Los Angeles Public Library and SELF-e ‘Foster a Community of Local Authorship’

A view of the Central Pool at Los Angeles Public Library. Image provided by LAPL
A view of the Central Pool at Los Angeles Public Library. Image provided by LAPL

By Porter Anderson / @Porter_Anderson

‘Connecting Our Local Authors With Readers’

LAPL logoA leader in creative-community relations, Los Angeles Public Library’s (LAPL) adoption of SELF-e’s capabilities is being watched by other library systems as a model.

And who better to ask what it means to finally be able to acquire and promote local authors than the library’s Acquisitions Manager?

Catherine Royalty has a good grasp on the library’s understanding of its mission in this regard:

While libraries have always served to inspire local authors, we see ourselves taking a more proactive role in providing means for content creation and dissemination.

We are using the SELF-e platform to foster a community of local authorship by connecting our local authors with readers in the community and increasing their exposure.

Catherine Royalty
Catherine Royalty

Music to any author’s ear, Royalty’s reference to “increasing exposure” for authors, of course, is the basis of the SELF-e promise for authors, working as an interface for discovery between writers and their readers.

And, as Royalty explains, what SELF-e is doing is stepping in to fill a vacuum for busy librarians:

The library staff has difficulty evaluating self-published works for possible inclusion in our collection, as they often haven’t been reviewed by a professional source. Staff doesn’t have time to read the submissions cover-to-cover themselves. We also had difficulty getting some self-published ebooks for our collection, if the author hadn’t been able to make them available through our existing ebook platforms.

SELF-e is a great option that we can give our local authors. Whenever I explain the program I emphasize how great it is that their work will be evaluated by professional reviewing staff from Library Journal. This also helps us get around the issue of needing to acquire all our ebooks through our existing ebook providers.

We asked Royalty how she and her team have found working with SELF-e, which is in a fast expansion stage throughout the U.S. these days.

We’re very pleased with the SELF-e platform. It’s very user-friendly for our patrons, and almost all of them have been able to complete the submission process without any library staff assistance. All of the SELF-e authors I have spoken with have been absolutely thrilled to have their book up on the platform and available for circulation.

A Mere 22.4 Million Online Visits

The atrium at Los Angeles Public Library. Image provided by LAPL
The atrium at Los Angeles Public Library. Image provided by LAPL

One point that has created some controversy, of course, is the question of SELF-e’s stance as a discovery platform rather than a revenue source. As I found in my own presentation of SELF-e last week at the Novelists Inc. Conference in St. Pete Beach, Royalty says she’s finding a good understanding of this feature among authors: “I was pleased to find that no one I have spoken with seems unhappy with the fact that the model is royalty-free—they definitely are more interested in getting their works out there.”

And that, of course, is the genius of the SELF-e offer: it places independent authors’ work before the world’s larges concentration of English-language readers, the U.S. library system with its roughly 300 million patrons.

LAPL rolls up with its own impressive numbers, as well. Its reach includes not only the Central Library but also eight regional branches and 64 community branches. As of 2013, LAPL’s systems held more than 90,400 ebooks, audiobooks, and other digital offerings, along with 6.4 million books, magazines, DVDs, CDs, and more. The library’s photo collection alone has more than 3 million pieces, comprising both historic and contemporary images, with 90,000 of them available for online viewing.

This is a system with more than 2,600 public computers in operation, and 22.4 million+ online visits per year. You can imagine how big a help a service like SELF-e, then, can provide the staff.

“We are planning a series of Local Author Spotlights to post on our website throughout the month of November,” Royalty tells me. “We’re featuring local authors whose books were selected as SELF-e Select titles. We’re creating a feature on each of them including an author photo, interview, and link to their title on SELF-e. We’ll send you the links.” (And we’ll hold her to that promise, too!)

There’s more to this story: Read the rest

By Porter Ander­son  

SELF-E Blog: Los Angeles Public Library and SELF-e ‘Foster a Community of Local Authorship’

Read the full post at: The Blog from SELF-e, Powered by Library Journal


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