From the Keynote at CIL 2011


Summary provided by The Librarian in Black

Roy Tenant then brought up the “26 checkout eBook rental” issue with HarperCollins (see #hcod on Twitter for more on this).  Dick said that the idea of lending an eBook is “disrupting publishers” because they’re so into tangible objects.  If they allow it to be loaned, they feel that they have lost control of their product.  Marshall responded that this brings up the problem of libraries’ automation systems.  These systems are not built to deal well with digital content, only physical items.  He thinks this is going to change.  What is the library’s role when everything is streaming?  When books are published digitally only, and not in print?  We are trying to figure out what a lending model for libraries can be.  There is a real struggle between what publishers are worried about and their feeling that libraries are in the way of that.  We figured out how to do it in an age of physical bookstores and we need to figure it out in this new environment as well.  Stephen says that the HarperCollins issue is one example of playing whack-a-mole.  What would we do without Sarah Palin’s book…omg!  Why are we only going after HarperCollins, and not after Simon & Schuster and Macmillan, who won’t let us loan eBooks at all?  If we don’t participate in the discussion, there is a danger that libraries won’t have a role in eBooks in the future.

Marshall and Roy then talked about the impact on research libraries.  How do you manage large digitized collections in large research libraries?  Does it mean you can ship more books to storage or maybe even get rid of a few?  Back-files of periodicals don’t exist in many research libraries anymore, and if they do it’s only in storage.   The working collections will likely become more limited and agile.  It provides new opportunities to think about what library spaces can be.

Stephen talked a bit about eReaders.  Do we want Jeff Bezos controlling the market?  Do we want Steve Jobs’s values system controlling what type of content is allowed on the market? Because you control the patent on an eReader or have control over market share, should you have the right to disrupt the market and disallow content and information access.  He asked: How many of you would allow a single person to ban a book in your library?  Do we need to add a Banned eBook Week through ALA?  Did we let telephone handset manufacturers tell us what we could say on the phone? Stephen then asked the question that has been riling me up for years: Why is the library profession so silent on an issue of such critical importance to the future of information?

To read more about the keynote see the original post.

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