Recently after replying to Kevin Morris’ blog regarding getting books into the British Library,  I decided to go one step further and contact my own local library to enquire as to whether they would be interested in displaying a few of my books on their shelves.  I’d previously sent off my books to the British Library at their request after setting them up to be printed and distributed by Ingram Spark (the British Library are entitled to one copy of every single book published in the UK), and I was also registered on the Public Lending Right website.  After all, I figured I’d lose nothing if they said no, and for all I knew the answer might even be in the affirmative.

My branch library is in  Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, about 12 miles away.  I called them and a very helpful lady informed me that the main library at Ipswich has control of all the stock.  She gave me a phone number of the team at Ipswich County Library, which is about 25 miles from where we live.  I stuck my courage to the sticking post and in my best raspy voice spoke to another helpful lady, who took all my details and passed my name and phone number on to the manager there.

The very next day I received an email from an assistant to the manager of Ipswich Library asking me to email her back with details of all my books.  I did this, and straight away I received a reply that she had passed my email on to the stock team.  I was quietly hopeful, but at this point did not get too excited.

However, back came that standard answer that we all receive when sending off queries to agents, libraries, bookstores and the like:   ‘Thank you for thinking of Suffolk libraries, but we have no plans to buy copies of these titles for our stock’.  

At this point instead of being disappointed I became angry; mind-bogglingly angry!  No bugger wants to give self-published authors a chance, do they?   Usually I wouldn’t have followed up any reply like that, but after 7 years of trying to get a foot in the door of  even a token recognition I emailed back to the effect that I am a Suffolk author and I didn’t think it an unreasonable request to ask for say three of my books to be added to the library’s shelves for just one month to see if there was any interest.  I could even supply the books myself at no cost to the stock team.

Back came the answer:

‘The stock team have advised that they have guidelines to follow when accepting all stock suggestions, including self-published titles and donations.   

We cannot guarantee that we will add any suggested or donated item to stock, and decisions are made on a case by case situation.  If there is a demand for your books in the future, then we can reassess the situation and see if they are available from our suppliers at the time.

Thank you for thinking of Suffolk Libraries.’

It seems self-published books are a no-no as regards being added to library shelves in the UK.  The British Library are happy to receive a copy of my books, but that’s as far as it goes.  I expect they’ll add them to the mountain of self-published books that sit in the vaults, but there will be no demand for them because nobody will actually be allowed to read them!