How Libraries are Evolving in the New Digital Realm

faustian_2As concepts like self-publishing and digitized materials come to the forefront, how are libraries evolving in the new book world? In the new American Libraries digital supplement Digital Content: What’s Next?, leading library practitioners and experts discuss promises and “Faustian bargains” of ebooks.

The future-focused digital supplement examines how libraries are evolving in response to the digital revolution, including exploiting opportunities in self-publishing, while confronting challenges in licensing constraints.

The digital supplement also details progress made by the ALA’s Digital Content Working Group to advocate for equitable access to ebooks produced by the world’s largest book publishers.

Highlights from the report:

  • Libraries as content creators: “It is time for the library to step up as the nurturer of content creation,” says James LaRue, director of Colorado’s Douglas County Libraries system. LaRue discusses how libraries can—and should— become local community publishers, and how community members themselves could be involved in deciding which ebooks are made available by libraries.
  • ALA to move beyond the Big Six publishers: “In early 2012, urgent questions revolved around why the Big Six publishers wouldn’t do business with libraries or, for those publishers who did, why the terms were so unfavorable,” said ALA President Maureen Sullivan. “We focused on these issues last year and into 2013. While we’ve made some headway, more remains for us to do.”
  • Assessments on ebook library lending: In “Ebooks in 2013: Promises Broken, Promises Kept, and Faustian Bargains,” Clifford Lynch, executive director of the Coalition for Networked Information, provides an overall assessment of the library ebook situation, concluding that “the reality has been appalling.”
  • Ebook business opportunities: Peter Brantley, director of scholarly communication at Hypothes.is, examines the implications of ebooks that are no longer the intact products of today’s trade ebooks.
Digital Content Supplement

Digital Content Supplement

The supplement Digital Content: What’s Next? is the third supplement to American Libraries magazine on ebooks and digital content. For more information about the ALA’s efforts on digital content and libraries, visit the American Libraries E-content blog.

Read the full report: http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/7d9e3366

Participate in the ebook discussion at the 2013 Annual American Library Association Conference in Chicago. At the session “ALA, Ebooks, and Digital Content: What’s Next?” the leadership of ALA’s Digital Content Working Group will provide an overview of ALA activities and plans. A distinguished panel will then provide views on libraries as publishers and stewards of America’s digital cultural heritage, and how ALA can best advocate for these important library interests. Brantley and Wolven will continue the conversation as part of the ALA Virtual Conference on July 24, 2013.

Jazzy Wright is the Press Officer of the American Library Association's Washington Office. Email her at jwright@alawash.org.

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