Supporting Australian book creators

When I began writing books professionally in 2006, I had never heard of the Australian Lending Right Schemes. My publisher just handed me a form, which I blithely filled out and promptly forgot all about.

Then, after a hair-raising period filled with newborn children, an elephantine mortgage, and modest book sales, I got a very pleasant surprise in the form of a magical deposit in my bank account. It seems ‘that Lending Rights thing’ had kicked in. It wasn’t a huge amount, but it was enough to make my wife and I dance around the kitchen. It was like a gift from the heavens. That payment, and the annual instalments that have followed, have helped to keep us afloat and, crucially, it kept me writing. For me, and I suspect for many authors, it was a really big deal.

For a grown-up with grown-up responsibilities, becoming a professional author is a preposterous choice. It’s the kind of job title that makes in-laws lose sleep and bank managers call security. It’s not something a wholly sensible person would even consider. However, some of us just can’t help it.

Back in the 80s, I was a shy, stooped kid with glasses and a very chic, flesh-coloured eyepatch designed to correct my ‘lazy eye’. I also went to multiple primary schools in various towns, so it’s probably not a total mind-blower to discover that I spent a lot of my childhood hiding in school libraries.

I loved them. They were a sanctuary; an escape portal, housed within the walls of ordinary institutions, filled with extraordinary ideas and the promise of a bigger world. As an adult author, I’ve visited literally hundreds of them. But I still get that same frisson of possibility — however tempered by age and experience — every time I enter one.

That I now am now able to make books to help fill them is a privilege almost too great to process, and that libraries return the favour by providing a lifeline to authors through completing the Educational Lending Right School Library Survey is a situation almost too good to be true. Yet it is true, and I for one would like to say ‘thank you’.

In fact, if you open your window and listen very carefully around the end of the financial year — if the wind is blowing in the right direction — there’s a chance you’ll hear the sound of authors scattered around the country crying out in unison ‘Oh thank you, Lending Rights! What would we do without you?’

Oh, what indeed?

Image credit

Photo supplied by Aaron Blabey

ELR — Encouraging the growth and development of Australian writing and publishing

Along with Aaron Blabey, Education Services Australia (ESA) would like to give a big thank you to all those who took part in the recent Educational Lending Right (ELR) School Library Survey.

ESA administers the ELR School Library Survey on behalf of the Department of Communications and the Arts. The ELR scheme makes payments to Australian book creators and publishers in recognition that income is lost through the free multiple use of their books in educational lending libraries.

In Term 4 of each year, we invite a sample selection of schools from around Australia to participate. With the help of education departments, Catholic Education Offices and library system vendors, we collect school libraries’ holdings information for the titles that have been registered for ELR.

In the 2017–18 financial year, the ELR scheme made payments totalling $12.225 million to 9,986 claimants. The scheme greatly encourages Australian writers and the publishing industry to keep producing works that we will come to know and love.

Here are the top 10 highest scoring books for ELR 2015–18:

  1. Mem Fox, Possum Magic
  2. Mem Fox, Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge
  3. Marcia Vaughan, Wombat Stew
  4. Emily Rodda, Rowan of Rin
  5. John Marsden, Tomorrow, When the War Began
  6. Emily Rodda, The Forests of Silence
  7. Jeannie Baker, Window
  8. Jeannie Baker, Where the Forest Meets the Sea
  9. Robin Klein, Hating Alison Ashley
  10. Emily Rodda, The Lake of Tears

Ruilin Shi
ELR project coordinator, SCIS
Education Services Australia

Aaron Blabey

Author