Digital Library Digest: August 3, 2012

Posted by Christina Powers on August 3, 2012 in Digital Library Digest.

Examining the economics of e-book lending

“Like a tired marriage, the relationship between libraries and publishers has long been reassuringly dull. E-books, however, are causing heartache. Libraries know they need digital wares if they are to remain relevant, but many publishers are too wary of piracy and lost sales to co-operate. Among the big six, only Random House and HarperCollins license e-books with most libraries. The others have either denied requests or are reluctantly experimenting. In August, for example, Penguin will start a pilot with public libraries in New York.

“E-lending is not simple, however. There are lots of different and often incompatible e-book formats, devices and licences. Most libraries use a company called OverDrive, a global distributor that secures rights from publishers and provides e-books and audio files in every format. Some 35m titles were checked out through OverDrive in 2011, and the company now sends useful data on borrowing behaviour to participating publishers. Yet publishers and libraries are worried by OverDrive’s market dominance, as the company can increasingly dictate fees and conditions.

“Publishers were miffed when OverDrive teamed up with Amazon, the world’s biggest online bookseller, last year. Owners of Amazon’s Kindle e-reader who want to borrow e-books from libraries are now redirected to Amazon’s website, where they must use their Amazon account to secure a loan. Amazon then follows up with library patrons directly, letting them know they can ‘Buy this book’ when the loan falls due.

“This arrangement nudged Penguin to end its deal with OverDrive earlier this year. The publisher’s new pilot involves 3M, a rival distributor that does not yet support the Kindle. ‘Ultimately Amazon wants to control the library business,’ says Mike Shatzkin, a publishing consultant.”

From the Economist article, Literary Labours Lent

How ebooks challenge the core values of librarianship

“Over the last few years, as a fifth of American adults have gotten ereaders, ebooks have transformed the book market and reading landscape. The library market is no exception. There’s now an array of established vendors and emerging options for libraries to choose from in order to deliver ebooks to patrons.  In my job as the librarian at one of the emerging options (, I’ve seen the pros and cons of various models, and thought about what those mean.

“Here’s my conclusion: ebook models make us choose.  And I don’t mean choosing which catalog, or interface, or set of contract terms we want — though we do make those choices, and they matter. I mean that we choose which values to advance, and which to sacrifice.  We’re making those values choices every time we sign a contract, whether we talk about it or not.

“Traditional vendor platforms provide access to a lot of content, while freeing libraries from the complexity of negotiating for it. But cloud hosting, restrictive terms, and uncertainty about content ownership undermine library use cases.  Emerging models often have less content, but more flexible terms.  (For a thoughtful summary, see Brett Bonfield’s recent post on In the Library with the Lead Pipe.)

“What does this mean for library values?  A recent Library Journal article states, ‘Our primary role is to champion the rights of access for our users.’  I’d like to challenge that statement.  Access is one of the core values of librarianship, but we have others. Privacy. Sharing. Preservation. Paper books can serve all those values simultaneously.  Ebooks bring them into tension. Let’s talk about that.”

From Andromeda Yelton’s article in the Digital Shift, Ebook Choices and the Soul of Librarianship

Shakespeare’s First Folio hits the digital realm

“A campaign is under way to digitize and make available online the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays, known as the First Folio.

“A cadre of celebrities – including the actors Vanessa Redgrave and Stephen Fry and the theater director Peter Hall – are championing the fund-raising effort by the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford, ‘Sprint for Shakespeare,’ which started this week. The campaign aims to raise £20,000 (about $31,000) through private contributions.

“Once online, the folio will be available free, accompanied by articles and blogs from academics, other specialists, theater professionals and the public.

“While copies of the book are not uncommon, the Bodleian’s First Folio is rare because it has not been rebound or restored in the almost four centuries since it first entered  the library late in 1623. Its marks reveal the tastes of early readers; the pages of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ are worn almost to shreds, while ‘King John’ is virtually pristine. The volume, which was apparently sold by the library in the 1660’s, returned after a public fund-raising campaign at the turn of the 20th century to buy it from the family that owned it.”

From Robin Pogrebin’s article in the New York Times’ ArtsBeat blog, An Effort to Put First Edition of Shakespeare Online

Brooklyn Academy of Music receives grant to create online digital archive

“The Brooklyn Academy of Music, which is in the midst of celebrating its 150th anniversary, just announced that it got another feather in its cap. It received a four-year grant of $1 million from the Leon Levy Foundation to create a new digital archive to launch in May 2015.

“The Leon Levy BAM Digital Archive will be a kind of greatest hits of the collection of BAM, the oldest performing arts center in the U.S. The digital archive will present an online portal to a selection of the holdings of the BAM Hamm Archives, which houses everything from Civil War memorabilia to photographs and footage from the early performances of Merce Cunningham and Robert Wilson—roughly 3,000 feet of archival materials beginning from 1856 up through the present.”

From Rozalia Jovanovic’s article in Gallerist NYC, BAM Gets $1M. Grant From Leon Levy Foundation for Digital Archive

Civic Libraries project works to preserve indigenous languages

“In the surrounding villages of the three community libraries currently being supported through the Rising Voices grantee project Xela Civic Libraries, one might hear any number of indigenous languages during conversations between residents. In the Department of Quetzaltenango in Guatemala, languages such as K’iche’ and Mam continue to play a central role in rural daily life. The importance of maintaining these indigenous languages has been recognized by the Riecken Libraries, which has been implementing the Civic Libraries project in the towns of Huitán, Cabricán, and San Carlos Sija.

“The libraries have taken the initiative to engage community residents by collecting oral stories from village elders and document them in the form of bilingual illustrated books. Community residents took part as interviewers, artists, translators, and writers to complete a series of eight books made available to the local community. The books were also featured at Guatemala’s International Book Fair [es] in late 2011.

From Eddie Avila’s post in Rising Voices, Languages: The First Digital Voices of Man

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