(25 Feb 2021) At a recent public hearing, the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) called for the Australian Government to modernise current library lending rights schemes, with additional funding for a digital lending right to include ebooks and audiobooks.
Appearing with the Australian Libraries Copyright Committee (ALCC) and the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) before the House of Representatives inquiry into Australia’s creative and cultural industries and institutions, ALIA CEO Sue McKerracher highlighted the role of libraries as creative and cultural institutions. She described how libraries have risen to the challenge of providing electronic and contactless services during COVID-19 lockdown periods. ‘Libraries have proved their ingenuity, concern and adaptability,’ she said.
However, whilst libraries provided continued support to their communities through digital methods during the pandemic, the lending rights that support authors do not yet extend to ebooks and audiobooks.
ALIA Director of Education and Policy Trish Hepworth told the committee, ‘We need a policy, funding and legislative environment which will support both in person and digital library use; which recognises that the world has changed and which enables us to provide the services our users will tell you are essential to their health and well-being.’
‘Our great public and education lending rights schemes, which are strongly supported by authors and libraries, need to be updated for the digital environments – an initiative which has been on the table for some time but has not yet proceeded.’
In closing, ALIA urged the swift progression of the Government’s access copyright reforms and recommended: That the Australian Government should modernise the lending rights schemes with a funded extension to cover ebooks and audiobooks, and make this a key priority action for 2021-2022.
The original press release is here.