Libraries could be loaning books electronically as early as this summer after a review commissioned by the government called for new e-lending capabilities in a bid to secure their future.
The call for digital lending comes a week after findings of the Sieghart Review. The report, led by leading literary figures including Joanna Trollope, concluded that digital books should be loaned without charge and that members should be able to borrow books remotely.
According to The Bookseller, pilot schemes are in the process of being implemented across a number of libraries this summer. Their objective will be to gather evidence on e-lending patterns with a view to putting measures in a number of libraries later this year.
Mark Taylor, head of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, said: “For e-lending to really work, library staff need the support and skills to help people get the most from ebooks – whether they’re borrowing ebooks for the first time or looking to discover something new.
“Delivered properly and with the right resources e-lending has the potential to revolutionise public libraries and reconnect them with a new generation of digital-savvy readers.”
Nick Stopforth, of the Society of Chief Librarians, said that a number of libraries were in talks with publishers to pilot test e-lending.
Stephen Page, publisher and chief executive of Faber, told The Bookseller: “I think lots of publishers will be interested in learning more about this, and considering their own research rather than waiting for it to come from elsewhere.”
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