Library associations across Europe joint call for action on eBooks

National and other library associations from across Europe have signed a letter underlining the urgency to find ways to ensure that library users continue to be able to benefit from services in a digital world.

The letter highlights the traditional and essential support that libraries play in supporting education, research and access to culture while highlighting that current eBook models and licensing are undermining this.

It calls for parallel action on eBooks in three areas:

  • legal guarantees of a right to access and lend,
  • better functioning platforms, and
  • more research into the market.

You can read the letter below, and find translations at bottom:

Europe’s libraries have a long-standing and essential part to play in delivering on people’s rights to information, education, research and culture that are essential to the maintenance of free democracies. They support a healthy civic and community life, underpin science and innovation, and ensure the safeguarding of the memory of the world. Reflecting their societal and economic importance, their function and role is enshrined in differing bodies of legislation. 

Information users are now living in an increasingly connected world, and the needs of society and industry are best served by ensuring that libraries can provide them with access to the widest possible range of physical and digital materials, including e-books.

We have, however, become very concerned that current modalities of operation, licensing and broader markets for eBooks are subverting the ability of libraries to perform their traditional and essential functions.

It is essential to ensure that eBook markets work in ways that allow libraries to do their job and to fulfil their public interest responsibilities, within a clear legal framework. Working alternatives that currently exist rely on voluntary action by publishers, and do not provide full access. Government action is therefore necessary on all three of the following fronts:

  1. Guarantees in law that libraries shall be able to acquire, preserve and electronically lend digitised analogue and born-digital works, such as eBooks, on the same basis as they lend physical works. This will enable more constructive negotiations between libraries and rightholders.
  1. Work to ensure that eLending platforms operate in ways that work best for libraries, their users and authors. 
  1. Aside from copyright reform and market regulation, support further investigation into the dynamics of eBook markets and their impacts on the achievement of public interest goals. This will also serve to inform wider cultural, education and research policies.

Affirmative action in the above areas will, collectively, support a lasting transition towards a sustainable and inclusive market model for eBooks which delivers on their potential to support access to research, education and culture, and so more democratic and inclusive societies. 

ArmeniaDigital Library Association of Armenia
BelgiumBelgian Association for Documentation (ABD-BVD)
BelgiumVVBAD – Flemish Association of Librarians, Archivists and Documentalists
BulgariaBulgarian Library and Information Association
CzechiaAssociation of Library and Information Professionals of the Czech Republic
EstoniaEstonian Librarians’ Association
FinlandFinnish Library Association
GermanyGerman Library Association
GreeceAssociation of Greek Librarians and Information Scientists
HungaryAssociation of Hungarian Librarians
IrelandLibrary Association of Ireland
ItalyAIB – Associazione Italiana Biblioteche
LatviaThe Library Association of Latvia
LithuaniaLithuanian Librarians Association
LuxembourgALBAD – Luxembourgish Association of Librarians, Archivists and Documentalists
MoldovaABRM – Asociata Bibliotecarilor din Republica Moldova
NetherlandsUKB – Universiteitsbibliotheken en Nationale Bibliotheek
PolandPolish Librarians Association
PolandConference of Directors of Academic Libraries of Polish Schools
PolandNational Library Deposit Foundation
PolandUnion of Polish Libraries
PortugalBAD – Portuguese Association of Librarians, Archivists, Information and Documentation Professionals
SerbiaSerbian Library Association
SloveniaSlovenian Public Libraries Association
SpainFESABID – Spanish Federation of Library, Archive and Museum Associations
SwedenThe Swedish Library Association
UKChartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP)
EuropeEBLIDA – European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations
EuropeEAHIL – European Association for Health Information and Libraries
InternationalIATUL – International Association of University Libraries

Relevant resources

EBLIDA Overview of eLending in Europe: