Some good news for libraries to get 2020 rolling: The U.S. Senate this week confirmed the nomination this week of Kansas City Public Library CEO Crosby Kemper III as Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). And if you’re wondering, yes, that happened fast—Kemper was nominated by President Trump in mid-November to succeed outgoing IMLS director Kathryn Matthew, whose four year term has ended.
In a piece in his hometown Kansas City Star, Kemper said he was ready to serve—and thanked the work of his colleagues for getting him to the post. “I am honored,” Kemper told the Star. “This is really a tribute to the wonderful work of the board and staff of the Kansas City Public Library, and the place of leadership libraries in Kansas City have taken nationally.”
After three straight years of criticism from librarians for proposing to eliminate the IMLS, librarians have roundly praised the Trump Administration's choice of Kemper to lead the agency for the next four years.
“We are excited to work with a proven library leader to head the federal agency charged with equipping our nation’s 120,000 libraries as centers of lifelong learning, research and innovation,” said ALA President Wanda Brown, in a statement. “Confirming a new IMLS director so quickly shows the high regard in which elected leaders hold libraries as places of opportunity for all Americans. Mr. Kemper is the right leader right now to enable experts at IMLS to administer programs that benefit every single community, from its Grants to States to its specialized grants promoting workforce development to research collaborations between universities and schools to accessible content for people with print disabilities.”
Kemper’s confirmation means that the Kansas City Public Library needs a new executive director. KCPL officials told local reporters that the search is now getting underway for what should be a coveted post.
Meanwhile, despite the nomination, it’s likely the Trump administration will, for a fourth consecutive year, propose to eliminate the IMLS when it releases its FY2021 budget proposal in March. And if it happens, ALA officials say ibrarians should take that proposal seriously, despite Kemper's appointment, and a recent increase in IMLS funding.
“The administration’s budget proposal is their ideal budget, and we should never discount that,” ALA’s Kathi Kromer told PW in an interview this summer. “I think one of the reasons we have seen such a strong rebuttal to the president from Congress on library funding is because our advocates have taken the administration’s proposals seriously, and they’ve made it a point to remind their elected officials of the importance of libraries in their community.”
The Texas Library Association has announced Shirley Robinson as its new Executive Director. Most recently, Robinson was President and CEO of Texas Healthcare Trustees (THT), a statewide trade association serving more than 4,000 hospital board members. “Members of the search committee and the executive board were impressed with Ms. Robinson’s wide range of nonprofit association management knowledge and experience which is essential to lead an association in today’s ever-changing environment,” said TLA President Cecilia Barham, director, North Richland Hills Library. “We are excited to welcome her to the library community.”
In a statement, Robinson said she is eager to get to work. “I am inspired by TLA’s members, the collaborative culture, incredible staff team, and board leadership," she said. “I look forward to getting out across the state to continue learning about the members and their needs to advance the future of the library profession in the state of Texas.” This year's TLA Annual Conference is set for march 24-27, in Houston.
It's not all doom and gloom when it comes to the state of library e-books. This week, the Digital Public Library of America and BiblioLabs announced a new program that will offer libraries the ability to license a growing collection of more than 16,000 e-books, including independent author collections and titles from a number of major publishers, under "a simultaneous multi-use model," in other words, terms that allow for an unlimited number of patrons to borrow e-books at the same time.
"This is a true collaboration that helps libraries compete for digital attention in a way that provides readers what they want in a simple, easy-to-use model," said BiblioLabs CEO Mitchell Davis, in a statement. "We are proud to be working with DPLA to offer an e-book model that is inclusive and does not financially punish libraries for succeeding at their mission to drive literacy and reading across a wide spectrum of readers.”
Make no mistake, there is a real appetite for indie e-books in public libraries, as evidenced by the success of BiblioBoard's Indie Authors Project (IAP). The inaugural IAP e-book collection, released in Summer of 2018 featured 50 select titles available through libraries via a simultaneous use model, and the results were impressive. In an interview, Stef Morrill, director of the Wisconsin Library Consortium (WiLS) said the success of that program helped open her eyes to the wealth of authors now working outside the traditional publishing channels.
"It's very interesting to consider: what is really so different about this indie content? And, what does it mean to be published these days, especially with Amazon now publishing so many books?" Morrill told PW this summer. "The market is changing and it is changing fast, and the decisions being made by the major publishers in the e-book market are going to force libraries into some decisions."
Also on the library e-book front, OverDrive this week released its circulation stats for 2019, which was another record year for digital lending in libraries. "A record 73 public library systems in five countries loaned over one million digital books to readers in 2019," notes an OverDrive press release, with total digital checkouts from libraries and schools up 20% over 2018, to 326 million lends. Among the factors driving circulation, OverDrive officials point to its app, Libby, which was named one of Popular Mechanics’ 20 Best Apps of the 2010s and one of PCMag’s Best Free Software of 2019.
Meanwhile, Macmillan's embargo on new release e-books continues to draw local headlines. "Broad, open access to information is necessary for a functioning democracy, and no one should be excluded from participating in civic and cultural life just because they can’t afford to buy a book,” said Hopkinton (MA) Public Library Director Heather Backman in a report in the local Milford Daily News
Some big news on the open access front this week: first, news that Germany's Projekt DEAL consortium has struck a potentially game-changing transformative agreement with publisher Springer Nature. "The entity of this transformative Open Access agreement is ´proof of concept´ for Projekt DEAL as a powerful framework for transition in scholarly publishing," said Horst Hippler, former President of the German Rectors' Conference and head of the DEAL negotiation team, in a statement. "It puts an end to hybrid APC payments by authors in parallel to library subscription payments; it operates with a reasonable PAR fee which allows institutional costs to shift gradually from recent licence spending to publication output over the term of the agreement; it enables greater financial control as pre-payments decrease each year. Most importantly, this agreement lays the groundwork for authors and research institutions to make Open Access the default in scholarly communication."
Taylor & Francis has announced the addition of pioneering "open research" publisher F1000. In a statement, F1000 Research Managing Director Rebecca Lawrence said the deal will strengthen FG1000's "ability to innovate" in scholarly communications. "We will be super-charged with the resources not only to maintain our philosophy and collaborative partnership approach, but to grow, flourish and continue to innovate in support of our shared commitments to customers on speed, transparency, quality and impact.”
Science reports that academic journals in Russia "are retracting more than 800 papers" following a probe into unethical publication practices by the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS)." The RAS commission’s preliminary report documenting the problems and journals’ responses to them suggest that "Russian scientific literature is riddled with plagiarism, self-plagiarism, and so-called gift authorship, in which academics become a co-author without having contributed any work."
From Roanoke.com, a piece on the Roanoke County’s libraries "1,000 Books Before Kindergarten" program to promote kindergarten readiness and early literacy. "Parents can sign up online and track the number and titles of books they read to their kids. The goal is to reach 1,000 before children start kindergarten. Sarah Rodgers, the children’s division librarian, said parents can easily accomplish the goal by reading three books per day for one year or one book per day for three years."
WKYC reports Cleveland Public Library workers have voted to strike if a new labor agreement can't be reached.
Have you had a First Amendment audit? From American Libraries, a story on a disturbing new trend in public facilities. "Individuals who arm themselves with video cameras, proclaim themselves First Amendment auditors, and enter police precincts, post offices, libraries, and other spaces under the auspices of the First Amendment right to free speech in order to record staff violations."
The Week in Libraries is a weekly opinion and news column. News, tips, submissions, questions or comments are welcome, and can be submitted via email.