This year’s Library Leaders Forum brought more than 1,300 people together for virtual discussions across the month of October. All of the public sessions were recorded and are available for viewing at https://www.libraryleadersforum.org. Check out the following highlights:
Library Leaders Forum Sessions
October 13 Session I: Community Dialogue Hear from library leaders as they navigate the challenges of the ebook marketplace & their concerns about the future of library collections. Watch now
October 20 Session II: Community Impact Hear firsthand from educators & librarians about the value of digitized library collections for the patrons, students, and communities they serve. Watch now
2021 Internet Archive Hero Award
Librarians Kanta Kapoor & Lisa Radha Weaver have been named the recipients of the 2021 Internet Archive Hero Award for helping their communities stay connected to digital books during the pandemic. Watch the awards ceremony
October 7 Controlled Digital Lending: Unlocking the Library’s Full Potential Hear from the authors of the new CDL policy document. Watch now
October 12 Empowering Libraries Through Controlled Digital Lending Learn how CDL works, the benefits of the Open Libraries program, and the impact that the program is having for partner libraries and the communities they serve. Watch now
October 27 Resource Sharing with the Internet Archive Learn about the Internet Archive’s new resource sharing initiatives and how your library can participate. Watch now
Announced today at the Library Leaders Forum, librarians Kanta Kapoor (Manager, Support Services, Milton Public Library) and Lisa Radha Weaver (Director, Collections and Program Development, Hamilton Public Library) will each receive this year’s Internet Archive Hero Award for helping their communities stay connected to digital books during the pandemic. They will be presented their awards at next week’s Library Leaders Forum session—register now.
This year, we were looking for libraries and librarians who rose to the challenge—this was the year that libraries and librarians have been needed like never before. We wanted to acknowledge the hard work of people who went above and beyond to meet the needs of their communities.
Kanta and Lisa both exemplify the spirit of an Internet Archive Hero:
They helped both of their organizations become early adopters of Controlled Digital Lending in 2019. Of course no one knew it at the time, but that early move helped their patrons stay connected to resources throughout library closures of 2020 and 2021 by already having tens of thousands of digitized books available through each library’s participation in the Internet Archive’s Open Libraries program.
They were resources to their professional networks, acting as a point of reference for other librarians interested in learning more about Controlled Digital Lending.
They thought broadly about access to collections, considering not only, “What helps my local community?” but also, “What helps the global community?”
In addition to their shared achievements, they also brought their individual strengths to their work:
Kanta’s persistent, steady, and polite pushes—whether about donations logistics, joining Open Libraries, or offering suggestions to expand the program—are what it takes to make things happen. Kanta’s gracious and humble nature belie her steely resolve and approach to program advancement: Kanta just kept at it, politely, until she got the results that she thought was right for her library and her community.
Lisa has joined discussions about Controlled Digital Lending since 2019, participating in several panel presentations for librarians and even participating in discussions with US lawmakers and policy experts alongside ALA Annual in Washington, D.C. Lisa’s professionalism and thoughtfulness helped librarians new to the practice of Controlled Digital Lending understand how their library could benefit.
Join with us in celebrating Kanta and Lisa at next week’s Library Leaders Forum. Registration is free for the virtual event.
Library Leaders Forum October 20 @ 10am PT / 1pm ET – Register now
For the Policy session panel, librarians, authors, publishers, and advocates came together to discuss the role libraries should play in improving the digital landscape for the communities they serve. Potential policy solutions, such as copyright and labor law reforms, as well as collective action and boycotts to pressure publishers were discussed.
“Our country is struggling to find a common set of facts. The truth often lives behind paywalls while misinformation and disinformation go viral,” said Lila Bailey, policy counsel with the Internet Archive, moderating the discussion. “Equal access to information is foundational to our democratic society and it’s part of why libraries exist.”
Digital materials hold the promise for expanded access, but the outcome is not guaranteed. As publishers refuse to sell e-books, but rather license them, libraries are responding with a variety of strategies including Controlled Digital Lending – the digital equivalent of traditional lending.
As libraries evolve with the changing landscape, leaders need tools to change for the better. Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, said the balance of power is up for grabs and publishers are pushing for control.
“We need librarians to be trained to push back,” Brewster said. “We are fighters for our patrons. We should stand by libraries and help empower them.”
Carmi Parker, librarian for the Whatcom County Library System in Washington state, said the average price of e-book licensing more than tripled over the past decade and libraries are forced to repurchase more frequently. When McMillan recently limited libraries to buying one e-book in the first eight weeks after publication (instead of dozens of copies of best sellers), Parker’s library consortium launched a boycott. After 1,200 other public libraries joined the protest, the publisher bowed to the pressure and dropped the practice.
“The concern here is this pattern of increasing prices and increasingly limited licenses that impede our ability to offer books to our patrons,” Parker says. “We think that we sent the message that embargoes are not OK, but we still have the crippling prices and limitations. We need to use print lending as a model for how these e-books should work. That’s why I’m interested in Controlled Digital Lending because that’s exactly what it does.”
Kyle K. Courtney, copyright advisor & program advisor at Harvard University, said CDL is a complementary model that helps libraries preserve their mission of long-term preservation and access.
“CDL has emerged as one of several answers to deal with these access issues now,” Courtney says. “CDL helps fill this digital void by harnessing the library’s special role in copyright to broaden digital access. We are craving this kind of digital access.”
Some panelists underscored it was important to embrace new forms of dissemination, but that CDL was an incomplete solution in need of refinement.
Many authors are coming around to the idea that sharing their works openly can only help them gain readers, said Dean Smith, director of Duke University Press.
“We are focused on smart and sustainable Open Access,” says Smith, who adds that OA usage has made his press more relevant. CDL is especially useful for titles that are out of print to bring scholarship that is buried back into circulation, he said. Smith suggested a possible “buy button” be added to books offered on Internet Archive as a way to entice more participation in CDL.
There should be several ways for writers to market and sell their books beyond the large publishers and online outlets, according to Cory Doctorow, a science fiction author, activist and journalist, and special advisor to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. He is a supporter of the Internet Archive and believes libraries should be able to scan books for CDL.
Among Doctorow’s policy wish list to improve digital access: reform the copyright law, change labor laws for writers to form strong unions, subject mergers to strict scrutiny, force breakups of monopolistic firms in publishing, distribution and retail, increase arts funding, and create a Library of Congress rights database.
Meredith Rose, senior policy counsel for Public Knowledge, said that the pandemic might be moving public opinion on some of these issues and lead lawmakers to consider new measures. CDL could be pitched as a solution to help address distance learning, public health, misinformation, disability rights and other relevant concerns.
Next week’s session of the Library Leaders Forum will focus on the community of practice that has developed around Controlled Digital Lending, and the panel discussion will bring together the librarians, technologists and educators who are working together to develop the next generation of library tools that incorporate & build upon Controlled Digital Lending. Registration is free and available now.