Clear strategy could help more libraries to adopt the practice.
The best ways of making electronic books available through public libraries in England will be examined, Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has announced.
The review of e-lending will be led by William Sieghart, founder of Forward Publishing and the Forward Prize for Poetry. He will be helped by a panel of experts including Janene Cox, President of the Society of Chief Librarians, and author Joanna Trollope OBE.
The panel will consider issues such as the benefits of e-lending, current levels and expected future demand, and possible consequences for libraries, publishers and the public.
Although some library authorities in England already use e-lending, there is no common consensus on the best way and publishers can be wary about making their books available for e-lending.
Transforming library use
“E-lending is currently in its infancy but growing fast,” Mr Vaizey said. “Just as e-readers are transforming the way people access books, e-lending could help transform the way people use libraries. By acting now we can help influence the growth of e-lending to ensure that libraries, authors, publishers and the public all benefit from this potentially valuable new service.”
Mr Sieghart said: “E-lending is an exciting new development for libraries and their users but there are currently many unanswered questions about the best way forward. I very much look forward to hearing views about how we can make the most of the growth of e-lending.”
The review panel will issue a call for evidence shortly and has been asked to report back in the New Year.