After a few years of relative quiet, the library e-book market has grown more contentious in recent months. But this time around, librarians appear determined to take a stronger hand in the future of their digital lending programs.
At DPLAfest this week in Chicago, The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA),The New York Public Library (NYPL), and Lyrasis announced a new collaboration to help provide all public libraries with “a free, open, library-controlled platform for managing their e-book and audiobook services.”
The newly-established collaboration will build on the work of the DPLA Exchange, a pilot launched in 2017 that now provides access to more than 300,000 digital titles. NYPL will provide the foundation of the new platform with its free-to-use, open source e-book reader app, SimplyE.
From the stage at DPLAFest on April 17, NYPL’s Chief Digital Officer Tony Ageh told attendees that libraries were “forced to create an intervention to try and recalibrate the kind of clumsy relationships” that have developed in a library e-book market with multiple vendors, platforms, and publisher policies dictating how libraries can manage access to e-books and other digital collections.
We’ll have more on the DPLA's expanding e-book initiative next week, both the opportunity and the challenges of developing a "library-controlled" digital lending platform.
And we will also recap DPLAfest, which featured a strong slate of panels and programs, including a powerful opening plenary featuring Elaine Westbrooks, University librarian and vice provost for University Libraries at the University of North Carolina and tech and media scholar Danah Boyd, as well as a drop-in from outgoing Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel.
You can learn more about DPLA’s e-books initiatives here.
Via the IFLA web site, an enlightening interview on e-book lending from an international perspective with Associate Professor Rebecca Giblin, from Monash University in Australia, who is leading the elendingproject.org. "Libraries obviously have limited collections budgets, and have to take into account factors such as likely circulations in deciding whether to license e-books," Giblin notes. "Often it’s just not feasible for them to buy expensive older titles with unattractive license terms. So we describe those books as being available without being particularly accessible."
The world watched in horror this week as the famed Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris burned. And the BBC reports that "within hours of the devastating blaze," Victor Hugo's epic The Hunchback of Notre Dame "rocketed to the top of Amazon's best-seller list."
Library Journal this week ignited a Twitterstorm with this tweet pointing to a blog post by a librarian looking to understand the history of libraries excluding people of color from their collections. Notably, that very topic, how people of color are represented—or not represented—in library collections, was being discussed onstage at DPLAfest by UNC librarian Elaine Westbrooks. "This country needs to confront and reckon with our complex past," Westbooks said, "and I believe that libraries and archives, our cultural heritage institutions, can play a key role in that reconciliation." More on Westbrooks's talk next week.
American Libraries has a Q&A with Dav Pilkey, bestselling author of the Captain Underpants and Dog Man series, and the 2019 spokesperson for School Library Month.
From KTVU: "Students in San Jose’s Alum Rock School District will no longer have librarians come next school year. The district is cutting all library positions as it tries to reduce a $14 million budget deficit. The district said declining enrollment is to blame."
Sensing a trend here? KIRO reports that Spokane Public Schools superintendent Shelley Redinger last week gave notice that school librarian jobs will be eliminated in the next school year. "Students will still have access to library books and materials the same way they do now," said district spokesman Brian Coddington, but will be overseen by classroom teachers.
The Spokane Review puts the decision to eliminate school librarians into a little more context.
From the local Journal Gazette, the drama continues over the weeding policies of the the Allen County (Indiana) Public Library.
In Maryland, the Capital Gazette reports that LGBTQ community members lined up to tell the Anne Arundel library board that inclusive programs "could save lives."
The Idaho Statesman reports on a battle over a new $85 million main library in Boise.
The Canadian Press reports that "funding for Ontario's two public library services has been cut in half, a decision the provincial government said it made to help address the province's $11.7-billion deficit."
And we close this week on a sad note, via the NC State University News Service: Susan K. Nutter, one of the nation's great librarians, died on March 25. Nutter had only recently retired, in 2017, after a 30-year career. NC State officials describe her as "one of the library world’s most dynamic and influential leaders," and all her knew her would agree.
A memorial service will be held on May 31 at 10:30 a.m. at the James B. Hunt Jr. Library, NC State University, Raleigh, NC. Contributions may be made to the University Libraries' Susan K. Nutter Innovative Leadership Endowment. And a memorial website honoring Susan and her visionary career is available here. Those who knew Susan are invited to celebrate her life by sharing thoughts, memories, and photographs of Susan.