American Library Association attacks HC e-lending policy

The American Library Association (ALA) has said HarperCollins US' restrictions on the number of times an e-book can be checked out restricts users' access to information.

ALA president Roberta Stevens' claim comes amid new data from the association showing 66% of libraries in the US offer free access to e-books, up from 38% three years ago. HarperCollins has limited the number of checkouts of a library e-book to 26 loans.

Stevens said: "Libraries have a long history of providing access to knowledge, information and the creative written works of authors. We are committed to equal and free access for the millions of people who depend on their library’s resources every day.

"While demand has surged, financial support has decreased. The announcement, at a time when libraries are struggling to remain open and staffed, is of grave concern. This new limitation means that fewer people will have access to an increasingly important format for delivering information."

Last week, HarperCollins UK said it would not rule out a similar move in the United Kingdom while Publishers Association c.e.o. Richard Mollet defended HCUS' actions, saying a balance had to be struck between the demands of libraries and the profits of publishers.