No question, it's been a rather demoralizing summer for librarians in the digital content market. Last month, Hachette changed its terms for libraries, eliminating perpetual access in favor of two-year licenses, and also became the first Big Five publisher to put a two-year meter on digital audio. Simon & Schuster immediately followed, also putting a two year meter on digital audio and switching from one to two year licenses on e-books, with a price increase. And we now know that Blackstone Publishing's decision to window new release audiobooks is tied to an exclusive deal with Audible, exacerbating fears that Audible is using its deep pockets to ice out libraries from certain content.
The main event, however, is still to come. Following its controversial four-month "test" embargo on new release e-books from its Tor imprint last year, Macmillan is expected to announce new terms of sale for libraries in the coming days. And librarians are bracing for the worst.
Though Macmillan and Tor officials have declined repeated requests to discuss the experiment with PW over the last year, in a July 2 blog post Fritz Foy, President and Publisher of Macmillan’s Tom Doherty Associate (which includes Tor) told author and blogger Jason Sanford that the Tor embargo all but proved their thesis that library e-book lending was negatively impacting consumer e-book sales. And the expectation is that Macmillan's new terms will almost certainly include some form of an embargo on new release e-books in libraries.
In the post, Foy told Sanford that he and Macmillan reps have been meeting with and listening to librarians, and that in crafting their new terms, Macmillan "tried to come up with a semi-happy medium.” Multiple librarians, however, tell PW that despite meeting with Foy and Macmillan officials in recent months, they believe their concerns were not heard, and that the entire Tor experiment is based on some questionable assumptions that libraries cost authors money. More on that soon.
In a post on the American Libraries site this week, Alan Inouye, Senior Director of Public Policy and Government Relations in the ALA’s Public Policy and Advocacy Office, reiterated a key point for Macmillan executives: Any new terms that include an embargo on new release e-books in libraries will be unacceptable.
“ALA is greatly concerned that the embargo in the Tor pilot will become standard practice and spread to other Macmillan titles,” Inouye wrote of the impending announcement from Macmillan, adding that ALA is “unequivocally opposed to the practice.”
Tracy Strobel, deputy director of Cuyahoga County Public Library (CCPL) since 2005, will succeed Sari Feldman as executive director. Feldman, PW's library columnist, will retire in August, after a 42-year career serving public libraries. Following a national search to replace Feldman, and to lead one of the best and busiest public library systems in the nation, it turns out the right candidate was already in-house.
Among Strobel's accomplishments at CCPL, she led the library’s largest capital improvement program ever, replacing 10 branches and renovating 14 others over a seven year period. In her current role as deputy director, she oversees the Library’s 27 branches as well as its Information Technology, Technical Services and Literacy/Learning Divisions. “It’s been a privilege to work side-by-side with Sari and the entire team at Cuyahoga County Public Library for the past 14 years," Strobel said, in a statement. “I’m honored that the Library Board is giving me the opportunity to advance the organization’s positive momentum as its new leader. Feldman told PW she was thrilled, both for Strobel and the library.
In taking a bold stand for open access, the University of California earlier this year announced that after months of negotiations, it had terminated its subscription to Elsevier journals. This week, Elsevier took a bold step in response: it has cut off students and researchers access to Elsevier content.
Inside Higher Ed reports that Elsevier had informed U.C. librarians and negotiators about six weeks ago that it would be revoking access around the beginning of July, and that the U.C. Faculty are standing firm.
In response, Elsevier has set up its own website for U.C. researchers to get information about the negotiations.
Alaska Public Media reports "one of Governor Mike Dunleavy’s vetoes has canceled state funding for broadband internet in Alaska libraries, and that the "roughly $670,000 in savings could have far-reaching consequences for Alaska’s smallest towns.
Via NPR, we've known this was coming for awhile, but Microsoft is now deleting its e-books. "One of the things that I think people don't realize that's crucially important is that DRM and related software tools are embedded in all sorts of devices that we buy," Aaron Perzanowski, the author of The End of Ownership: Personal Property in the Digital Economy, told NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro.
The Washington Post reports on President Trump's odd press conference in the Rose Garden to announce that he would no longer try to put a citizenship question on the 2020 census. The news is a victory for ALA and the library community, who had joined with organizations fighting to keep the citizenship question off the census.
Reuters reports that even though the citizenship question will be kept off the 2020 census, the battle alone may have already achieved its objective. “Even if the question is (taken) off, if people are tweeting as if it may be a real possibility, it continues to raise fears and depress the count,” Thomas Wolf, a lawyer who focuses on census issues at the Brennan Center for Justice, told reporters.
Library Journal editor Rebecca Miller, meanwhile, explains why this census stuff all really matters.
And finally, Cleveland.com has a very cool piece that looks at the city's 15 Carnegie libraries, then and now.