The Ottawa Public Library is pleased that the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) has approved a resolution calling for action from the federal government on eBooks. This resolution requests that the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development investigate restrictive eBook prices to public libraries. It was moved by Councillor Tim Tierney on behalf of the City of Ottawa.
“We are happy to see that municipal leaders from across Canada have recognized a need for action on library eBook pricing,” said Tim Tierney, Ottawa City Councillor for Beacon Hill-Cyrville and Chair of the Ottawa Public Library Board. “More and more library customers are looking to the convenience and flexibility of eBook borrowing, but the cost of providing them with materials they expect has been unsustainably high and has often come with unpredictable terms.”
Libraries can pay three to five times more for eBooks than the consumer price from some multinational publishers. In other cases, publishers place caps and time limits on use. This leads to fewer titles and fewer copies for readers to discover, despite growing demand and borrowing rates. Penguin Random House recently took a step in the right direction by announcing a plan to reduce library eBook pricing. Public libraries have recently sent a public letter to publishers calling for them to develop a hybrid solution to this matter, which allows flexibility for long- and short- term library eBook purchases.
“We believe that there’s a real opportunity for the library and publishing communities to work together to develop a solution that balances all parties’ needs and puts the interests of library customers first,” said Danielle McDonald, CEO of the Ottawa Public Library.
“We are glad that FCM has formally taken a stand on this important matter,” concluded Tierney. “This is a sign of real leadership in addressing a growing and important challenge for libraries in their municipalities and, ultimately, the residents that they represent.”
The Ottawa Public Library is a member of Canadian Public Libraries for Fair EBook Pricing, a coalition made up of the Canadian Urban Libraries Council, Edmonton Public Library, Toronto Public Library, and others to raise awareness of challenges faced by public libraries as a result of high eBook prices charged by multinational publishers. More information on the campaign is a available at www.fairpricingforlibraries.org.