Friday, May 20, 2011

Interview with Judy Gann, Librarian and Creator of Library Insider Database

Joining us today is Judy Gann. Judy has been a librarian for more than twenty-five years. Judy recently teamed up with Books & Such Literary Agency to create the Library Locator database that is part of an amazing new product called Library Insider™ that was recently launched by Books & Such. There is more to Library Insider than just the database, but I’ll let Judy tell you more about it.

Welcome to The Professional Writer’s Connection, Judy. It’s wonderful to have you here. Can you please start by telling us a bit about yourself?

Thank you for the warm welcome, Cheryl. I’m pleased to be with you and your blog readers today. A former elementary school teacher, my favorite part of the day was reading to my students. When the school where I was teaching closed, it seemed the perfect time to go to graduate school and get my degree in librarianship. I was a children’s librarian for twenty-five years. During that time I started an early literacy program at my library. I now work as a substitute and review/select Christian fiction for the library system.

I live in Washington State where, when I’m not writing my first novel, speaking, or playing matchmaker for books and readers, I enjoy collecting pre 1960 children’s books, cheering the Seattle Mariners, and taking long walks—even in the rain.

I knew you were a librarian, but I didn’t know you were also a published author. Can you tell us about your work?

I’ve lived with chronic illness all my life. Several years ago a friend asked me to give her a list of the Bible verses that most encourage me when I’m ill. She wanted to share them with a friend who was ill. Years later these verses formed the basis of The God of All Comfort: Devotions of Hope for Those Who Chronically Suffer (AMG Publishers).

Most of the books about chronic illness, including devotionals, seemed to be focused on people’s experiences. I wanted to write a book that would draw readers into God’s Word to find the comfort, hope, and strength to cope with living with illness. I interviewed seventeen other people and incorporated their struggles with illness as well as my own into the book. I’m in awe of how, six years later, God continues to use The God of All Comfort to minister to those who are hurting.

Knowing that you are an author and a librarian makes me even more excited about your involvement in Library Insider, so let’s talk about that for a minute. When did you decide to create this amazing database that connects authors and publishers with the public library?

I’ve reviewed Christian fiction for my library system for about four years. During that time I’ve become passionate about connecting books and readers. I saw that, for the most part, publishers and authors didn’t realize the value of marketing their materials to libraries. I dreamed of finding a way to connect publishers, authors, and publicists with the public library.

A rough form of Library Locator, Library Insider’s database of public libraries, began as a project for the Christian Authors Network. ( ). I began teaching workshops on marketing to public libraries at library conferences throughout the country. In 2009 I presented a workshop in the Career Track at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. Editors, publicists, and authors heard about my presentation and asked me to help them in their promotional efforts to public libraries. Janet Grant and Wendy Lawton of Books and Such Literary Agency saw the potential in marketing to libraries and, along with Kelli Standish & her incredible PulsePoint Design team, helped me develop my ideas into Library Insider, which launched on March 28. Believe me, Library Insider far exceeds my wildest dreams for it, thanks to Janet, Wendy, & Kelli.

Can you give us a brief run down on what Library Locator is all about?

Library Locator is a selective (based on size of collection, open hours, and number of staff) searchable database of over 2500 public libraries in the United States. The database is updated monthly and includes the name and contact information of the buyer or purchasing decision maker at most of the libraries. The database can be downloaded and addresses printed for mailing labels. PulsePoint Design did an incredible job of designing a user-friendly database.Library Locator includes an array of library marketing information in addition to the contacts, including indicating whether a library is an independent or system library, the marketing area (nearest large population center), and if the library provides e-book access for patrons.

This sounds like it will help authors and publishers reach out to the right contact person instead of running around in circles. How much time and effort do you think it will save?

Considering I spent over two years compiling the information…:) Seriously, Library Locator saves publishers and authors countless hours of pulling together this information. The fact that the database is a selective list of libraries allows subscribers to target the libraries most likely to purchase their materials. This is a huge value in these days of limited marketing dollars. Yes, there are other databases available online. However, none are as selective, complete, or updated monthly as is Library Locator.

Let’s talk about the second part of Library Insider, something that a person like me who is involved in book promotion can really get into. You have developed the Behind the Stacks Training and Consultation program. What can subscribers expect if they sign up for this?

“Behind the Stacks” training equips authors with the tools to successfully market to libraries. The training includes information on how to connect/partner with libraries in your neighborhood and throughout the country, how to present your materials in a way that will grab the attention of acquisitions librarians, provides a glimpse into the book selection/ordering process (how librarians decide which materials to purchase), and trends in library purchasing. Tips for using Library Locator more effectively are presented.

The greatest value of this training is that it’s individualized—designed for you and your particular book(s). I’ll assist you in designing a flyer that includes the key information librarians need to make purchasing decisions and helps your book stand out in the crowd of promotional materials filling every acquisitions librarian’s inbox.

Once you register for “Behind the Stacks” Training, I’ll schedule a conference call with you. Before the training you’ll receive several handouts to use during the consultation and refer to afterward. I’ll also be available for follow-up questions and assistance throughout the duration of your Library Insider subscription.

Why do you feel the training and consultation portion of Library Insider is vital to the success of selling to libraries?

Using Library Locator is only half of a successful library marketing campaign. This is a time of shrinking library budgets, forcing librarians to be more selective than ever in their book purchasing decisions. It’s much like an agent or editor’s infamous “slush pile.” You want to give your book every advantage to rise above the others and have the best opportunity to find a place on library shelves. “Behind the Stacks” training gives you that edge.

Where can we find out more about Library Insider?

You can find out more about Library Insider at . The video tour provides a great overview of our services.

Library Insider maintains a Facebook Page (!/LibraryInsider) with tips on marketing to public libraries as well as news items from the library world that are relevant to book promotion in libraries. Please stop by and “Like” our page.

What if someone has additional questions before signing up?

We welcome your questions and have a “Contact Form” ( on the Library Insider web site.

What do you see for the future of Library Insider?

The initial response of publishers, authors, and publicists has been exciting. Looking ahead, I envision Library Insider fulfilling the role of key liaison between the publishing community and public libraries, as well as the “go to” resource for publishers and authors seeking assistance with their library marketing efforts. 

Is there anything you would like to add?

Library Insider subscribers receive a quarterly newsletter filled with library marketing news, tips, and a calendar of library events—opportunities for publishers and authors to connect with libraries and librarians.

Cheryl, thank you for this opportunity to talk about Library Insider and remind your readers of the value of including public libraries in their marketing plans. I invite all of you to stop by the Library Insider website and check out our services.

Thanks for spending time with us today, Judy. We appreciate you telling us all about Library Insider. We hope authors and publishers take advantage of this great service and share their success stories with us.


Marianne Evans said...

Very cool information - great post ladies - thanks for helping to make it easier for authors and readers to connect.

Janet Ann Collins said...

I love Judy Gann. She's a caring person who certain;y knows what she's talking about.

Chelle Cordero said...

Terrific service, very much needed.

The Crypto-Capers Series said...

This is a great article. Thanks Judy and Cheryl.

Nicole weaver said...

Very informative interview. Thanks Judy and Cheryl.

Nicole Weaver
Trilingual Children's Author

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

Wonderful information! THANK YOU both!

Nancy Stewart said...

This is such helpful information. I enjoyed reading about this new technology and Judy as well.

Thanks, Ladies!

Dora Hiers said...

A lot of great info in this post. Thanks so much, ladies.

Cheryl said...

Thanks for stopping by everyone. It was pointed out to me that some of the text about the training was accidentally omitted from the interview. This is now corrected.

If you enjoyed this interview I hope you help spread the word to your Facebook and Twitter followers.



Judy Gann said...

Cheryl, thank you for the opportunity to visit the Professional Writers Connection. Your interview questions were excellent and touched on all aspects of Library Insider.

I appreciate the comments and interest in marketing to libraries.

Thank you.

Judy Gann

Karen Cioffi said...

Wow, this sounds like a great resource. Marketing in general is difficult; marketing to libraries seems even more so.

Thanks for sharing!

Cheryl said...

Thanks for giving us such detailed information about Library Insider, Judy. I'm very excited about it, which is why I am making it part of my marketing plan this fall for Little Shepherd.

Wishing you the best,


V.R. Leavitt said...

Library Insider sounds wonderful!! As an avid library goer and aspiring writer, it sounds like it will be very helpful.