It’s no surprise: As a profession, we are facing a rapidly developing issue of growing significance, and that is e-content. It comes down to this: Libraries often cannot offer the types and amounts of e-content our users want and need. A lot of material is simply unavailable for us to access and circulate in electronic format, and what is available often comes in prohibitively expensive packages. The current state of affairs with libraries and e-content is broken.
As e-content consumption grows and devices become more ubiquitous, many in our profession believe the scale of the problem puts at stake the very future of our institutions unless we find more equitable ways for our patrons to access e-content through libraries. Libraries are doing what they can to move forward (see ebooksforlibraries.com for one example), but we need solutions that are not yet on the horizon.
Issues related to terms, cost, and availability have often been decided for us, with minimal opportunities for input and that allow for little control of contractual arrangements. Our library users want and deserve the e-content they need, when they need it, and on the device on which they want it. But how can libraries possibly do that in competitive ways? More and more library staff conclude that we simply cannot. Many also conclude that to remain relevant to our users, we must figure out new ways to fulfill our missions as they relate to content provision.
To this end, we’ve compiled a collection of resources here that you can use to ensure you are informed of the major issues related to ebooks, e-content, libraries, publishers, and other critical areas. Given the namesake of this column you will find that some information comes from outside of libraries, others from within.
Sites and sources
AL E-Content blog General news, updates, opinion pieces, and updates on e-content and ALA activities around libraries: americanlibrariesmagazine.org/e-content
AL Direct American Libraries’ free weekly e-newsletter has a section dedicated to e-content news, aggregated from a variety of blogs and news sites both inside and outside the library world. americanlibrariesmagazine.org/aldirect
Library Renewal blog Regular weekly and biweekly summaries of the most significant ebook and e-content issues related to libraries. Also contains periodic editorials around major e-content issues. libraryrenewal.org/blog
TeleRead A longtime leader in reporting on issues about ebooks and e-content, with perspectives from both inside and outside libraryland. teleread.com
Publishers Weekly Digital Because publishers own rights to so much of the content our library patrons want and need, it makes good sense for us to keep up with this site. Here we can learn the public stance of publishers on e-content issues while keeping up with related developments from the publishers’ perspective. publishersweekly.com/digital
PaidContent An industry site that deals with “the economics of digital content.” Here e-content issues revolve, in large part, around money. This site helps us learn that side of the market. paidcontent.org
Publishers Lunch The publishing industry’s “daily essential read.” This site is important for many of us in libraries as well. lunch.publishersmarketplace.com
The Digital Shift Library Journal’s blog on ebook and e-content issues. thedigitalshift.com
No Shelf Required Sue Polanka (editor of the excellent No Shelf Required and No Shelf Required II) keeps you up to date with ebook and e-content issues. A place to find useful information and perspectives. libraries.wright.edu/noshelfrequired
infodocket Chock-full of hot news items related to ebooks, e-content, and related issues. Includes links to everything from data to press releases to editorial pieces of note. infodocket.com
eBookAnoid A variety of info about ebooks and e-readers. ebookanoid.com
If you use an RSS reader, the task of keeping up with this list will be much easier to manage. Google Alerts, Twitter, and Facebook can also help. But regardless of how you follow e-content news, we encourage everyone to make it a new priority and set aside time to do so. The moment to be informed and take action is now.