Library Freeconomics

This post is an adaptation of a training workshop I gave last year for the SLG based on my experiences of working with low to no budgets forcing me to improvise and find alternate ways to gain skills, experience and books and other useful materials.

Getting free stuff or your library may seem like a pipe dream, for as people have been saying since the 19th century There is no such thing as a free lunch – this is true, but not universally so.

Ideas, co-operation and assistance:

One of the misconceptions when it comes to obtaining free stuff is thinking in tangible terms. While they are essential, it is impossible to overstate how important advice, ideas and guidance can be. With training courses getting more expensive and out of reach of library staff that cannot be released or afford courses being aware of networks of colleagues where you can pick the collective brain and share your own experiences with others.

The largest group for School Librarians is the School Librarian Network, started by Elizabeth Bentley, this is a mailing list of librarians who offer experience, support and a place to chat and vent if needed: https://groups.io/g/SLN

The Heart of the School is a website set up and run by Caroline Roche to celebrate and showcase the work of school librarians in the UK. The site is a rich mix of examples of best practice and ideas that can be used and adapted by librarians across the country: https://heartoftheschool.edublogs.org/

Lastly my own site Teen Librarian is a mix of ideas and programmes that can be used in school and public libraries as well as an array of downloadable content that can be freely used and adapted, from card games to posters and lesson plans. You are here now so once you have finished reading this incredibly interesting post take the time to rifle through my archives and see what takes your fancy!

Looking Online

Project Gutenberg

With the near ubiquity of smart phone use among students and a range of apps that enable smart phone owners to read e-books on the go Project Gutenberg is a veritable goldmine of over 53 000 public domain books that can freely and (more importantly) legally be downloaded in a variety of formats, including .azw (Kindle), .epub (all other e-book readers), pdf and html for (online reading).
These books can also be read on tablets, computers and dedicated e-book readers.
http://www.gutenberg.org/

Librivox

Librivox exists to make all books in the public domain available, for free, in audio format on the internet.
https://librivox.org

Free Posters

Latest Free Stuff is a website that catalogues free materials from a variety of sources, one of their sub-sections deals with posters. It is always worth going through what they have as the posters are a mix of educational and public interest.
http://www.latestfreestuff.co.uk/free-posters

The Secret Book Company Poster Freebies: https://www.thesecretbookcompany.co.uk/collections/freebies

Bloggers & Blogging

Make friends with local book bloggers as they sometimes look to give away excess books to local schools and libraries.

A quick note on request etiquette (this is important): it is incredibly bad form to contact authors and publishers out of the blue to ask for free books for your library. Authors are almost universally sympathetic to the aims of school and public libraries but their stock of books is not infinite. Writing is a career that for most does not pay incredibly well plus you will make them feel guilty for saying no and even if they want to help, they may not be able to. It is the same for publishers, publishing is a business and a business that gives away its product will not be around for long.

If you wish to approach publishers and publicists you should think of it as a transaction, why not start your own review blog or work with students in your reading groups to review books and post reviews on a school reading blog. Publishers do lookout for perspectives from teenagers about the books they publish.

It is a good rule of thumb to not ask for more books that you or your group can reliably review in good time.

Blog platforms
Blogger
WordPress
Weebly
Edublogs

Competitions

Entering competitions is a good way to acquire new books for your library, some competitions (particularly on twitter) are rapid fire not giving you much time to enter but not all of them are like that. Some give you a day or days to enter or provide links to sites such as rafflecopter where you are able to enter. Most social media sites are used by authors and publishers to run competitions, the most popular are below:
Twitter
Instagram
Facebook

Some publishers run giveaways in their monthly/weekly email newsletters. If you are a member of CILIP then you can sign up for membership with the Youth Libraries Group – their monthly newsletter has some of the best giveaways I have ever seen.

With regard to social media giveaways (particularly twitter) it is considered bad form in some quarters to run a competition account – basically having it solely for giveaways and competitions. I have found (with twitter) that the friendships I have made, the links I have built and networking opportunities I have gained far outweigh the competitions I have won (but I will not deny they have been really good).

Freecycle
The UK Library Freecycle group is still very new but over time will grow into a clearing house for librarians and libraries looking to get rid of things that others will have a use for.
https://groups.freecycle.org/group/LibraryUK

2 Thoughts on “Library Freeconomics

  1. Margaret Smallpeice on January 23, 2018 at 4:39 am said:

    Thanks Matt for some great sources. I’ve always found publishers to be generous in giving me free posters.

  2. Denise Reed on January 23, 2018 at 2:16 pm said:

    Really useful Matt – thanks! May I add another website to your collection? https://preplibs.wordpress.com/ is the website of a Prep School librarian’s support group called LIPSSEE based in the south east of the country. Although it has a slight bias towards the independent junior school sector it contains loads of useful information especially for school librarians anywhere especially anyone new in post

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