Canadian Urban Libraries Council/Conseil des Bibliothèques Urbaines du Canada

Knowledge Transfer

Fair e-Book & e-Audiobook Lending for Public Libraries

Background

In 2010 it was identified that Public Libraries were seen restrictive terms and availability to the emerging e-content market. CULC/CBUC formed a first working group to start discussions within the sector and with publishing and wholesale stakeholders. CULC/CBUC developed some Foundational Statements that are in the Positions section below.

Key Issues Facing Public Libraries

  • Members of the Canadian Urban Libraries Council / Conseil des Bibliothèques Urbaines du Canada (CULC/CBUC) spend approximately $100 million in public funds annually on library resources. Even with that significant expenditure, we increasingly struggle to obtain e-content from multinational publishers, due to cost pressures and often-strict licensing limitations applied to e-content.
  • In order to properly service our communities – including vulnerable groups like seniors, lower income individuals, and youth at risk that benefit from library access – we need to ensure that we Canadians have access to e-content.
  • Publishers, primarily headquartered outside Canada, are limiting Canadian libraries’ access to e-content, and, even when a publication is made available, are making it prohibitively expensive to acquire e-content.
  • Those restrictions and costs make it difficult for libraries to provide invaluable services that contribute to thriving and engaged communities. Public libraries and the early literacy programs that they run are integral to developing proficient readers and ensuring that children succeed in school. Digital literacy programs also help ensure that citizens can contribute to our digital world.
  • Barriers to libraries accessing e-content hamper our capacity to provide modern, digitized services to those demographic groups and to other public library users. This is exacerbated when some publications may only be available to us in digital forms.
  • Municipalities across Canada having indicated their support for CULC/CBUC’s campaign to increase e-content for public library users and public libraries across Canada.

Two Current Campaigns

  1. CULC/CBUC and the US based Urban Libraries Council (ULC) form a joint working group

  2. In June 2019 both the American Library Association and the Urban Libraries Council recognized the work that CULC/CBUC had been working on in Canada as they moved the issue up their advocacy priorities. ULC invited CULC/CBUC to be part of an international task force to look at solutions.

CULC/CBUC e-Content Campaign designed to influence Canadian Policy Makers

  • In late 2018 CULC/CBUC hired Temple Scott and Associates – a Ottawa/Toronto Communication and Government Relations firm to assist the organization and the Digital Content Working Group to educate and influence policy makers on potential solutions to improve access conditions for Canadian Public Libraries. This came after years of Position Statements and collaborative work that was only seeing the access conditions get worse. Goal of campaign is to achieve an collaborative removal of some of the barriers facilitated by the Federal Government. Failing that then policy and/or regulatory changes that would recognize the critical role that Canadian public libraries play in society and our democracy which would require changes by publishers. Components of this campaign include:
    • Education of key government departments and political parties including a Day on the Hill where all parties met with CULC/CBUC Representatives 
    • Coast to Coast municipal motions in support of Fair e-Content pricing and access models
    • Canadian Federal Election Candidate Outreach and Support Sought
  • The CULC/CBUC Digital Content working group has developed and offered a number of programs and advocacy efforts to draw attention to the challenges facing public libraries including:

E-Content Related Work to Date

Positions and Statements – Recent

Statements – Foundational

Projects and Programs Developed to Support the Message

Partners & Other Supporting Research

  • Coming soon

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