Three basic attributes are beneficial to libraries under any business model for ebooks. While it may not be feasible to realize all of these immediately, and a library may elect to do without one or more in return for more favorable terms in other areas, at least temporarily, these features are ultimately essential to the library’s public role:
Essential Features All ebook titles available for sale to the public should also be available to libraries for lending. Libraries should have an option to effectively own the ebooks they purchase, including the right to transfer them to another delivery platform and to continue to lend them indefinitely. Publishers or distributors should provide metadata and management tools to enhance the discovery of ebooks.
- Inclusion of all titles — All ebook titles available for sale to the public should also be available to libraries for lending. Libraries may choose not to purchase some titles if restrictions or prices are deemed unacceptable, but withholding titles under any terms removes the library’s ability to provide the services its patrons need and expect.
- Enduring rights — Libraries should have an option to effectively own the ebooks they purchase, including the right to transfer them to another delivery platform and to continue to lend them indefinitely. Libraries may choose more limited options for some titles or copies, or in return for lower pricing, but they should have some option that allows for permanent, enduring access.
- Integration — Libraries try to provide coherent access across all of the services they offer. To do this effectively, they need access to metadata and management tools provided by publishers or distributors to enhance the discovery of ebooks. Separate, stand-alone offerings of ebooks are likely to be marginalized, or to diminish awareness of other library offerings. Mechanisms that allow ebooks to be discovered within the library’s catalog and checked out or reserved without undue complexity are basic needs.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
ALA: Info Report on eBooks for Libraries
A short information report on eBooks in libraries has been produced by the Digital Content & Libraries Working Group of the American Library Association (ALA). Working in close collaboration with ALA’s president and executive director, the group has focused on influencing the largest (“Big 6”) trade publishers to sell ebooks to libraries on reasonable terms. Here is a sample from the report (pdf):