This summer, representatives from the Internet Archive joined librarians and advocates in Washington D.C., to talk with policymakers about how Controlled Digital Lending, or CDL, helps their communities. The resounding response from Congressional offices was that CDL “just makes sense” and they want to support libraries that embrace technology to fulfill their public service missions.
As technology advances, so too does the ability to lend books efficiently, easily, and broadly, specifically with CDL. With CDL, a library digitizes a book it owns and lends out one secured digital version to one user at a time. It is the digital equivalent of traditional lending. CDL is not intended to replace or circumvent a library’s existing e-book subscriptions but instead serves as a powerful tool for bridging the gap between print and electronic resources for readers and researchers alike.
Through powerful stories, librarians explained that CDL is benefiting specific communities by:
- Providing access to rural patrons who find it challenging to physically check out a book;
- Protecting materials from damage in natural disasters from fire to floods;
- Saving the cost of transporting books to other branches to be loaned;
- Allowing access to rare, fragile books or those out of print and not in circulation;
- Preserving vulnerable cultural heritage materials for indigenous people;
- Supplementing materials at K-12 and university libraries that are suffering budget cuts;
- Providing historical context and fighting misinformation online; and
- Increasing access for people with disabilities, the elderly and students in off hours.
The concluding message to Congress was that libraries are using CDL today and communities and librarians love it. We were told that Congress wants to hear more. To tell your story of how CDL has helped your community (e.g., did you find the genealogy you were looking for or the book you needed for a school project?) and why you love CDL, leave a comment below or contact lila at archive dot org.