CULC/CBUC & ULC Statement on E-Book Equity

North American Elected Officials Send Message to E-Book Publishers: Price Gouging Public Libraries Is Unacceptable

Mayors from major urban jurisdictions sign statement urging e-book publishers to institute equitable and transparent pricing for public libraries.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – November 6, 2019

TORONTO and WASHINGTON – Seventy-nine elected officials from North American cities and counties have signed the joint Canadian Urban Libraries Council / Conseil des Bibliothèques Urbaines du Canada and Urban Libraries Council’s Statement on Equitable Public Access to E-Books, championing the urgent need for equitable e-book pricing and access for public libraries. The statement has been signed by mayors and county executives from some of the largest urban jurisdictions in North America – together, these leaders serve over 44 million citizens.

The statement has been issued in direct response to Macmillan Publisher’s embargo on e-book sales to libraries that went into effect on November 1. With this new policy, libraries cannot purchase more than a single copy of new e-book titles from Macmillan for the first two months after the book’s initial publication. The Macmillan embargo will prevent libraries from providing equitable access to digital learning opportunities, widening the digital divide, and creating even greater obstacles for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“Multinational Publishers are price-gouging taxpayers and intensifying the gaps between the haves and have-nots in communities of all sizes with their restrictive licenses and excessively high prices. Most concerning is the new e-book embargo imposed by Macmillan Publishers, which results in an intentional erosion of digital equity by severely restricting e-book access for library patrons,” said CULC/CBUC Chair Pilar Martinez and ULC President & CEO Susan Benton. “By signing the Statement on Equitable Public Access to E-Books, North America’s mayors and county executives are sending a powerful message they will not stand for the extreme restrictions e-book publishers are placing on public libraries, which limit/jeopardize their essential role as engines for democracy.”

Developed by CULC/CBUC in partnership with ULC, the statement serves as a platform for city and county leaders to show their support for the vital role that libraries play in building educated communities, and to add their voices to the call for e-book publishers to eliminate discriminatory lending models for libraries. The statement reads as follows:

Major publishers have introduced severe restrictions to e-book and e-audiobook lending for public libraries, including embargoes on the sales of new titles and unreasonably high prices, which far exceed the prices offered for print books. As a result, libraries will be unable to fulfill their core functions in building educated, literate communities. These restrictions will be most harmful for populations who already face significant barriers to equitable knowledge and information access in our communities – including youth, people living with disabilities, and those with limited financial means.

Public libraries play an essential role in leveling the playing field and strengthening the foundation of our communities. As digital technologies become increasingly inseparable from the ways that people learn, work, and interact, the library’s unique ability to create onramps for information and knowledge access is more important than ever. There is significant, rising demand for e-books and e-audiobooks from public library users – overall, digital content circulation is increasing by 30% per year.

As elected public officials and trusted leaders in our communities, we are committed to protecting and supporting the capacity of public libraries to:

  • Provide equal access for individuals to gain knowledge and become proficient with digital tools, regardless of their income, physical abilities, age, gender, sexual orientation, race, citizenship status or religion.
  • Support lifelong learning and foster empathy, curiosity, civic engagement and a love of reading among community members.
  • Educate community members about the rights, responsibilities and implications of their lives online, including data privacy risks when accessing online learning resources and digital content.
  • Serve as valued partners to local government in advancing city/county outcomes for digital inclusion and as institutions that support informed citizens.

Our cities and counties are strongest when all individuals have the same opportunities to further their personal, educational and professional goals. Our democracy is non-negotiable. We stand with all who are urging e-book and e-audiobook publishers to institute fair, transparent, and flexible lending models for public libraries.

Encourage your local mayor and council to sign: CULC/CBUC & ULC Statement on Equitable Public Access to E-Books Signature

The following mayors and county executives (USA) have signed on to the above statement:


Jeff Lehman, Mayor
Barrie, ON

Andy Adams, Mayor
Campbell River, BC

Rhona Martin, District Board Chair
Columbia Shuswap Regional District, BC

George V. Harvie, Mayor
Delta, BC

Sylvia Pranger, Mayor
District of Kent, BC

Michelle Staples, Mayor
Duncan, BC

Don Iveson, Mayor
Edmonton, AB

Ron Oszust, Mayor
Golden, BC

Cam Guthrie, Mayor
Guelph, ON

Fred Eisenberger, Mayor
Hamilton, ON

Leo Facio, Mayor
Harrison Hot Springs, BC

Val van den Broek, Mayor
Langley, BC

Kevin Acton, Mayor
Village of Lumby, BC

Gordon Krantz, Mayor
Milton, ON

Bonnie Crombie, Mayor
Mississauga, ON

Leonard Krog, Mayor
Nanaimo, BC

Kevin Acton, Chair
Regional District of North Okanagan, BC

Rob Burton, Mayor
Oakville, ON

Dan Carter, Mayor
Oshawa, ON

Jim Watson, Mayor
Ottawa, ON

John Vassilaki, Mayor
Penticton, BC

Dennis Dugas, Mayor
Port Hardy, BC

David Formosa, Mayor
Powell River, BC

Gabriele Wickstrom, Mayor
Port McNeill, BC

Patrick Brabazon, Chair
qathet Regional District, BC

Kris Olsen, Mayor
Queen Charlotte, BC

Karla Kozakevich, District Board Chair
Okanagan-Similkameen Regional District, BC

John MacDonald, Mayor
Sayward, BC

Cliff McNeil-Smith, Mayor
Sidney, BC

Maja Tait, Mayor
Sooke, BC

Walter Sendzik, Mayor
St. Catharines, ON

Doug McCallum, Mayor
Surrey, BC

George Pirie, Mayor
Timmins, ON

John Tory, Mayor
Toronto, ON

Christine Fraser, Mayor
Township of Spallumcheen, BC

Kennedy Stewart, Mayor
Vancouver, BC

Maurizio Bevilacqua, Mayor
Vaughan, ON

Victor I. Cumming, Mayor
Vernon, BC

Dave Jaworsky, Mayor
Waterloo, ON

Gord Milsom, Mayor
West Kelowna, BC


Keith Carson, County Board of Supervisors Vice-President
Alameda County, CA

Ethan Berkowitz, Mayor
Anchorage, AK

Steuart Pittman, County Executive
Anne Arundel County, MD

Steve Adler, Mayor
Austin, TX

Bernard Young, Mayor
Baltimore, MD

John A. Olszewski Jr., County Executive
Baltimore County, MD

Nelson Wolff, County Judge
Bexar County, TX

Marc McGovern, Mayor
Cambridge, MA

Thomas Bernabei, Mayor
Canton, OH

Vi Lyles, Mayor
Charlotte, NC

Lori Lightfoot, Mayor
Chicago, IL

John Cranley, Mayor
Cincinnati, OH

Stephen K. Benjamin, Mayor
Columbia, SC

John Gioia, County Board of Supervisors Chair
Contra Costa County, CA

T.C. Broadnax, City Manager
Dallas, TX

Nan Whaley, Mayor
Dayton, OH

Steve Schewel, Mayor
Durham, NC

Wendell Davis, County Manager
Durham County, NC

Drew Boyles, Mayor
El Segundo, CA

Mark C. Poloncarz, County Executive
Erie County, NY

Kathy Dahlkemper, County Executive
Erie County, PA

Bryan Hill, County Executive
Fairfax County, VA

David Parish, City Manager
Greensboro, NC

Nancy B. Vaughan, Mayor
Greensboro, NC

Denise Driehaus, County Commissioner
Hamilton County, OH

Luke A. Bronin, Mayor
Hartford, CT

Sylvester Turner, Mayor
Houston, TX

Calvin B. Ball III, County Executive
Howard County, MD

Eileen Weir, Mayor
Independence, MO

Frank White, County Executive
Jackson County, MO

Bobby Hopewell, Mayor
Kalamazoo, MI

Frank Scott Jr., Mayor
Little Rock, AR

Eric Garcetti, Mayor
Los Angeles, CA

Greg Fischer, Mayor
Louisville, KY

Tina Skeldon Wozniak, County Commissioner
Lucas County, OH

Satya Rhodes-Conway, Mayor
Madison, WI

Anthony Traficanti, County Commissioner
Mahoning County, OH

Dena Diorio, County Manager
Mecklenburg County, NC

Marc Elrich, County Executive
Montgomery County, MD

Nancy Navarro, County Council President
Montgomery County, MD

Deborah Kafoury, County Chair
Multnomah County, OR

John Cooper, Mayor
Nashville, TN

Toni Harp, Mayor
New Haven, CT

LaToya Cantrell, Mayor
New Oreleans, LA

Breea Clark, Mayor
Norman, OK

Jim Kenney, Mayor
Philadelphia, PA

Kate Gallego, Mayor
Phoenix, AZ

Chuck Huckelberry, County Administrator
Pima County, AZ

Bill Peduto, Mayor
Pittsburgh, PA

Paul Livingston, County Council Chair
Richland County, SC

Lovely Warren, Mayor
Rochester, NY

Melvin Carter, Mayor
Saint Paul, MN

Jenny Wilson, Mayor
Salt Lake County, UT

Ron Nirenberg, Mayor
San Antonio, TX

London N. Breed, Mayor
San Francisco, CA

Sam Liccardo, Mayor
San José, CA

Gleam Davis, Mayor
Santa Monica, CA

George Van Dusen, Mayor
Skokie, IL

Sam Page, County Executive
St. Louis County, MO

Richard Regula, County Commissioner
Stark County, OH

Wade Kapszukiewicz, Mayor
Toledo, OH

Muriel Bowser, Mayor
Washington, DC

Jamael Tito Brown, Mayor
Youngstown, OH

Visit for more information about the statement and the most up-to-date list of signatories.

About the Canadian Urban Libraries Council / Conseil des Bibliothèques Urbaines du Canada

The mission of the Canadian Urban Library Council/ Conseil des Bibliotheques Urbaines du Canada (CULC/CBUC) is to work collaboratively to build vibrant urban communities by strengthening the capacity of Canada’s urban libraries. For more than 25 years CULC/CBUC has worked to ensure better library service within this nation’s populated urban areas. To achieve the mission the organization is dedicated to the following: Research; Capacity Building; and Knowledge Transfer.

The members attend to the needs of over 7.5 million active users who on an annual basis make more than 380 million uses of our near 700 locations and virtual services. The membership employs more than 12,000 library workers, more than 70% of all Canadians are served by a CULC/CBUC member library and the associated activity comprises more than 80% of Canada’s public library activity. The mandate is ambitious and the reach significant.

About the Urban Libraries Council

The Urban Libraries Council is an innovation and impact tank of North America’s leading public
library systems. ULC drives cutting-edge research and strategic partnerships to elevate the
power of libraries as essential, transformative institutions for the 21st-century. More than 150
urban member libraries in the U.S. and Canada rely on ULC to identify significant challenges
facing today’s communities and provide new tools and techniques to help libraries achieve
stronger outcomes in education, digital inclusion, workforce and economic development, and
race and social equity.

Encourage your local mayor and council to sign: CULC/CBUC & ULC Statement on Equitable Public Access to E-Books Signature

CULC/CBUC Press Contact
Jefferson Gilbert, Executive Director

CDN Press Release CULC/CBUC Statement on Ebook Equity

⚠️ Safety is a top priority for Canadian public libraries. The CULC/CBUC Safety and Security Toolkit provides a menu of options to help manage and respond to security incidents more effectively. Visit to enhance your library's safety plan! 📚

Just released — OVERDUE: The Case for Canada’s Public Libraries is the product of three years of CUI’s engagement with Canada’s urban public libraries alongside @culc_cbuc.
Read the report at:

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