An Independent Review of E-lending in Public Libraries in England – Report

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.

Press release – Review of E-lending Published

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Independent review of e-lending in public libraries – UK

The review was announced by Culture Minister Ed Vaizey on 26 september 2012. It will be headed by William Sieghart and will consider:

  • the benefits of e-lending
  • the current nature and level of e-lending and projection of future demand
  • Current supply models, barriers to the supply of e-books to libraries, and likely future trends
  • Systems for remunerating authors / publishers for e-lending
  • The impact of e-lending on publishers and their business models
  • Any unforeseen consequences of e-lending, including the long term impact on library premises, the impact on those who cannot keep up with changes in technology, skills requirements for librarians etc.

Submissions to the panel closed on 6 November, 2012, and the panel’s review is due to be produced in early 2013.

The panel’s terms of reference should be available at http://www.culture.gov.uk/images/publications/e-lending_review_ToR.pdf, but at time of writing this document was not available on the DCMS website. However, the document has been archived by the UK National Archives and is available through the UK Government Web Archive – Terms of Reference.

Announcement of the review on the DCMS website
Press release announcing the review