PLR Changes: Our Comments

21 July 2017

The British Library is planning a range of improvements to Public Lending Right, the system by which authors are paid when their books are taken out of libraries, and they are accepting comments and suggestions until next Friday (28 July).

Our members are strong supporters of PLR and we lobbied hard for the recent extension of PLR to remotely lent ebooks and audiobooks. However, the PLR systems are now showing their age and we support the plans of the British Library to modernise the service and put it on a footing that will ensure its continued growth and development. We have written to the PLR team with our detailed comments.

We are particularly keen that members should report any issues they have with PLR registration, both of print books and of ebooks. We encourage you to respond to PLR before the deadline so you can influence the design of the new systems.

Send your comments or suggestions to PLR-feedback@bl.uk by Friday 28 July 2017.

COMMENTS

Tracy Edwards (27/07/2017 02:09)
" It’s disappointing to see the Society of Authors accept uncritically the British Library’s proposed “improvements” to PLR. While welcoming the modernisation of PLR systems, we would suggest that such improvements are not dependent upon location. The majority of British Library IT staff are based at Boston Spa yet provide systems support to all 3 British Library sites, including St. Pancras. Is it really credible in the 21st century to state that an IT upgrade requires the closure of the Stockton office and transfer to Boston Spa? The British Library has also yet to guarantee that the estimated £500k required for the new IT system will not come out of the author fund.

The British Library’s proposals mean that there is a significant risk that all existing PLR staff may either resign or leave on Voluntary Exit before 2020, impacting adversely on service users. This potential major loss of skills and experience represents a serious risk to business continuity. The number of Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) posts is also being cut post-transfer to Boston Spa from 8.37 FTE (including specialist IT staff) to 5.5 FTE. The Society of Authors requests that the “collective experience and expertise of the team is recorded and transferred.” However, do they seriously believe that over 30 years skills and expertise can simply be “recorded” without any adverse impact upon authors?

There has never been any serious intention on the part of the British Library to retain PLR in Stockton. In November 2015 (7 months before the start of the “review”), PLR staff were informed that relocation was being considered. Staff suggestions during the course of the “review” to contact alternative locations in Stockton were not followed up. The needs of service users should be paramount in any review and not subordinated to the convenience of the British Library’s Boston Spa site. The Society of Authors “wishes to thank the members of the Stockton team.” However, the best way of providing thanks is to challenge the British Library’s cynical and ill-considered proposals and fight to retain the Stockton office and preserve the jobs of existing PLR staff.

Tracy Edwards, PCS full time officer"
Despina Katsirea (27/07/2017 02:06)
" As a member if the SoA I am pleased with the proposed improvements by the British Library for the PLR.
I will be very happy if the staff at Stockton will keep their jobs, as we owe them a lot for their assistance to writers, and support."
Gordon Owen (22/07/2017 09:29)
" As an author registered with PLR for several years I commend the proposed improvement and SoA for supporting and look forward to its implementation"
Jill Norman (22/07/2017 05:55)
" It is encouraging to hear that the British Library will modernise the PLR system and that it is to be extended to ebooks. As a member of the SoA I am grateful to the PLR staff for all their work on our behalf."
Vin Arthey (22/07/2017 03:12)
" When I registered for PLR payments, I was living just a few miles from the Stockton office so went along to register in person. I was greeted warmly, and will not forget the framed cards and letters from authors in the Reception area. I can still see Shirley Hughes' drawings and words of thanks. I was pleased that when the British Library took over PLR, the Stockton staff kept their jobs. Does anyone know how many jobs will be lost when the operation moves to Boston Spa?"
Tamara Dragadze (21/07/2017 10:16)
" I fully support the suggestions of the Society of Authors. They are wholly professional and they understand what we authors need in order not only to survive but to give us a chance to be creative knowing our work is valued."
Wendy Cope (21/07/2017 08:57)
" Many thanks to the Stockton team for their good work over the years. I am very sorry that some of them will be facing redundancy."
Reginald Massey (21/07/2017 08:47)
" I am happy that the British Library is planning updates to the PLR
system. As a member of the SoA I applaud your updates. However,
from when will the updates become applicable?"
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