Licensing Databases in Public Libraries: Navigating the Maze

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Licensing library databases is complicated by the numerous and often restrictive terms for use. Access, number of users, restrictions on downloading, use, and sharing of materials, are set out in often long and jargon-filled agreements that can be difficult to interpret. Many licenses even restrict talking about the terms of the license, so getting advice outside an institution may be impossible. The process can be intimidating and frustrating. What terms are reasonable to accept? Are there any that should be stricken as “deal breakers”? Is it a good idea to “bundle” databases if one doesn’t want a whole suite of them? Join our panel for a discussion of navigating this maze. We’ll have tips for those new to licensing and engage with any experienced attendees with stories to tell.

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this class, students will be able to:

Describe major changes in licensing over the past five years
Explain best practices for renewing database licenses


Lisa Sallee is the Assistant Director at Ocean State Libraries, Rhode Island. Ocean State Libraries serves over 50 library systems in Rhode Island, providing a state-wide catalog and technical support, among other services, to member libraries. Lisa manages the eZone site—swim lanes or digital displays, methods for serving up content for their Spanish speaking patrons, methods for dealing with holds ratios and expensive popular content while still adding new content to the site and staying within budget.

Will Stuivenga is Cooperative Projects Manager for the Library Development Program of the Washington State Library, a division of the Office of the Secretary of State. Since 2004, Will has managed the Statewide Database Licensing Project, which provides a suite of electronic resources to public, academic, school, and non-profit special libraries in Washington. During this time, Will has written multiple RFPs, organized various database group purchasing opportunities for libraries, and has reviewed and negotiated many EPLAs (Electronic Product License Agreements).

Michael Blackwell, Director Of St. Mary’s County Library (Maryland), has served as Chair of the ALA CORE Ebooks Interest Group and a member of the ALA Joint Digital Content Working Group. He serves as the Project Manager for the ReadersFirst Working Group, advocating for a better library digital content experience, and has frequently published and presented on ebooks in libraries.

State library and/or archives agency; Network/consortia; Public library
All live online classes are in Eastern time.