Library Matters: if it’s not Broke Don’t Fix It

As if life isn’t tough enough for many writers.

The jury may still be out on the future of ebooks v tree books and the world of publishing is facing its biggest challenges ever but the government has now waded in on whether to transfer the administration of the annual lifeline for many writers, the PLR cheque, to another body – and, as I write, we are awaiting the verdict.

Public Lending Right is the right for authors to receive payment under PLR legislation for the loans of their books by public libraries. Registered writers, illustrators, photographers, translators and editors who have contributed to books lent out by public libraries in the UK receive PLR payments each year. It is capped – meaning that there is a maximum any one author can earn and the funds allocated are shared out proportionately according to a modest allowance on loans in sample regions. According to the Society of Authors the purpose is twofold. To recognise both the social need for free public access to books and the right of authors to be remunerated for the use of their work.
Over recent years those registered have suffered from the inevitable government cuts to the allowance and now the DCMS have consulted with organisations such as the Society of Authors, and individuals about whether to abolish the administration body, a tiny, independent, impartial and highly efficient organisation based in Stockton on Tees and transfer the running of the scheme elsewhere. Why?

The Society of Authors, that has protected the interests of authors for over a century, has stressed that it will be difficult to imagine a replacement body that offers the quality of service, the level of efficiency, experience and widely acclaimed helpfulness of Jim Parker and his team. It is also difficult to see how, any replacement scheme could be as economical and as low on bureaucracy.”

For a nation with writing in its DNA and at time of great uncertainty for all those involved in books it would be reassuring to know that the small PLR office in Stockport, that has served us so well for so long, will survive.

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