On July 23, 2013, the County Council of Montgomery County, Maryland, adopted their Resolution 17-821: Equitable access to e-books for Montgomery County Public Libraries. The resolution states:
The Council believes that patrons of Montgomery County Public Libraries should have equitable access to e-books at fair prices.
Therefore, the Council urges the General Assembly, the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Federal Trade Commission to examine this issue and seek any appropriate remedy so that County library users will have the access to materials in a reasonable and non-discriminatory manner.
With thanks to infoDOCKET, who have also made the full text of the resolution and supporting materials available via Scribd.
Following up on their webinar of May 2013, the Urban Libraries Council, in collaboration with communications firm The Hatcher Group, has released their briefing paper Libraries, Publishers and Public Access to E-Books, as well as a two-page summary document.
The papers are aimed squarely at policy makers, and “can be used as resources to educate local, national and civic leaders in your community”. The key messages in the paper are:
- Equal access to materials
- Publishers’ policies are preventing the public from accessing e-books
- Borrowing e-books from libraries is increasingly popular
- Some book publishers are denying libraries access to e-books, while others significantly overprice titles
- Pilot programs are encouraging, but need to be more widely implemented
The webinar podcast, briefing paper and summary paper are available together from the ULC’s website
OCLC received a grant from ILMS in 2012 to explore the challenges that US public libraries face in providing e-book content, and to work with library leaders to identify possible strategies for addressing these challenges – the Big Shift.
The report of this project is The Big Shift: Public Library Strategies for Access to Information in Any Format.
The report summarises the results of desktop and market research undertaken in late 2012, including:
- An overview of the e-book ecosystem in the US, including the market share of major publishers before and after recent mergers
- The demand for e-books in 65 of the largest 100 library systems in the US, including their current spend on e-books
- The expected future spend on e-books in these library systems, both if supply problems stay the same, and if they were improved (the increase would double if supply limitations were removed)
- The level of purchasing of best-selling titles in both hard-copy and e-books at these library systems
- The likelihood (quite likely) of these library systems sharing e-book usage data with publishers, distributors and retailers
The report also summarises strategies for addressing e-book issues, developed through workshops with library leaders in 2013, which are now being actively pursued by public libraries:
- Create NEW value in the e-book supply chain
- Use data to articulate library value in the e-book supply chain
- Educate about the public policy issues around e-book access
- Develop a common narrative
- Coordinate and administer these plans
EBLIDA released The right to e-read – an e-book policy for libraries in Europe in June 2013. This policy highlights uncertainties inherent in e-book supply for libraries, particularly:
- The lack of the exhaustion of distribution rights after first sale for digital content
- The ability of terms and conditions to limit the use of and access to digital content, and the ability of rights-holders to refuse to supply their content to classes of consumers
- The end result of publishers determining the collection building function of libraries, rather than libraries themselves, due to the application of these terms and conditions
The policy ends with a call for action:
Therefore EBLIDA hereby calls on the EU Commission for a clear copyright framework that allows libraries to acquire and lend e-books with an adequate remuneration to authors and other rights holders. Just as with printed books, an updated copyright framework should allow libraries to continue to provide their services for the benefit of all European citizens
One of the recommendations of the UK’s Sieghart review into e-lending in public libraries was:
A number of pilots in 2013 using established literary events should be set up to test business models and user behaviours, and provide a transparent evidence base: all major publishers and aggregators should participate in these pilots
In June 2013, the Society of Chief Librarians and the Publishers Association released a Request for Proposal to appoint a research agency to co-design (with SCL and PA) and evaluate a number of research pilots which will test the impact of e-lending.
The key research questions are:
- What is the reader journey? i.e. how do library users find and access e-books?
- What is the impact on sales?
- What is the overall impact on library services?
- How does an e-lending offer change the customers’ perception of library services?
The deadline for proposals was July 17.
UPDATE: The contract to develop the pilots was awarded to MTM London, a research and strategy consultancy.
Shelf Free is a group of individuals in the UK, who believe that e-books and e-lending should be an important part of services for public library users. Shelf Free is made up of representatives from at least 19 public library systems, consultancies and CILIP (although it is not clear if they represent those organisations in a formal capacity).
At present, the aims of Shelf Free seem to be raising awareness of the issues with e-books and e-lending in public libraries amongst people who work in libraries, the book trade, and library users.
Shelf Free’s own position statement on e-book services in public libraries and the range of titles provided states that they acknowledge the challenges that e-books represent to established publishing business models, but urges all publishers and libraries to cooperate in providing e-book services to library users, particularly in light of the recommendations of the Sieghart review.
The Book Industry Collaborative Council’s final report [7.16 MB] has been published on the website of Senator Kim Carr, Minister for Industry and Innovation. Copies of the report are also available from the websites of the Australian Publishers Association and the Australian Booksellers Association. Amongst other things it recommends the establishment of a permanent industry body, the Book Industry Council of Australia.
This report includes the final report of the Lending Rights Expert Reference Group, which was tasked with developing principles of supply of e-books to libraries, and a framework of digital lending rights as an extension of existing lending rights schemes. This is pages 180 – 203 of the report.
The report proposes eight general principles of supply of e-books to libraries, including availability of titles, continuity of access, fair remuneration for authors, fair prices for libraries, and device neutrality.
The report also makes recommendations for next steps, to maintain the momentum of work carried out by the LRERG, including working with industry and government to implement the proposals.
ALIA has refined their issues paper on e-books and e-lending through consultation with ALIA members and stakeholders, creating the ALIA position statement on ebooks and elending, May 2013. This is still technically in draft form, and may change further into the future.
This paper outlines strategic and operational principles for e-lending in libraries. These include supporting the best interests of library users and providing freedom of access to information and resources, understanding the role of libraries in the book industry ecosystem, certainty of supply and transparency of pricing, and systems which are easy to use and compatible with multiple devices.
The Australian Library and Information Association has released their ‘Buy it now’ Button discussion paper. This offers arguments for enabling users to purchase e-books via library e-lending systems, particularly for titles which are already on loan, and suggests the benefits of this to authors, publishers, booksellers, libraries and readers.
Writing in Locus Magazine, author Cory Doctorow gives a brief by well-written account of the frustrations experienced by libraries in procuring e-books, and argues that publishers should treat libraries like neutral parties or even allies, rather than a captive market to be exploited.
Cory Doctorow: Libraries and E-books – Locus Online, also published in the September 2013 issue of Locus