ALIA E-lending Report 2014

The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) has released the E-lending Landscape Report 2014. ALIA commissioned Brussels-based Civic Agenda to produce a worldwide elending landscape report, identifying public library-led initatives to secure ebooks for borrowers.

Australian public libraries have experienced great difficulty in obtaining ebooks for elending and finding a platform which will meet the desired criteria:

  • A secure, trusted repository that contains ebooks from the big publishers, as well as from authors direct, and from local publishers
  • Content procured at a fair price
  • Providing access to local history content
  • Library branded
  • Providing content that can be accessed from all sorts of devices
  • With a clever discovery layer
  • The options of loan or buy.

The report on elending platform developments internationally is intended to help identify practical solutions for Australian public libraries. It includes a list of conclusions and options available for Australian Public Libraries to consider when purchasing electronic material.

Petition for The Right to E-read

The European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations (EBLIDA) has created an online petition on for the right to e-read. The petition seeks to give users the right to e-read by legalizing the lending of e-books from by libraries.

Specifically, EBLIDA wants:

– To provide our library users with the latest e-books as we do printed books;
– To buy e-books at fair prices and on reasonable terms;
– All citizens – not just those who can afford it – to benefit from free access to e-books in libraries;
– Authors to receive fair remuneration for the lending of e-books to the public.

EBLIDA is calling for the EU Commission to introduce a European copyright framework that is fit for purpose and allows libraries to acquire and lend e-books with an adequate remuneration to authors and other rights holders. The petition can be signed here

New York Library Director calls for libraries to buy ‘fair use’ books

Claire Kelly’s interview with Richard Naylor, Director of the William K. Sanford Town Library in Loundonville New York, is worth a read.

Naylor is encouraging libraries to only purchase ‘fair use’ ebooks, which are bought at retail price and without time limitations. He also expresses concern about overcoming the high cost of building collections of ebooks, where major titles cost 200-300% of retail price and expire after one or two years. His ‘Best of the Small Press’ list contains only well reviewed fair trade books. Like many others, Naylor is hoping the ‘Big 5’ publishers and libraries can eventually agree upon a system ‘that helps meet our mission of education and cultural enrichment without hurting publishers or book stores’.

Ebooks and interlibrary loans

Two more articles discussing interlibrary loan restrictions and ebooks have been published.

Hilmar Schumundt’s article on SpigelOnline International: The Digital Paradox – How Copyright Laws Keep E-books Locked Up, considers how e-books are being locked up behind ‘digital bars’. Libraries are often not permitted to share e-books via interlibrary loan due to licensing restrictions. Schumundt notes ‘the book doesn’t go to the reader, the reader comes to the book – just like in the 19th century’. The article also discusses how digital protection measures are now sophisticated enough to enable ditigal material to be shared without copyright being infringed.

Timothy Geigner’s article on techdirt: Everything Old Is Unavailable Again: How Copyright Has Ebooks Operating In The 1800s, picks up on this ‘epitimone of inefficiency’. According to Geigner the problem is a combination of governments unwilling to consider change and publishers. Academic publishers are ‘most egregious’ as:

In many cases, it is the readers themselves who, through their taxes, pay the university authors whose studies they are then unable to access. It is also likely that many professors themselves cannot even afford a subscription to the journal in which their work is published.

E-book acquisition options

Cary Alderson, heading of licensing at Jisc collections, has published an article on Research Information discussing the potential benefits of evidence based acquistion (EBA). EBA involves libraries paying an up front fee for a selected collection. Content is made available to users and usage is recorded via COUNTER statistics. After six months or a year the consortium then buys books, based on use, up to the value of the up-front fee.

Ebooks and the demise of interlibrary loans

Wayne Bivens-Tatum, librarian at Princeton University, has published an article on Library Journal regarding interlibrary loan licensing restrictions for ebooks. He argues that:

“Libraries that progress towards an all-ebook future without solving these problems risk destroying the ILL arrangements that benefit all of our users… I’ve seen it argued that librarians are responsible for purchasing resources for their own users, and they can’t be concerned with the users at other institutions. That’s a shortsighted view that ignores the fact that schemes of cooperation like ILL are necessary for everyone, and that contributing to its demise will harm everyone’s users, including your own”.

The Oberlin Group Statement on Ebooks & Libraries

The Oberlin Group, a consortium of 80 US liberal arts colleges, has published a statement calling for academic libraries to reject licensing restrictions with publishers which prevent libraries sharing e-books via interlibrary loans.

When libraries ‘purchase or rent material we cannot share with citizens beyond our campus borders, we turn our backs on a great strength of the academy—the ability to build complementary collections and share them in good faith with researchers and the community of readers’. The Group also calls for libraries and publishers to work together ‘in making good scholarly literature available to everybody who needs it’.

The full statement is available here