Canada House

Towards a new strategic plan

February 17, 2020
Photo : Michael Grimm

February–love is in the air for thousands of Canadian authors!

February 17, 2020

Blog post from the Director and CEO, Simon Brault

For 18,000 or so literary creators who account for over 79,000 titles in Canada’s public libraries, February really is the month of love! That’s because the Canada Council sends them annual payments as compensation for free public access to their books in Canadian public libraries every February. This year, the Council’s Public Lending Right (PLR) Program payments will vary from $50 to $4,500.

The PLR Program has a permanent advisory board, called the Public Lending Right Commission, which establishes the Program’s criteria and promotes it to eligible writers, translators, illustrators, narrators, photographers, and editors.

A historic Council investment that supports creators and encourages people to read Canadian works

For the second year in a row, the Canada Council for the Arts has injected an additional $2.5 million into the PLR Program—resulting in total payments to creators increasing by $5 million between 2018 and 2020. We decided to do this because we believe in the value of this program, which benefits literary creators–who have been deeply affected by the effects of digital disruption on the book ecosystem. We also believe in the democratizing mission of public libraries and the vital importance of reading as a vehicle for emancipation, curiosity, learning, and cultural exchange.

Through this additional investment, we are delighted to be providing payments for new titles and new creators. This accounts for approximately 25% of the additional investment, which bodes well for the sustainability and renewal of the program.

Recognition that really makes a difference

I can clearly remember how I felt in 2012 when I received the first PLR payment for my book, Le Facteur C, l’avenir passe par la culture (100% of author rights) and its English translation, No Culture, No Future (50% for me as the author, and 50% for the translator, Jonathan Kaplinsky). I was happy to receive this money, and even happier to have the work I invested in this book compensated. The payment confirmed that my book was in circulation in the public library network and made me want to know more about my readers. Although I am not a prolific writer given my other duties at this time, I nevertheless feel I am part of a community that is changing the world, one book at a time.

I have been told by many writers, translators and illustrators that this annual payment validates their identity and life choices as authors and symbolizes society’s all too rare recognition of the role played by literary creators. Not to mention the long-term income it generates for those creators with many published books.

We thank authors for their ongoing work and librarians for pursuing their mission to share knowledge by promoting reading. And we thank you for reading and encouraging others to read—the surest way to a bright future.