The major US publishers are notably averse to library ebooks, so today's news is probably making them dyspeptic.
The Dresden Municipal Libraries announced this morning that they were expanding their digital library program. Starting today, any resident of Germany can now register online for a library card and check out ebooks, music, and video.
The cost is 1o euros per year, and in addition to music and videos a library patron can check out ebooks. The library offers 7,000 ebook titles at the moment, and they can be checked out for 2 weeks. Audiobooks, music, and videos can be checked out for a week, and digital magazines can be checked out for a day.
This isn't the first program of its kind, though it is probably the most open. I know that several public libraries here in the US, including the NYPL, let non-residents get library cards. An NYPL card, for example, is free to anyone who lives in or pays income tax to the state of New York. I was also under the impression that those outside the state could also get a card, but that doesn't seem to be the case. And while the NYPL offer is cheaper it is also limited to a smaller population. The state of New York has around 20 million residents, while Germany's population is around 82 million.
There are also similar commercial programs in a number of countries, including Mofibo and RiidrOne in Denmark, Madrid-based 24Symbols (Spanish language focus but with some English language ebooks), various niche services like Safari Online, and of course the Kindle Owners Lending Library.