Bobbi Newman, who blogs at Librarian by Day, has an excellent editorial post about current Ebook conditions in public libraries. She questions whether libraries should step back and wait for better options, quoting several other prominent bloggers on the subject. It’s an interesting thought piece from a public library perspective. The comments are just as interesting.
Here is a brief clip from the post – Should Libraries Get Out of the Ebook Business?
Or get out at least until there is a better system? I know what you are going to say, I can hear it already – “We can’t! Our patrons demand ebooks!” Except the truth is our patrons want a lot of things we can’t give them – to always be first on the waiting list for the new James Patterson, to not pay fines when their books are late, for the library to be open earlier or later, or to have a system besides Dewey because despite using it their entire lives they still cannot figure it out. When it comes to ebooks, we cannot give them what they want, not really, we cannot give them books from Simon and Schuster or MacMillian or new books from Penguin or Hatchet, and not more than 26 times from HarperCollins, and probably not many books from Random House. What we can do, what maybe we should do, is spend their tax money wisely, and I am no longer convinced that spending it on the current ebook system is a wise move.
A great article is available on the Library Renewal site – $2 BILLION FOR $1 BILLION OF BOOKS: THE ARITHMETIC OF LIBRARY E-BOOK LENDING written by Jonathan Chambers.
Here is a clip from the introductory material: Library Renewal wants to help libraries build a powerful new way to get econtent to their patrons. We envision a new infrastructure, one that is vastly improved, equitable and fairly priced (with hidden costs eliminated). In order to figure out exactly how to make something like that a reality and create an actionable plan we have been busy doing research and meeting with experts from a variety of areas. We’ve naturally talked with plenty of library folks, but we have also actively included and sought out others that have legal, business and publishing expertise. Jonathan Chambers, the author of this piece, fits that bill perfectly and has worked directly with us a great deal over the past year. Here you’ll see the sort of approach some folks working with Library Renewal are thinking about. We (both Library Renewal and Mr. Chambers) would love to hear your reactions to this post in the comments.
*note* While the pricing changes implemented very recently by Random House are not factored into the dollar amounts discussed here, that in no way changes the conclusions that are drawn in this piece. Drastic changes like what we have been seeing related to libraries and econtent are endemic to the systems currently in place. We believe that these sorts of market shifts serve to strengthen the premise that specific types of action are in order and that Library Renewal is the perfect partner for that work. Enjoy!
The following is a summary of:
RUSA/CODES Reference Publishing Discussion Forum: Life after the Statistical Abstract.
What will the proposed demise of the Statistical Abstract mean for reference librarians and library users? Now in its 130th annual edition, Statistical Abstract has played a central role in guiding users to statistics since before we were born. Since finding statistics can be challenging under the best of circumstances, what are our strategies for dealing with this loss? Are there new services and products we would like to see from commercial publishers?
Alesia McManus, owner of the “Save the US Statistical Abstract” Facebook page, moderated the discussion. About 50 librarians, publishers, and vendors attended.
Alesia McManus, Dan Coyle from ProQuest and Bruce Samuelson from Bernan Publishing all spoke briefly to start the session. Continue reading Life after the Statistical Abstract – ALAMW discussion summary
Yesterday ALA announced a new blog on E-content, to be administered by Christopher Harris. Here is more information from the press release:
Keeping up with the many varieties of digital content—and how libraries can offer them to their patrons—just got easier. American Libraries has launched an “E-Content” blog (http://americanlibraries.org/e-content) that provides information on e-books, e-readers, e-journals, databases, digital libraries, digital repositories, and other e-content issues. The blog complements the new section on e-content that appears in the weekly e-newsletter American Libraries Direct and focuses on similar issues.
E-Content is administered by Christopher Harris, director of the School Library System for the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership in New York State. Harris was selected because of his engaged expertise in many things digital. A participant in the first ALA Emerging Leaders program in 2007, Harris was subsequently honored as a Library Journal Mover and Shaker in 2008. He is coauthor of Libraries Got Game, published by ALA Editions in 2010, and is a regular contributor to School Library Journal.
The E-Content blog will help disseminate the work of the new ALA Working Group on Digital Content and Libraries, which is currently being formed to proactively address digital content opportunities and issues from both policy and practical perspectives. This Association-wide group of experts, selected by ALA President Molly Raphael, will broadly represent the many constituencies within the library community. The working group’s charge reflects a priority of the ALA 2015 Strategic Plan, supporting the “transformation” of libraries.
The Triangle Research Libraries Network (TRLN) held a Summit in August called “Beyond Print.” They have recently posted the meeting materials on their site, including slides, analysis, and future steps.
From the website: Beyond Print is an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded project to develop new business models and licensing terms for the cooperative acquisition of e-books. The Triangle Research Libraries Network (TRLN) has a long history of cooperative collection development policies that distribute subject and language responsibilities among member libraries to minimize overlap and maximize breadth of coverage. Higher e-book prices for single institutions, and weighty multipliers to enable inter-institutional access, threaten this investment and the future of scholarly sharing.
A key element of the project was to convene representatives from library consortia together with vendors and publishers to explore new and mutually sustainable models as research libraries make the print to electronic transition in their book collections. The TRLN Beyond Print Summit was held in Chapel Hill, NC on August 22-23, 2011. Join us at the Charleston Conference where we will continue the conversation.
Picked this up on the LITA listserv today:
A joint Poudre River Public, Front Range Community College, and Colorado State University libraries committee has released a report on the state of eBooks and eReaders. The purpose of the study was to gain a better understanding of this rapidly-developing topic, and to make recommendations aimed at serving the customers of each library.
Recommendations from the summary report include the following:
education, advocacy, technology, and continued partnership and study
The Equitable Access to Electronic Content (EQUACC) Task Force met for the first time at a meeting held at ALA Midwinter and had a more substantive session at a one-and-a-half day retreat at the Washington Office, March 7-8, 2011. The retreat happened to coincide with the announcement that HarperCollins would limit loans for its e-books. Throughout the retreat, the significance of the HarperCollins decision factored into most of the discussions. In addition to addressing this timely issue, the Task Force made significant progress toward identifying challenges and solutions for improved electronic access, use, distribution, and preservation. The Task Force focused on long-term strategic issues given that there could easily be a situation similar to the HarperCollins decision in the future and ALA must be prepared to respond effectively.
The interim report is available here.
ALA’s EQUACC, Presidential Task Force on Equitable Access to Electronic Content has launched a website, available at http://www.equacc.ala.org/
They are offering a discussion forum, comprehensive list of resources arranged by theme, and an option for RSS feeds or a subscription via email.
Check it out, stay informed, be vocal, support the cause!
Reprinted in full from an ALA email and press release:
First and foremost, I want to thank you for your patience. I held back on a public statement on the recent decision by Harper Collins to restrict the lending of e-books until the Equitable Access to Electronic Information Task Force (EQUACC) met last week. Please know that I heard your voices of concern about the impact of additional costs on your libraries and ability to meet the needs of the communities you serve. A press release
was issued today that speaks to our shared alarm at announced and potential limitations to the access to knowledge, information and the creative written works of authors in the electronic era. We know that libraries are essential to an informed nation and therefore our democracy. I have been and will continue to highlight our commitment to access in every media interview I give. Continue reading ALA President Responds to Restrictions on E-book Lending
From the ALA Washington Office website: Recent action from the publishing world in the e-book marketplace has re-ignited interest and sparked many questions from librarians, publishers, vendors, and readers. Two ALA member task forces – the presidential task force on Equitable Access to Electronic Content (EQUACC) and the E-book Task Force – were recently created to address these complex and evolving issues. EQUACC met this week in Washington, D.C., to provide ALA with guidance and recommendations for a coordinated ALA response to the challenging issues. Continue reading ALA Task Forces To Tackle E Challenges