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Public Libraries Want You to Read Local

16473243701_c14518465a_kLibraries as far apart as North Caroline, San Diego, and British Columbia are launching programs to connect their patrons with local authors.

Late last week the CBC shed light on the phenomenon when it reported on a province-wide Read Local program in Nova Scotia:

Hundreds of e-books from Atlantic Canadian authors are now available at public libraries across the province thanks to a new program called "Read Local."

The province of Nova Scotia provided $40,000 to help fund the program which is a partnership between the libraries and the Atlantic Publishers Marketing Association.

So far, 12 regional publishers have signed on.

That is possibly the single largest read local effort, but it is just the tip of the iceberg.

In addition to the program at the Greater Victoria Public Library (mentioned last week), I can also report that many other public libraries with Read Local program. Twenty minutes with Google has uncovered no less than six different Read Local efforts of various types.

The programs range from Madison Public Library highlighting books by local authors in its newsletter to a book fair in Durham, North Carolina. Many libraries maintain webpages dedicated to their Read Local programs, including San Diego Public Library, Johnson County Library (KS), Saint Paul Public Library, Caledon (Ontario), and of course Nova Scotia Provincial Library.

In related news, there is also Read Local BC, a campaign by the local Canadian publishers association which was intended to "celebrate the extraordinary depth of BC publishing". That campaign ran in April, so we missed it.

We also missed the Read Local book festival in Durham, North Carolina. Like the campaign in British Columbia, this festival was less a library program than one that the local library supported and helped organize.

From the News Observer:

The number of writers, illustrators, bloggers, book clubs, and even small presses that call our area home is astounding. Yet, in a city that thrives on festivals and celebrations, we haven’t come together as a town to honor our literary culture. Until now.

On May 15-17, an impressive cross section of our area’s literary minds and bookish professionals will converge on Downtown for the Read Local Book Festival, presented by Light Messages Publishing and Durham Public Library. The motive is simple: we want to raise money for Durham Library Foundation while celebrating our literary ecosystem.

The principles of a healthy ecosystem are fairly universal. To thrive, an ecosystem needs diversity with each member fulfilling a specific role. And our area’s literary ecosystem is no different. That’s why at Read Local, you’ll find self-published authors like Felicia Jamison and Leah Ward alongside emerging authors such as Elizabeth Hein, Carl Nordgren, and Samantha Bryant and household names like Jaki Shelton Greene, Monica Byrne, and Dasan Ahanu. You’ll also find your favorite local booksellers, up-and-coming illustrators, and several small presses.

So does your local public library support a Read Local program?

Mine does not, but I suspect that many do – we just have to find them. The programs mentioned above were relatively easy to find because they were all titled "Read Local", but there are bound to be more programs that are less visible.

I’m expecting that libraries with read local programs will prove much more common than libraries that offer help to local writers and authors. I only know of a few libraries with a self-pub or writer program. Seattle Public Library has one, and so does the Hartford County Library in Maryland. There’s also a multi-library program in Kentucky called ePublishOrBust.

via InfoDocket

image by EDrost88

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Michael Alan Peck August 31, 2015 um 11:55 am

Our state libraries are in the vanguard on this one, I think. This was the second year of the Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project, which is open to self-published authors only and was started to demonstrate what librarians can do when it comes to promoting books. They won an ALA P.R. award for it this year, and I can tell you that they’re great to work with (self-serving-comment alert) because I’m the winner this year. That personal involvement aside, I think what they’re doing is very cool. The winner of the STBF is promoted by the Illinois libraries and makes appearances around the state during the year:

Byrdie August 31, 2015 um 2:38 pm

I would love to read local but it seems none of the writers in my area publish their works as ebooks. Which, being visually impaired, are the only kind I can read nowadays. So many stories out there I’ll probably never get to read but the publishers around here, much to many writers' dismay, just won’t do ebooks. I think they’re afraid it won’t sell, or else they don’t know how. And since local authors need to publish locally to qualify for all-important grants and other tax incentives, well …

They probably don’t have audio book versions either and as for Braille, forget it!

(Not, mind you, that I am fluent in Braille. Probably need a refresher course now, it’s been that long since I learned.)

Joseph Sanchez September 1, 2015 um 2:47 pm

I was involved in the Douglas County ebook model, which started with the Colorado Independent Publishers association. This was, to my knowledge, the first real attempt to bring local and regional ebooks into libraries. The problem was that while we made a big splash and gots lots of PR, no one actually read the books. Libraries exist on a bestseller/blockbuster model and have yet to successfully mimic Netflix which was able to "hook" people with blockbusters and then get them watching B list and nonblockbusters. Some of the problem may be endemic to the difference between books and videos and the time it takes to sample a book vs a video. Regardless, lots of activity in the library field in these directions often amounts to sound and fury, signifying nothing significant. I would appreciate some numbers, costs per circ and long term sustainability analysis.

Nate Hoffelder September 2, 2015 um 1:19 pm

Thanks for the background details!

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