E-Book Rights Advocacy

DeWitt Wallace Library – Macalester College, September 2013


The libraries listed below are poised, and eager, to build a substantial e-book collection. Yet, we are constrained by the use restrictions placed upon e-books. We believe libraries should have the right of first sale to all purchased materials. In order for libraries to carry out their long-standing missions of building collections for use and sharing over time for their communities and the public good, it is imperative that e-book restrictions set by publishers and vendors change.

We believe building a sizable collection of e-books that have these significant use restrictions endangers the ecosystem of sharing and does a disservice to our patrons and community. Without modifications in the e-book marketplace, the trust and good faith between libraries and publishers is diminished. Therefore, before finalizing contracts, we will share the standards below with e-book publishers and vendors, and will give preference to publishers and vendors who most fully embrace them. With creative problem solving and conversations we can achieve these standards and still remain respectful of copyright and fair use guidelines. We anticipate and look forward to increased e-book purchases in order to meet the needs of our patrons. (Revised December, 19, 2013.)


  1. Libraries must be able to lend the entire contents of ebooks to other libraries in a manner that is not cumbersome to our operations and patrons.
  2. Electronic transfer of content between libraries should be permitted to facilitate efficiencies and minimization of paper usage.
  3. Libraries should be able to control the parameters of circulation functions: loan periods, renewals, recalls, etc. This includes libraries limiting access to a single user at a time if the content is not authorised for multi-simultaneous users.
  4. There should be no limits and no additional costs related to the number of times an e-book can be accessed over time.
  5. There should be options for archival and perpetual access. This could be accomplished by license agreements, facilitated through a 3rd party, or by selling content outright to libraries.
  6. Content should be downloadable and accessible on multiple, standard-use platforms and devices.
  7. No patron data should be used or shared if it allows for the identification of an individual without the individual’s permission.
  8. Libraries should have the option to purchase titles individually, separate from a bundled package.
  9. An option for allowing unlimited simultaneous users, for short-term or long-term periods of time, should be offered at fair prices.
  10. Copy, paste, and print functionality should be available.
  11. Accompanying metadata should be allowable in library systems and discovery layers.
  12. Meet ADA accessibility requirements, including allowing the use of text-to-speech engines.


We have an ever-growing interest in purchasing e-books but are reluctant to do so given the restrictions placed upon them by publishers and vendors. When restrictions are modified and the above standards are met, we are certain to build a significant electronic book collection for our community. There are mutually beneficial models for achieving these standards, some of which are already in practice. We welcome and encourage conversations that result in the expansion of fair and equitable standards in the ebook marketplace.


We ask that you join us by adding your institution’s name to this document and adhering to the standards listed within. To show your institution’s support, please complete this brief form.

List of Supporting Libraries & Organizations

  • Agnes Scott College Library
  • Amherst College Library
  • Augustana College Library
  • Austin College Library
  • Bates College Library
  • Becker College Libraries and Archives
  • Beloit College Library
  • Bethel University Library
  • Bryn Mawr College Library
  • Carleton College Library
  • Colgate University Library
  • College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University Libraries
  • College of the Holy Cross Libaries
  • Concordia University Library (St. Paul, MN)
  • Cooperating Libraries in Consortium
  • DePauw University Libraries
  • Earlham College Libraries
  • Furman University
  • Gustavus Adolphus College Library
  • Hamilton College Library
  • Hamline University Library
  • Haverford College Libraries
  • Hope College Libraries
  • Illinois Wesleyan University Library
  • Inver Hills Community College Library
  • Lake Forest College Library
  • Macalester College Library
  • Northern Lights Library Network
  • Pioneer Ridge Middle School Media Center
  • Skidmore College Library
  • Trinity University Library
  • Union College Library
  • University of Indianapolis Library
  • University of the South Library
  • Wellesley College Library
  • Whitman College Library
  • Add your institution’s name