EBSCO and ecards and who is setting your library policies?

EBSCO made a bold move recently claiming that libraries that offer e-cards [for accessing electronic library resources from home] are violating their licensing agreement. San Francisco Public Library has a statement on their databases page.

Special Notice Regarding E-Card Users: Due to electronic vendor licensing agreements, San Francisco Public Library must suspend issuing e-cards, effective immediately. Existing e-cardholders must validate their current address no later than April 10, 2009 in order to continue using SFPL databases and other electronic resources remotely. This validation must take place in person with appropriate identification and proof of address at any San Francisco Public Library Branch or the Main Library. The Library will continue to investigate ways of offering a revised e-card in the future. We recommend that non-San Francisco Bay Area residents check for similar electronic resources at their local public library. We apologize for the inconvenience

Boston Public Library is taking a different tack and keeping the e-card program and dropping remote access to EBSCO. Both libraries have to curtail services — and SFPL is changing their e-card policies fairly dramatically — because of this. Does anyone else see this as a shot across the bow? While I’m aware that things are tough all over, this move surprises me. Not because it may not be EBSCO legally enforcing their agreement, but because libraries with e-card options have always been offering patrons an amazing service in a way that seemed almost too good to be true. I have access to Heritage Quest with my totally free library card at the library I work at. Lucky me, but really anyone can get a card at my library — no matter where you live, no matter where you pay taxes — and get access to the same resources. I think this move, and libraries’ decisions about their responses to it, is going to be the start of a long (or depending how you look at it, continuing) struggle.

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