A letter sent by Ed Vaizey, the UK Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, to Nicola Solomon, General Secretary of the UK Society of Authors, has confirmed the extension of England’s Public Lending Right scheme to e-books and audio books borrowed from public libraries.

The full text of the letter is here.

public lending right“I am pleased to confirm that the Chancellor announced in last week’s Spending Round that we intend to extend the Public Lending Right scheme to cover e-books and audio books borrowed onsite at public libraries,” Vaizey’s letter ran.

The letter came in the context of the  recommendations of the report by William Sieghart, Independent Review of E – Lending in Public Libraries in England, published earlier this spring.”We particularly welcome the recommendation to extend PLR to ebook and audio lending (both remote and on site) and to increase the PLR pot and urge the Government to enact those proposals without further delay,” ran the Society of Authors’ formal response to the Review.

At the time, the Society also insisted:

“This is now a matter of urgency. We have long been urging this and the failure to enact these provisions to date is patently unjust and a breach of the UK’s obligations under the Rental and Lending Directive (2006/115/EC).”

The Society should therefore be reassured by Vaizey’s commitment in the letter that:

“We currently plan to implement these changes in time for the PLR loans sample year beginning July 2014.”

Less reassuring is the whole context of lack of official support, underfunding, and the elimination of the office currently administering Public Lending Right, in the name of making economies. Nor is it exactly comforting to read that the UK Government apparently abolished the Advisory Council for Libraries for England in 2011 in direct contravention of statute law, without even realizing it had done so.

Public Libraries News suggests that Ed Vaizey’s department may be unduly “bothered” by the legislation “that makes ‘comprehensive and efficient’ public libraries statutory” in England. In the circumstances, the Society of Authors might feel grateful for whatever crumbs they can get off a table that the UK Government seems bent on cutting to pieces.


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