Arts Council England
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Online reference service will help libraries improve purchasing power

An electronic content service for libraries to access resources to improve their purchasing power was announced yesterday.

The Reference Online Framework Agreement, available until March 2014, will help public libraries in England provide users with an optimum range of online content at an economic price, streamlining the procurement process for both libraries and suppliers.

Through Reference Online, libraries can subscribe to a wide range of content, including general reference material, subject-based encyclopaedias, streamed music services, and - for the first time - family history materials.

The Agreement allows public libraries to buy this material at lower prices through group subscriptions. It has so far saved around £10 million for libraries, and has improved online access to world-class content, both remotely and from within public libraries.

Lynn Hodgkins, Regional Librarian, Libraries and Information East Midlands, said:

'Reference Online has been immensely valuable in helping public library services enable access to a wide range of content. The centrally negotiated licences offer good value for money, and the provision of Reference Online materials has enhanced the services which libraries can offer their users.'

This is the first time Arts Council England has negotiated this agreement, since assuming responsibility for the development of public libraries in October 2011.

Nicky Morgan, Director of Libraries, Arts Council England said:

'This agreement has had a hugely positive impact on the library sector - saving libraries time and money - and we hope to see its impact extending, with even more reference materials available this time around.'

To find out more about Reference Online go to the libraries section of our website.

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