The Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals (CILIP), the UK’s professional librarians body, has issued a release and a call for action under the heading “Strict limits on library ebook lending must end,” which calls for the UK to bring regulations on library lending of ebooks into line with those governing printed books. According to the announcement, “libraries do not have the right to lend ebooks. Out of the six major trade publishers in the UK only three – HarperCollins, Random House and Hachette – offer some of their ebooks to libraries. Research conducted in February 2013 by Shelf Free … found that 85% of ebooks were not available to public libraries.”

This announcement publicly aligns CILIP with the Europe-wide “The right to e-read” campaign launched in May 2013 by the The European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations, Europe’s umbrella organization for academic, library, and archival professional organizations and bodies. The campaign’s position paper declares: “European citizens have the right to e-read! They should benefit from this right in libraries. It should therefore be possible for libraries to legally lend e-books. Libraries guarantee free access to content, information, and culture for all European citizens. But the current legal framework prevents libraries from fulfilling these essential services to our society in the digital era, especially in regard to the provision of e-books.”

The CILIP statement adds: “Rights holders, often publishers, are able to decide whether to make ebooks available to lend through libraries or not, which they cannot do with printed books. Local authorities have a statutory duty to provide public library services. Under the 1964 Public Libraries & Museums Act local authorities must “lend books and other printed material free of charge for those who live, work or study in the area.”

Barbara Band, CILIP President, added in the statement: “Public libraries play a vital role providing everyone with the opportunity to read, and access information and knowledge, whether via print or ebooks. We need copyright legislation that is fit for purpose in the digital age and provides reasonable payment for authors and publishers … Libraries should have the same statutory right to lend ebooks as they do physical books.”


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