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Re: public libraries and licenses

Hi Janet!

At The Alberta Library we license databases for public libraries, as well
as academic and special libraries.  The situation you describe where
vendors are very concerned about loss of business through public library
access is very common.

Remote access, in particular, tends to be a concern.

One recent example:  at the moment we are working with a company called
Alldata on a license for their automotives database.  Remote access
through the public library could result in major losses from their main
business which is auto shops.  In this case, remote access simply is not a
possibility, and the issue for libraries is whether to consider offering
onsite access only, or not to offer any access at all.  From my personal
point of view, this is not that much different from having reference books
that can't be taken out of the library.  Also, there are advantages to
getting people to actually go to the library.  Especially the people
likely to use this database - this touches on a demographic group not
noted for their library use, and getting them in the door could increase
public library support in the long run.  Alldata is not at all concerned
about onsite public library use - if an auto shop pays once or twice for a
mechanic to go to the public library to look something up, they'll soon
decide to pay for their own subscription.

Another example you may be familiar with is Electric Library Canada, which
has had two types of concern with remote access (that I know of).  First,
they have cited problems with public libraries making databases available
to schools.  Since schools are the main focus of their business, and where
they expect to make about 90% of their revenue, this was a real concern to
the company.  This resulted in considerable discussion last year regarding
their license agreement, which they changed to make sure it was understood
that public library access could not be used to substitute for
subscriptions of other institutions.  More recently, they have had to
restrict access to the Southam newspapers to onsite use only for public
libraries, because Southam was concerned about loss of revenue from their
relationship with Infomart (which picks up quite a bit of revenue from
corporate and special library customers) due to remote access.  So, if you
subscribe to ELC for both onsite and remote use, the content is not the
same on the remote version.

Many vendors are happy with remote access provided it is restricted to the
library's own clientele (e.g. persons within a given geographic reason),
and for research, educational, or personal use only.  This means that
public libraries need to know that corporate cards, community borrowers
from outside the area, etc., are not eligible for remote access to
databases, generally, and that they do have an obligation to educate their
users about this.

I have heard that there is a viewpoint within the public library community
that a public library subscription should truly cover everyone in the
community, including academic institutions and corporations.  Alas, if
only it were so.  It would probably be possible to negotiate agreements to
cover everyone in this way - but I'm not sure if there are public
libraries with enough money in their budgets to cover such a license.  
With Alldata, for example, a public library license covering all
automotive shops too would probably be negotiable - but the cost would be
a discount from what Alldata would expect to make from all the auto shops
in the area - not the public library subscription cost, which is already
substantially lower than the corporate cost.

Hope this helps.  Let me know if you have any specific questions or
vendors in mind.

Heather Morrison
Licensing Coordinator
The Alberta Library
Rm 6-14, 7 Sir Winston Churchill Sqr
Edmonton, AB T5J 2V5
Tel: (780) 414-0805 Fax: (780) 414-0806
Email: hmorrison@thealbertalibrary.ab.ca

----- Original Message -----
From: "Ann Okerson" <ann.okerson@yale.edu>
To: <liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu>
Cc: <jgaisford@tpl.toronto.on.ca>
Sent: Thursday, September 27, 2001 4:15 PM
Subject: public libraries and licenses

> We had an inquiry this morning from a librarian at Toronto Public Library
> regarding licensing of databases for public library use. She noted that
> some electronic information providers express concern about allowing
> access from the public library to individuals who work for commercial
> organizations, as this can cause revenue loss for the provider -- should
> members of these firms use the public library in lieu of taking out their
> own corporate license.
> If any of our liblicense-l readers are in public library settings, can you
> reply to both Janet Gaisford (jgaisford@tpl.toronto.on.ca) and this list,
> and let us know of your experience and how you handle these kinds of
> situations?  What type of service do you aim to provide, and if you
> aim to exclude corporate users, how do you do this?
> Ann Okerson/Yale University
> liblicense-l moderator