E-lending, whereby members borrow e-books and audio books from the library, is today celebrating its 10th anniversary. On 21 January 2014, the then-Minister of Education, Culture and Science Jet Bussemaker was the very first person to borrow an e-book. Now, the online library has over 600.000 members. The online library is run by the KB.

  • Former minister Jet Bussemaker, OCW | Photo: ANP/Bart Maat

Pioneer in Europe

During the first year, 80.000 people borrowed some 810.000 e-books; audio books were not available at that time. The fact that the Dutch online library was the first library in Europe from which several people could borrow the same e-book at the same time made this move unique. Other countries were using a so-called one-copy-one-user model, whereby an e-book could not be read by more than one person at once. 

Popularity grew from day one, and the number of people joining the online library has risen sharply every year since. In recent years, members have jointly borrowed over five million e-books and two million audio books. During the pandemic, this figure stood at three to four million e-books per year. It's easy to see that the online library is enabling everyone in the Netherlands to read, wherever and whenever they want. 

The online library through the years

Alongside the traditional e-books, the online library has developed numerous other services. For instance, there has been a VerhalenBieb (Stories library) app and apps like the LuisterBieb (Listening library) and the TijdschriftenBieb (Magazine library) have been launched. Audio books and magazines can now be borrowed directly via the online library instead of in a separate app. 

People with reading difficulties now form a specific target group for the online library. In 2023, the LEES-app (READ app) was launched. This app gives students in pre-vocational secondary and vocational education free access to 120 e-books and audio books. Ronald Huizer, KB executive team member explains: “Young people form a target group that is in need of urgent attention when it comes to reading. The LEES app makes reading as accessible and attractive as possible for them. The first results are encouraging.” Around 40.000 titles have been borrowed since the launch in September.