Limit on e-book purchases unfair to library patrons

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

The Richmond Public Library system exists to serve many needs of Richmond’s diverse population.

The libraries of today are significantly different than the ones I used while growing up in Richmond.

We have excellent internet access, electronic card catalogs, 3D printers and “maker spaces,” comfortable chairs, a higher noise level, librarians who help not only with research but also with resumes, innovative youth programs, etc. But at the core, libraries are about books, knowledge and thought.

It is distressing to learn that Macmillan Co., a leader in U.S. publishing, has decided to “throttle” public libraries’ access to some e-books. Specifically, they are restricting the ability of libraries to purchase multiple copies of many popular e-books at the time of publication.

Apparently, Macmillan is doing this to encourage avid readers to purchase books rather than borrow them from the library.

By creating an artificially long wait period for library patrons to access e-books Macmillan hopes that readers, at least those with comfortable budgets, will give up on the library and buy their own copies.

The RPL Board of Trustees strongly objects to this assault on the free library and, particularly, those patrons with little disposable income to spend on purchasing books.

Rather than agree to Macmillan’s limiting of our purchasing e-books, we have decided to suspend the purchasing of these titles in the e-book format.

In order to minimize inconvenience to our patrons, RPL will increase our purchase of printed copies of these popular titles. We value all of our community members and look forward to serving everyone.

Bill Yates,

Chairman,Richmond Public Library Board of Trustees.

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