The UK’s Department for Culture, Media & Sport has released the Independent report into e-lending in UK public libraries. This report is the culmination of the review announced in September 2012 and headed by William Sieghart.
The report’s main recommendations are:
- Public libraries should be able to offer on-site and off-site e-lending services to clients that are free at point of use
- That Public Lending Right should be extended to audio books and e-books loaned on-site and off-site through public libraries
- That the interests of publishers and booksellers should be protected by extending the ‘friction’ present in print loans to the e-lending environment. i.e. Copies should only be loaned to one client at a time, copies should be securely removed at the end of the loan period, and copies of e-books should ‘deteriorate’ after a certain number of loans. (This is essentially the current model used to access Harper Collins titles through Overdrive)
- Pilot research projects should be undertaken to test business models and user behaviour, and provide a transparent evidence base
The Government’s response seems broadly supportive of these recommendations, although e.g. is careful not to appear to commit additional money to PLR.
The British Library Trust has already agreed to fund pilot research projects, and publishers have agreed to cooperate with the Society of Chief Librarians, Arts Council England and the Reading Agency to undertake pilots as part of existing initiatives such as World Book Night.