Seattle, Ebooks, and #ALAMW13: Cloudy with Drizzle, but Better Weather Ahead
ALA’s Digital Content and Libraries Working Group (DCWG) was busy at the 2013 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Seattle. Between formal business meetings of the full DCWG and its individual subgroups, presentations to ALA Council and the ALA Executive Board, meetings about related initiatives, one-on-one discussions on the Exhibit Hall floor and with ALA members, and two DCWG-sponsored programs, we covered a lot of ground.
We’re continuing to build up resources for librarians and as Midwinter began, we released the Business Model Scorecard, which provides a framework for evaluating and comparing publisher business models. This report complements the previously released Ebook Business Models for Public Libraries, which articulates various attributes of licensing arrangements libraries could have with publishers. Along with these two reports, the ALA Ebook Media and Communications Toolkit, released in November 2012, provides librarians with media templates, talking points, and other resources to support local and grassroots communications.
Midwinter allowed DCWG members to update ALA leadership and membership on the group’s achievements as well as to solicit feedback. Looking ahead, we identified plans for future engagement on e-content issues. Communication has been key over the past six months and DCWG members, ALA staff, and ALA leadership have been actively engaged in speaking and writing opportunities that included outreach to publishers, authors, and the library community. We worked closely with ALA President Maureen Sullivan in the development and dissemination of her message to all members, which succinctly summarized ALA activities through the end of 2012. We will continue to communicate activities and opportunities for member engagement as we work on DCWG issues over the next six months.
While our work with the Big Six publishers is far from over, we are broadening the conversation. The needs of school libraries and the issues of accessibility, privacy, and preservation are pressing topics as we move forward to address the interests of the ALA membership. We will continue our collaborations with other aligned national efforts including the ReadersFirst Initiative led by New York Public Library, OCLC’s Big Shift project, and the studies on libraries, ebooks, and digital content conducted by the Pew Internet Project.
A key direction for the DCWG is author and reader engagement. One component involves enlisting authors to advocate for more favorable library access to their titles in digital format. Another component involves the possibility of a national book club. Additional avenues are under consideration.
In the coming weeks, we will disseminate a short report that describes the scope of the DCWG, topics actively being addressed by ALA units, and topics that ALA should be pursuing but is not because of resource constraints. We look forward to obtaining further details about discussions and action steps taking place within ALA and communicating our plans and what we learn on this blog.
We urge you to keep informed through this blog, where the DCWG posts news about its activities and observations of industry developments. Also, check out the Ebooks and Digital Content page on ALA’s Transforming Libraries website and the E-Content section of each week’s AL Direct.
SARI FELDMAN is cochair of ALA’s Digital Content and Libraries Working Group and executive director of the Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Public Library.