E-book lending pilots are to launch at libraries, with the projects expected to run to the end of 2014.
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.
The Society of Chief Librarians, together with the Publishers Association, have awarded the contract to develop the pilots to MTM London, a research and strategy consultancy.
Areas laid out for investigation in the tender document included the impact of e-lending on retail sales, its impact on library membership and usage, and how an e-lending offer changes the perception of the library service.
Janene Cox, president of SCL, said: “We had really strong interest in the tender, and are very happy to appoint MTM London, which has a strong track record with digital media . . . We will be meeting next week to draw together what the pilots will look like.”
The next stage will involve inviting three to four library authorities to participate. Cox said: “I imagine the ones that take part will already have an e-lending offer of some sort. Ideally I would like authorities which cover a wide range of the country, so we can see the picture in cities, suburban areas, and in rural areas as well.”
She added: “We hope we can begin some of the schemes by the end of the year. We want to have some running throughout 2014, to take into account changing borrowing patterns throughout the year. The first findings could be in by the end of 2014, with full findings out in 2015.”
Laura Swaffield, chair of The Library Campaign, said: “It is a shame that it will take so long for results, but I appreciate the process will benefit from seeing changes throughout a year. Ideally, everything, including the Sieghart Review, would have happened much sooner.”
The pilots are being funded by the British Library Trust, with a grant of £40,000.