IFLA ILP: Project 3: Access to Digital Content

Year 1 Project Report, 2013
IFLA International Leaders Programme

Group 3 Project Team Members:
Sarah Kaddu, Uganda
Margaret Allen, Australia

Jacinta Were, Kenya

Others who assisted the group:
Paul Whitney, Canada

Project Description

Digital lending, including the lending of eBooks and other digital materials, is a major issue for all types of libraries. Increased consumer demand for eReaders, and a growing market for eBooks is fuelling a boom in the lending of downloadable eBooks, primarily by, but not limited to, public libraries. At the same time libraries are confronting a new and challenging situation where publishers (and potentially other rights holders such as authors) are withholding library sales of eBooks which are otherwise commercially available. When eBooks are made available to libraries there are no generally accepted license terms and conditions for the works and the terms and conditions required by some publishers and distributors are unacceptable to some libraries. In addition, alongside their provision of digital reading devices, major international companies such as Amazon and Apple are expanding their involvement in the publishing, distribution and lending of digital content in ways which are disruptive for both traditional publishers and libraries.

Against this background, the Access to Digital Content project helps to support the work of IFLA by assisting with research, advocacy and awareness of IFLA’s work to improve and ensure libraries world wide have access to digital content to meet the needs of their users.

Reports and deliverables

Year 1 Project Report
Summary of work undertaken by the group between 2012-2013

Project Objectives

The original project objectives as presented to the IFLA Governing Board, August 2012: Year 1 - Assessment of regulatory and commercial environments for accessing digital content

  • Literature review to identify key documents, surveys, discussion on digital content, ebooks and eLending within each region and internationally.
  • Develop a survey to establish status of eContent/eLending regionally and nationally:
    • Types of digital content available - e.g. Digitised collections, educational material, trade e books Ownership and licensing models in use
    • Principles or policies for eContent and/or eLending Digital Access and accessibility
    • Digital content ethical issues if any
    • Extent of discussions with government, authors, publishers, clients by professional associations
    • Identification of successful initiatives undertaken to secure digital content such as lobbying campaigns, partnerships with rights holders, development of new platforms etc

Results of the survey will be analysed and made available to the eLending Working Group.

It is anticipated that some information will form the basis of the Year 2 project which considers advocacy initiatives.

Revised Project Objectives

The project objectives evolved during the year. We kept an eye out for key documents, discussions and relevant information on ebooks and eLending in our regions and shared these as appropriate. The survey has been refocused to initially concentrate on Africa.


  • Created an eBook Advocacy site maintained by the State Library of Western Australia which brings together relevant articles, documents and other information of relevance to eBooks
  • Attended eLending expert group meeting in The Hague – November 2012. Provided feedback on the draft IFLA eLending principles following the eLending expert group meeting
  • Sensitised the IFLA/OCLC 2013 Fellows on IFLA International Leaders program on access to eContent in April 2013 (Sarah Kaddu)
  • Developed brochure for the Arab Federation for Libraries and Information (AFLI) to promote the IFLA eLending principles. This will also be used by other groups
  • Reviewed and provided input into the eLending Principles Workshop by IFLA for delivery in Africa
  • Developed a Survey for African library associations and libraries so as to obtain more information on the current state of eBooks in Africa
  • Presented at 5 Australian Library and Information Association seminars on eBooks across Australia since February 2013, including highlighting the IFLA principles (Margaret Allen)
  • Facilitated a workshop with 20 participants from 7 countries on ebooks at the African Library Summit (June 2013) using the eLending Principles Workshop Notes (Rosemary Shafack and Victoria Okojie)

LDP (Library Development Programme), ALP (Action for Development through Libraries Programme), IFLA International Leaders Programme, leadership, Advocacy, Ebooks

Last update: 5 December 2017