With uncertainty still looming for schools and libraries in year two of the Covid-19 health crisis, Penguin Random House announced that it has again extended its Temporary Library Terms of Sale for digital content, which will now run through the end of the year.

In a release, PRH officials said the terms, which first went into effect over a year ago in the early days of the crisis, will now extend through December 31, 2021. All PRH titles are eligible for the program (frontlist and backlist, adult and children’s fiction and nonfiction titles, as well as titles published by DK and Penguin Random House Publisher Services client publishers).

Under the terms of its program, PRH offers libraries (through participating wholesalers) the option to license e-books and digital audio for one-year terms at a 50% prorated price as an alternative to the existing two-year term (for e-books) or perpetual access (for digital audio). A cost-per-circulation model is also available.

Librarians have told PW the temporary pro-rated terms offer them more flexibility in managing their digital budgets, with digital lending surging as much as 40% over the last year as many libraries and schools across the nation have been forced to close their buildings or to operate at limited capacity.

“With these new interim terms we introduced in March 2020, and with this extension, our publishers remain unwavering in our commitment to support public and school libraries, ensuring that all of our titles are available day-and-date to consumers and patrons," said Skip Dye, PRH senior v-p, Library Sales & Digital Strategy. "This community is telling us that these temporary terms are helping to make our authors’ works more accessible for educators and students, especially those who are continuing to engage in remote learning, and to library patrons across the country, which is very gratifying.”

Borrowing digital materials from libraries is likely to remain strong for the balance of 2021. Despite rising vaccination rates, public health officials remain wary of the emergence of new more contagious and lethal variants of the virus, and of a potential "fourth surge" after some states lifted safety restrictions. While total new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are down from their high point in January, health officials say that the number of new cases has plateaued and has begun to inch up again. According to a New York Times database, the average number of new cases is up 19% over two weeks ago.