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Building Local Library Interest

By Shari Faden Donahue

Even a title lacking in consistent favorable reviews—or any reviews—from traditional review sources may be considered for library acquisition under any of the following circumstances:

The author is local, and receives favorable local press. (Articles by the local media
“count” as reviews!)
There is sufficient demand for the title among library patrons.
The subject matter of the title is rare and fills a unique library niche.

Contact local public libraries within a fifty mile radius of your home, and encourage collection development specialists to purchase your title for their collections—if they have not done so already! Your local author status and personal touch can add tremendous leverage to the title selection process.

Send or hand-deliver the appropriate individuals a review copy of your finished picture book, “pub” sheet, and media kit—complete with any favorable reviews/articles. Bina Williams, children’s librarian at Bridgeport Public Library (Connecticut), urges new authors/self-publishers to be cognizant of the growing number of children’s books published each year—and to have realistic expectations. Be persistent, patient, and polite! An over-zealous author/self-publisher may be construed as demanding—inadvertently causing a local librarian to disregard his/her new title.

According to Penny Haff, Children’s Program Director at the Village Library of Wrightstown in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, a children’s librarian is more likely to respond favorably to a new local author/self-publisher if his/her title complements a pre-selected library book theme i.e. jungle animals, seasons, dinosaurs, etc. Participate in the library’s pre-established toddler story time program—if one exists—or create a book event that is appropriate for a young library audience. If applicable, utilize your special talents as an artist, musician, magician, puppeteer, etc. to enhance the value of your program.