WMF panel: libraries need national e-lending model

A national library e-lending model that pays publishers for every loan was one of the suggestions made at a discussion on sustainable models for libraries at a Westminster Media Forum on publishing this week (21st May).

Tim Coates, c.e.o. of e-book company Bilbary, made the case for a model based on “Reader- Driven Access”, where libraries do not buy copies of e-books to lend to customers, but instead allow readers to access books from a national catalogue, with the library paying a fee to the publisher for each loan.

Coates said: “Libraries have been neglected for too long. They are are seriously behind where they should be. Libraries in the US are already realising this can be a workable model. This way, the author and publisher both benefit every time a book is read, and the library isn’t spending money from its limited funds on books that aren’t being read.”
However, he said the system would need “a new senior executive body” to implement it, reporting to council leaders and not to central government.

Janene Cox, president of the Society of Chief Librarians, was a panel member for the Sieghart Review into library e-lending, and spoke about the impact the review could have on libraries. She said: “Evidence we saw on the panel suggested that remote e-lending has meant more people and more actual library visits, not less. People want to access libraries in a way which suits their lifestyle.”

Phil Bradley, the president of the Chartered Institute of Librarians & Information Professionals, challenged the idea that libraries should be focused on physical books in future. He said: “Libraries are about books as much as hospitals are about beds. In both cases they are integral to what is done—but libraries are not just about books . . . they are about reading—and in many respects, it doesn’t matter if [people] are reading a physical item or a digital copy.”