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.