May 18, 2022

National Emergency Library is Closing 2 Weeks Early, Returning To Traditional Controlled Digital Lending

UPDATE July 23 Internet Archive to Publishers: Drop ‘Needless’ Copyright Lawsuit and Work with Us (by Andrew Albanese, Publishers Weekly)

UPDATE July 22 Libraries Have Been Bringing Older Books to Digital Learners: Four Publishers Sue To Stop It (via Internet Archive)

UPDATE July 10, 2020 Brewster Kahle/Internet Archive Responds to Inquiry From Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) re: National Emergency Emergency, Controlled Digital Lending, Historical Sound Recordings (via IA Blog)

UPDATE July 1, 2020 Association of Research Libraries and SPARC Sign Position Statement on Controlled Digital Lending”

UPDATE June 25, 2020 Internet Archive Asks Judge for Additional Time to Respond to Complaint

UPDATE June 25, 2020 EFF and Durie Tangri Join Forces to Defend Internet Archive’s Digital Library

UPDATE June 24, 2020 Editorial From The Blade (Toledo’s Newspaper) “Let Internet Archive Thrive”

UPDATE June 23, 2020 Report From Vox: “A Lawsuit Is Threatening The Internet Archive — But It’s Not As Dire As You May Have Heard”

UPDATE June 22, 2020 Association Of Research Libraries Urges End To Litigation Against Internet Archive

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) urges an end to the lawsuit against the Internet Archive filed early this month by four major publishers in the United States District Court Southern District of New York, especially now that the National Emergency Library (NEL) has closed two weeks earlier than originally planned.

Read the Complete Statement


From an Internet Archive Blog Post by Brewster Kahle:

Today we are announcing the National Emergency Library will close on June 16th, rather than June 30th, returning to traditional controlled digital lending. We have learned that the vast majority of people use digitized books on the Internet Archive for a very short time. Even with the closure of the NEL, we will be able to serve most patrons through controlled digital lending, in part because of the good work of the non-profit HathiTrust Digital Library. HathiTrust’s new Emergency Temporary Access Service features a short-term access model that we plan to follow.

We moved up our schedule because, last Monday, four commercial publishers chose to sue Internet Archive during a global pandemic.  However, this lawsuit is not just about the temporary National Emergency Library. The complaint attacks the concept of any library owning and lending digital books, challenging the very idea of what a library is in the digital world. This lawsuit stands in contrast to some academic publishers who initially expressed concerns about the NEL, but ultimately decided to work with us to provide access to people cut off from their physical schools and libraries. We hope that similar cooperation is possible here, and the publishers call off their costly assault.

Controlled digital lending is how many libraries have been providing access to digitized books for nine years.  Controlled digital lending is a legal framework, developed by copyright experts, where one reader at a time can read a digitized copy of a legally owned library book. The digitized book is protected by the same digital protections that publishers use for the digital offerings on their own sites. Many libraries, including the Internet Archive, have adopted this system since 2011 to leverage their investments in older print books in an increasingly digital world.

We are now all Internet-bound and flooded with misinformation and disinformation—to fight these we all need access to books more than ever. To get there we need collaboration between libraries, authors, booksellers, and publishers.

Let’s build a digital system that works.

Read the Complete Blog Post

On a Related Notes

1) Earlier today the Washington Post published the editorial, “Books Online? Who Could Be Against That?

2) Public Knowledge Commends Internet Archive for Championing Consumers During Pandemic, Urges Lawmakers to Support Digital Lending

See Also: Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, and Wiley File Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Against Internet Archive (June 1, 2020)

See Also: 1,426,434 Million Books: The Internet Archive Launches the “National Emergency Library to Provide Digitized Books to Students and the Public” (March 24, 2020)

Background: Controlled Digital Lending

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.