murphy 032423SPRINGFIELD – To help libraries have an easier time acquiring e-book and audiobook licenses, State Senator Laura Murphy passed legislation through the Senate Thursday.

“There is a demand for e-books and audiobooks, but more often than not the prices set by publishers is prohibitively expensive, restrictive or simply not available,” said Murphy (D-Des Plaines). “With the State Librarian negotiating on behalf of libraries, it is my hope that the process of acquiring licenses will become easier.”

The measure would allow the Secretary of State, acting as the State Librarian, to negotiate with publishers of e-books and audiobooks on behalf of libraries to get necessary licensure of the product. Additionally, it would establish a grant program to provide funds to libraries and library districts to pay for digital licenses.

Consumption of digital books has been on the rise for more than a decade. According to Pew, checkout rates of e-books, audiobooks and digital magazines exceeded half a billion in 2021. However, publishers can set expiration dates on their licenses, limit the number of times an e-book can be borrowed or refuse them altogether.

“It is my hope that a proactive approach will allow our libraries greater access to these e-books and audiobooks,” Murphy said. “Libraries provide an invaluable service to our communities. It is time they get the help they need to fully provide this popular service.”

Senate Bill 2419 passed the Senate and now heads to the House for further deliberation.