Wednesday, May 9, 2012

ALA seeks advice about "library as publisher"

Dear Librarian Colleagues: As part of the work of the Digital Content Working Group of ALA (which is tackling our many ebook-related issues), we are seeking some focused feedback before ALA next month. If you are experimenting with content creation (see below), we need to hear from you. Please review, then respond to


At this moment in our profession, an increasing number of libraries are engaged in the creation, publication, and preservation of digital content. This may represent an opportunity, or shift in our profession, moving us from the end of a publishing and distribution chain to somewhere closer to the source. The issue we're investigating here is not generally library relations with existing publishers, but activities where the library takes a lead or key partnership role in getting the content into digital format and delivering it over the long term. That takes us into archiving and preservation. In addition to the processes of gathering, preparing, and posting such content, we are also grappling with the challenges of copyright, fair use, and licensing in the digital environment.

What we're trying to find out

We're NOT looking for a comprehensive list of every digitization effort in libraries. We ARE looking for experiments that can help ALA recommend policies, address issues, or promote information exchange about this emerging area.

What we want you do do

BY June 1, 2012, SEND TO

* A brief description of your institution’s efforts to create digital content. For instance, this might include Open Access scholarship, the co-creation of ePub files featuring local authors, or the unique gathering of local history photographs and/or oral histories.

* Some key observations of important issues, roadblocks and discoveries. For instance, what group of authors or publishers have you worked with directly? Which approaches do you believe to be important to your institution or our profession? At what point has your project moved from your own agency to a larger consortial environment, and why?

* Where do you think ALA could make a difference? Have your issues been legal (dealing with copyright, for instance), technical (defining file type standards), policy (guiding documents), political within your institution or region, and/or financial (you just need more money)? Or have you found new concerns worth noting?

* A contact email and phone if we have questions.

Our subgroup will then review the responses, meet to discuss them at the 2012 ALA Annual Conference, then select a few key studies and issues for further examination. It is our plan to share our findings and recommendations broadly, concluding our work by mid-winter, 2013.

Thank you for your assistance in this important investigation.

Jamie LaRue, Chair
Digital Content Working Group #2
Director, Douglas County (CO) Libraries

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