Ebooks and elending


The growing demand for ebooks presents challenges for all library and information professionals as they work to ensure equity of access to information and stories, whatever the format.  It is essential that libraries establish their role and position in this new digital environment so that library users can continue to enjoy access to a wide range of content.
ALIA is working to provide information for our members about ebook issues and a set of key principles to guide the procurement and use of ebooks in all Australian libraries.

the need for interlibrary lending in an ebook environment

24 September 2014:  ALIA has released the report The need for interlibrary lending in an ebook environment. The ALIA Interlibrary Lending Advisory Committee carried out research to find out if interlibrary lending and document delivery would still be important in the ebook world.


Comparison of ebooks and elending in Australian Public Libraries 2013 v 2014

16 June 2014: Made possible by ALIA Members, the Australian Public Library Alliance (APLA) has released the report Comparison of ebooks and elending in Australian public libraries 2013 v 2014. 

1 July 2015: Update report on ebooks and elending in Australian public libraries 2015.


Elending landscape report 

14 April 2014: ALIA has released the Elending Landscape Report 2014 which identifies worldwide public library initiatives to secure ebooks for borrowers. The report—prepared by Brussels-based Civic Agenda—is intended to help identify practical elending solutions for Australian public libraries.


80:20 not 50:50 by 2020

10 March 2015: In November 2013, ebooks were, metaphorically speaking, flying out of the door and we made a bold statement that ‘library print and ebook collections will establish a 50:50 equilibrium by 2020 and that this balance will be maintained through to 2040, when the last print-only generation hits 50’. In less than two years, the initial ebook sales boom has settled and the book industry is predicting the ebook phenomenon will plateau at around 20-30% of books sales, with print books remaining the dominant format.

27 November 2013: A discussion paper on the future of collections, 50:50 by 2020, is now available. We predict that library print and ebook collections will establish a 50:50 equilibrium by 2020 and that this balance will be maintained for the foreseeable future. To see the supporting evidence and get an idea of what this will mean for libraries and library management, please download the PDF document. Let us know what you think. Email advocacy@alia.org.au


Government Submission 

On 28 August 2013, ALIA provided a submission about ebooks and elending to the Australian Law Reform Commission's discussion relating to Copyright and the Digital Economy based on feedback from the ebooks and elending events. 


Issues Paper 

Many of the major ebooks and elending challenges being faced by library and information professionals are summarised in our ebooks and elending issues paper.
The Australia and New Zealand Society of Indexers (ANZSI) prepared a response to the ALIA ebooks and elending issues paper.  

Think tanks 

In order to understand the concerns of our members, we took to the road and organised think tanks, in Brisbane 15 February 2013, Perth 7 March 2013, Melbourne 12 March 2013,  Sydney 28 May 2013 and Adelaide 9 July 2013. 

Our think tanks provided an opportunity for library and information professionals to hear about the issues relating to ebooks and share their experiences and opinions.
We are grateful to the following librarians who took part in the think tanks and provided valuable insights into ebooks and elending issues in their own sector:

• Margaret Allen, CEO and State Librarian, State Library of Western Australia. Adelaide think tank

Margaret Allen, CEO and State Librarian, State Library of Western Australia.  Brisbane, Perth and Melbourne think tanks

Margaret Allen, CEO and State Librarian, State Library of Western Australia. Sydney think tank 

Dr Craig Anderson, CAUL representative, University Librarian, RMIT University.  Melbourne think tank

Greg Anderson, CAUL representative, University Librarian, The University of Newcastle.  Brisbane think tank

Ross Balharrie, Services Deliver Coordinator - eResources , State Library of New South Wales. Sydney think tank 

Anita Catoggio, Collections Manager, Yarra Plenty Regional Library.  Melbourne think tank

Sharan Harvey, Manager Library Services, Brisbane City Council.  Brisbane think tank

Peter Haasz, Business and Product Development Executive, OverDrive. Adelaide think tank

• David Howard, CAUL representative, University Librarian, Edith Cowan University.  Perth think tank

Margarita Moreno, ALIA Interlibrary Loan Advisory Committee representative, Document Supply Service Manager, National Library of Australia.  Brisbane think tank

Rosa Serratore, Chief Librarian, National Meteorological Library, Bureau of Meteorology.  Melbourne think tank

Andrew Wells, CAUL representative, University Librarian, University of New South Wales. Sydney think tank


ebooks and elending Position statement 

Taking into account feedback received from library and information professionals, ALIA developed a set of key principles for the procurement and use of ebooks in Australian libraries. These basic principles will guide the sector’s response to government policy and commercial initiatives, support our lobbying and advocacy, and enable us to take the lead in areas over which we have direct control.  The statement was updated by the ALIA Book Industry and Elending Advisory Committee in September 2017. 


business case - 'Buy it now' button

Through our think tanks, issues and position papers, ALIA provides the opportunity for our members to discuss new concepts around ebooks and elending.  In our 'Buy It Now' Button discussion paper, we introduce a new concept or model for public libraries and elending.  The paper outlines the benefits for the book industry of introducing the option to buy as well as borrow material through library management systems.  We encourage our members to read the paper and forward your comments to the ALIA Board.



ebooks in libraries advocacy

The State Library of Western Australia maintains a collection of materials relating to the supply of ebooks to libraries and library users.  It includes advocacy and outreach efforts, research and initiatives of libraries and library organisations.  

Elending for libraries

IFLA's background paper, thinkpiece and set of guiding principles are intended to help libraries and library associations as they consider the issues surrounding ebooks in libraries.

NSW.net elending portal

Developed by the State Library of New South Wales, NSW.net eLending portal is a collaborative space for sharing and discussing developments in emerging digital content formats: ebooks, eaudio, streaming and downloadable music and video content.  Access to the elending portal is restricted to registered members employed in NSW public libraries. If you work in a government or educational library, external to the NSW public library network, you can apply for guest access by completing the online guest registration form.