IFLA advocates for laws and practices globally that enable libraries to lend works digitally, and so support learning, research and cultural participation.
For many, the lending of books remains the defining activity of libraries. Lending provides a means for readers to discover new authors, as well as to access books and other works that would otherwise be unavailable or unaffordable.
It therefore has an important role to play in the wider book chain, supporting discovery, equity, and a strong culture of reading. As such, lending has been seen positively by creators and readers alike.
While the model of library lending is therefore well-established and supported in the physical world, there is less certainty in the digital, where libraries of different types continue to face often high prices and restrictive terms around the lending of eBooks to users. This puts pressure on library budgets, and risks leading to disappointment and frustration among library users.
This situation is closely linked to the uncertain application of laws around lending to digital works, for which contract terms and technological protection measures can prevent activities such as lending.
IFLA therefore works to build understanding and awareness around the situation libraries face in acquiring and lending eBooks around the world, and to provide evidence and arguments to support national and regional advocacy on this subject.
In particular, IFLA supports more favourable offers from publishers that reflect the needs of libraries alongside solid legal guarantees of the possibility to acquire and lend books digitally.