Term 4 2016
- Feature article
- Regular features
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Supporting Australian book creators
Morris Gleitzman discusses one of the simple pleasures of visiting school libraries: finding tattered, much-read copies of his own work. The ELR initiative makes it possible for authors such as Morris to continue producing books like these, while providing free access in libraries.
Every year, SCIS works closely with the Department of Communications and the Arts to conduct a survey of book holdings in Australian school libraries. This is the ELR School Library Survey, and it is integral to the growth of the Australian writing and publishing industry. The survey produces estimates of book holdings in Australian schools, which are then used to reimburse registered book creators for having their work freely accessible in school libraries.
We have commenced inviting 750 Australian schools to participate in this year’s ELR survey. Schools are selected randomly, and include government, Catholic, and independent schools from all states and territories. Invitations are sent either by post or by email, and include information about ELR and instructions for running the survey. We require a minimum of 300 schools to participate.
The ELR survey does not ask you to complete a questionnaire; rather, participants are asked to run an automated book count in their library management system, or to provide a backup file to be processed by their vendor. The surveys are set up with the assistance of each participating vendor. The process should take no longer than five to ten minutes, and is a great way to help Australian book creators continue to do what they do best: make great books.
ELR is only interested in book holdings, and does not collect any lending information. Privacy is rigorously maintained, and no schools are identified in the final results.
Please keep an eye out to see if your school has been invited. We look forward to working with school libraries to support Australia’s book creators and publishers.
Morris Gleitzman, Author
One of the pleasures of my job is spending time in school libraries. I usually visit to speak to students, but if I’m lucky I can grab a few moments for myself — that’s me, sitting in the corner, communing happily with a tattered, much-read copy of one of my own books.
It’s not the story that brings a smile to my face, or the rather stylish way the words are strung together (thanks, editors). My pleasure comes from thinking about all the readers who have held that volume in their hands and allowed my characters into their hearts.
For some of the older copies of my books, their total number of readers is probably greater than the number of characters in the story, including passersby. It is a lovely thought; little wonder the pages are looking a bit windswept and worldly. A lot of friendships have flowed through them, and much emotion.
If my accountant was there in the library with me, he’d probably have a different view of these veteran volumes.
‘A hundred and thirty-eight readers per copy’, he’d mutter, ‘and just the one royalty payment.’
That’s when I would explain to him about a wonderful thing called Educational Lending Right (ELR): a generous but just annual stipend* from the public purse, to help that one royalty payment stretch a bit further. To make writing for school library readers a practical proposition as well as a joy.
After hearing that, my accountant would be on his feet, inspecting the shelves. ‘I reckon if it weren’t for ELR’, he’d say, ‘some of these books probably wouldn’t even have been written on account of the authors finding it a bit hard to type while they’re working in other roles.’
I’d nod. He’s a smart man, my accountant. I think it’s because he used to read a lot as a kid. Library books, mostly.
*Estimated through an annual, national survey of school libraries. Eligible creators will receive an annual payment if their estimated book count is 50 books or more, and the payment is $100 or more.