Sunday, October 10, 2010

How Singapore authors can get NLB to consider their books for acquisition

NOTE: This post is intended to share information as a matter of general interest, to the few readers of this blog. Plus, it's an easy reference for an increasingly FAQ directed to me. It is NOT an official response from the NLB. Please contact the NLB for confirmation/ clarifications for related enquiries. But for the record, I've verified the information with my colleagues (accurate as of this post) and it's the same information as what I reply back to my friends.

Here's a fairly typical question that some friends and contacts have asked of me:
... I have just published my book... how do I approach the NLB or NLB supplier to have my book made available through the National or Public Libraries?
My reply is that they should email NLB ( directly, and include some or all of the following information:
  • Title
  • Author
  • ISBN
  • Synopsis
  • Sample pages
  • Scanned covers
  • Website, blogs, Facebook entries etc. 
  • Where the work is available (distributor, bookstore, website)
The information will help the relevant department review and make the initial assessment. If found suitable as collections for the National or Public Libraries, then they would arrange with their vendors to buy the titles.

Recently, I had a conversation with my colleague, and I posed these two questions:
  • What if Singapore authors wished to send, at their own cost, physical copies to NLB?
  • What are the general considerations when NLB assesses the suitability of works in general?

I learned that the initial email information would suffice. Sending unsolicited physical items/ books for review was not desired and could pose problems for staff (I could appreciate why, e.g. what to do with the physical copies? Can't sell them or give them away outright).

My colleague gave the assurance that NLB does try to comprehensively collect Singapore authors' works, including self-published ones. In most cases, copies would be purchased and made available for reference or lending.

As for the criteria and considerations in assessing the suitability of works, like any library in the world, there is a mix of policies, guidelines, professional judgment and operational practicalities.

Foremost tends to be the needs and interests of the end customers. Other considerations include the availability of other existing titles in the collections, the available budget at that point in time, as well as space considerations.

In general, the following criteria are considered:
  • Authority and reputation of the author, publisher, producer or illustrator
  • The literary, creative, scholarly or technical merit of the work
  • Accuracy of information
  • Value of work, relative to its purchase cost
  • Whether the work or author has received literary prizes or recognitions
  • Reviews in other professional journals and popular media
  • Timeliness/ currency of the content
  • Current public interest; the relevance of the work to contemporary issues
  • Is the work likely to appeal to the general public or a very niche audience?
  • The quality of the illustrations
  • The durability of the binding and quality of the paper

BTW, all Singapore-published works -- print and non-print -- are required, by the NLB Act, need to be deposited in the Legal Deposit (see Except for works that are private or confidential in nature.

The Legal Deposit FAQ page has more details.


  1. Once again, thanks Ivan for the information and advice. I think this information is very useful for many of us; even those who are not published authors.

  2. You're welcome, Chun See. Oh, congrats again on the publication of your book. Did you post it on your blog?

  3. Yes I did. But not on Good Morning Yesterday, but my other blog, My 5S Corner.


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