[Libs-Or] Policy on self-published materials

Pierina Parise pparise at emporia.edu
Sat Oct 12 11:59:00 PDT 2013

I had asked a similar question on the listserv recently and received the responses below.  I deleted the senders' names.


Pierina Parise, Director
Oregon Distance Education Program
Emporia State University, School of Library & Info Mgt
1020 SW Taylor, suite 447, Portland OR 97205
Phone: 503-223-8280; Email: pparise at emporia.edu


We don't tend to purchase them unless they're of local interest somehow: written by a local author, about the local area, etc. We'll sometimes make exceptions if a patron requests one.

Actually, it's a bit frustrating sometimes because we occasionally get "spam" messages from people posing as patrons of our library requesting that we purchase somebody's self-published book.


We purchased a self-published through Amazon book that one of our students wrote/published, but we don’t go looking for them. We would only consider such self-published titles if the author has some connection with our school or there was a specific (and reasonable) request for a particular title. (And after having read the self-published book we did purchase it only confirms this course of action ;-)  ).

We have seen a large increase in the number of requests to add self-published items. In general we do not add anything self-published and have come up with the following guidelines for those few things we do add:

1.       The item must be donated to the library

2.       The item must have unique local interest or meet local demand

3.       The item must meet the guidelines of the overall Collection Development Policy.


When I am wearing my selector hat, I tend to be cautious of self-published books, but I do buy them on occasion. If I find the (rare) review of a self-published book, I will read it over, but I don't limit my purchases to items that have been reviewed. I will buy almost every non-fiction book or video related to our part of Oregon, and much of the state in general.   The wonderful "FIshing in Oregon" series is an example.

In my current job I don't buy fiction, so I have no thoughts there.

My two cents: For the most part, if they are requested by patrons, we order them. However, if they only have one or two reviews which look like they were done by friends or family members, we try to resist. We will accept the work of any author who is local and self-published as long as the book has an ISBN and as long as they understand that if it does not meet circulation standards, it, like any other book may be withdrawn in a couple years (and they very often are). I know that in a metro area with a lot more authors this would probably not be possible.

I also like to ask people where they heard about the book.  If it’s a radio or TV show, or a magazine, I figure it’s good enough to have gotten a little media attention and that makes me feel a little bit more comfortable about the purchase. One thing we’ve noticed about CreateSpace is that it does have pretty decent production values compared to some of the other vanity presses. All that said, if our book budget were to become really tight again, this would be one of the first things I would cut.

It’s interesting that when I started collection development I was told to NOT buy any book that didn’t have at least two favorable reviews from the established review journals. There’s been such an explosion in publishing, that has now changed. In fact, if something on Amazon has over 50 reviews that are mostly favorable, I consider that as authoritative for my library patrons as an LJ review. I don’t know if you should repeat that last sentence but I suspect I am not alone.


We don’t have a policy regarding self-published items--being a small library helps.  We usually acquire based on patron requests—unless there is a professional review that indicates a need to purchase.  We also have some books that have been donated by local authors; not all of it is added but much of it is.  I have noticed that as time passes some of the self-publishers are appearing to become better than others.  This seems to be especially true of public domain items. –sometimes we will check if the book in question has been put on OCLC.

From: Libs-Or [libs-or-bounces at listsmart.osl.state.or.us] on behalf of Leah Griffith [leah.griffith at newbergoregon.gov]
Sent: Saturday, October 12, 2013 11:53 AM
To: libs-or at listsmart.osl.state.or.us
Subject: [Libs-Or] Policy on self-published materials

My library board is working on a policy that specifically addresses the increasing number of local authors who are  bringing their self published materials to the library and wanting us to purchase them.   While our selection policy covers this in theory, we’re feeling the need for a little more direction as the number of self-published items increases and the interactions become a bit more personal.

Does anyone have anything specific that they’ve developed and that they share with those authors who want us to buy their books?


Leah M. Griffith
Director,   Newberg Public Library     503-537-1256

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