Ever wonder about all the documents that council receives to review…? Here are the reports, actions, and resolutions that we considered during MW… my heart weeps for all the trees we slaughtered! 😉
Monthly Archives: February 2012
Hi all: here’s a link that was just posted that goes in depth of the things that were acted upon at MW.
Re: Penguin’s decision to hault ebooks access through Overdrive…ALA Press Release | American Library Association
Update to the Ethnic Studies issue
Fresh off the Presses…. Here’s what we got on the ALA Councilor’s listserv today… it will be published in AL Direct later today:
Ebook Talks: The Details
As recently reported, I led an ALA delegation to New York last week to meet separately with Penguin, Macmillan, Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Perseus. The publisher representatives at these meetings included CEOs, division presidents, and other executives. We had frank discussions related to library ebook lending and are appreciative of the serious engagement by these publishers. Many of the meetings extended for a longer time than scheduled, and all ended with the expectation of a continuing dialogue between each publisher and ALA.
In every meeting, we reaffirmed our mutual desire to bring authors and readers together. Indeed, publishers and libraries enjoy a long history of productive relationships toward this end. There was ready acknowledgment of the key role that libraries and publishers play in society. And there was a desire for amutually beneficial way forward for library ebook lending.
Of course much has changed in the past few years—and all indications are that the evolution of the ebook format in particular (and the medium of e-content in general) will continue or even accelerate in the coming years. While publishers and libraries share a common mission to bring authors and readers together, it is also clear that we have some goals that diverge. It is these differencesthat lead to varying views in the library and publishing worlds of businessmodels and overall short- and long-term strategies.
Our discussions with publishers who already sell ebooks to libraries focused on how to maintain and strengthen our relationships. Of course, libraries represent a significant amount of direct buying power. Perhaps even more important is the library role in discoverability. Libraries expend considerable effort to identify the most relevant works for our communities. We weed out titles and feature new titles. We construct displays in our libraries and sponsor author events, often in partnership with local bookstores. We provide literacy training; support for book groups; and offer myriad other services that promote reading and book genres, titles, and authors. These publishers clearly place a high value on the library role in discoverability, and we agreed to continue discussions on how best to provide and promote ebooks to library patrons.
In meeting with publishers who currently do not sell ebooks to libraries, we shared our profession’s concerns regarding the impact of these practices on library users, many of whom rely solely on the public library for their reading choices. In some instances, we found that there were misconceptions about how libraries operate that, once clarified, mitigated some of these publishers’ concerns. For example, some publishers had the impression that libraries lend to whomever visited their respective websites, thus making collections available virtually worldwide without restriction.
We explained the close ties between a library and its community andthat collection development is based on what our users want to find in their libraries. Thus, we emphasized, ebook collections—financed mostly through local tax dollars—reflect local interests, with access restricted to the cardholders of each individual library.
Nevertheless, some substantive issues remain for publishers, though we now have a better understanding of the rationale for their concerns and of the publishing industry’s perspective as a whole. In every instance, publishers are working to identify library-lending models that they find to be acceptable. We agreed to provide feedback on any ideas they may have; in turn, they agreed to consider proposals from ALA.
A key issue that arose in each meeting is the degree to which “friction” may decline in the ebook lending transaction as compared to lending print books. From the publisher viewpoint, this friction provides some measure of security. Borrowing a print book from a library involves a nontrivial amount of personal work that often involves two trips—one to pick up the book and one to return it. The online availability of ebooks alters this friction calculation, andpublishers are concerned that the ready download-ability of library ebooks could have an adverse effect on sales.
Another issue that arose in all of the meetings is the influential role of intermediaries—aggregators or retailers—in library ebook lending. Thus, examination of the issue of library ebook lending involves not only publishers and libraries, but a critical analysis of the role of intermediaries.
It was agreed that we—publishers, libraries, intermediaries, and others—operate in an ecosystem that is experiencing profound change. At the same time, a thorough understanding of the ecosystem backed by reliable data is not readily available, and deserves increased attention from ALA and others.
The biggest lesson is that there is nothing like direct communication. We didn’t leave New York with complete and perfect solutions; that wouldn’t have been a realistic expectation. But I am happy with the progress that we made on multiple fronts—establishing ongoing direct lines of communication and correcting misconceptions about libraries, to mention only two. Much work remains to fully grasp the rapidly changing context of digital content and libraries and to converge on solutions that all key stakeholders can live with. We must find these solutions so that libraries can continue to provide the best possible service to their communities.
In the coming days, we will be following up with these five publishers, initiating contact with other publishers and intermediaries, and pursuing additional activities within the framework of ALA’s Digital Content and Libraries Working Group. Please look for further communications from the cochairs of the Working Group, the chairs of its subgroups, and ALA leadership in the near future.
This is the beginning post of what I hope will be informative (and knowing me, somewhat entertaining). I wanted to find a good way to communicate with the New Members Roundtable other than static reports (and more informally and immediate as well!) so I thought a blog might serve this purpose well. Thank you for electing me as your councilor to the ALA Council! I hope that through this blog, you can stay more informed on ALA happenings (at least from the NMRT perspective)… I also hope that you will use this venue as a way to ask questions… there are NO dumb questions, btw… so feel free to ask. If I can’t answer them, I know enough people to ASK! And… if you would prefer not to post them publicly, feel free to email me privately with any questions or concerns: Jennings[at]appstate[dot]edu (written in code to throw off those pesky spam bots!)
First… an insider’s description of the council process: ALA Council is always held in a large space… there are approximately 186 councilors that are in the room. The councilors have been elected to represent divisions (i.e. ACRL), Roundtables (i.e. NMRT – me), chapters (i.e. your state library association), and members-at-large (i.e. to represent everyone). We sit at tables (and I have found that it’s like church… .1) you have to get there early to get your favorite seat and 2) you may be run out of your seat because you have gotten someone else’s seat (LOL… not true but wanted to carry on the analogy). I sat near the back and with other newbies. There is a dais where the President, President Elect, the Executive Director, the parliamentarian etc. sit at the front of the room. There are 2 large screen TVs on either side of the dais that project the proceedings and resolutions being considered. There is also closed captioning for the hearing impaired. There are microphones strategically placed in the aisles with a number overhead (i.e. Microphone 2). The President (who presides over the meetings) must recognize the speaker at the specific microphone for them to talk (“The Chair recognizes Microphone 3’). Only members of council can speak during a council meeting unless granted an exception by the body. Prior to the meeting, reprographics print out all the reports that councilors pick up and review. (I weep for the trees! I’ll post a picture of my binder later)…. Each document is printed in different colors to represent the council session in which they will be presented. Reports are given… questions are asked… and some reports contain resolutions that committees wish for council to approve are presented. Some resolutions are approved seemingly without a hitch (more about that later). Some resolutions’ discussions become rather heated and contentious. MW Dallas was relatively mild in this respect and I was mildly disappointed! ;-p
We have 3 scheduled Council Meetings and 1 ALA-APA meeting (that’s another story)…. And 2 council forum meetings at night. Council Meetings are more formal… is governed by Parliamentary Procedure and is geared to do the business of the Association (pass resolutions, hear reports, ask questions, etc.). Council Forums are more informal sessions and are held at night. This is a time for councilors to ask questions sort of off the record, help folks craft resolutions for presentation, etc.
Just wanted to let you all know about some of the major issues that we talked about in the larger ALA Council at Midwinter in Dallas. Although we talked about more than these issues, here are the biggie highlights from Council: (in no particular order):
The Future of the ALA-APA: I was always confused by this but here’s my understanding as of now. American Library Association is a nonprofit organization…. We carry the 501c3 designation. As such, we cannot dabble in lobbying or anything political that might jeopardize this nonprofit designation. The APA was created to be the lobbying end of ALA… their concern — library staff salaries and lobbying for library related issues. APA shares the same officers and councilors as ALA (as it operates in parallel). Council was presented with a recommendation from the Presidential Task Force for Improving the Effectiveness of ALA’s Council to abolish the APA Council (I think in place… with decisions being made by the ALA-APA Executive Board rather than council). The resolution met with mixed reactions and will be discussed in more depth at Annual Anaheim.
Restriction of the selling of Digital Content to Libraries by publishers: Some of the larger eBook publishers have said they will not sell to libraries over concerns of pirating and revenue (read… profits). This is a concern for ALA. There has been a Digital Content and Libraries Working Group convened and they gave their report at MW. Council also adopted a resolution (which some anecdotal reports say did not go far enough) . Recently, the ALA Leadership met with 4 large publishers re: this issue. More information as it breaks. Molly Raphael, ALA President, plans to send a more formalized report of the meeting next week. Ongoing issue. Stay tuned!
Tucson Unified School District ban on “ethnic studies” program: (geared specifically at the Mexican American Studies Program but could be far reaching): It seems that the government of AZ is interpreting laws in AZ which would affect ethnic studies program books (particularly Mexican-American Studies) and would pull them from the shelves and the study of such from the curriculum. This interpretation of the law has far reaching implications (i.e. where does this ban stop?) ALA council adopted a resolution at MW supporting the Tucson School system who if they defied the order would have been penalized in reduced financial support. ALA Council cites this action as a restriction of open inquiry/access to information and goes further by urging the AZ legislature to pass HB 2654 that would repeal this. Ongoing issue. Stay tuned… for more information: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/ethnic-studies-book-ban-arizona-include-shakespeare-tempest-article-1.1007105
Purchase of Neal-Schuman Publishing by ALA: Jim Neal (no relation) as treasurer reported on the acquisition of Neal-Schumann Publishing by ALA. Neal-Schumann will join ALA Publishing cadre. The repayment of the loan that was used to buy this publishing will not be repaid from dues but will be paid back from publishing proceeds. For more information: http://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/inside-scoop/neal-schuman-join-ala-publishing
If you are fortunate to go to sunny California for Annual in June, I would urge you to attend the membership meeting. While we have no membership meetings at MW, we will have one at Annual. I will publish the date, time and location on this blog for you to attend. If you want to get a glimpse of ALA the larger picture… Membership Meetings are a good place to do that.
So that was my first experience in representing you at MW. Let me or any member of the NMRT Board know if you have a question, comment, concern, complaint! We’ll be glad to help!
Susan Jennings here… your ALA NMRT Councilor until 2014. I hope that this blog will be an effective way to communicate what is happening in ALA and with NMRT. Please let me know how I can tweak and make this blog most effective for NMRT members.
Thank you for electing me to represent you!