Libby is stuck between libraries and e-book publishers – Protocol — The people, power and politics of tech

“On the surface, there couldn’t be a more wholesome story than the meteoric rise of the Libby app. A user-friendly reading app becomes popular during the pandemic, making books cool again for young readers, multiplying e-book circulation and saving public libraries from sudden obsolescence.

But the Libby story is also a parable for how the best-intentioned people can build a beloved technological tool and accidentally create a financial crisis for those who need the tech most. Public librarians depend on Libby, but they also worry that its newfound popularity could seriously strain their budgets….”

Boston Public Library makes historical images available for use in Wikipedia | Boston Public Library

“In celebration of Wikipedia’s 20th anniversary on January 15th, Boston Public Library has uploaded more than 8,000 historical photographs from its archival collections to Wikimedia Commons. These images include some of the library’s most important photographic collections, and contribute to the single largest batch of uploads ever contributed to Wikimedia Commons. By uploading these public domain images, BPL is making them available so that they can be freely used to enhance Wikipedia articles, re-printed in publications, or incorporated in student projects and papers. …”

Amazon Publishing in Talks to Offer E-books to Public Libraries

“The potential deal would be a breakthrough moment in the library e-book market as Amazon currently does not make its digital content available to libraries. It would also be a major coup for the Digital Public Library of America’s upstart e-book platform and its SimplyE library reading app….”

 

 

Amazon under pressure to lift ban on e-book library sales | TheHill

“Amazon’s refusal to sell e-books published in-house to libraries is sparking backlash as demand for digital content spikes during the coronavirus pandemic.

Librarians and advocacy groups are pushing for the tech giant to license its published e-books to libraries for distribution, arguing the company’s self-imposed ban significantly decreases public access to information.

“You shouldn’t have to have a credit card in order to be an informed citizen,” Michael Blackwell, director of St. Mary’s County Library in Maryland, told The Hill. “It’s vital that books continue to be a source of information and that those books should be democratically discovered through libraries.”

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A petition launched last week by Fight for the Future, a tech advocacy group, calls for Congress to pursue an antitrust investigation and legislative action against Amazon for its ban on selling e-books to libraries. As of Tuesday afternoon, it had nearly 13,000 signatures….

Amazon has indicated it is in discussions to allow its e-books to be licensed by libraries, but so far the public institutions are unable to access Amazon’s digital titles.

Issues surrounding library e-books go beyond Amazon. Traditional publishers have become increasingly restrictive regarding e-books, Blackwell said, but they at least offer options for libraries to license and distribute those books.

The crux of the issue is how e-books are sold. Whereas libraries can lend out physical copies of purchased books for as long as they hold up, libraries must adhere to licensing agreements that constrain how long they can keep e-books in circulation.

The top publishing firms typically have two-year licensing contacts for library e-books, with options to extend for another two years, said Alan S. Inouye, senior director of public policy and government relations at the American Library Association.

But unlike their traditional publishing peers, Amazon does not allow libraries to purchase the e-books it publishes, leaving no option for libraries to access what Amazon says is “over 1 million digital titles” that consumers “won’t find anywhere else.”…”

Canadian Libraries Respond to ‘Globe and Mail’ Essay Attacking Public Libraries

“Contrary to Whyte’s assertions, public libraries are in fact good for bookstores, publishing, and authors. Public libraries purchase and promote a diversity of material from a wide range of sources, including books by local authors published by independent Canadian presses. And research shows library borrowers are also book buyers. Booknet Canada researched the intersection of library use and book buying and found that Canadians who both buy and borrow books from the library purchase more books on average per month than buyers who do not use the library at all. By exposing people to ideas and content they wouldn’t otherwise think to purchase, libraries help people read more. Libraries are not taking away market share from bookstores, we are making the market bigger for everyone.

Whyte also goes on to make the rather astonishing claim that, “the dirty secret of public libraries is that their stock-in-trade is neither education nor edification. It’s entertainment.” Furthermore, he suggests it’s entertainment for the middle and upper classes, who can surely afford to buy their own books.

 

This implies that “the benighted underclass,” as Whyte calls them, do not deserve or should not have access to recreational material. That kind of wisdom harkens back to the 19th century, when civic leaders established the precursors of public libraries for their workers in the hope that edifying lectures and educational books would reduce crime, and keep people out of bars and brothels—but, no novels! It also suggests that the middle class have ample disposable income and should not be using the library at all, despite the fact that they, and all taxpayers, are paying for it….”

Opinion | After the Coronavirus, Libraries Must Change – The New York Times

“As we face tragedy, devastating economic turmoil and dislocation, public libraries will play a key part in the recovery of our country, cities and lives. Libraries offer all people — regardless of background or circumstance — free access to the tools and knowledge they need to open doors of opportunity and be productive members of society. To remain true to their mission, all libraries must undergo radical change. To serve the public in the face of unprecedented challenges, libraries will need to transition their services to the virtual space and explore new avenues to serve the public and bring people together, even while we are apart….”

DPLA partners with state libraries to offer statewide ebooks access | DPLA

“Earlier this month, the DPLA ebooks team met virtually with state librarians from across the country as part of the annual spring COSLA members’ meeting. We enjoyed this opportunity to hear directly from state libraries about their ebook needs, as well as from states who have already adopted SimplyE about how it is helping them expand critical access to ebooks for people across their states. As Washington State Librarian and COSLA ebook engagement group chair Cindy Aden said, “I am happy to see so many COSLA members working with SImplyE. Ebooks have never been more important, as libraries remain closed. Additionally, though, it’s clear that libraries must address the economic issues around ebooks and find a way to successfully work with the entire publishing ecosystem to find licensing models that work for everyone. DPLA and SimplyE give libraries some tools to explore better options.”

SimplyE is an open-source ebook platform developed by the New York Public Library. Over the past year, we’ve seen a wave of interest in SimplyE from libraries who want to provide more diverse content for more people while maintaining control over the patron experience and protecting patron privacy. There are currently more than 150 library systems across the country that have launched SimplyE, and it’s being tested and deployed in Washington, Connecticut, Texas, Georgia, and Montana. In addition, Rhode Island, Hawaii, the Maryland digital consortia, and American Samoa have begun the process of rolling out the platform. We have been working closely with these libraries to put together statewide ebook collections that include a wide variety of materials from different providers, including ebooks with flexible licensing terms and public domain works available through the DPLA Exchange. …”

The Public Library Association and Microsoft announce initiative to help expand internet access in rural communities during COVID-19 crisis | News and Press Center

“he Public Library Association (PLA) and Microsoft Corp. announced a new initiative today to increase access to technology in rural communities during the COVID-19 crisis. Microsoft will provide funding to help public libraries in rural communities extend WiFi access by installing public WiFi access points on or near library grounds….”

The Public Library Association and Microsoft announce initiative to help expand internet access in rural communities during COVID-19 crisis | News and Press Center

“he Public Library Association (PLA) and Microsoft Corp. announced a new initiative today to increase access to technology in rural communities during the COVID-19 crisis. Microsoft will provide funding to help public libraries in rural communities extend WiFi access by installing public WiFi access points on or near library grounds….”

You can now download over 300,000 books from the NYPL for free

“There’s good news for all the New York City-based e-bookworms out there. The New York Public Library has an app that allows anyone with a library card (and an iOS or Android phone) to “borrow” any of the 300,000 e-books in the collection.

It’s called SimplyE and will allow you to read books on your phone, but beware, there might be a wait list for some popular titles, including the Game of Thrones series. (Check out the Harry Potter books, quick!) …”