In July of this year, GoodeReader reported on a special task force that had been appointed in the UK to oversee the adoption of ebooks for library lending. The summer initiative worked well for the libraries, with about 70% of UK libraries offering some form of ebook lending, even if the catalog of titles is sadly limited.
Now, the government is looking into mandated ebook lending and the creation of virtual libraries. While it is disappointing that the adoption of digital reading and the cooperation of the publishers have not coincided in such a way as to benefit libraries and their patrons, it is even more disappointing that it may take a government mandate to actually put this into practice. They are only at the review stage at this point, seeking information in order to make policy decisions.
Opponents of the measure aren’t limited strictly to the publishers, however. A number of people are concerned that making borrowing a book as easy as accessing a handheld device could lead to a drop in library attendance, which overall can hurt public libraries. Aside from the cultural importance of libraries as institutions, they have always held a reputation as being the greatest champions of literacy and freedom of speech. However, as readers and publishers have been forced to adapt to a changing market and the widespread acceptance of technology, perhaps it is time the libraries adapt as well.