Message from the Chair of the PLR Commission

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I became Chair of the PLR Commission in the middle of a crisis that nobody could have imagined—nobody, except maybe those who write stories that take place in an imaginary, troubled and worrisome future. Undoubtedly, we are all feeling a bit as though we are living in a dystopia.

The last year has been hard on the literary community and the arts world in general. But we must continue, persevere and find ways to keep working and believing.

Though its operations have been complicated by the situation, the PLR Commission must also continue, persevere and find ways to keep working and believing. Now more than ever before, authors—some of whom are in extremely precarious situations—need money.

That’s why the Commission team and its partners, libraries, have laboured to compile data and record, sort and assess applications. Authors were given an additional eight weeks to mail in their forms. Team members, who have been working from home, as we all have, received mountains of boxes containing thousands of titles to assess and validate. They then had to calculate each title’s portion of the amount paid out to the whole of the community for the year, based on program criteria and rules, validate the amounts and prepare cheques and mailings… all of this through the first weeks of 2021, at the height of the second wave of the pandemic.

Along with these new challenges, the Commission had to find ways to meet and continue its work despite the circumstances. We used to work closely together in a friendly atmosphere; we have had to attempt to recreate that feeling via online platforms we now use regularly, but which we are very much looking forward to leaving so we can meet with our colleagues, friends and loved ones in person.

As a Commission, we had goals to advance, such as representation, which was already remarkable but could be improved upon in terms of literary genres and diversity. We are currently working on recruiting two new members, an Anglophone author and a Francophone author.

And there’s good news in all of this: in spite of everything, literature lives on and is stronger than ever, as it is a haven, a source of happiness and comfort, and a means for envisioning our society and its future. To dream up the post-pandemic world. Despite the pandemic and confinement, people are reading—perhaps even more than they used to. They buy books and borrow them from libraries in various formats—digital, audio and paper—and that’s why we, as authors, must not throw in the towel. Literature is used to time slowing to a crawl and to patient work, regardless of how fast the world around it spins. It is remarkably well-equipped for this situation, and it will help us make it to the other end and spread our wings again.

Sending you all good vibes. Keep writing. Stay safe.

Melikah Abdelmoumen

-Mélikah Abdelmoumen, Chair, Public Lending Right Commission