January 18, 2022

Canada: Two Librarians From Vancouver on Why Libraries Should Sell Books

The online version of Canada’s Quill & Quire magazine has posted a June, 2013 guest column by two Vancouver librarians, Shirley Lew and Baharak Yousef.

It’s titled, “Why Libraries Should Get Into the Book-Selling Business.

Here are three passages from the column.

Canada’s publishing industry is facing tremendous instability and transition. As Canadian-owned publishers struggle to remain independent, the impending merger of Penguin and Random House will further shift the balance of power into fewer hands.


Instead of being bystanders to this devastation, libraries have compelling reasons to seize the opportunity it presents. We have a mandate to help preserve our literary and cultural landscape; we have the space, often in rent-controlled buildings; we know how to buy and promote books; and we are not constrained by the need to turn a profit. We are uniquely equipped to sell books and support writers, publishers, and reading in Canada.

Ours would not be a traditional business venture, but an extension of the service we already provide. It would operate on a self-sustaining, cost-recovery basis. The inventory would highlight books from Canadian publishers and writers, and reflect a range of voices across social, cultural, political, economic, and artistic spectrums. It would be a dynamic, jumbled, and chaotic collection of books and ideas.

Read the Complete Column by Shirley Lew and Baharak Yousef

See Also: Ottawa Public Library Wants Readers to Buy Books Through Library Website (March 6, 2013)
Includes mention of Toronto Public Library “Buy A Book” Program 

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.