Like any commercial publisher, Ramsey Kanaan wants to make money and have as many people as possible read his books. But he says his company, PM Press, can do both by selling his books to the public and to libraries for lending – either in print or digitally.
While most publishers only license ebooks to libraries, PM Press has donated and sold both print and ebook versions of its titles to the Internet Archive to use in its Controlled Digital Lending (CDL) program. By owning the copies, the Internet Archive ensures that the press’s collection of publications is available to the public and preserved.
“We’re not above profit making. It’s with sales that we pay our salaries. Nevertheless, the reason we are also doing this is we actually believe in the information we are selling and we want to make it accessible,” says Kanaan. “We want our books to be in every library.”
Founded in 2007, PM Press has published between 30 and 40 titles a year. The books (all available in print and various digital formats) include fiction, graphic novels, comics, memoirs, and manifestos on topics such as activism, education, self-defense and parenting. “We’d like to assert or inject our ideas contained in the titles we publish as our modest contribution to making the world a better place,” says Kanaan.
From the beginning, Kanaan says the agenda of PM Press has been deeper than just making money by renting books annually to libraries. “The concept of charging multiple times to us is ridiculous and contrary to everything we are trying to do in publishing,” he says. “Our interest is in the dissemination, preservation and archiving of ideas…with no firewall.”
Kanaan says he doesn’t understand the objections to CDL by publishers that have sold their print books to libraries for decades. “If a library purchases a book or an ebook it’s going to be ‘borrowed’ by, ideally, lots of people. The industry has entered into this agreement with libraries for time immemorial – presumably access without further commercial transaction,” says Kanaan. “I don’t see the difference in a library making a print or ebook available for borrowing once it’s purchased. It’s the same.”
In donating to the Internet Archive in December 2019 and selling the other print titles and ebooks in the PM Press collection, Kanaan hopes this hybrid approach will help expand the audience for its titles. “The Internet Archive is not bootlegging materials. They are like any other library lending out one copy at a time.”
Kanaan maintains that companies against CDL as a way of doing business are “dinosaurs” and that digital lending is the future. “We see the Internet Archive as a partner in our endeavor to get our information out,” Kanaan says. “We want to achieve a better world for most of its inhabitants. We’re fighting against the 1 percent who only want a better world only for themselves. I’m hoping we are not just on the right side of history, but that we are actually going to win this one.”
The Internet Archive has been buying ebooks from publishers for more than 10 years, but the number has been limited because most publishers insist on license arrangements that constrain our ability to preserve and lend. If you would like to sell ebooks to the Internet Archive and other libraries, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I feel that, sadly, the College is closing, but the library is not. It is re-emerging in a different form.” —Mary Kickham-Samy, Director of Geschke Library, Marygrove College
In June of this year, Marygrove College announced that the graduate college, located in Detroit, would close on December 17.
Founded in 1905 by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary congregation (SSIHM, or IHM for short), the college has operated out of its Detroit campus for 92 years. Facing financial difficulties in 2017, the college closed its undergraduate programs, but continued to offer its graduate programs in education, human resource management, and social justice. Unfortunately the college was unable to attract the additional students required to keep programs in operation, and the decision to close was made this spring.
Beyond the challenges of what would happen with the grounds and buildings (which will continue to be used for educational purposes), a key question for administrators was “What will happen to the library?” With more than 70,000 books and nearly 3,000 journal volumes, the Geschke Library is a well-curated, world class collection with strengths in the humanities, education, and social justice. The collection reflects the strong historical and cultural influences of the city of Detroit, bringing a uniquely African-American perspective into the light. After a thorough review of possible options, Marygrove College President Dr. Elizabeth Burns and college administrators decided that the entirety of the library’s collection would be donated to the Internet Archive so that the materials could be digitized and made available to students and researchers all over the world.
I had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Burns and Mary Kickham-Samy, Director of Geschke Library, by email about the work they are doing to ensure that the legacy of Marygrove College will live on. What follows is a poignant reflection on the library’s closure with an optimistic view towards its digital future, and what it means for the local Marygrove College community and scholars across the globe.
Chris Freeland: Dr. Burns, how did Marygrove College determine that Internet Archive was the best home for the collection?
Elizabeth Burns: The College explored several options for the disposition of the collection. We wanted to preserve as many books as possible and also be true to the IHM ideal of sustainability and care for the Earth (IHM is our sponsoring order of Catholic nuns, based in Monroe, MI). We didn’t want the majority of the volumes to end up in a landfill. The concept of both preserving the collection and having it available to all was endorsed by the Board. While some are grieving the removal of the book and materials, most welcome the idea of online availability. In this way, the collection that was carefully built over the years by Sisters Claudia and Anna Mary, along with other library directors, will live on. We are pleased to have this as a legacy.
What does it mean for students anywhere in the world that the library will continue to be available online?
Burns: Marygrove College has always been committed to education and outreach. Our sponsoring congregation, the IHMs, have started schools all over the world. Our graduates have also taught in many parts of the world. To have the collection available to students means that the Marygrove mission will continue. We hope that our collection, especially the Detroit collection and the Social Justice collection will be of use to scholars and to students of all ages.
How about from your perspective as a librarian, Mary? What does it mean for researchers that the library will still be available?
Mary Kickham-Sandy: Students everywhere will not only gain free access to a wealth of information and resources, but they may also gain a greater awareness of the legacy of Marygrove College, as well as the culture and history of Detroit. Also, many local libraries in Michigan do not have the scope of books about Michigan that Marygrove has. So, by digitizing the Marygrove Library collection, Michigan students will have greater access to resources about their state.
Mary, as a fellow librarian myself, it’s difficult to consider closure. What’s it like to close a library?
Kickham-Samy: When I began my career as a librarian in 1998, I did not imagine that one day I would be responsible for closing a library, especially one as mature, robust, and cherished as the Geschke Library of Marygrove College. I feel that, sadly, the College is closing, but the library is not. It is re-emerging in a different form.
What considerations were you making about the collection?
Kickham-Samy: I had two main concerns: the legacy of Marygrove College and the cultural importance of the Library to the neighborhood and the larger community of Detroit. A couple [of] community members expressed discomfort with the idea that the Library would be removed from the neighborhood and from the city. I consulted with librarians at Wayne State University (WSU) about the possibility of housing the Detroit and Michigan books in the WSU library system. However, after some discussions, we reached a consensus that the collection would be more accessible in a digitized format.
Dr. Burns, I’m sure that Marygrove College’s closing was extremely difficult news for your alumni. What does it mean to alums that the library will continue to be available online?
Burns: When this possibility was announced at the all-class reunion in September, they were overjoyed. They feared that the collection would be lost forever. The fact that it will continue to be available as a living legacy is important to them.
Finally, to both of you, what is your hope for the collection?
Burns: My hope is that it will be useful for scholars and for students across the globe. I also hope that some will be curious about the College and the IHMs and will read the College’s history and understand the work done in Detroit for over 90 years. The work of education goes on and I’m grateful to the Internet Archive for allowing us to participate in this important endeavor.
Kickham-Samy: My hope is that the Internet Archive will elegantly display the depth, breadth, and beauty of the Marygrove College Library collection. I hope that those who view our collection will not only find the information they seek, but will also witness and appreciate the College mission to promote social justice through activism, a theme that runs through the development of the collection from its early days until its final one.
Last month a crew organized by the Internet Archive packed and moved the contents of the library into 5 shipping containers and sent them to our Physical Archive facilities in Richmond, California. Yesterday the first container of books was sent to be digitized in our scanning facility, with the resulting digital books appearing online in 2020. While we mourn the closure of Marygrove College, we are grateful to play a role in preserving the legacy of Marygrove College and the Geschke Library for generations to come
The UCLA Library recently launched a remarkable broadcast news research and education platform, Broadcast NewsScape. The service is accessible online to users on the UCLA campus. Platform managers hope to expand access throughout the UC system later this year. NewsScape captures closed captioning, in a manner similar to our TV News Search & Borrow, to facilitate deep search and discovery of relevant segments of over 200,000 U.S. and international news program episodes.
We are excited that the UCLA library has joined Vanderbilt University and the Internet Archive in offering tailored research and public interest access to television news. These successful demonstrations of responsibly providing public benefit access to television news are helping to enrich conversations regarding mutual benefits among media and library stakeholders.
UCLA has a storied history in archiving television news, starting with the 1974 Senate Watergate hearings. Between 1979 and 2003, UCLA recorded off-air more than 100,000 news programs, preserving and making them accessible in UCLA’s Film & Television Archive’s News and Public Affairs Collection In 2005, Communication Studies department professors Francis F. Steen and Tim Groeling brought UCLA’s television news archiving into the digital age, recording direct to disks and, most transformationally, preserving available closed captioning. Their collection has enabled researches to experiment with new digital processes for analyzing attributes of broadcast news.
Last year, the UCLA Library started making provisions to take the digital news archive under its wing, devoting considerable server resources and relieving Francis and Tim from their 8-year labor of love maintaining their modest, sometimes cantankerous, hardware and ever-growing data stores.
Thanks to the leadership of associate university librarians Todd Grappone and Sharon Farb, the UCLA Library’s newly launched Broadcast NewsScape tool is welcoming scholars, educators and students from throughout the university to delve deeply and and derive new insights from the undiscovered country that is television news.