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eBooks For All

Holds: 287 on 1 copy

Does this look familiar? If you take out hard copy books from the library, then long wait times may be familiar to you. However, as of this month, you may see this type of message when trying to loan an eBook from your local library.

 Surrey Libraries has recently drawn attention to this issue along with the #eBooksForAll campaign.

eBooks for all campaign

What is the #eBooksForAll Campaign? 

As of November 1st, some libraries (no matter the size of their city or town) may only be able to purchase one copy of each new eBook title for the first eight weeks after a book’s release. By restricting access to eBook content, this change will make it increasingly difficult for libraries to serve the needs of their communities. “That’s why it is vital we get the public involved,” says ALA Executive Director Mary Ghikas

Since then, the American Library Association (ALA) has spearheaded #eBooks ForAll – because access equals opportunity.

As a writer for NewToBC, I have had the pleasure of educating newcomers on the myriad of free resources and services available at the public libraries throughout the Lower Mainland (such as eBooks). I know, first hand, that many newcomers to Canada connect to their communities through the library. Access to these resources not only helps newcomers connect to their community, but also helps them read books in their native languages and access valuable resources (free of charge) on an already tight budget. These connections and resources, in turn, allow our newcomers to Canada to become successful, contributing citizens to our communities. It’s difficult to learn that it may become more difficult to access these resources.

Libraries bring an “indisputable value in marketing books and cultivating readers at no cost to publishers or authors. Every time a library displays a new title on its ‘new release’ shelf, holds an author talk or book signing by a new writer, hosts book clubs or promotes a new title on social media, it provides free advertising that, cumulatively, is worth millions of dollars. This benefits readers, publishers and authors, especially newly published authors whose work would otherwise be difficult to discover.”

eBooks for All – Continuing a Legacy of Equal Access

It is important for us, as a community, and as a patron of libraries, to educate ourselves about the #eBooks ForAll campaign. Libraries are often considered an essential part of having an educated and literate population. Our push for public libraries started in the middle of the 19th century: “It was in these years of class conflict and economic terror that the public library movement swept through Britain, as the nation’s progressive elite recognized that the light of cultural and intellectual energy was lacking in the lives of commoners.”[i] 

Libraries in the Lower Mainland strive to continue this mission, in addition to providing the connection to community, resources, and materials needed by the ever-diversifying needs of their patrons. I fear that it may become more challenging for libraries to continue the same level of service that we have grown accustomed to with the new digital challenges that we are beginning to face.

Learn more. Read about #eBooksForAll through the resources listed, or online.

[i] Source: Wikipedia