Library lending rights move into the digital age

Canberra, 28 January: The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) has today welcomed the Australian government’s announcement of a $12.9 million extension of the lending right payments to authors and publishers. The extension will modernise the beloved scheme to cover ebooks and audiobooks.

“It’s simply brilliant news” said ALIA CEO Cathie Warburton.

“ALIA, along with the Australian Society of Authors and the wider book industry have been advocating for some time for this common-sense change. It is fantastic that the government has listened and acted to fix the anachronism where books were only covered in physical format”

Lending Rights are a government funded and administered scheme that makes a payment to Australian authors and publishers when their books are in the collections of public, school, TAFE and university libraries. Until now payments were only made for physical books, excluding ebooks and audio books from the scheme.

Australian Society of Authors CEO Olivia Lanchester says “We applaud the Government’s decision to expand the Lending Rights schemes to include digital books, bringing the policy in line with modern library collections. Authors love seeing their books held in libraries’ collections but their digital editions haven’t counted in lending rights payments - until now.”

“During the pandemic physical library spaces may have closed, but libraries were still loaning books, with a huge shift to ebooks and audio books. This really showed starkly the lack of lending right payments for these formats.” said ALIA CEO Cathie Warburton.

“We know that the library community loves Australian stories, and supports local authors. This doesn’t change whether the story is in traditional book form, or read as an ebook or audiobook.”

“This announcement today will support Australian creators, publishers and readers into the future.”