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The presentations from this seminar, held at CILIP in London, in association with IFLA, are now online.  In the Introduction,  Gerald Leitner focuses on the core of the problem, noting that “It is a significant, and in our view unacceptable, change that the acquisition policy of libraries may be decided by the publishers and that free access for the citizens is decided by the publishers.” and calls for joint action to resolve the problem.

A number of country-focused presentations then follow:  Nick Stopforth of Doncaster Public Libraries in the UK presents the perspective of the Society of Chief Librarians, but, unfortunately, there are no data in his presentation on the current situation in the UK. Michael Dowling, Director of the ALA, on the other hand, presents much useful data on the situation in North America, noting, among other things that e-book availability in public libraries doubled between 2007 and 2011.

From Chile we learn that broadband provision is much lower in South America generally than the average in OECD countries and that there has been very little growth in mobile connections (in 2007 Latin America had 11% of global mobile connections, while in 2011 it had only 10%). Through agreement with publishers, Chile evolved a model of e-book provision in higher education which has led to a sixfold increase in downloads of e-books.

Yasuyo Inoue from Japan presents data on e-book use in public libraries  noting that usage is very low for a variety of reasons, including, significantly, cost.  He appears to hold out not very much hope that the situation will improve, commenting that it depends upon the nature of e-book content (much, at present, consists of manga comics), availability of funds in public libraries, revision of the copyright acts, and recognition of the ‘showcase’ role of libraries.

Dr. Maisela Maepa, of the University of South Africa, presents on the e-book market in South Africa, focusing mainly on academic libraries, since the take-up in other sectors is very small.  The lack of e-books in local languages is a barrier to further use and the mobile phone is likely to be the main reading device because of its penetration.

Klaus-Peter Böttger of EBLIDA reports on the situation in Europe generally, but very little of what was said can be gained from the slides, other than that the difference in VAT between print books and e-books is an issue for many European countries (only Denmark, Spain, France, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Roumania, and Slovakia have the same VAT rates for both forms).

Fiona Bradley of IFLA presents for Margaret Allen on the situation in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, identifying very similar problems to those existing in the USA (lack of availability of popular titles, limits on loans, etc.) and noting on-going discussions among the various interested parties.

For Sweden, Niclas Lindberg (Secretary General of SBF) gives an account of the present condition of libraries, in relation to e-books, which is already well known to members of the e-books research team, noting that talks between SBF and the publishers’ association had broken down.

Michael Dowling gives a second presentation on the campaign for e-books in libraries, in which the American Library Association is playing leading role.

Vincent Bonnet reports on the EBLIDA campaign in Europe – although colourful, the slides do not contain much information about the campaign.

Phil Bradley (President of CILIP) reports on the organization’s lobbying efforts in relation to the committee undertaking the review of e-lending for the Government. He notes that the value of the e-book market in the UK in 2011 was £92 million, that this was a  366% increase on 2010 and that the growth came from readers mainly in the 45-54 age group. As of July 2012, 71% of English public libraries were lending e-books, 81% of Welsh libraries and 57% of Scottish libraries.  Academic libraries offer access to more than 21 million e-books.

Finally, Stuart Hamilton of IFLA reports on that organization’s efforts in campaigning for the rights of libraries and readers in the e-book market.