Oxford University Press has signed a deal with the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council to supply a raft of online reference resources to public libraries across England.
Under the agreement, library members will have free access to online resources including the Oxford English Dictionary and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, either from libraries or at home using their library card number.
The deal was brokered through the MLA as part of its Reference Online central buying initiative, with the cost to be shared by England's 142 public library authorities. All authorities have signed up for online versions of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, the Oxford English Dictionary and Oxford Reference. Some 127 also signed up to Grove Music and Grove Art.
The MLA said: "By negotiating on [their] behalf, the MLA has been able to secure a special national offer, enabling libraries to extend the range of online resources they can make available to their members."
OUP chief executive Henry Reece said: "The Oxford English Dictionary and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography are works of great national interest and standing which OUP has developed over many decades, and which exemplify our mission to disseminate excellent and authoritative scholarship as widely as possible.
"The great success of the OUP/MLA national offer means that that these works, alongside a selection of other online reference resources from Oxford, can be consulted and enjoyed by millions of library members in England both in their local libraries and from home."