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The Future Of The Public Library

Librarian Megan McArdle displays some text from a book available on one of nine new Rocket eBooks available at the Chicago Public Library.
Librarian Megan McArdle displays some text from a book available on one of nine new Rocket eBooks available at the Chicago Public Library.

Like many institutions, public libraries have had to adapt to the challenges of the pandemic. So far, they’ve mostly kept up, and at times have even gone above and beyond.  

But the nature and role of public libraries were shifting long before COVID-19. The rise of eBooks made online materials more accessible to the public than ever. But those services and technologies aren’t without their challenges.

The Internet Archive, one of the largest online libraries, ran up against eBook licensing issues with publishers during the pandemic.

Brewster Kahle, the site’s founder, wrote in TIME:

“Last year, four of the biggest commercial publishers in the world sued the Internet Archive to stop this longstanding library practice of controlled lending of scanned books. The publishers filed their lawsuit early in the pandemic, when public and school libraries were closed. In March 2020, more than one hundred shuttered libraries signed a statement of support asking that the Internet Archive do something to meet the extraordinary circumstances of the moment.”

We talk about this lawsuit and the future of public libraries after the pandemic.

Read the Transcript

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