American Library Association task forces to take on ebook lending

The American Library Association has struck two new task forces to investigate the future of ebooks in libraries: the Equitable Access to Electronic Content Task Force and the E-book Task Force. The objective is to come up with a nationwide, coherent strategy to address the fact that some publishers will not make their books available as lendable ebooks, while others require ebooks to be packaged in crippleware formats that self-destruct after a certain number of checkouts.
ALA members and the public can communicate with ALA on these issues through a new website dedicated to the challenges and potential solutions in libraries for improved access to electronic content. This site will be live within 10 days, and the URL to be announced at launch. These efforts reflect on libraries' long-standing principles on equitable access to information, reader privacy, intellectual freedom, and the lawful right of libraries to purchase and lend materials to the public.

ALA calls upon all stakeholders to join us in crafting 21st century solutions that will ensure equitable access to information for all.

American Library Association tackles new challenges in the e-environment (Thanks, INFOdocket, via Submitterator!)


  1. Refusal to purchase anything at all from those publishers would be a good start. Couple that with announcements urging library patrons who can’t get the titles they want to complain directly to the publishers and you have the groundwork of a well-targeted campaign.

  2. Great. What this means is that, eventually, ALA will release a statement probably condemning the ebook publishers and suggesting libraries look elsewhere for their ebooks – which is a joke. I would suggest it will be a slap on the wrist for publishers but that would imply they will be actually hurt in someway. This will be more akin to a strongly worded post-it note stuck on the bottom of someones shoe – never read and just as effective. That is what I expect from an organization that has some good intentions but absolutely now power to follow through with anything.

  3. This is also a good example of why America needs librarians with union protection.

    If you think for two seconds that a privatized library staff of “fire at will” temp barrista-librarians would have the leverage to stand up to a publisher without being fired in short order, you’d have to be.. well, you’d have to be an optimist.

  4. Looking at that logo, I fear Glenn Beck will now claim librarians are in cahoots with the Black Panthers.

  5. Thanks to Boing Boing for picking this up and thanks also to the folks taking the time to read it. I (Michael Porter) serve as co-chair of the Electronic Content Access Task force (which we are calling EQUACC). Once the site related to our efforts goes live we encourage participation and input from all interested parties. Meantime, I did some live blogging of the retreat at my web site which is Feel free to leave comments there till our site goes up.

    Also, if I may, would like to mention that this is an issue many of us have been working on getting traction on for years. Recent developments related to libraries and electronic content access have drawn attention to the issue in the wider media but this task force is a direct result of several years of work and research from myself and many of my colleagues. In fact, last year myself and several others launched a new non-profit org to work on the issues in ways existing orgs cannot or were not set up to do. This org alone was in the idea and planning phases for two years previous. So we are hard at work here, and have been….yet there is still so much good work to do.

    I’d encourage anyone interested to check out (PUN!) our efforts at: you can email us there if you have any questions as well: info *at sign* libraryrenewal. org

  6. If the Big Publishers won’t play ball with Libraries, then I would like to see Libraries given an exemption from the DMCA and restock their virtual shelves with unDRMed ebooks. Any publisher that offers to sell unDRMed and unlimited ebooks would then be given permission to sell those ebooks to the Libraries. Any other ebooks from other publishers could then be obtained independently from volunteers who have stripped the DRM.

    Libraries are too important to be injured by all this silly capitalistic greedy nonsense.

  7. The fist in the logo came from the Soviet Union and has been used on many communist-era and post-communist era causes.

    Shelomo in NYC

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