Information for UK sample library authorities

What does the PLR office do?

The PLR office makes payments to authors from government funds for the use of their books, audio-books, Ebooks and E-audio-books in public libraries. Payments are made based on the estimated number of times a book is borrowed nationally. Estimates are produced from data collected from a sample of library authroities throughout the UK. Some of the library authorities are changed each year.


Does our library authority have to participate in the sample?

If designated, your authority must provide the requested data – but we will only designate authorities with a suitable catalogue and library management system (LMS).  If you are changing your LMS supplier around the time that test data is due, or when live data collection is about to start, we may decide to select another authority and postpone your involvement until another year.


What is the rough timetable of events?

Pre-designation year  
Questionnaires are sent to possible library authorities April/May
Shortlist of possible authorities drawn up May/June
Visits/telephone visits to possible authorities July/August
Final list of authorities chosen September/October
Official designation notices sent to authorities December
Post-designation year  
Test data required from library authorities February/March
Reimbursement costs agreed May
Purchase orders sent to library authorities June
Invoices received from library authorities July
Live data collection commences (monthly) 1 July
Switch to bi-monthly data collection after 6 months January

How long will we be in the PLR sample?

You can only participate for a maximum of 4 years continuously – although the normal participation period is now 3 years. We may decide to deselect your authority early if you change your LMS during the 3 years – but you will always receive at least 6 month’s notice of designation or deselection.


How does the PLR sample work?

Yes.  We will consult with your LMS supplier about their annual PLR software maintenance charges.  The LMS supplier will invoice you and you will then reclaim the money from PLR.  At the same time, we will reimburse you for any “operational costs” that you incur (for example you might want to make a modest charge for each set of data you send us to cover staff time).  Some authorities decide not to charge for operational costs as the effort involved is minimal.


How frequently should we invoice you?

You should invoice us once per year.  We will send you a purchase order each year as a reminder to invoice us.


How frequently do we have to send data?

Live data collection should start on 1 July.  You should send data for 1 July – 31 July at the beginning of August and then continue monthly for 6 months until the end of December.  From the January, we will ask you to switch to sending data every two months for the remainder of the time that you are in the sample.


Will we get any regular feedback on our data?

Yes.  When you send in your initial test data, you will receive an email with various analysis reports attached.  You will get a list of your “Top 25 Most Borrowed Books” every time you send us some data.  In addition, you will receive national, regional and local “Top 100 Most Borrowed Books” lists every year.  If we find any anomalies in the data (eg invalid ISBNs) we will report these to you so that you can amend them if you wish.


How can I find out more about PLR?

You are welcome to visit the British Library PLR office at Boston Spa by arrangement. PLR staff are always available to answer your questions by telephone or email.


Supporting documents

FAQs for sample libraries is available to print.

An overview on the role of sample libraries is also available to view/print.


Library sample

Information for authors and librarians regarding the PLR library sample

How the UK PLR library sample works

Guidance on the UK library sample, grossing-up loans and how long library authorities stay in the 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

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