Tallinn Central Library will stop lending e-books to residents of other municipalities from the new year, due to the government's decision to stop providing funds. This means that those living in Estonia, but outside the capital, will no longer be able to borrow e-books from Tallinn Central Library. The National Library of Estonia intends to launch its own system from mid-February onwards.
"Public libraries, including the Tallinn Central Library, are local government institutions and are funded using the municipal budget. While the Ministry of Culture decided at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic to subsidize the cost of e-books for all Estonian residents via Tallinn Central Library, from September this will no longer be funded," Kaie Holm, director of Tallinn Central Library, told ERR on Tuesday. "Therefore, we will now have to stop offering this service to non-residents (of Tallinn ed.)."
Holm said, that since March 18, 2020, the library has been negotiating every six months with the Ministry of Culture to continue to secure funding for the service. However, the ministry has now refused provide money for this purpose.
"We have done our best," said Holm. "Unfortunately, the government has not been able to develop a similar system, and until a nationwide system is in place, Tallinn Central Library could have played that role," he added.
However, the National Library announced on Monday that from February 14, it will launch a new service to make e-book lending available to everyone in Estonia via an online portal or app.
The e-book lending service on the My Library (MIRKO) platform will allow users to borrow both fiction and children's literature to read or listen to, on their phones or online. It will also be possible to borrow educational materials, e-publications and listen to audiobooks, the National Library announced.
Tallinn Central Library has been lending Estonian-language literature in the form of e-books via the ELLU lending system for a decade, and foreign-language literature via the OverDrive system for almost as long. Ukrainian-language e-books have now been added to the list of foreign-language literature available for loan, alongside those in English and Russian, Holm said.
Estonia's university libraries also offer e-book lending facilities for their readers.
Editor: Michael Cole