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.

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Book Industry Collaborative Council’s final report

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 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.

Future public library collections: how are we going to get there? – Shana Harvey, Brisbane City Council Libraries

Future public library collections: how are we going to get there? – presented by Shana Harvey, Manager Library Services at Brisbane City Council, at ALIA Information Online 2013

Brisbane City Council Libraries, which serve ~500,000 members, commissioned TNS Research to survey Brisbane residents (users and non-users) in 2011 and 2012 who had read at least one book in the last 12 months. The research had a particular focus on attitudes towards and use of ebooks

The research found that:

  • Libraries are an important driver for reading/book choice discovery
  • Library borrowers are also book buyers
  • Half of all readers are already downloading free ebooks (sometimes illegally copied, but also legitimately free ebooks), but only 12% borrowed ebooks through a library. This indicates a real opportunity for libraries to serve those users who are not willing to pay for ebooks, in such a way that some commercial return is still available to publishers for this segment of the market

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.

Book Industry Collaborative Council – Lending Rights Expert Reference Group – Australia

The Lending Rights Expert Reference Group was established by the Book Industry Collaborative Council to examine lending rights issues in depth, particularly as they pertain to e-lending. BICC was set up by the Australian Government, and is associated with the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education.

The Lending Rights ERG is made up of representatives from libraries, publishers and authors’ groups. It aims to develop a position paper which can inform industry and government on industry’s collective view regarding:

  • the principles for a consistent model for supply of ebooks to libraries
  • a framework for digital lending rights as a possible extension of existing lending rights schemes