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CILIP: 'library e-lending should be free 24/7'

The Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) has said that e-lending in libraries should be free of charge, with customers able to download books remotely, 24 hours a day.

Submitting its statement to the Sieghart review on e-lending in public libraries, CILIP also said that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport or Arts Council England should make funding available to research the impact of e-lending pilot schemes.

In its statement, CILIP said that: “access to knowledge should not rely on the ability to pay. Charging for e-book lending is a threat to the principle of a free public library service, as e-books are likely to become the most popular reading format in the years ahead.”

It added: “CILIP firmly believes that e-books should be lent through the library’s website 24/7 as well as in the library building. Lending e-books in the library only would be overly restrictive, risking having a detrimental effect on library membership and would not take advantage of the opportunities that e-books bring – including reaching wider audiences and allowing people to borrow when they want.”

CILIP president Phil Bradley said: “While over two thirds of public library services in England offer e-book lending the range of titles is often limited. Several of the largest trade publishers are reluctant to allow libraries to lend their titles as e-books. There are commonly held misunderstandings about how libraries work and the benefits the e-lending could bring. We are calling for different e-lending models to be piloted so the impact of options can be better understood and decisions made on a robust evidence base.”

The panel into e-book lending was set up in September to look at the issue, and includes Faber publisher and c.e.o. Stephen Page and author Joanna Trollope. They called for evidence in October, and will report on their findings in the new year.