Friday, October 1, 2010

Taking back ebooks!

On Wednesday, September 29, 2010, Terra Plato and I attended “ebooks: Libraries at the Tipping Point,” a virtual summit. In what I would describe as a highly unique experience, we both logged in to our individual computers and proceeded to listen and watch different presentations throughout the day.

Besides the exploration of such issues as what the future of reading will look like and scenario planning for ebooks, I was comforted hear much discontent from the panelists about the current software and structures offered by ebook vendors. Sarah Houghtan-Jan, techie librarian and writer of the blog Librarian in Black, complained bitterly about how user-unfriendly most of the ebook vendor interfaces are. Her thoughts were echoed by a number of other panelists, some quite revolutionary.

Which brings me to my favourite session, the closing keynote address, “The ‘New Librarianship’ in the Age of the Ebook,” by David Lankes, Director of the Information Institute, Sycaruse University. Coming out swinging, Lankes argued that the current situation with ebook publishing is both librarians’ problem and opportunity. Not only did he call for strong political action, but he also stated that in order for libraries to take control of offerings, they must innovate and build a platform to serve their own needs. “Waiting for publishers to figure out the ebook model of the future is like waiting for heroin addicts to develop methadone,” Lankes asserted and I couldn’t agree more. Almost breathless through his impassioned speech, I felt incredibly hopeful for the future of libraries and ebooks.

We have had our own struggles with ebook distribution, but knowing that we are not alone and that there is a strong desire to change is heartening. If libraries can forge their own way into the world of ebooks, we will be able to better serve the needs of our communities apart from current consumer models. With so much concern, change is inevitable and I, for one, will welcome it with open arms.

1 comment:

  1. For a very good synopsis of Lankes entire presentation, check out Librarian in Black: