On a Screen Near You
By Keith Michael Fiels
Wed, 05/16/2012 - 12:44
Prepare to actively participate in our first Virtual Membership Meeting June 6
Two items discussed during the ALA Executive Board Spring Meeting, held April 20–22 at the Association’s Chicago headquarters, illustrate the wide range of issues and activities affecting our members and their libraries. The board approved procedures and guidelines for ALA’s first Virtual Membership Meeting and discussed the current impasse regarding ebooks and libraries and how the Association can step up efforts to make ebooks available to library users.
Prepare to vote virtually
The online Virtual Membership Meeting will be held June 6 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Central time. With bylaw changes approved in early May, members will not only hear firsthand from the Association’s leadership about the latest issues facing libraries but will be able to discuss—and vote on—resolutions that can help shape Association positions and affect the future of libraries.
Last year, more than 500 ALA members—some from as far away as Istanbul and China—attended the first virtual “town hall” meeting. Attendees, many of whom were unable to attend Annual Conference or the Midwinter Meeting, indicated that they enjoyed the opportunity to hear from the president, the executive director, and the chair of the Association’s Budget, Analysis, and Review Committee, and to receive updated information on libraries and digital content. Other agenda topics were selected by participants via online polling.
Because of the interactive platform, the Virtual Membership Meeting is limited to 1,000 participants. Preregistration is required and is available through the start of the meeting at https://ala.ilinc.com/register/yzxhzss.
Ebook discussions continue
While virtually all publishers sell ebooks to libraries, four of the largest publishers—Macmillan, Hachette, Penguin, and Simon & Schuster—currently do not. In an attempt to end this impasse, ALA has been engaged in discussions with these publishers over the past several months. We have provided information and data that has helped them to better understand how libraries and library patrons use ebooks, and have helped resolve a number of misconceptions about libraries. This dialogue with publishers has been accompanied by discussions with ebook distributors, such as OverDrive, Baker and Taylor, 3M, and Ingram, who are also actively working with these publishers.
ALA has now begun approaching authors as advocates for library access to ebooks as a means of reaching out to other stakeholders in the ebook “ecosystem.” Reflecting the frustration felt by tens of thousands of libraries, the Executive Board strongly believes that ALA must develop plans and initiate near-term actions on a broader front, which includes reaching out to the media and bringing public attention to the need for libraries to be able to provide access to ebooks.
The board reaffirmed ALA’s position that “libraries of all types must be able to provide effective access to electronic media for their users at a reasonable price and consistent with ALA core principles.” These principles include equity of access, permanent protection of patron privacy access, and the elimination of artificial barriers (read “friction”) that restrict access to library materials. New forms of digital content open up tremendous opportunities for education, scholarship, and personal growth for all—but we need to work so that their full potential is made available to all we serve.
Other board discussions included:
- A new program in which ALA staff and members are now recruiting at key high school job fairs in order to further promote diversity in the profession;
- The impact of the Association’s recent certification as a provider of nationally recognized continuing education units for those attending many ALA-sponsored face-to-face and online courses;
- The new Huron Street Press, which will begin publishing titles for the general public this year; and
- Budgets for both FY2012 and FY2013.
For more information, visit ala.org.