraries don't loan everything they have. (Reference works, special collections, books that are six months old, maybe DVDs, maybe CDS. But they will have a written policy.)

    There's a whole different world that involves magazine articles/serials. I can't write on that without a lot of mimosas to limit the amount of twitching it brings back to me. (Real mimosas. Not these virtual ones Tina keeps offering.)

    Madame S.

  118. Hi Madam S.:

    Great post! I’ve read every word and I have a few questions:

    When eBook readers get down in price to $5 to $10, and everyone has one, do you think libraries will still be a friend to writers? If you can get a book any time from where you happen to be, why buy the book? (You can get it again when you need it.) BTW: I can tell you of three books I would have bought if they were not available at the library for the Kindle. I mean, I had to go to Amazon anyway to download my library loan so why buy it?

    Also, when everyone has an eBook reader do you think physical libraries will survive? In essence, you only need one library with a powerful server. (When eBook readers are cheaper than books, most books will not be printed anyway.)

    Are you doing anything (outreach) to educate readers that it is okay to get your favorite author’s books from the library? I know better but I still feel guilty. I think fans would use the library more often if they knew it actually helped the author. (For now, that is.)

    I’ve requested eight Seeker books and the library has purchased every one of them. That’s eight for eight. How can I tell if they did this at my request or if they would have bought the books any way? Should authors have a 'check your library' section on their websites? Every fan town should have a copy.

    I must say that after a full week of people who could not write a post under 3,000 words (including me), you have been a joy! : )


    P.S. Does your ‘S’ stand for something or are you like Harry Truman whose ‘S’ didn’t stand for anything?

  119. Our friend, ILL - pt. 4

    Find out how your library does ILL requests. This is another place where no two libraries will do it the same way.

    But find out all the rules first. For example, my library will only let me have 30 ILL requests a year. (And some of those may not get filled if the materials aren't available at the loaning library when the request is made. Or I may have asked too soon for a new book.) You don't want to use all your ILLs at one time.

    Also, some libraries will charge for ILL. They might charge for posting or a flat fee. Find out before you learn you spent the rent money on requests.

    Does that help?

    Tina, did this address what you wanted addressed?

    Madame S.

  120. "Imust say that after a full week of people who could not write a post under 3,000 words (including me), you have been a joy! : )


    We did have a string of talkers this week,didn't we. Well next week is shorter. Promise.

  121. Vince, Darling so wonderful to hear/read from you,

    As always, the "S" stands for "*hit! I said I'd do what? By when?"

    A few things about e-books and e-readers from a historical perspective.

    Back in the dark ages of automation (1985) I worked for the National Archives in Washington, D.C. And I remember sitting in formal and informal gatherings with scholars who said, "With CD-ROMs, archives will no longer exist physically in the next 20 years."

    Microfilm, cd-roms, digital copies have not replaced archives.

    MP3 did not cause physical forms of recorded music to disappear. (Yes, LPs are mostly gone, cassettes are only made by individuals with the equipment, and CDs sell less than they used to but recorded music still exists. Musicians still make a living being musicians.

    Music stores don't exist the way they did. Many musicians sell directly on the internet. So the business changed but there are still companies, such as Sony, who sign, produce and market music.

    Music is in better shape because it has a standard format. MP3. E-books are still all over the place.

    There may be fewer physical books, but physical books are not going to disappear. Libraries are not going to disappear any time soon either.

    You asked how to know if your request led to the purchase of the materials for your local library. My question is, "Does it matter?" You, and your author friends, want each book in the library and each book is in the library.

    It's a win. Does it matter how? My advice would be not to ask. If you do, someone is going to start paying attention. And once people start paying attention, policies get written. Such as limit to how many requests for purchase you can make. (Some libraries have this.)

    Only make purchase request from libraries where you have a library card. Otherwise, you peeve the librarians having to respond to the request. And you and the author become "Authors we don't buy until they hit the NYT best sellers list." You don't want this type of name recognition.

    Madame S

  122. Well, Darlings,

    I popped into a library to enjoy their fine wi-fi and pick up my holds. The library will be closing soon and I need to pack up, get my holds, and check out.

    I'll be checking back this evening if you have more questions or schemes. (I love schemes. They're delicious.)

    Madame S.

    P.S. Tina, we'll be dining at Ellyngton's. Lunch is from 11:30-2:00 M-F. Start making plans. I will be having creme brulee for dessert. I haven't decided on my entree. Or we can have tea but lunch will be less expensive. (Tea is from 12:00-4:00 in the atrium.) Again, make plans and start saving your money.

    Madame S

  123. Madame S has an amazing amount of valuable knowledge. Thank you so much for coming today and please make a return visit. Give my regards to Tina who is a fabulous writer!!!

  124. LOL Madame S! I'm sure I've gotten some mayo or ranch on a book or two in the past. When you're a fan of books AND food it's hard to keep them separate. :-P

  125. This comment has been removed by the author.

  126. Welcome Madame S! I love this post! Growing up, the library was a huge part of my life. The Dewey Decimal System and the card catalogue bring back wonderful memories of my childhood. Unfortunately, due to budget cutbacks, many of the libraries in my area have cut back their hours, including Saturday. This makes me sad.

  127. You worked in the National Archives??? Combine that with the Library of Congress and you have Research Heaven for a historical fiction writer. A 'branch' of the National Archives is an hour or so from me. Maps, letters, drawings, military info, etc from the 1800s ... oh my!

    And really, how can libraries not be a writer's friend? It's as obvious as radio being a musician's friend ... Hear the song, love it, gotta have it so I can hear it whenever I want, and what other songs has that musician done?

    Thank you for terrific insight about the workings of libraries. May we all be blessed with library cards and use them often :-)

    Nancy C

  128. LOl, Tina!

    Looks like y'all had an awesome day. I got to work at the sweat, er, upholstery shop. Sewing, not my favorite thing to do. But guess what? The mail woman arrived just as I got home and what did she have? Yep, my Nook!!

    Thank you, Seekerville! I can't wait to get books on it.

  129. Madame S, You are sooooo wise.

    One of the funniest things I did was donate one of my copies of Price of Victory to the library. I'm thinking these are made for libraries so of course they will love it.

    Then when I handed it to the librarian, she smiled and said "oh good, the used book sale is next weekend."

    USED BOOK SALE???? So I found out what they do with the donated books. They sell them. LOL

  130. Hi Vince, What I'm noticing in libraries is they ar getting larger sections with computers. This makes sense because libraries started to make expensive books available to the common man.

    Now computers and Internet service is available to the common man. Love it.

    btw I use libararies a lot for Internet when I travel and there is no cell reception. So handy.

  131. Okay, I just read the 4-part series on ILL... very interesting to hear of the different policies re requests!

    I think we can only make 5 requests per card at the MOMENT and we have 5 cards in the family. I don't think we've ever maxed out all cards at one time, but we have had to switch cards. our library is very slim on the YA and MG.

    There's no charge, because ours is run on a courier system, BUT if we neglect to retrieve the book from the desk within 7 days, we get a .50 fine. Not a big deal, but helps to keep the requesters in line.

    We can request at the desk, or go on line and push a button.

    LOVED the music industry vs book industry.... :)

  132. Very interesting article about libraries, thank you for doing this post.

    Oh, and thank you for hosting the giveaway, love your blog!


  133. Thanks for all the great info on libraries! I will read this in more detail tomorrow.

    My big contribution to my local library is donating bags and bags on good Inspirational romances in the hopes that the shelves will over run with them!

    Pass on the love, I say!


  134. Hi Madam S.

    You asked:

    Why would I care if the library would have bought the book I requested anyway?

    For the same reasons you mentioned. I don’t want to over order for my author friends. I want to keep a low profile. (Which for me is very difficult).

    So if I knew the library was going to order a book anyway, I would not get near it. I would also never ask if they were going to order it! That would be like having a romance character reading a romance novel in a romance. It’s alienating! It calls attention to what you are doing (like reading a romance or gaming the system).

    So I was hoping for some insider trick to tell when a book is on auto-order and when it is not. I need to know when I have to perform an intervention! Mary Connealy is very easy to get ordered in large print. I think they are more generous with the slight-impaired people. By the way, I requested “Price of Victory” and it came in within thirty days which makes me think it may have already been on order.

    And that is the rest of the story.


    P.S. True library story. I got a library card when I was about five. My first book I check out by myself was Nana by Zola. I thought it was about my grandmother and it did have a nice short title. My mother didn't know what to think!

  135. Hi Tina:


    Did you say shorter?
    You know what they say:

    “The shorter it is, the better it has to be.”

    I’m so happy you allow longer posts. : )


  136. i have always loved libraries. i got that love from my mom. a lot of your tips i already knew because my mom keeps telling me the same stuff. she always works the system to get good quality books on the shelves - she likes to see her tax dollars work for good. she also likes to talk with the library staff and bring cookies in for no reason (she knows the aren't supposed to get gifts, but she checks ahead of time just in case someone has to say no)

    thanks for the great post. it's nice to know some "insider" information. Seekerville is awesome.

  137. Hi Carol:

    Late Night Off Topic

    You wrote:

    “If they (Cardinals) end up facing the Yankees in a couple weeks, things could get ugly 'round here ;).

    The way to prevent that ugly outcome is for my beloved Giants to face the Yankees. (The other woman).

    My first world series, that I saw on TV, was my Giants v Yankees in 1951. Yanks won. : (

    The next match was in 1962. I even went to the one game playoff in LA. Giants v Yankees. Yanks won. : (

    I think after waiting over sixty years it’s time for my Giants to beat the Yankees.

    I’m a Yankee fan unless they are playing the Giants.


  138. Vince,

    A couple of things about how to find if your library has ordered a title.

    1. Find out if on-order titles are added to the database. (A lot of times they are because patrons want to read their favorite books as soon as they are released and in an automated world, life is easier if the on-order titles get added to the library catalog so patrons can place their holds.)

    I'd recommend searching for John Grisham's "Racketeer" and see if the title is there. (It's due for release on October 23rd.)

    If your library doesn't add on-title orders, you won't be able to tell if something is on order.

    If you send me the library name and state, I'd be happy to look.

    Madame S

  139. Sandra, Lovey,

    Ah,yes. Donating your books to the library only to find people excited for a different reason...

    But sounds as though you took your unexpected contribution to the book sale well.

    A sense of humor is always good in these situations.

    Madame S

  140. Hi Madam S.

    It worked! "Racketeer” is on order. They have the book, the large print book, and the audio CD version. Combined there are 40 copies for the Tulsa county system. I think over 500 people have it on hold already.

    Thanks, I think this will work. I will sure check this before I put in a request for a book. I think this approach will help many others who read these posts.

    I hope to see you back soon. This is great material.

    Thanks again.


  141. I loved this thank you. There is so much I did not know about the library process.


  142. You know I think if I had a cocktail party, Vince, Stan the Moral Premise Guy, Madame S and The Grammar Queen would hold court in one corner.

    Captain Jack and Ruth would be arguing recipes in another.

    Mary and her minions would have the entire living room with Debby to discuss how to kill secondary characters without getting caught.

    I might actually have to have a party some time.

    That would involve cleaning. So don't hold your breath.

  143. Someday I'm gonna have my own library with MY rules - and one of 'em will be "Enjoy with black coffee and chocolate"

  144. I know it's late, but I thought about your question today.

    Writing a synopsis and query letter are very intimidating. I'm always interested in learning more about that.


  145. Hi Tina

    That party would start out that way but with you there as a mixer it would not take long for you having us all playing charades. Now there’s the ultimate “Show Don’t Tell” game. The answers could be emotions and book titles.

    Be sure to ask Madam Zelda. I always look forward to meeting her.


  146. You gave some good tips on what to do and what not to do in a library!Thanks!

  147. I love libraries. I've not donated books to them, though, only because having worked in one many moons ago, I know not all donations make their way to the shelves. Some aren't in as great condition as the giver might think. Others, well, there's limited shelf space, and the libraries also use book donations to raise funds. My motivation to give would be to see greater selection of inspirational reads on the shelves, something which has always been fairly paltry despite requests. So donating without a shelving guarantee (which no library would give) won't meet my objective.

    Still, I love the library and have fun browsing the shelves whenever we take our children there.

  148. I realy enjoyed this thorough article on the library. I've always loved libraries and look them up, no matter what area of this great U.S.A. hubby works each year. Thanks again!

  149. Having worked as a student helper at the library, I second all of those suggestions! Our library was small and I once asked the librarian tech. why they didn't add more donations and she said pretty much the same thing: they're understaffed and not enough shelf space.