King County Library System (KCLS) will no longer purchase newly released eBooks from Macmillan Publishers, one of five major publishers in the U.S. This decision comes after months of discussion and advocacy to urge Macmillan to reconsider instituting a new library eBook embargo, set to go into effect on November 1. Under Macmillan’s new lending model, public libraries of any size will only be allowed to purchase one copy of a newly released eBook for the first eight weeks after publication.Effective November 1, 2019, the
As a large library system, KCLS maintains a “Holds to Copy” ratio of 5-to-1 to minimize wait times for popular titles. This means that for every five holds on a title, KCLS purchases one copy to ensure a maximum wait time of only three months. If KCLS is limited to one digital copy of each new title, and then has to wait eight weeks before being able to purchase more, patrons could conceivably wait years rather than months for their eBook.
“Digital equity and access to information is at stake,” states KCLS Executive Director Lisa Rosenblum. “KCLS’ central mission is to provide free and equal access to information, and libraries must be able to perform this essential role in the digital realm as well. We do not want other publishers to follow the example of Macmillan and embargo books. To do so profoundly changes the public library.”
For KCLS, a library system with 50 libraries, serving more than one million residents, the new embargo hits King County patrons particularly hard. KCLS has been the top digital-circulating library in the U.S. for the last five years and third worldwide. According to Rakuten OverDrive, KCLS patrons downloaded nearly five million eBooks and audiobooks last year.
To continue to ensure reasonable wait times for newly released electronic titles, KCLS will divert its eBook funds to publishers who are willing to sell to libraries without a purchasing embargo. They will, however, continue to purchase Macmillan titles that are not embargoed, including print materials and older copies of best-selling eBooks.
The American Library Association (ALA) has also denounced Macmillan’s decision, and asks that the public express their concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org, or ALA’s Public Policy and Advocacy Office at email@example.com.
Frequently Asked Questions
We are not sending accounts to collections right now.
Books, audio/video materials, magazines $0.10 per item, per day $3.00 maximum per item per loan period Most media equipment $5 per item, per day $50.00 maximum per item per loan period
You will be charged a replacement cost for items that are 30 days overdue.
You will not be able to borrow items if you owe more than $25 in late fines or lost fees.
We have heard feedback from patrons requesting more open hours. Some libraries in Southwest King County had enough staff to change open hours in January.
More hiring is needed to offer additional open hours at more locations. We are actively hiring more staff across the system to support this goal. As staffing levels increase, we expect we will be able to change open hours at almost all locations. We appreciate your patience as we grow our team.
All employees get paid time off for:
- One “floating” holiday that employees can choose when to use
We recognize 11 holidays each year. All full-time employees get paid time off for all holidays. Part-time employees get paid holiday time off if the holiday is on a day they work.*
*Unless covered by a union contract.
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We have 41 local Friends of the Library groups. New members are always welcome. Interested in joining a local Friends group? Find your next local meeting on our calendar. Or, contact your local library to find out more.
Most of the Friends groups ask that members pay small annual dues, around $5 per year. Members also volunteer time for fundraising projects, community events, and meeting attendance. Find your local group.