November 28, 2015

A National Ebook Library Lending Program Goes Live at Public Libraries in the Netherlands


Very interesting. As you’ll soon read what makes this service really different is that it has no restrictions on the number of people who can borrow a book simultaneously. In other words, one copy-one use has been tossed out the window.

You’ll also read that beginning in the Spring newer titles will be available (opt-in) for library users to borrow for a fee (in addition to their library subscription).

From Bibliotheek.Nl (Public Libraries in the Netherlands):

A large scale e-book lending service for library members will be launched today through

This new service from the libraries will allow members to read e-books without restriction so that more than one person can read the same e-book at the same time. In most countries, lending is based on the principle of ‘one copy, one use’, which means that an e-book can be unavailable because it has already been ‘lent’. [Our emphasis] Libraries in the Netherlands feel this is unacceptable, and so they have teamed up with publishers to develop a new lending model under which a fee is paid for each e-book they lend. This is an international first for the Netherlands.

Number of Books

A total of 5,000 e-books will be available when the service is launched.

This is approximately one quarter of the total number of e-books available in the Netherlands. Licensing arrangements have been reached with many leading publishers, and the number of participating publishers is expected to increase rapidly, particularly if demand continues to rise. The new service will support the library’s core duties across the board and in an appropriate manner: at local branches, online 24/7, and with a personal touch.

The titles have been placed into two categories: up to age three, and older. During the first months following the launch, e-books in both categories will be freely available for members to read.

Opt-In Fee-Based Service Coming in the Spring

Starting in April 2014, those who wish to continue to borrow more recent titles can opt for an e-bookplus package, which allows them to read 18 e-books for €20 [approx $27/USD]. This is a supplementary package taken out on top of standard library membership. All genres are available, including literary novels, regional novels, thrillers, non-fiction books and biographies. Initially, the range will be aimed at adults, while e-books for younger members will follow later.


Members can easily register online using their library card, and the e-books can be read on any device (laptop, tablet, e-reader or smartphone). Stichting (BNL) is providing this new service on behalf of the libraries.

Diederik van Leeuwen, director of BNL, is proud of the new service the libraries are launching. “It is already clear it will be a success. During the past six months, more than 150,000 people in the Netherlands read e-books and over 1 million e-books were downloaded using VakantieBieb, a special app from the library. Offering e-books is a new way to get people reading that is in keeping with the times and the role of the modern library.”


BNL is developing digital services for the library sector on behalf of the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, in close collaboration with the public libraries. Licences for making e-books available to others on a time-limited basis are purchased from e-book publishers by BNL on behalf of the Dutch Association of Public Libraries (Vereniging Openbare Bibliotheken – VOB).

Among other things, BNL plans to make the collection of all public libraries and the National Library of the Netherlands (Koninklijke Bibliotheek) available through the National Library Catalogue. This catalogue is available online to everyone in the Netherlands and contains approximately 6 million book titles, include all the e-books that have been purchased and tens of thousands of copyright-free titles.

Read the Complete News Release

See Also: OCLC and to Include Complete Collections of Dutch Public Libraries to

Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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