How the UK PLR library sample works

Library bookshelves

How does the sample work?

Parliament set out detailed rules for the administration of PLR in the PLR Scheme (1982). Because it would be expensive and impracticable to attempt to collect loans data from every library authority in the UK, it was decided to employ statistical sampling methods instead. The original sample comprised only 16 individual branches – but this has been expanded over the years and we now collect data from a minimum of 30 library authorities covering around 1,000 individual branches. For the purposes of PLR, the country is divided into eight regions into which library authorities are grouped. We must include a minimum number of authorities in each region.

In recent years we have seen the emergence of local ‘community’ libraries set up by independent groups and managed outside the local authority public library service. Under the PLR legislation these community libraries cannot be included in the PLR library ‘sample’. Only public libraries operating as part of the statutory library service provided by local authorities under the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act qualify for PLR. More information is provided on the GOV.UK website.

We have to be mindful of costs as whatever we spend on sampling reduces what is available for payment to authors. We are obliged by law to reimburse the library authorities for the costs of installing the PLR software and providing us with regular updates of loans data. As technology gets cheaper and more sophisticated we have been able to collect more data at no increased cost and we will continue to look out for opportunities to expand the sample size by using shared library systems etc.

How are loans grossed-up?

Because PLR figures are derived from a representative sample of library authorities, a grossing-up calculation is applied to the actual loans at the end of each PLR reporting year, in order to provide a national estimate of loans for the whole of the UK and Northern Ireland.

If you require more in-depth information regarding this process, please contact the PLR Operations and Marketing Manager.


How long would a library authority stay in the sample?

To ensure fairness and accuracy at least seven of the authorities are replaced each year and no library can stay in the sample for more than four years. The PLR Operations and Marketing Manager will always consult with authorities prior to their being designated as sample libraries and at least six months formal notice of participation is given.

Costs incurred by a library authority in the collection of this data are reimbursed by the PLR office.

What would being a sample library involve?

A designated sample library authority must provide the requested data, usually for a period of four years. Further information can be found under Information for UK sample library authorities.


Library information

Information for authors and librarians regarding the PLR library sample

How PLR uses the UK loans information gathered

How PLR uses UK loans data to calculate author payments and publicise the scheme

How the UK library sample affects authors

Guidance and information on how UK library sample affects authors

Information for UK sample library authorities

Information for library authorities participating in the UK PLR sample

Irish PLR

Information about library data collection under the Irish PLR scheme

PLR news stories

UK PLR payments update

1 February 2019

Over 22,000 authors have received a payment through UK PLR

Advisory Committee for PLR - new member

3 December 2018

Writer and translator Daniel Hahn appointed to the PLR Advisory Committee

Most borrowed authors and books in UK libraries

27 July 2018

The latest annual data shows the most borrowed authors and books in UK public libraries during 2016-17

Advisory Committee for PLR - new member

11 June 2018

Writer and illustrator Alexis Deacon appointed to the PLR Advisory Committee

More news stories

PLR case studies

…“The financial support is invaluable – translators don’t always get a royalty so PLR is really precious. Equally important is the symbolic recognition of our stake in a book. While it is taken for granted that an author has a stake in a book it is not always remembered that a translator does too.”…

Daniel Hahn, translator and writer, registered for PLR on the publication of his first translation. He values highly the existence of the built-in PLR share to which all translators are entitled. Having translated 35 books and written several others since 2007, Daniel outlined his career as a translator and how he works.

…“I expected pennies and I got pounds! Quite a few more than I had expected. How many times in somebodies life do you get something for nothing?”…

Audio-book narrator Jeff Harding, registered for his PLR share in an astonishing 658 audio books when the extension of UK PLR to non-print material was first introduced in July 2014. He currently has over 700 titles registered. Jeff describes the skills of narration and explains what PLR means to him.

…Tracy Chevalier, Alexis Deacon and S F Said tells us why it is important that contributors register for PLR, how easy it is to apply and the value of PLR to them.…

Watch our short video in which authors Tracy Chevalier and S F Said and writer / illustrator Alexis Deacon talk about why eligible contributors should register for payment through the government-funded PLR scheme.