The Urban Libraries Council and the Canadian Urban Libraries Council strongly opposes the recent decisions of major e-book and e-audiobook publishers to impose increased restrictions on digital lending models for libraries, including embargoes on new content and ceasing ongoing (perpetual) licensing.
ULC/CULC are currently working together to launch a communications campaign that will highlight these issues and demand responsive change. We want to work with the major publishers and/or legislators to find a solution that is reasonable for all parties.
Read ULC's Statement on Equitable Public Access to E-Books where North American mayors and county executives from major urban jurisdictions have urged e-book publishers to institute equitable and transparent pricing for public libraries. Visit the ULC Member Knowledge Center to find more resources on this topic.
Below are key information highlights and resources to help library leaders gain a deeper understanding of this issue, as well as the need to take action.
This page receives updates on an ongoing basis. For suggested content and feedback, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
What's the problem?
Digital content is one of the fastest growing areas of borrowing for public libraries. Because of the unfair and restrictive pricing policies being implemented by the “Big 5” e-book/e-audiobook publishers:
• Public libraries will find it difficult if not impossible to fulfill their core mandate of providing universal access to information due to their decreased ability to purchase and license e-books/e-audiobooks.
• Intellectual freedom will be undermined because library patrons/customers will have limited access to information and resources in all its forms.
• Libraries will not be able to buy sufficient copies of popular titles to meet demand, or offer access to all titles in the formats that people want and need.
• The existing, troubling digital divide will widen, because e-content restrictions will impact people who rely on libraries the most — those with limited incomes who cannot afford to purchase e-books and e-audiobooks, and those with disabilities.
What can be done to fix this problem?
Public libraries must stand up for long-held values of universal, equitable access to knowledge and information as well as for intellectual freedom. We must advocate for all people while recognizing that recent publishing decisions will have a detrimental and disproportionate impact on those who rely on us the most. Equity, access, education and individual opportunity are all fundamental to the public library mission–and essential to a healthy, vibrant democracy.
Libraries must vocally oppose these lending practices and pricing models, engage the public and encourage patrons to express their concerns and opposition.
ULC Members Speak Up
"Guest column: Publishers unfairly putting the squeeze on libraries"
Steven V. Potter, library director and CEO of Mid-Continent Public Library, pens op-ed in The Examiner
"NPL Suspends Macmillan eBook Purchases"
Nashville Public Library blog post featuring statements by Kent Oliver, NPL director
"Columbus libraries taking stand against Macmillan Publishers after limits to e-book access"
Columbus Metropolitan Library CEO Pat Losinski quoted in ABC6 article
"Libraries, e-books, and the freedom to read"
Patty Uttaro, director of the Rochester Public Library, pens guest commentary for the Rochester City News.
"Metro libraries join nationwide protest of policy limiting e-book access"
Kansas City Public Library Director Crosby Kemper III quoted in KSHB article
"This battle between libraries and a top publisher will impact how New Orleanians rent e-books"
Jessica Styons, the acting director of New Orleans Public Library, quoted in Gambit Weekly article.
"Libraries: Macmillan unfairly restricts access to e-books"
Heidi Daniel, CEO and president of Enoch Pratt Free Library and Paula Miller, director of Baltimore County Public Library, pen op-ed in Baltimore Sun.
"Ohio libraries fighting publisher limits on digital content, eBooks"
Tim Kambitsch, executive director of the Dayton Metro Library, quoted in Dayton Daily News article
"Libraries Chafe Against Publisher’s E-book Purchase Restriction"
Aimee Fifarek, executive director of the Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County, quoted in Business Journal Daily article
"Libraries to boycott publisher's e-book policy"
Columbus Metropolitan Library CEO Pat Losinski quoted in Star Tribune article
"How a publisher is punishing library users with eBooks limit"
Michael Lambert, San Francisco Public Library City Librarian, pens op-ed in San Francisco Chronicle
"Multnomah County Library in the fight with publishers over price of e-books"
Vailey Oehlke, Multnomah County Library Director, quoted in KATU2 article
"King County Library System faces off against one of nation's largest publishers"
King County Library System Library Director Lisa Rosenblum interviewed by KIRO7
"Equitable eBook Access under Attack!"
Prince George’s County Memorial Library System encourages patrons to sign ALA's #eBooksforAll petition
"On Macmillan's ebook embargo: A letter from Library CEO Lee Keesler"
Lee Kessler, Charlotte Mecklenburg CEO, pens blog post about the library's opposition to Macmillan's new eight-week embargo against all public libraries for all new e-book titles
"Book publishers putting embargo on libraries"
Dayton Metro Library Executive Director Tim Kambitsch pens op-ed in the Dayton Daily News
"New publisher policies will limit your access to eBooks"
Paula Brehm-Heeger, the Eva Jane Romaine Coombe Library Director of the Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County, pens blog post about how the changes on licensing and loaning of e-books by Macmillan Publishers will negatively impact Library customers
"New e-book limit could force readers to wait for new releases"
Steven Potter, director and CEO of the Mid-Continent Public Library, quoted in KSHB article
"Library CEO urging patrons to join fight for e-books"
Ottawa Public Library CEO Danielle McDonald quoted in CBC News article
"KCLS boycotts Macmillan Publishers’ eBook embargo"
King County Library System Director Lisa Rosenblum quoted in Kent Reporter article
"Publishers, please don't limit e-book access"
Janet Mills, interim director, Hennepin County Library and Catherine Penkert, director, St. Paul Public Library join other Twin Cities library system directors in co-authoring commentary piece in StarTribune
"Petition to stop Macmillan Publishers from restricting public libraries' eBook access"
Tana Elias, digital services and marketing manager for Madison Public Library, quoted in Channel3000 article
"Publishers, please don't limit e-book access"
MELSA library directors pen op-ed in the Star Tribune
"Join library effort for eBook access"
Toledo Lucas County Public Library Director/Fiscal Officer Jason Kucsma pens op-ed in The Blade
"The battle for the future of e-books is happening at your local library"
Nashville Public Library Public Information Representative Ed Brown and San Antonio Public Library Library Services Administrator Ron Suszek quoted in Fast Company article
"Calgary Public Library joins fight against publisher restrictions on e-books"
Calgary Public Library CEO quoted in CBC News article
"Column: A threat to public library access: e-books no more?"
Columbus Metropolitan Library CEO pens op-ed in Columbus Dispatch
"Major publisher puts sharp limits on libraries lending new eBooks"
Wichita Public Library spokesperson Sean Jones quoted in KAKE article
"Limiting library e-books a blow to literacy"
San Antonio Public Library Director Ramiro S. Salazar pens op-ed in the San Antonio Express-News
"Library fights to protect eBook access for all"
Columbus Metropolitan Library CEO press release featuring statements by CEO Patrick Losinski
"Publishers Are Changing E-Book Access for Libraries"
Central Arkansas Library System blog post featuring statements highlighting that libraries pay much higher prices for e-books and e-audiobooks
"New publishing policy could limit new release e-books, e-audiobooks, and Northeast Ohio libraries aren’t happy"
Cuyahoga County Public Library Executive Director Tracy Strobel and Cleveland Public Library Director of Collection Services Jean Duncan McFarren quoted in cleveland.com article
"Library users blocked from new e-books as publishers impose tough restrictions"
Multnomah County Library blog post written by Vailey Oehlke, Director of Libraries
"TLA Response to Macmillan eBook Embargo"
San Antonio Public Library Director Ramiro S. Salazar quoted in statement from Texas Library Association press release
"Publishers’ decisions mean bad news for ebook lovers"
Pima County Public Library blog post
"Calgary Public Library joins library network calling for fairer e-book rates"
Calgary Public Library CEO Mark Asberg interviewed by Globalnews.ca
"ALA Announces #eBooksForAll Campaign"
San Antonio Public Library Director Ramiro S. Salazar, Nashville Public Library Director Kent Oliver and Columbus Metropolitan Library CEO Patrick Losinski presented at an ALA press conference calling attention to Macmillan Publishers’ new library ebook lending model and urging library supporters to sign a petition opposing it
"Mississauga Libraries Still Fighting for Access to Popular eBooks"
Jennifer Stirling, manager, digital library services and collections, interviewed by insauga.com
"Libraries face increasing costs due to publishers"
Michelle Simon, deputy director of support services Pima County Public Library, interviewed by Tucson Local Media
"They want to create friction’: Publishers cutting library access to ebooks, audiobooks"
Dayton Metro Library Executive Director Tim Kambitsch interviewed by WDTN
"Macmillan Publishers Further Restricts eBook Access for Libraries"
Toledo Lucas County Public Library blog post featuring statements from Library Director Jason Kucsma
Message from bibliotheca's SVP of Digital Products Tom Mercer
Email message to bibliotheca customers
"Council Votes to Help Edmonton Public Library Fight for Better Access to E-Books"
Edmonton Public Library Director of Branch Services and Collections Sharon Day interviewed by CBC
"Why Doesn’t the Library Have Unlimited Copies of Digital Books?"
Pima County Public Library blog post
"Publisher's Decision to Limit eBook Access Is Bad News for Library Patrons"
King County Library System blog post by Library Director Lisa Rosenblum
"Libraries Must Draw the Line on E-Books"
Publishers Weekly Op-Ed by Former Cuyahoga County Public Library Executive Director Sari Feldman
Statements and Open Letters from Leading Organizations
ULC Statement in Response to E-Content Publishers' Changes to Licensing Models for Libraries
Urban Libraries Council June 2019
Statement on Changes to Digital Loans for Public Libraries Canadian Urban Libraries Council June 2019
A Message from Steve Potash on Recent Publisher Lending Model Changes OverDrive June 2019
ALA "Concerned" Over Hachette Book Group Ebook and Audio Book Lending Model Changes American Library Association June 2019
Statement on Macmillan Publishers U.S. Lending Model Change for Public Libraries Canadian Urban Libraries Council July 2019
ALA Denounces New Macmillan Library Lending Model, Urges Library Customers to Voice Objections American Library Association July 2019
Public Library Association Condemns Macmillan Publishers Library Lending Model Public Library Association July 2019
The Washington Digital Library Consortium Boycotts Blackstone Publishing eAudiobooks for Six Months Washington Digital Library Consortium July 2019
Macmillan Publishes a Work of Fiction OverDrive August 2019
Romance Writers of America Concerned About Macmillan's New Library Terms Romance Writers of America August 2019
ALA releases template for state, local library action opposing Macmillan eBook embargo American Library Association June 2019