Position statement on ebooks and elending

A pdf version of this document can be found here.

Summary of ALIA’s position on ebooks and elending

As an Association, our values are:

Promotion of the free flow of information and ideas through open access to recorded knowledge, information, and creative works
Connection of people to ideas
Commitment to literacy, information literacy and learning
Respect for the diversity and individuality of all people
Preservation of the human record
Excellence in professional service to our communities
Partnerships to advance these values.
 
In support of these values, public, school, academic and special library users must continue to have Freedom of Access to Information and Resources (FAIR) in a digital environment – and that means access to ebooks and other eresources. 
 
We believe the solution for ebook lending by libraries lies in a whole-of-sector approach. We call on everyone involved in the book supply chain to adopt a consultative approach, working with library leaders to achieve the optimal solution for all parties. 
 
We are advocates for the Australian book industry in its entirety, which supports and promotes our cultural heritage.
 
In an increasingly global ebook market, libraries play a critical role in assisting readers to discover and access Australian content.
 

Goal and objectives

ALIA’s overall goal is to help our members make ebooks readily available to library users, while ensuring there is a generally accepted, fair balance between the commercial and ethical interests of libraries, creators, publishers and aggregators. To achieve this goal, our objectives are:
To assist library and information professionals to understand the complex issues around ebooks and elending, and share this understanding with colleagues, funding bodies, policy-makers and library users. 
To exert our influence nationally and internationally to persuade all publishers to make ebooks available for elending on reasonable terms and within a framework that is appropriate to the library sector. 
To work collaboratively with other stakeholders to help develop standards and compatible formats and platforms
To influence global outcomes through our relationships with local stakeholders, and by working with the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) and colleagues in library associations around the world.
 

ALIA’s guiding principles for ebooks and elending

Through continuing consultation with ALIA members and key stakeholders across Australia, ALIA has developed a set of guiding principles for our advocacy approach to ebooks and elending. 
 
These principles will inform our discussions with federal, state, territory and local governments and agencies; with authors, agents and publishers; with library vendors; with library leaders in our own region and internationally, and with library users.
 
In the rapidly changing landscape for ebooks and elending, these guiding principles will provide a constant reference point. 
 

ALIA’s principles

The best interests of library users are at the centre of our response to ebooks and elending issues.
An elending model that is FAIR – providing our communities with Freedom of Access to Information and Resources.
Creators (writers and illustrators) and those who add value (agents, publishers, library aggregators, booksellers) must receive appropriate financial reward for their contribution.
We will leverage established channels and relationships, and our involvement in book industry bodies. We will not create unnecessary duplication.
Licences for ebooks must at a minimum allow libraries to do what Australian copyright law permits.
 

ALIA’s operational requirements

Collection and membership policies set by libraries must not be undermined by other stakeholders.
Libraries must be able to purchase ebooks at the same time as the public.
Libraries must be assured of access to purchased content regardless of changes in the business relationships between publishers and other suppliers in the chain.
Pricing of ebooks for libraries must not be artificially inflated, must be transparent, and there should be a range of purchasing models to suit the differing needs of libraries.
Licenses at a minimum must allow copying in accordance with Australian copyright law.
Systems and processes must make it easy for library users ro find and download ebooks. Ebooks must be discoverable by library users at the same time as print books and simple to download.
Ebooks should be able to be read on any type of device and users must be able to move their ebook loan across devices. 
Library users are the customers of the library and that relationship and their rights to privacy must be respected by publishers and aggregators. 
Vendors should provide standards based usage reports, such as COUNTER.
 
Document revised and updated by the ALIA Book Industry and Elending Advisory Committee 2017.
 
For more information: 
Sue McKerracher sue.mckerracher@alia.org.au 02 6215 8215