Monday, February 27, 2012

Ebook News and Guide to Publishers

There has been so much on the web recently about libraries and ebooks, I was thinking NTLP should provide a weekly summary. Michael Porter, who many of you saw at the TechNet 2011 conference, beat me to it. His blog at now has a series of posts proviiding a weekly wrap-up of web articles related to libraries and e-content. Last Friday's post has links to insightful articles on the complex relationship between libraries and publishers; the equally complex relationship between publishers and Amazon; and the world of ebooks, access, and libraries. Be sure to read the comments, where he encourages readers to post additional links to articles he might have missed.

Another good blog to watch for ebook news is, from Library Journal and School Library Journal. Last week they published A Guide to Publishers in the Library Ebook Market, listing the current status of many of the top publishers relative to their ebook offerings for libraries.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Universal Access News

We've seen a flurry of universal access messages in the past few days and want to share them with you.

According to a Feb. 3 article in The Cornell Daily Sun, Cornell is working to implement a computer-based program to support students with hearing disabilities in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields in an effort to improve graduation rates of students with hearing disabilities. The first students will enter the program in fall 2013.

Mandolin Gardens Park, Houston, UT Dallas Student Services Building, Richardson, and the Historic Downtown River Walk, San Antonio, have all won the 2011 Accessibility Awards sponsored by the Texas Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities (GCPD) and the Accessibility Professionals Association (APA). The awards recognize businesses and organizations which go significantly above and beyond the legal requirements of both physical and service accessibility for people with disabilities. The winners will be honored at a ceremony Friday, January 27, 2012, at 12:15pm at the Austin Marriott Hotel North, 2600 La Frontera Blvd, Round Rock, as part of the APA Annual Conference. The awards presentation after lunch is free and open to the public.

According to WorldBakers, UK shortbread manufacturer Paterson Arran Limited has introduced braille to its best-selling shortbread range as part of its ongoing commitment to meeting the needs of consumers.

Global Accessibility News is available free from The Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES).

Friday, February 10, 2012

It is time to tell the truth about eBooks

In case you haven’t heard the ruckus from the blogosphere, yet another major publisher has severed ties with Overdrive.  Last fall, after the Overdrive/Kindle launch, Penguin announced that it was not providing new eBook content for purchase, but would allow libraries to purchase additional copies of titles already licensed.  As of today, February 10, libraries can no longer purchase additional copies of Penguin eBooks to meet patron demand.

I wonder, though, how many library patrons (and for that matter, library staff) know that out of the Big Six publishers (HarperCollins, Hachette, Penguin, Macmillan, Random House, and Simon & Schuster), only two are willing to sell eBooks to libraries (at least via Overdrive, the predominant source of popular eContent for libraries).  HarperCollins will license copies for the now-infamous 26 checkouts, after which a library must repurchase the title for another 26 checkouts.  Random House has stated that they are committed to library lending, but will be raising prices on eContent for libraries in the near future.  The other four will not sell eContent to libraries at all.

What does this mean for your patrons?  It means that even if you subscribe to Overdrive or another vendor of popular eBooks,  it is likely that the vast majority of popular content--the same titles we purchase and lend in hard copy to our patrons--is most likely not available for us to purchase in electronic format.

What can we do?  Continue to advocate on behalf of our users, of course, but I also think it is time to tell the truth about the situation.  We are not here to bash eBook vendors or publishers, but our patrons have a right to know what is going on and may be willing to add their voices to the dialogue.  It’s time to tell the truth.

To see how some well-known librarians are addressing this issue in their libraries, check out these links:

Librarian in Black's blog shows the sign she put up in the library listing publishers that won't sell.  

And Jessamyn West's blog has opinions about how we should talk to patrons.

Jessamyn links to Bobbi Newman for talking points / scripts to use when telling patrons about the situation.