ALIA Report: Comparison of Ebooks and Elending in Australian Public Libraries

ALIA has released a new report – Comparision of Ebooks and Elending in Australian Public Libraries 2013 v 2014. Approximately one third of the 1500 public libraries in Western Australia responded to the survey.

The reports key findings included:

1. Nearly all Australian public libraries now lend ebooks; up from 69% a year ago to 97% in 2014.
2. On average, ebooks make up 5–6% of a public library’s collection.
3. In 53% of public libraries, ebooks account for less than 1% of loans, and in almost all,
they account for less than 5% of loans.
4. 60% of libraries use two or more ebook providers, up from 33% in 2013. The three most
popular providers are Bolinda, Overdrive and Wheelers.
5. Between half and two thirds of libraries are less than satisfied or not satisfied with the choice
of bestsellers, books by Australians, popular authors and overall content.
6. 71% of libraries have ebooks in their catalogue but less than a quarter of libraries (23%)
are able to offer ebooks direct from their catalogue.
7. More libraries appear to be loaning ereading devices — 23% in 2014, up from 19% in 2013.
8. Skills in public libraries have remained at a similar level, with two in every five libraries saying
most or all of their staff were conversant with ebooks and ereaders.

The full report is worth reading, as it contains some interesting comments from public library staff.

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.

ALIA position statement on ebooks and elending – updated

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.

Ebooks and elending issues paper – ALIA

The Australian Library and Information Association produced their Ebooks and elending issues paper to be a foundation for discussion about ebooks to be held at the ALIA Information Online conference in February 2013, and a library summit in March 2013.

The paper summarises the current ebooks and elending environment in Australia, and outlines the issues facing Australian libraries. This includes discussing how libraries support the book industry, the current situation in ebook supply in Australia, including the difference between academic and trade publishing, and four themes of current issues:

  • Content – including refusal to supply, and collection development issues
  • Procurement – including issues around flexible or inflexible business models, ownership, consortia and fair dealing
  • Operations – including integrating ebooks into the larger library systems, interoperability, reporting and analytics, and lending rights schemes
  • Lending and access – including barriers to access, DRM, inter-library lending and open access

The paper may undergo more iterations leading up to having a final version to share with government, industry and policy makers by April 2013.