Library e-lending pilot loans new releases

A year-long pilot for e-lending in public libraries is being launched today (3rd March), offering new releases and titles not available for e-lending elsewhere.

Library visitors in the four pilot areas - Peterborough, Newcastle, Windsor and Maidenhead, and Derbyshire – will be able to access a list of over 1,000 titles not currently on offer in other authorities for e-lending. This will include new releases, which will be phased in during the pilot year. Loans will be for either seven or 21-day periods.

The aim of the pilot is to “carry out real-time, real-world research into the impact of e-book lending in public libraries on authors, publishers and on the library service so that a suitable and sustainable model for all stakeholders can be found”.

The pilots are being launched as a result of the Sieghart Review into public library e-lending, which called for a series of pilots to gather evidence on how e-book lending could be expanded and the impact it would have on libraries, publishers and retailers.

Sieghart Review author William Sieghart said the pilots were an “important step”.

“The digital revolution in the UK publishing industry is going to transform the way books are borrowed, and it is vital that libraries explore how to make e-lending practical for their customers,” he continued.

Stephen Page, c.e.o. and publisher at Faber & Faber said the pilots would bring “further clarity for all parties - including authors, agents, publishers and librarians - of the effects of remote lending for e-books”.

He said: “The market is in its early stages and finding a model for the public library service that allows readers access but does not endanger authors' earnings is important and we hope these pilots will be a step towards that."

Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) president Janene Cox said the pilots would be “the first step in what will hopefully be an excellent result for libraries as we are able to offer more e-book loans across the country”.

Richard Mollet, c.e.o. of the Publishers Association (PA) said:  “Many publishers are already involved in e-lending through public libraries, but this pilot programme will further improve our understanding of the impact of e-lending. Reaching readers and being aware of customers’ changing needs are key priorities for publishers, as is ensuring that any e-lending scheme is commercially viable. It is hoped that these pilots will allow for sustainable models to be identified.”

A grant of £40,000 to fund the research has been made by the British Library Trust to the SCL, which is partnering with the PA on the project.