Lirtuel, the digital lending platform for the public library network in FWB (Wallonia-Brussels federation), will be officially launched at Brussels Book Fair on Monday. 350 French-speaking public libraries are involved with the project. A preview took place in Waterloo on Wednesday, in the presence of Joelle Milquet, minister for education and culture. Lirtuel will allow registered members of FWB public libraries to take out digital books for a maximum of 30 days without paying. Thanks to a partnership deal between regions, Brussels central library, and the Wallonia-Brussels federation, Lirtuel will make available a list of digital books shared by all the approved public libraries which are part of the same network set up for this purpose. A web user will be able to create an account if he is a member of one of the 350 libraries in question. Then, using the Lirtuel portal, he will be able to download digital books on his computer, tablet or smartphone.
Organisers hope to have approximately 3,000 digital books available by the end of 2015, and to reach 20,000 in the next 5 years. Users will be able to borrow up to 5 books at a time, which they will send back after reading, so others can take them out (the number of identical books taken out simultaneously is restricted by publishers). The system includes a special automatic time function which means that books will no longer be readable after 30 days.