Creative use of ICT: Innovation Award

Tallinn Central Library's pioneering e-book lending service reaches Estonians across the world

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A librarian shows a library user how to borrow Estonian liberature online.
A librarian shows a library user how to borrow Estonian liberature online.

The innovative service

Tallinn Central Library has developed and is pioneering an online lending service that gives Estonians across the globe round-the-clock electronic access to modern Estonian literature in formats that are compatible with computers, tablets, smart phones and e-readers.

Estonian is the official language of Estonia’s population of about 1.3 million, and it is also spoken by Estonian communities living in many other countries.

Through the e-book service, known as ELLU (E-raamatute laenamis- ja lugemiskeskkond – in English, 'e-book lending and reading environment’), registered users of Tallinn Central Library can go online at any time and read Estonian literature.

In just two years, the library has built up a collection of over 680 Estonian e-book titles. Since the launch of the service early in 2012, over 2,700 registered library users in Estonia and living in the US, Europe, China and Taiwan have used the service. The books have been borrowed nearly 16,000 times.

Right now, Tallinn Central Library is the only public library in Estonia lending modern e-books in Estonian. Other public libraries have expressed keen interest, and the library is looking at ways of integrating them into the service.

Creative use of ICT

With funding from the city of Tallinn and the Ministry of Culture, the library developed streaming software for the online e-books lending service.

Users access the service through the library’s website and online catalogue. To log in, users need a library card, an identity card or they can create an identity and log in using their mobile phone number.

Users can borrow three books at a time, for up to 21 days. The books can be streamed to a desktop computer, laptop, or tablet, a smart phone or an e-reader that supports html5 and Javascript (computer language that supports graphics and illustrations).

more Public libraries contributing to digital inclusion

Read about more innovative public library services contributing to digital inclusion. PLIP-DIGITAL-INCLUSION

Our e-book lending programme has highlighted the need for copyright law reform in Estonia.
Ms Triinu Seppam, Director of Library Services at Tallinn Central Library