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Equity in E-Resources

A Resource Guide

image: e-reader, paperback book, and reading glasses on brown wooden table

In the last several months, publishers of e-books and e-audiobooks have been changing the way they license content and imposing excessive restrictions on access to new titles. This is on top of the existing trend of library-targeted, time-limited licenses and licensing costs that can be up to six times higher than for an individual. Both the American Library Association and the Illinois Library Association list equal access to information as a core value, and ALA includes equal access to information as a core value of librarianship. While some restrictions are an expected reality, the new licensing models impose restrictions that make it far too difficult to ensure access to information for all. Limited access for libraries means limited access for library patrons, including those who count on our services the most. 

The time to act is now--before the Macmillan embargo takes place and before any additional content providers adopt a similar model. Illinois Heartland Library System has developed and collected a few resources for Illinois libraries to use in advocating for libraries and patrons in Illinois and everywhere. Help in the move toward equal information access for all by learning more and by sharing these resources with your library's staff and patrons!

Read About the Recent Embargoes

Major Public Library System Will Boycott Macmillan E-books (Publishers Weekly 10/15/19) - t U.S.'s top digital-circulating library says it will stop buying new release Macmillan e-books once the publishers' two-month embargo begins

Embargoed: Libraries Struggle with E-Book Purchasing (Public Libraries Online, Public Library Association 10/8/19) - a look at Macmillan's actions, e-book pricing, and how they affect libraries and library patrons

Libraries band together in "eBooks for all" quest (LI Herald 10/11/19) - includes easy-to-understand, first-hand explanations of how the embargo will affect libraries

ALA launches national campaign against e-book embargo (American Library Association, 9/11/19) - a description of the national advocacy campaign and petition by American Library Association and Public Library Association

Letter to customers from Bibliotheca SVP of Digital Products Tom Mercer (Bibliotheca) - a history of the digital lending landscape, how data-sharing by Amazon is provoking changes now, and how library staff and e-resource borrowers can respond

Bibliotheca, Hoopla and Overdrive are angry with major publishers (Good e-Reader, 8/28/19) - a quick summary of the recent embargoes and restrictions

ALA releases template for state, local library action opposing Macmillan eBook embargo (American Library Association, 8/23/19) - ALA's statement, including links to their customizable letter (download) addressed to the CEO of Macmillan

Publishers Change Ebook and Audiobook Models; Libraries Look for Answers (Library Journal, 7/17/19) - a more in-depth summary of e-publishing sales models for libraries, also with a discussion of Amazon's data-sharing practices and its influence on publishers 

Libraries Must Draw the Line on E-books: Recent developments suggest a grim future for digital content in libraries, writes Sari Feldman, unless library supporters find a way to respond (Publishers Weekly 7/12/19) - an explanation of why some restrictions on libraries are an "economic reality" and why the recent restrictions have "gone too far"


Tools for library staff, patrons, and trustees

Print Tools

8 1/2" x 11" Handout - customizable, red & white (.docx download)

8 1/2" x 11" Handout - customizable, black & white (.docx download)

8 1/2" x 11" Handout - print-ready, red & white (.pdf download)

8 1/2" x 11" Handout - print-ready, black & white (.pdf download)


  1. After downloading and opening, click the "Enable Editing" button in the yellow banner near the top of your Word program.
  2. Click the top-right fillable region and replace the text with the name of your library.
  3. Click the fillable region in the first paragraph. Edit the text to reflect the e-resource libraries used by your library. The yellow highlights make the white text difficult to read, so check the print preview to make sure you spelled your library's name correctly.
  4. Print 1-sided on your regular printer paper. The yellow highlights will not appear when you print.

Suggested uses:

  • Set stacks on your counters and literature display for patrons to take as they like.
  • Send a copy home with everyone who checks out a resource in-person.
  • Train circulation desk staff to, while checking out materials for each patron, ask each person if they ever borrow e-resources. Depending on the answer, use this conversation starter to promote e-resource lending and/or to encourage patrons to contact the publishers and tell them they've gone too far.

4 1/4" x 5.5" Bookmark (download)


  1. Print color, 2-sided, on cardstock or another heavy stock.
  2. Cut with a paper cutter along the lines.

Suggested uses:

  • Set stacks on your counters and in your bookmark displays for patrons to take as they like.
  • Send a copy home with everyone who checks out a resource in-person.

Social Media Tools

A picture perfect autumn. Until...

  • Cancel the embargoes, @MacmillanUSA and @BlackstoneAudio. Limiting libraries' access to new titles means limiting access for readers. It ALSO means library lenders are no longer recommending your new titles and authors to book buyers. #eBooksForAll @ILHeartlandLS @ALALibrary
  • @MacmillanUSA wants to limit library access to new e-titles, making it harder for those with physical limitations & learning disabilities to get accessible reading/listening materials. Sign the @ALALibrary petition & demand #eBooksForAll ​at @ILHeartlandLS
  • Tell Macmillan Publisher CEO John Sargent that you demand #eBooksforAll. Add your name at @ILHeartlandLS @ALALibrary
  • You've gone too far, @MacmillanUSA and @BlackstoneAudio. Limiting access to new titles for libraries means limiting access for readers who are most dependent on libraries. Cancel the embargos. #eBooksForAll @ILHeartlandLS @ALALibrary
  • You've gone too far, @MacmillanUSA and @BlackstoneAudio. Your unreasonable restrictions on library purchasing make it so borrowers like me can't preview titles we may want to purchase. Cancel the embargos. #eBooksForAll @ILHeartlandLS @ALALibrary
  • You've gone too far, @MacmillanUSA and @BlackstoneAudio. If I can't borrow a new title, I also can't promote your authors and their books to my friends and colleagues. Borrowers lead to buyers. Cancel the embargos. #eBooksForAll @ILHeartlandLS @ALALibrary
  • ONE. That's the no. of copies of new eBook and eAudiobook titles my local library consortium, SHARE, will be able to license starting Nov 1. That's how many patrons times 400+ library locations in #SHAREconsortium? Thanks, @MacmillanUSA. #eBooksForAll @ILHeartlandLS @ALALibrary


    1. IMAGE: Right-click or touch-hold the image to save it to your computer or mobile device.
    2. TEXT: Share the image on Twitter or Facebook with the sample text above - or use your own text. On Facebook, make sure the publishers get tagged!

    Additional Social Media Graphics

    Visit the American Library Association's eBook lending action page for more infographics and sample social media posts.