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Statement on Equitable Public Access to E-Books

The need for fair and equitable e-book/e-audiobook access and pricing for libraries impacts every community in North America. When libraries cannot fulfill our essential function in providing free access to information, social and economic divides intensify, weakening our communities and the futures of our residents.

Developed by the Urban Libraries Council and Canadian Urban Libraries Council, the below statement serves as a platform for city and county leaders to show their support for the vital role that libraries play in building digital-ready communities, and to add their voices to the call for e-book/e-audiobook publishers to institute transparent and balanced lending models for libraries.

Have questions? Contact ULC Director of Communications Curtis Rogers at crogers@urbanlibraries.org.

Statement on Equitable Public Access to E-Books

    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.

    80 city and county leaders have signed this statement, including:

    U.S. SIGNATORIES

     
    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
    Stephen K. Benjamin
    Mayor
    Columbia, SC
    John Gioia
    County Board of Supervisors Chair
    Contra Costa County, CA
    T.C. Broadnax
    City Manager
    Dallas, TX
    Steve Schewel
    Mayor
    Durham, NC
    Wendell Davis
    County Manager
    Durham County, NC
    Mark C. Poloncarz
    County Executive
    Erie County, NY
    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
    Eric Garcetti
    Mayor
    Los Angeles, CA
    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
    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

    CANADA SIGNATORIES

     
    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
    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
    Gordon Krantz
    Mayor
    Nanaimo, BC
    Leonard Krog
    Mayor
    Milton, ON
    Rob Burton
    Mayor
    Oakville, ON
    Dan Carter
    Mayor
    Oshawa, ON
    Jim Watson
    Mayor
    Ottawa, ON
    Dennis Dugas
    Mayor
    Port Hardy, BC
    Gabriele Wickstrom
    Mayor
    Port McNeill, 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
    John Tory
    Mayor
    Toronto, ON
    Gord Milsom
    Mayor
    West Kelowna, BC

    Share this statement with your mayor and/or county executive

    To add your community's leaders as signatories, please download and share this version of the statement, which includes a signature line. Please submit signed statements to ULC Director of Communications Curtis Rogers at crogers@urbanlibraries.org.

    Visit the ULC's Fair E-Book and E-Audiobook Lending for Libraries resource page to find out more information on this topic.