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British Lending Library

Volume 932: debated on Thursday 26 May 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what assessment has been made of the balance of advantage to the British economy of supplying overseas customers with photocopies of articles from British journals and lending whole copies of such journals.

No assessment has been made in relation to photocopies of articles from British journals. The British Library considers that lending abroad of whole issues would be neither economic nor practical, and would adversely affect the lending division's primary responsibility to make originals available to United Kingdom users.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science under what authority the British Lending Library supplies overseas customers with photocopies of United Kingdom copyrighted periodicals or copies of such periodicals on loan.

The provision of such services falls within the functions of the British Library under the British Library Act 1972. The international transmission of loans and photocopies has been long established as an essential national contribution of the communication of scientific, technical and other scholarly information. The British Library is satisfied that its lending division's arrangements for the supply and loan of photocopies are entirely within the provisions of the Copyright Act 1956.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether the British Lending Library pays fees to the authors, publishers or other copyright holders of material photocopied and supplied to persons and organisations overseas.

No fees are paid, nor are they required under British copyright legislation.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether the British Lending Library recovers its marginal costs on (a) United Kingdom sales and (b) overseas sales.

The lending division of the British Library recovers on average two thirds of the costs of each item supplied in the United Kingdom. The costs of items supplied overseas are fully covered.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what reciprocal overseas photocopy or loan services are available to United Kingdom customers either directly or through the British Lending Library; from which countries; on what scale; and at what prices.

Most countries have arrangements for making available photocopies or loans on an international basis, usually through national libraries or other national centres.The British Library's lending division last year met 17,650 requests by obtaining material from 101 overseas countries of which about 5 per cent. were for loans. It is accepted practice for lending countries to reclaim postal costs only, and the lending division adheres to this practice. In the case of six countries, where there is an approximate balance in the number of requests between the United Kingdom and the countries concerned, charges are waived reciprocally. For photocopies the practice is to recoup costs.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will direct the British Lending Library to make it a condition of loans to overseas countries that the material loaned is not then copied on a large scale to the detriment of the sales of British journals; and what safeguards exist to prevent damage to the interests of British publishers.

The British Library lending division requires that no items lent be reproduced without permission.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether any assessment has been made of the adverse effect of the operations of the British Lending Library in circulating photocopies of material from British journals on the sale of British journals in the United Kingdom and overseas.

An independent study is being made, with the full co-operation of the British Library, to assess whether decision by British libraries to take out or cancel subscriptions to journals bear any relation to the ability of the lending division to supply photocopies. Less than 20 per cent. of the photocopies supplied overseas are from British journals, and those supplied to the USA are taken from a very large number of journals. More than two copies were made only from a few journals.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will state the total number of difference British journals loaned by the British Lending Library or from which they supplied photocopies of articles in 1976, showing the figures for the United Kingdom and overseas separately.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if the overseas operations of the British Lending Library are subsidised by United Kingdom funds; and, if so, if she will give a breakdown in respect of each country to which material was sent in 1976.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science to which countries the British Lending Library supplied photocopies of articles from British journals or loan copies in 1976; how many such photocopies or loan copies were supplied in each case; and what income was derived from this service.