Discussing ebooks at PLA 2016

By DPLA, April 21, 2016.
Published under:

Earlier this April I traveled to the Mile-High City for the Public Library Association’s biennial conference in search of all things e-content. Held at the Colorado Convention Center, PLA 2016 empowered attendees with the tools to return to their library and “Make It Extraordinary.”

As the Digital Public Library of America, DPLA is utilizing its national network of libraries and cultural heritage institutions to explore how it can help improve the state of library ebooks. We are convening community conversations with stakeholders around ebooks to move towards a national digital strategy. In Denver I was part of conversations with these library e-content leaders as they formulated a vision for an umbrella group that would organize communications, streamline efforts, and advocate for our work amongst each other and to the larger ecosystem. DPLA is proud to have a leading role in coordinating these conversations. Click here for more on getting involved.

Three of these e-content stakeholders provided an update on their work at ‘Making Progress in Digital Content’ Friday morning to a packed audience. Carolyn Anthony, Director of the Skokie Public Library (IL) and Co-Chair of ALA’s Digital Content Working Group updated on progress in pushing publishers for better licensing models (slowly improving) and overall trends (ebook market down; self-publishing up). Veronda Pitchford of the Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS) laid out the problems (budgets, platform fatigue) and called for librarians to unite in telling publishers and vendors what they want. Micah May of The New York Public Library described the IMLS-funded Library E-content Access Project (LEAP), which will create a library-owned marketplace, and demoed Open eBooks, NYPL’s first iteration of their SimplyE platform. DPLA is partner on LEAP and Open eBooks and is working with the community to address the opportunities and challenges Carolyn and Veronda identified.

Through Open eBooks DPLA hopes to further highlight the issues with diversity in children’s books and use the initiative as an opportunity to bring diverse authors and content to kids. A Book Buzz session featuring the youth divisions of Little, Brown, Macmillan, Random House and Disney previewed upcoming children’s books which strongly featured diversity in characters, authors, and genres. A rousing discussion of diversity in children’s lit ensued, with publishers crediting librarians for helping to raise awareness of the issue. Issues discussed included lobbying the Book Industry Study Group to improve BISAC subject headings to better reflect diversity in metadata, and a need to push for characters that are diverse but also don’t play into stereotypes.

Stay tuned for more updates on DPLA + Ebooks!