e-bOOk licensing and ReseaRch libRaRies—negOtiating pRinciples and pRice in an eMeRging MaRket
SEPTEMBER 2012 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A QUARTERLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
Sidebar: Research library statements on e-books
As demand for e-books has increased in the research library community, libraries are shifting content
previously made available in print to electronic form. This shift is not unlike the one nearing completion
in the journal environment. Although the intellectual content of the scholarly materials in print and
electronic form might be similar or even the same, the technical capabilities and the marketplace issues
are placing demands on how libraries provide access to the content.
In order to address how research libraries might make the best use of these materials, some ARL
members are developing statements about e-books and their applicability to research, teaching, and
learning. The values articulated in these statements parallel many of the negotiating principles ARL
included in its licensing initiative.
Access and User Experience
Many research library users read e-books on personal devices. Libraries value nonproprietary platforms
that will allow portability of content among devices. Research library users need to be able to have access
whenever and wherever they need it and libraries are committed providing unlimited, simultaneous
access to content they acquire. The ability to display, download, cut, and paste is important for any user
Libraries also value compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and similar laws that
ensure technical capabilities to allow all readers access to e-books. Protection of the privacy of readers is
important to libraries in a print environment and the value is being upheld for e-books as well.
Learning and Scholarly Research
Sharing content is an important consideration for scholarship, and research libraries value licensing
terms that do not limit fair use, first sale, or interlibrary loan. No digital rights management (DRM) allows
content to flow freely between and among scholars, teachers, and learners. Libraries value licenses that
support use of course management systems and reserves. And as larger corpuses of aggregated content
become available, research libraries value the ability of researchers to use that content to conduct text
Acquisition and Preservation
The values expressed by libraries for acquisition models include the ability to acquire e-books through
multiple methods of purchase, including demand- or patron-driven acquisition. Libraries, on behalf of
their users, value simultaneous publication of print and electronic content and reasonable pricing models
when purchasing or leasing either or both. The ability to incorporate purchased or subscribed content
within workflows is also highly valued.
As research institutions that take responsibility for the preservation of recorded knowledge, research
libraries value the ability to archive the content provided by e-book providers. They also value perpetual
access to any purchased or subscribed content.