ALA Chapters Issue Joint Statement on E-Content Pricing
A majority of the 57 state and regional chapters of the American Library Association have signed a joint statement in opposition to the practices of publishers and distributors that have established unfair pricing in the sale of ebooks to libraries.
ALA President Maureen Sullivan commented, “This joint statement underscores how critical this issue is for the public. Librarians across the country daily face questions from their readers about why access to ebooks is restricted. ALA fully supports this grassroots effort.”
So far, 52 ALA chapters (see list below) have signed on to the statement, and Indiana Library Federation Executive Director Susan Akers expects that a few more will join in the next few weeks.
Akers told American Libraries that at an Indiana Library Federation (ILF) board meeting in September, ALA’s Indiana Chapter Councilor Teresa A. Rheinheimer brought up concerns about a price increase for ebooks sold to libraries by certain publishers. The board wanted to do something to demonstrate support for libraries and to let publishers know that the library community opposed their actions. They then began to develop a joint statement that state library associations could join in supporting.
“We veered away from resolution language so that it could be a bit more flexible to use, and we chose not to include publishers’ names,” she added. “After reviewing what Montana and New Jersey had written at an earlier date, we developed the statement and forwarded it for review and input by Chapter Councilors.”
The document was designed as a way to express the collective grassroots concerns on ebook pricing that libraries and their patrons across the country share. “There is strength in numbers,” Akers said.
Here is the text of the Joint ALA Chapter Statement Regarding E-Content Pricing:
“The American people long ago realized the importance of creating and maintaining a literate and informed citizenry. Publishers, authors, distributors, and literary agencies have long recognized the important role played in our society by our libraries. In the past, they have supported libraries by providing purchasing discounts of printed materials, promoting authors, and working with librarians to increase accessibility and enjoyment of the written word.
“In this technological age, libraries must stay responsive to the public and deliver the written word in both electronic and print formats. The Indiana Library Federation, the New Jersey Library Association, and the Montana Library Association are increasingly concerned about the publishers and distributors whose policies withhold e-content from library users.
“Libraries, like other consumers, should be free to buy any published e-content at competitive prices, to keep these items in their collection, and to loan them to their patrons. Anything less violates basic democratic principles of a free market, freedom of speech, and equitable access. If financial barriers are removed in libraries, all citizens would have equal access to this material.
“The Indiana Library Federation is in agreement with the Montana Library Association, which asks publishers of e-content to place libraries on a level playing field with other consumers of e-content. The cooperative relationship among publishers, authors, distributors, and agents must be restored.
“We are aware that the American Library Association is our national voice to advocate for access to content for all members of our society and that the ALA has a Working Group on Digital Content in Libraries examining many of the issues identified above.
“The Indiana Library Federation, the New Jersey Library Association, and the Montana Library Association strongly oppose the actions by publishers and distributors who set unfair conditions for the sale of e-content to libraries. These conditions include unfair pricing, controlled distribution, restricted ownership, and reduced access of e-content.
“We join with the American Library Association and the other state chapters to speak out and vigorously oppose these discriminatory policies.”
Update November 20, 2012: The Ohio Library Council, the Rhode Island Library Association, the Vermont Library Association, the Colorado Association of Libraries, and the New Hampshire Library Association have also signed on to the statement.
Update November 21, 2012: The Louisiana Library Association and Nebraska Library Association have signed on.
Update November 27, 2012: The New Mexico Library Association has joined the list.
Update November 28, 2012: The Idaho Library Association and the North Dakota Library Association have joined.
Update November 30, 2012: The Alaska Library Association, the Washington Library Association, and the Mississippi Library Association have signed up.
Update December 3, 2012: The Mountain Plains Library Association has joined.
Update December 4, 2012: The Arizona Library Association has signed up.
Update December 11, 2012: The Minnesota Library Association and the Wyoming Library Association have joined the list.
Update December 13, 2012: The Southeastern Library Association has joined.
Update December 14, 2012: The Delaware Library Association has signed up.
The 52 ALA chapters that have signed on to the joint statement are as follows: