International Leaders Programme project descriptions: Access to Digital Content/e-Lending

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 rightsholders 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, IFLA has produced a background paper on digital lending that outlines the issues involved and what is at stake for libraries.

International Platform: WIPO, UNESCO

Ownership: E-lending Working Group

Role of Participant:

  • Work closely with the members of IFLA’s e-lending working group to undertake various activities needed to implement the recommendations of the working paper.
  • Be a full and active member of the working group through online communications and in-person activities where appropriate.
  • Advocate for the role of libraries as providers of digital content, particularly through dissemination of information regarding the IFLA position.
  • Develop the IFLA web resources on access to digital content and e-Lending, including dedicated webpages and social media outreach

Expected Commitment of Participant:

  • Attendance at IFLA WLIC 2012, 2013, 2014
  • Active participation in the e-Lending working group. This will involve regular communication (online and by phone), discussion and work assignments (research and policy development) to implement the recommendations of the background paper
  • Production of documentation and materials to develop the IFLA e-Lending web resources.
  • Attendance at relevant meetings, and active participation in associated presentations and advocacy to identified target groups
  • Advocacy for the role of libraries as providers of digital content in the participant’s own country and work with the national library association to develop policies and activities that support this 

Expected Project Outcomes:


  • The participant will get to work and collaborate with senior LIS experts on access to digital content and e-Lending, and gain an understanding of how to effectively advocate for open access policies
  • The participant will develop an understanding of the challenges that the digital shift presents, and the international landscape in which advocacy for the role of libraries as providers of digital content can take place
  • The participant will gain experience in producing supporting materials that can be used for advocacy at national and international levels.
  • The participant will gain experience of presenting in high-level meetings, and advocating to government officials in support of agreed policy positions.


  • IFLA will gain added capacity and expertise in support of its work on e-lending, and an advocate for its positions at a national level.
  • IFLA will benefit by being able to draw upon the increased expertise of the participant in future advocacy situations relating to libraries and e-lending.


  • Director of Policy and Advocacy
  • Members of IFLA e-Lending Working Group
  • Chairs of FAIFE and CLM Committees
  • Members of FAIFE and CLM Committees

Relationship to Programme:

  • Connected with CLM WIPO Project and Open Access Project, Impact Project

Which Criteria are Most Important in This Project:

  • Written communication skills
  • IT skills
  • Organisational and project management skills
  • Presentation skills
  • Ability to travel internationally

LDP (Library Development Programme), leadership

Last update: 5 October 2012