Love from libraries: Public Lending Right 2015/6

Many authors will have felt the love on finding a credit from Public Lending Right (PLR) in their bank accounts on 14 February. As well as the boost to the bottom line, it warms a writer’s heart to know that their books are being borrowed from UK public libraries.

UK PLR was established by Act of Parliament in 1979 and is administered by the British Library. It gives authors the legal right to receive payment from Government each time their books are loaned through the public library system. Since its inception, PLR has distributed over £160 million to authors, and in February 2017 it is paying out £6 million to 22,202 authors at a rate per loan of 7.82 pence.

To coincide with its annual payments to authors, PLR releases data on the most borrowed books and authors in UK libraries. During 2015/6, Paula Hawkins’ phenomenally successful novel, The Girl on the Train was the UK’s most borrowed library book. Commenting on this achievement, Paula Hawkins said: “As a voracious reader possessed of a fevered imagination, my childhood visits to the library were a thrill. I credit those weekly trips with making me the reader – and the writer – I became, so I could not be more delighted to discover that The Girl on the Train was the most borrowed book from UK libraries last year”.

For the tenth year running, James Patterson was the most borrowed author in UK libraries. His books clocked up over two million loans during 2015/6. During his decade in the top spot, his books have been borrowed over 20 million times.

Children’s authors once again figure prominently in the new PLR data. Seven of the top ten most borrowed authors are children’s writers, and four of these – Julia Donaldson, Daisy Meadows, Roderick Hunt and Francesca Simon – had their books borrowed over a million times from UK public libraries last year.

Haven’t yet registered for PLR (what are you waiting for?!) and want to know more?

Last autumn, the International Authors Forum (IAF) launched an introductory guide to PLR in conjunction with the International PLR Network. The guide is aimed at individuals, organisations and governments coming to Public Lending Right for the first time and seeking information on how PLR operates, how it benefits authors, how it has been established across the world and how new schemes can be created.

As well as describing the main types of PLR system that exist internationally and their legal basis, the guide also explains why authors are so important to cultural life and education and how PLR provides vital support that they need to sustain their writing.

Among the authors sending messages of love about what PLR means to them is renowned children’s writer and illustrator, Shirley Hughes, who turns 90 this year. She says: “PLR is not only a life-saver, it is also one of the great spurs to fresh endeavour.”

The top 10 most borrowed titles in 2015/16 were:

  1. The Girl on the Train  Paula Hawkins
  2. Personal     Lee Child
  3. Make Me    Lee Child
  4. Diary of a Wimpy Kid    Jeff Kinney
  5. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul  Jeff Kinney
  6. Alert James Patterson
  7. Go Set a Watchman Harper Lee
  8. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever Jeff Kinney
  9. Awful Auntie David Walliams (illustrated by Tony Ross)
  10. Truth or Die James Patterson

>> Read the IAF guide Public Lending Right: An Introductory Guide
>> Find more information on registering for UK PLR
>> Discover more about this year’s most borrowed books and authors

Report by Caroline Sanderson, Editor of ALCS News.