Toronto Public Library's Catalogue Now Points Users to
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Toronto Public Library’s Catalogue Now Points Users to

A new retail affiliate program gives TPL a cut of book sales made through its website.

No endorsement of this book should be inferred, but we hear it’s pretty good. The red outline has been added.

Search for a book using Toronto Public Library’s online catalogue and you’ll notice something new beneath all the bibliographic information: a little box that instructs you to “buy your own copy and support the Toronto Public Library.”

The deal is more or less what you’d expect. TPL’s administration has entered into a “retail affiliate” relationship with Indigo. The library gets five per cent of the cost of every purchase made through its catalogue. The program was approved by TPL’s board last June [PDF], but it only launched last week.

This is part of a broader push to open TPL up to new revenue sources. Beginning later this month or early next, the library will begin printing advertisements on the backs of its due-date slips, for a six-month trial period. The library is also investigating the possibility of running ads through its public wi-fi service. A spokesperson tells us those would debut, at earliest, near the end of 2013. The library board would still need to give them final approval at some point before then.

In all likelihood, none of this is going to be obtrusive enough to bother the average library user, but the returns, accordingly, aren’t expected to be that great. The due-date slips are expected to bring in about $20,000, which is minuscule relative to TPL’s operating budget. There’s no reason to expect that the Indigo partnership will bring in a lot of money, either. Library staff studied other jurisdictions with similar programs and found that the proceeds were “modest.”

Hat-tip to Quill & Quire.