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Anonymous Patron writes "The Guardian has a Suprising or Sad Story on restrictive user fees Most UK public libraries have to do deal with on their subscriptions to online encyclopedias and digital archives. The publicity problem stems from the way libraries pay for their online resources. Academic libraries tend to negotiate on the basis that anyone can access these services at any time, a luxury denied to the public library service. "An awful lot of the contracts provide for a certain number of simultaneous users," says Tim Buckley-Owen of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals. "This puts libraries in the invidious position of not publicising their online services because they can't afford to meet the demand that would follow."
There is currently no prospect of a central solution for English libraries, as there is in Scotland and Wales, but the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) - which also oversees the People's Network initiative - is working to produce a basic agreement that will give library authorities a head start in the negotiation process."