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Controlled Digital Lending: Unlocking the Library’s Full Potential

Library Futures – “For many, libraries are a more trusted source of information than government, news, and social media. As physical spaces closed in response to the pandemic and communities turned more to digital resources to access knowledge, libraries moved to meet the challenge with new digital initiatives. Through a process called “controlled digital lending” (CDL), libraries can amplify what they do best by meeting communities where they are—both physically and digitally. Controlled digital lending works exactly as the name implies: it is a controlled, digital form of the traditional library lending system. Under CDL, libraries generally lend digitized versions of print materials from their collections, strictly limiting them to a single digital copy per physical copy owned—a one-to-one “owned-to-loaned” ratio. If a library owns two physical copies of The Giving Tree, it only loans out two copies at any time, whether physically or digitally. This maintains the same limits as traditional book lending but enables access digitally. Digital access is especially important for those who live or work far from their closest library or whose work, childcare, or school schedules make physical access during business hours challenging.Communities rely on libraries to serve as a hub for education and knowledge. CDL (1) drives economic efficiency by maximizing returns on tax dollars, (2) expands reliable and equitable education, (3) promotes civil rights for marginalized communities, and (4) improves accessthrough digitization. Congress should support their communities…”

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