What DCWG Did This Summer (Spoiler: We Didn’t Vacation)
After a productive and hectic ALA Annual Conference at the end of June, there was certainly a temptation to take the summer off from ebooks and libraries, digital content, and anything resembling same. But really, why lounge on the beach or hike in the mountains when you can debate and write about licensing terms for digital content?
Based on the past months of work on ebooks, publishers, and distributors, the Digital Content and Libraries Working Group (DCWG) completed and released its report “Ebook Business Models for Public Libraries” in early August as a means of sharing some of what we learned with the library community at large. We received some good press coverage on the report, and it was even translated into Spanish. Also, the Working Group issued in July its first tip sheet on digital rights management. Further tip sheets, explaining complex topics within the rubric of digital content in plain English, are planned.
These publications stimulated further press coverage. For example, DCWG Co-chair Robert Wolven was featured August 24 in an in-depth and thoughtful article on ebooks, libraries, and the larger context written by Andrew Albanese of Publishers Weekly.
ALA was invited to participate on an ebooks and libraries panel on NPR’s Diane Rehm Show. Carrie Russell, lead staffer for the Working Group’s business model activities (and OITP program director), participated from the studio and Vailey Oehlke, Working Group member (and director, Multnomah County Library), called in. Overall, Carrie and Vailey, along with the other participants, provided a very positive case for libraries and ebook lending.
Summertime also involves library outreach, and the realm of digital content fun is no exception. ALA representatives Sari Feldman (co-chair of the Working Group), Vailey Oehlke, and Alan Inouye (OITP director) participated in several discussions about the OCLC Big Shift project. ALA is a partner on this project, and is optimistic that it will produce useful analyses and guidance. In addition, ALA folks engaged with some other entities in the digital content arena and are hopeful that several new working relationships (whether informal or formal) are forthcoming. (More later as developments occur.) And, as this post is being released today, Sari Feldman is addressing a meeting of the ReadersFirst initiative to provide an update on DCWG activities.
What else did we do this summer? We planned fall activities—in particular, an ALA Delegation visit to New York-based publishers in early fall. ALA President Maureen Sullivan will be the featured speaker at a meeting of the Association of American Publishers, and will lead the ALA delegation at meetings with several publishers, where specific discussions will include the school library and youth markets. The delegation includes President-elect Barbara Stripling, Immediate Past-president Molly Raphael, Robert Wolven, and Alan Inouye.
Sari Feldman will be a speaker at a conference in Sicily on ebooks and libraries hosted and organized by the US State Department and the Embassy of Italy. Working Group member Eric Hellman will be the keynote speaker at the Opening Session of the 2012 LITA National Forum in Columbus, Ohio, and present at the October 26–27 In Re Books conference in New York. Maureen Sullivan and other ALA representatives will participate in the Midwest meetings of the upcoming Digital Public Library of America initiative. DCWG members will present at the Library 2.012 conference, which takes place October 3–5, and Alan Inouye will speak about ebooks and the Working Group at the Indiana Library Federation Annual Conference in November.
Finally, we’ve made progress in advocacy work beyond direct engagement with publishers and distributors. Later this month, DCWG will release a media toolkit that librarians can use within their communities. The toolkit will include templates for a press release that a library can issue and for an op-ed for which a library can seek placement in local newspapers. We are also developing plans and materials for other advocacy initiatives, so look for further announcements in the fall.
ALAN S. INOUYE is program manager of the ALA Digital Content & Libraries Initiative and director of the Office for Information Technology Policy at ALA’s Washington Office.