Guest Post from Graham Lavender, Associate Librarian, The Michener Institute of Education at University Health Network [well over due for posting, sorry Graham!]
On March 17 & 18, I had the pleasure of attending eBooks Symposium! The Current State of the Art in Libraries at the University of Toronto iSchool. The room was filled with mainly public librarians from across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), though some came from as far as Ottawa. There were a number of vendors in attendance (not just including those who gave presentations). The many insights into the world of ebooks wouldn’t all fit into a blog post, but I share some of the highlights.
Stephen Abram, conference co-chair and Executive Director, Federation of Ontario Public Libraries, kicked things off with a fascinating look at the data behind ebook usage in Ontario. For example, 41% of people surveyed indicated they had “checked the library’s online catalogue, downloaded an item, or accessed other materials via the library’s website,” and the top two “specific types of electronic resources used on the library’s website” were fiction ebooks and non-fiction ebooks. Considering that 86% of Ontarians have read at least one book in the past year, it’s no surprise that the demand for ebooks continues to grow, especially in Metro Toronto and other urban parts of the GTA, where ebook usage is most prevalent. Take a look through Stephen’s slides for more data: http://www.slideshare.net/stephenabram1/e-books-symposium-intro
Next up was Vickery Bowles, City Librarian, Toronto Public Library, to talk about the Fair Ebook Prices campaign, supported by a coalition of public libraries from across Ontario and beyond. The campaign was created to raise awareness of the gap between what publishers charge individuals for ebooks and what they charge libraries, either through higher list prices or through policies that require libraries to purchase popular ebooks more than once based on the number of times they’re used. The campaign was reported on by a variety of media outlets, and the hashtag #FairEbookPrices was shared thousands of times on social media. Ultimately, Penguin Random House switched to a more favourable pricing model after learning about the campaign.
Beth Jefferson, Founder & CEO, Bibliocommons, and Patrick Kennedy, President, Bibliocommons, each gave a talk about the challenges libraries face in growing ebook usage. For example, library catalogues based on Amazon-style lists of “what’s popular” tend to be filled with materials that aren’t currently available, so why not advertise “what’s available now” instead? Discovery issues can also be related to poor MARC records – how can we generate better MARC records to help people find what they’re looking for? And how do we break free from the silos created by vendors offering ebooks on competing platforms?
Christina de Castell, Manager, Policy & Advocacy, International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), [now Director, Collections & Technology, Vancouver Public Library] joined us via Skype to talk about how far ebooks in libraries have come since IFLA released its Principles for Library eLending in 2013. We’ve come a long way, but there is still plenty of work to be done. Thankfully, groups like IFLA are working hard on these issues; see Christina’s slides for more: http://www.slideshare.net/stephenabram1/decastell-ebookuof-t
The Practitioners Panel was an opportunity to hear the perspectives of people in the field in a variety of types of libraries. One of the pain points mentioned was the varying (and changing) restrictions placed on the use of ebooks; as an example, in the Psychiatry Online collection, users can no longer download the ebooks and must read them in the browser instead. All the panelists were in favour of a “blended model” of ebook licensing, where libraries would have the option of buying a certain number of copies of an ebook and temporarily licensing further copies. This would allow libraries to provide more access to books while they’re popular, without ending up with many expensive purchased copies of books that are no longer being used.
The second panel, known as Publishers Perspectives, considered the challenges faced by the publishers of ebooks. For example, how can small university presses stay in business when their home institutions are often cutting their budgets or cutting them loose altogether? And if a particular ebook is only relevant to a handful of researchers across the country, but it’s important from a cultural or scientific point of view, how can the publisher recover the cost of producing it?
Michael Zeoli, Vice President, Strategic eContent Development & Partner Relations, YBP, provided the perspective of an aggregator. In discussing Demand Driven Acquisition (DDA), he explained how libraries are benefiting from giving users access to a wide variety of titles and only paying for the ones that get used; the flip side, of course, is that publishers are unhappy when they provide a large number of records and only get paid for a few titles. This situation is causing publishers to increase the restrictions they place on their ebooks.
Accessibility is a major issue for ebooks in libraries: while ebooks offer great potential for users with print disabilities, this potential can be limited by Digital Rights Management (DRM) and other restrictions. Margaret Williams, Director of Content and Access for the Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA), discussed the ways in which ebooks can be made more accessible, from ensuring that sidebar content is included along with the main content on a page to improving findability via search interfaces. It’s true that users with print disabilities can simply ask library staff for help, but true accessibility requires that they be able to access ebooks on their own (besides, as Margaret pointed out, many library staff may not feel comfortable helping a user pick out erotica!).
Michael Ciccone, Bibliotekkie Consulting, Inc., talked about how readers’ advisory can be improved with a tool called Loan Stars. Loan Stars allows library staff from across Canada to vote on their favourite upcoming books before they’re released to the public. Based on a successful model from the United States, this new program provides library staff with electronic reader copies of upcoming books, allows them to vote, and then produces reports on the most highly rated new books. Libraries can use these reports to help their users connect with relevant new reads.
David Ondrik, Research Solutions Manager – Ebooks, Elsevier, wrapped things up with a look at the state of ebooks in research libraries. More and more researchers are requiring interdisciplinary information at the broad book level (as opposed to the more specific journal level), so libraries need to consider subject areas beyond their core domains. For example, if an engineer wants to build a water filter that works like the human kidney, they’ll need access to biomedical research. This has led to an increase in “turn aways” – instances of researchers finding records for ebooks they need, but not being able to access the full text.
The attendees came for a variety of reasons: some are responsible for the development of their ebook collections, while others want to make the most of the ebooks they already have. But no matter their specific need, I’m sure everyone walked away from this day and a half with an enhanced perspective on the past, present, and future of ebooks in libraries.
President’s Meeting in Columbus, Aug 2016
Ok, here I am in Columbus, Ohio attending IFLA‘s 82nd World Library & Information Congress and feeling really guilty that I have not posted & connected since February! Not because I didn’t have things to say, but for various reasons. So if Andrew Pace can get back to blogging, I felt I better too! Thanks Andrew for pushing me! 🙂
A lot of great stuff is happening at this IFLA meeting with the theme – Connections, Collaboration & Community. Here’s a few things:
- New Continuing Professional Development Guidelines from on of the standing committees I belong to, CDPWL. And we had a great discussion of those guidelines in our session on Tues. We’ll be doing another one at next year’s conference in Poland.
- President’s Meeting with great speakers (session 092) — I tweeted a lot using #IFLAPres & there is also a Facebook page you can like & learn about future meetings. BTW, in his plenary session this morning David Ferriero, who blogs as AOTUS, mentioned one of my tweets from the Monday morning’s President’s meeting! I nearly fell off my chair!
- Knowledge Management section, which I’ve been a member of for many years, just published a book highlighting wonderful speaker presentations over the last number of years — Knowledge Management in Libraries & Organizations
Hope to share more soon!
This email hit my desk today and it really resonated with me as I work with and talk with so many who have difficulty proving their value and impact. It also addresses the financial industry where my roots are! The highlights below are mine but the text is not.
Monetizing Information Flows
StreetContxt is a hot, Canadian-based start-up that just raised $8 million from A-list investors, including a number of big banks and brokerage houses. Its mission is simple: to maximize the value of the mountain of investment research that gets generated each year. But what really makes StreetContxt stand out to me is that it offers a very compelling business proposition to both those who create the research and those who use it.
For the sell-side (those who create the content), it’s currently difficult to measure the impact much less the ROI on the huge volume of research they create annually. They send it out to presumably interested and qualified recipients, with no way of knowing if it is acted on, or even viewed.
For the buy-side (those who receive and use the content), it’s impossible to keep up with the blizzard of information being pushed out to them. Even more significantly, some of this research is very good, but a lot of it isn’t. How do you identify the good stuff?
StreetContxt offers the sell-side a powerful intelligence platform. By distributing research through StreetContxt, research producers can learn exactly who viewed their research and whether it was forwarded to others (multiple forwards are used as a signal to suggest a timely and important research report). What naturally falls out of this is the ability to assess what research is having the most market impact. But StreetContxt also helps research producers correlate research with trading activity to help make sure that their research insights are being rewarded with adequate commission revenue. Even better, StreetContxt helps the sell-side by providing insight into who is reading research on what topics and with what level of engagement in order to help power sales conversations. In short, StreetContxt tracks “who’s reading what” at a very granular level both to measure impact but also to inform selling activity.
On the buy-side, StreetContxt helps those who use research with a recommendation engine. Research users can specify topical areas of interest that get tuned by StreetContxt based on who is reading and forwarding what research reports. In other word, StreetContxt has found an approach to automatically surface the best and most important research. StreetContxt also helps research users by monitoring relevant research from sources to which the research user may not currently subscribe. And since much research is provided in exchange for trading commissions, StreetContxt can help research users get the most value from these credits.
The magic described here happens because the content creators post to the central StreetContxt portal, and research users access content from the same portal. This allows StreetConxt to monitor exactly who is using what research.
Why would research users allow their every click to be tracked and turned into sales leads? Because StreetContxt offers them a powerful inventive in the form of curated research recommendations, a better way to manage research instead of having it flood their in-boxes as it does now, and most importantly of all, a way to ferret out the best and most important research.
The big lesson for me is that with a sufficiently compelling value proposition on both sides, smart companies can position themselves in the middle of an information flow and monetize the resulting data in powerful and profitable ways.
Did you know that O’Reilly has published the 4th edition of this seminal work, Information Architecture: for the Web and Beyond, by Peter Morville and Louis Rosenfeld first published in 1998? Terrific! And I just got my copy. The first section introduces IA with definitions and issues then discusses design for finding and for understanding. Part 2 covers the basic principles of IA including organization systems, labeling systems, navigating systems, search systems as well as thesauri, controlled vocabularies & metadata. Peter is a wonderful teacher and speaker about these topics for librarians, info pros, taxonomists, and knowledge managers. He will be participating in Library Leaders Digital Strategy Summit at the DC Hilton, March 8-9.
Just got my copy of Public Knowledge: Access & Benefits edited by friends and colleagues Miriam A. Drake & Donald T. Hawkins and last chapter by Barbie Keiser on open government, big data and the future of public information. Great stuff on U. S. public information in this book. Good list of acronyms — always helpful!! Includes chapters on the Library of Congress, National Library of Medicine, Government Printing Office, and lots more.
Well, we’re half way through January and I’m finally writing the post I wanted to do weeks ago! I am so excited about many upcoming events:
Ontario Library Association SuperConference next week in Toronto, some highlights:
*IFLA President Donna Scheeder brings greetings & discusses her President’s Meeting April 6-9 in Toronto
*Jane Dysart interviews several generations of librarians, Generations: Meeting of the Minds, Wed 4pm
*Rebecca Jones being awarded Public Librarian of the Year award, Thurs — well deserved! Yeah!
Computers in Libraries 2016 in DC March 7-10, see my last post for more details about theme, Library Labs: Research, Innovation & Imagination
Library Leaders Digital Strategy Summit in DC, March 8-9 — usually on the west coast for the first time in DC with facilitators Rebecca Jones & Michael Edson, former office of the CIO of the Smithsonian Insitute & now Associate Director & Head, Digital, United Nations Live, Museum for Humanity
Ebooks Symposium, University of Toronto iSchool, March 17-18
Future of Libraries: Ours to Create, NOW! USC in LA, March 31/April 1
IFLA President’s Meeting, Call to Action: Buiding the Change Agenda for the Information Profession, Toronto Sheraton Hotel, April 7-8 with tours and receptions at other locations. Including industry leaders and top libarians from around the world!
Check them out and join us for great conversations, lots of learning and interesting networking!
The first day of our University of Toronto symposium, The Future of Libraries, was filled with talks and discussions about challenges for libraries; what boards, provosts and city managers are saying about libraries; what surveys and research are telling us; what our competitors are doing (and how we might partner with them or learn from them); how we can streamline our operations and gain efficiency; how libraries are dealing with change; and more. Here are the top challenges this group articulated:
* Promotion of library services
* Staff competencies, resistance, culture
* Competitors – alignment vs duplication
* Rationalizing services, sacrifice, stop doing
* Making our case in municipalities
* Balancing Act — electronic vs print, staff in or out of the library, service points/back room
* Future of the profession
I found it every interesting that the top challenges weren’t funding or money. We recognize that we have choices, even if they are difficult, but we can choose where we put our resources.
Brandan Howley gave a thought provoking talk and I’m still thinking about his statement, “Future proofing libraries means managing disruption while proving relevancy.” He discussed how libraries are cultural triggers that activate networks — very powerful! He recommended the book, A Pattern Language, about UX (user experience).
“More libraries & their staff “get it”, understand that serious change is necessary, and ask for our help as partners not just vendors” Edmund Salt, President, Whitehots Inc.
Ken Haycock framed the event by starting us off thinking about challenges and ending with tips and strategies for influencing our stakeholders and partners. Great discussions over the two days of the symposium around challenges and strategies for creating our future. Thanks to all our sponsors, especially Counting Opinions and Whitehots. More then ever in the recent few years, I feel that libraries have a positive future which they are already creating by aligning with their community partners!