Ed Vaizey will announce a review of library e-book lending tomorrow (Wednesday).  He has cross party support and, indeed, his shadow Dan Jarvis, claims it was his idea in the first place.

It’s clear that something needs to be done on this subject: some authorities have e-book lending while others don’t; Authors, unlike with printed books, don’t gain any money at all from e-book lending; the biggest e-book player, Amazon, doesn’t allow e-book lending at all, perhaps because of its own future plans.  The difficulty for the Government is making sure that all sides win, or at least don’t lose.  Libraries need e-books so as not to be increasingly irrelevant but, at the same time, a way needs to be found to ensure the buildings continue to be used.  Authors need to be paid.  Publishers worry that, faced with free borrowing, people won’t bother purchasing at all.

It’s a situation that requires the wisdom of Solomon and, possibly, the future of libraries depends on it.  But, at least, the subject is being addressed now and, for that, Ed gets a rare thumbs up from myself, even though he can’t resist putting the boot into library campaigners when he appeared on TV…

Presenter: Now you might think that if public libraries start lending electronic books then they’re simply bringing themselves into the digital era. But what if borrowers are able to download e-books remotely without even visiting the library? It’s something that is really dividing the publishing industry.  There are those that warn that remote lending endangers the very existence of libraries and others claim that e-lending will seriously damage book sales. Tomorrow, the Government will begin a review into the whole issue. Our Culture Editor Matthew Cain reports:
Matthew Cain: In this library in Camden, a quiet revolution is taking place. Via its new e-lending service, readers can now download e-books from their account on the council’s website onto their e-reading device without even having to visit a library.  Once the loan period of three weeks has expired, the book disappears from the e-reader. Similar services are being launched in libraries around the country.
Janene Cox, Society of Chief Librarians: “E-books provide the opportunity for our services to be 24/7 and for people to access them remotely and for people to download them on to their own digital device.” But E-book lending around the country is patchy and inconsistent.  Tomorrow, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport will announce a review into the best way to make e-books available to all library users.
Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture and Creative Industries: “Digital sales of books have increased massively in the UK.  They now represent something like 10% of all book sales.  Amazon says it is selling more digital books than it is selling physical books so in order for libraries to keep pace and remain relevant to people, they should be able to lend books electronically.”
Matthew Cain: “But several key figures in the publishing industry are worried that e-lending could seriously damage book sales.  Many of us like to own and collect the physical books we read but this isn’t true of e-books.   Put simply, if we could borrow e-books for free then why would we ever buy them?
Richard Mollet, Publisher’s Association:  “The nub of the problem with e-lending is that we have to be sure that publishers can have a sustainable business model because when it is as easy to buy a book as to click a button and borrow one, then a lot more people are going to take the borrowing option and that will have seriouse implications for authors and their royalties, for booksellers and as well for publishers”.
Matthew Cain: And many authors have strong views on the subject. Under the Public Lending Right scheme, they get paid six pence every time one of their physical books is borrowed from a public library but, as it stands, e-books are exempt from the scheme.
SJ Parris, Author,”Sacrilege”: I think it seems self-evident that e-books should be treated in exactly the same way as hardbacks and paperbacks.  They’re just another format for the same content and the same amount of work has gone into it and, for a lot of authors the income that comes from PLR is vital to them. It’s not like a little extra, it’s like a vital part of their income and I don’t think that e-books should be able to undermine that”.
Matthew Cain: There are also concerns about the impact on the kind of readers that libraries were set up to serve: those who might not be able to afford to buy an e-reader.  The DCMS is already under fire for failing to prevent local councils closing libraries around the country. Will a nationwide e-book lending service not leave more libraries vulnerable to closure?
Ed Vaizey: We’ve specifically asked the e-lending review to take into account the impact of e-lending on library premises.  Clearly there is a debate about library closures. Some libraries have closed.  But of course people who put library closures to the forefront fail to mention that lots of libraries are actually opening.

Matthew Cain: Insisting on a visit to the library to download an ebook may be one way of protecting libraries from closure.  But there is another threat and it’s from online retailer Amazon who make the bestselling e-reader, the Kindle.  Amazon currently refuses to license the Kindle technology to libraries, prompting fears that it could launch its own nationwide e-lending service perhaps further undermining both the publishing industry and the library.”

Transcription of E-Lending: the end of the Library? From Channel Four News (04:08).


  • About ebooks and libraries – Good Library Blog. Lack of connection between librarians and publishers who are mistrustful of eachother.  Both parties need to work together, hampered by the atomisation of the public library service.
  • OverDrive releases usage statistics for first eight months of 2012Infodocket/Library Journal (USA).  “OverDrive library network data for the first eight months of 2012 (Jan. 1 – Aug. 31): Total OverDrive library catalog visits: 34.8 million: Library catalog page views:  1.82 billion:+ Average pages viewed per visit: 13.82: Average time spent browsing or searching per visit:  9:46: Book cover images viewed: 5.4 billion (est.): eBook samples viewed since OverDrive Read introduced (early Sept.): up 783% from March”
  • Sieghart to lead e-lending review – BookSeller.  “The government is expected to announce a review of library e-lending tomorrow (Wednesday 26th September), with William Sieghart, founder of Forward Publishing and the Forward Prize for Poetry, leading the initiative, and Faber chief executive Stephen Page, PFD chief Caroline Michel and author Joanna Trollope all included on the panel of experts supporting him. Society of Chief Librarians president Janene Cox and British Library chief executive Roly Keating are also expected to be panel members.” … “The decision not to include a bookseller on the panel will disappoint many. BA chief executive Tim Godfray previously requested such a “seat at the table” at the review, saying: “Any decision taken around e-book lending has such potential to make or break our book retailing landscape. Strong concerns were expressed at the Booksellers Association conference last week (16/17th September) over the issue of library e-lending.”


  • Free internet access in public libraries a basic human rightBusiness Scoop (New Zealand). ““With so much of our government information and access to services only available online, how is everybody going to have access to all the information they need to be an active participating citizen in our democracy?” she said. Ms Lamond said there was currently no New Zealand law to ensure local government had to provide free public library services.”
  • How much is a library worth? – Brisbane Times (Australia). ” For every $100 invested into local libraries a return of $230 is received by the public, a recent Queensland library report has found. The Queensland Library Dividend Report found $207 million invested into local libraries by state and local governments over a 12 month period resulted in $476.1 million worth of value to the community.” … “During the research, more than 5000 library users and 1100 non-users were surveyed in regards to three ways of assessing benefits of library services. Respondents were asked to put a value on their time in regards to how long they spent travelling to and within the library.”


Local News

  • Brent – Oliver Sacks waxes lyrical about Willesden – London Evening Standard.  “Another eminent voice has joined the chorus to save Willesden Library. “Seeing the photograph of Willesden Library in Zadie Smith’s powerful article gave me a sudden start,” writes neurologist Oliver Sacks in the latest New York Review of Books, “for it was here that I spent many of the happiest hours of my growing-up years —our house was a five-minute walk from the library …”

“It is true that one can get anything online now, and read everything at home, but there is nothing like a ‘real’ book, and nothing like a library, especially a local library, which is an essential part of a living community. I hope something can be done for Willesden Library, and for public libraries everywhere.”

  • Devon – Libraries are good for your health – This is South Devon.  “Developed in partnership with Active Devon, the Devon Community Directory and a range of other local organisations, the ‘Active Life, Active Mind’ programme aims to demonstrate the important contribution Devon’s libraries make to people’s’ lives. Throughout October events are being held in all 50 of the County’s static libraries to showcase what the service can do to help encourage positive wellbeing across Devon, and give a flavour of what is on offer throughout the rest of the year.”

“Libraries are well placed to deliver a wide range of information, advice and events to their local population, and these taster sessions will provide a flavour of the kind of activities available to promote a healthier mind and body through making positive lifestyle choices.”

  • Gloucestershire – Library ceiling collapses – his is Gloucestershire. Third of roof over children’s library collapses in Winchcombe, due to heavy rain [Heavy rain often causes leaks or worse in libraries, especially those with flat roofs – Ian].
  • North Lanarkshire – Major cuts in North Lanarkshire – Alan Gibbons. “I have just heard that it looks like the Education Resource Service in North Lanarkshire Council is going to be closed entirely due to big budget cuts next year. A month long consultation process is beginning and the results will be known mid-December and will be put into effect by the end of the financial year. The ERS is the equivalent to a school library service in England – and is staffed by six chartered librarians and two resource assistants. In addition, there will be a review of school library provision with a large amount to be cut from that. This is not all. The document with proposed cuts is one of the nastiest amount of cuts seen in some time”
  • Lincolnshire – Ingoldmells Library “pathetic” – Skegness Standard.  ““Why has someone put that pathetic library in the village?” said one outraged villager, who felt the mobile library visits, which are to be phased out, were far superior to the 300 books on offer in the new facility. “It’s an absolute disgrace,” he added.”.  Councillor then replies [with what appears to be faint praise – Ian} “He also explained that 700 extra books and a computerised management system could soon be brought in to enhance the service. “I’m sure it will be a reasonable success,” he said.”

“The parish council has had to buy its own stamp and there was no publicity other than what the parish council put in the local newspaper. The idea is good but as a council we are disappointed by the back up we’ve had from the county council.”

“Mr Dickinson, who took over as headteacher this term, said: “Having a library attached to the school is a very important resource. It’d be tragic for us if it closed. The children love to use it during the school day and we see it as fundamental for the provision we’re offering at the school.”

  • Wokingham – Plans drawn up for “a lot more than a library” in Twyford – Get Wokingham.  “A £1.3m fund earmarked for a new community facility in the northern parishes was deleted from the borough’s budget earlier this year, however Councillor David Lee, leader of the council, said a viable project for a new library could still be funded by the borough council in the future.”
  • York – Fears for York’s Libraries – Press.  “The Liberal Democrat group on City of York Council has claimed the city’s library service may be transferred into the ownership of a “social enterprise” and that this option will form part of a public consultation to will be launched next week. “