Exploring the Challenges to Equitable Access to Digital Content
“E-Content: The Digital Dialogue” is the title of a new American Libraries digital supplement in which authors explore an unprecedented and splintered landscape in which several major publishers refuse to sell ebooks to libraries; proprietary platforms fragment our cultural record; and reader privacy is endangered.
Here’s a sampling of what’s included:
“Publishers, distributors and libraries must accept that new models of lending will not look like the old print model,” writes Robert C. Maier, director of the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, and Carrie Russell, director of the ALA Program on Public Access to Information. “We are not just trying to solve a library lending problem, although that is the current emergency.”
After detailing his conversations with a reader, writer, publisher and bookseller, Douglas County Public Library Director James LaRue also asks librarians to “rethink,” and lays out directions to pursue, including an updated legal framework, new content management models and partnership opportunities with other stakeholders in the reading ecosystem.
“Libraries will have to transform into places that help citizens become full-fledged creative members of their communities, both producing and archiving personal stories,” writes Peter Brantley, director of the BookServer Project at the Internet Archive.
Lisa Long Hickman, sales and marketing manager of Dzanc Books, argues for open lines of communication to enable fair play, and Deborah Caldwell-Stone deputy director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom, urges proactive steps to protect library users’ privacy rights.
“This report reflects both the here and now, and what is to come down the digital road,” said Alan Inouye, director of the ALA Office for Information Technology Policy, and guest editor of the publication.