Position of Hong Kong Library Association on Public Lending Right
In light of the recent interest in Hong Kong society on the issue of Public Lending Right (PLR), the Hong Kong Library Association (HKLA) has prepared the following position statement on the PLR issue:
- The HKLA Code of Ethics states that it “is a fundamental principle that the primary duty of library and information personnel is to facilitate access to information to meet the requirements of their users.”
- The Code further states that library and information personnel shall “protect and promote the rights of every user to have unhindered and equal access to information”.
- The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) states in its 2005 Position on Public Lending Right that “Public lending is essential to culture and education and should be freely available to all. It is in the public interest that lending not be restricted by legislation or by contractual provisions such as licensing.” As a Member of IFLA, the HKLA is in general agreement with this position.
- The 1994 IFLA/UNESCO Public Library Manifesto states that “The public library shall in principle be free of charge”.
- In the Hong Kong Bill of Rights, it is stipulated that every permanent resident shall have the right “to have access, on general terms of equality, to public service in Hong Kong.”
- In accordance with the preceding principles of the library and information profession and with the more general principles of equality, the HKLA is concerned that the establishment of PLR may threaten free access to the services of public libraries, which the Association considers to be a fundamental right of all citizens.
- The HKLA notes that PLR is far from universally established in the international context, with no PLR systems in the United States, South America, Asia, or Africa. The HKLA encourages Hong Kong society to fully debate the issues and reflect upon the benefits and drawbacks of PLR.
- In the event that a PLR system is introduced in Hong Kong, it is vital that the financial and administrative support for PLR does not come from library budgets, but from the Government as a form of cultural support. In line with the IFLA position, the HKLA advocates that the introduction of PLR should not result in any cost for access or deterioration of service for users of publicly accessible libraries.