[A2k] More on e-lending?

Manon Ress manon.ress at keionline.org
Tue Feb 11 11:15:46 PST 2014

I received interesting questions after posting re Dutch libraries introduce
new lending system for e-books (Author: Marjolein van der Heide -
21-01-2014) which was basically about money!

Librarians do not seem to like the possibility of becoming  "retailers" for
example and one has to wonder where the small fee goes (to authors also or
only publishers?)...

But here are some official and recently vented answers from the
International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA),
the leading international body representing the interests of library and
information services and their users.


IFLA Principles for Library eLending

Following the production of the IFLA Background Paper on eLending the IFLA
Governing Board tasked the eLending Working Group with developing a set of
principles that could guide library professionals as they grapple with the
complicated process of negotiating eBook licenses with publishers and

The principles below are intended to help all library professionals seeking
to provide downloadable eBook content to their users, and are broadly
drafted to maintain relevance across IFLA's 150 member countries.

    Full Version [Word Rev 2: 16 August 2013]
    Full Version [PDF Rev 2: 16 August 2013]

The arrival of the internet age and the proliferation of digital content
have heralded a new and exciting phase in the democratisation of
information, ideas, and knowledge - arguably at least as potent and
transformative as any other event in recorded history. However, despite the
myriad of innovative social and economic benefits attached to widespread
digital distribution and access to information and content, there are
disturbing signs that in the realm of public access, the clock is turning
back in certain areas.

At this stage in te evolution of digital dissemination of text based
content, libraries and their users wish at a minimum to be able to obtain
and use an eBook in the same way they can obtain and use a print book.
However, libraries are facing the new reality where they are often
constrained from acquiring commercially available eBooks for their
collections under acceptable terms and conditions. For example, some trade
publishers and authors are withholding sales when they believe that access
to eBooks by libraries may undermine retail sales and thereby reduce

The exhaustion of rights for digital content is an issue of increasing
legal debate and uncertainty. Rights holders operate on the assumption that
they can control all subsequent uses of digital works following initial
access by the purchaser. This assumption has been the subject of legal
proceedings in several countries. Should an consensus emerge that
exhaustion should be applied for digital works in the same way it applies
to physical objects (i.e. that  reselling and lending is permissible
without rightsholder approval as long as one copy of the same work  remains
one copy) a number of  the IFLA principles will be achievable. Should the
rightsholders interpretation prevail that they can control all post-first
sale uses of digital works, the library's public service mission of
ensuring societal access to written culture over time will be undermined.

The IFLA Principles on eBooks in Libraries is based on the assumption that
it is necessary for libraries and publishers/authors to agree to reasonable
terms and conditions for the library acquisition of eBooks, thus allowing
libraries to fulfil their mission of guaranteeing access to knowledge and
information for their communities. While we need  solutions that support
the publisher's and author's financial viability,  it is not acceptable for
a publisher or author to  restrict a library's ability to license and/or
purchase otherwise commercially available eBooks for library collections.

If the practice of withholding eBooks from libraries continues,
publishers/authors should be required in legislation to make eBooks
available to libraries under reasonable terms and conditions. In countries
where publishers and authors receive public financial support, the argument
for government mandated public access to published works through libraries
is especially strong.

Libraries worldwide operate with a fundamental mission of providing access
to information and, while acknowledging that regional differences exist in
technological capacity and maturity of the eBook marketplace, this mission
is universal and should prevail.

1.   A library must have the right to license and/or purchase any
commercially available eBook without embargo. If titles are withheld from
the library market by publishers and/or authors, national legislation
should require such access under reasonable terms and conditions. Libraries
must be able to determine their own acquisitions by choosing specific
titles from publisher or distributor listings in support of their mandate
to provide community access to information and knowledge.

2.   A library must have access to eBooks under reasonable terms and
conditions and at a fair price. Terms of access should be transparent and
costs predictable to enable the library to operate within its budget and
funding cycles.

3.   eBook licensing/purchase options must respect copyright limitations
and exceptions available to libraries and their users in national law, such
as the right to:

a.     Copy a portion of the work

b.     Re-format the work for preservation purposes if it is licensed
and/or purchased for permanent access

c.     Provide a temporary copy of the work to another library in response
to a user request

d.     Reformat a work to enable access for people with print disabilities

e.     By- pass a technological protection measure for the purpose of
exercising any non-infringing purpose.

4.   eBooks available to libraries should be platform neutral and developed
with standards for accessibility. Content should be capable of integration
into library systems and online public access catalogues, and interoperable
across platforms, applications and e-reader devices that the library or
library patron has chosen to invest in.

5.   Strategies must be in place to ensure the long term preservation of
eBook titles by libraries. Long term availability of eBook titles should
not be compromised by factors such as a publisher ceasing to operate. This
can be addressed through measures including the collaborative development
of archival databases by publishers and libraries and legislative solutions
which require the legal deposit of digital content with specified agencies.

6.   eBook services must protect the privacy of library users. Libraries
and their users must be able to make informed decisions about the control
and use of personal information including reading choices.

These Principles were endorsed by the IFLA Governing Board in February
2013. 1st Rev April 2013, 2nd Rev August 2013.

Manon Ress, Ph.D.
Knowledge Ecology International, KEI
manon.ress at keionline.org, tel.: +1 202 332 2670

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