Archive for the ‘Libraries in the News’ Category

Taking it to the Public

Monday, January 16th, 2012

In a front-page article yesterday, the Washington Post highlights what librarians have been discussing for months; libraries can’t buy enough ebooks to meet demand, both because of “limited budgets” and because of “little cooperation from some publishers.”

Included is a chart that shows availability of best sellers in as ebooks in local libraries. Seven of the 20 titles are not available to libraries, most of the rest show heavy holds.



Monday, November 21st, 2011

A new series, Libraries in Crisis, debuted in The Huffington Post last week. As described by Books Editor, Andrew Losowsky, it will look at “how today’s libraries are about more than books [ed note; oops, someone neglected to communicate this to the logo designer]…how they can be a community resource where reliable information and guidance is provided, free of bias and commercial influence.”

The first article in the series, “Library Budget Cuts Threaten Community Services Across Country,” uses an image that does make the point that libraries “are about more than books” (from Gilpin County Public Library, Colorado):

Andrew Losowsky became the Huffington Post‘s Books Editor in August, an unexpected move for someone who has demonstrated a passion for print, specifically print magazines; he runs Stack America, which provides subscribers with a bi-monthly selection of the best of independent print publications and co-wrote the books We Love Magazines (Gestalten Verlag, 2007) and We Make Magazines: Inside the Idependents (Gestalten Verlag, 2009). His new book, however, Reading in Four Dimensions, is a self-published e-book about the future of books.

Men of the Stacks

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Make a space next to your Nancy Pearl action figure for “The Men of the Stacks” 2012 calendar, featuring that rare breed, male librarians (Mr. January is to the left of Nancy).

The library profession doesn’t often get attention in Entertainment Weekly, but this project is currently featured in EW’s “Shelf Life” blog.

The calendar is dedicated to Locke Jeffries Morrisey, former Head of Reference and Research Services at the University of San Francisco Library, and one of the driving forces behind the project. Proceeds from its sales go to the It Gets Better Project.

If you’re curious about the guy in the photo (we’re not showing the full shot — he is holding a book in his right hand — we’re dying to know what it is, but the cover is difficult to read), he is listed as Zack, New York City. Originally from Nebraska, he is 6′ 5″, plays rugby and works as an EMT on weekends (“Working at emergency medicine in New York City relaxes him, compared to the library business), but no word on what library he works in.

THE ATLANTIC Draws Lessons from NYPL

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

In a feature of the new issue of The Atlantic magazine, Alexis Madrigal lauds the NYPL’s digital efforts, because,

The library’s employees give a shit about the digital aspects of their institution, and they are supported in that shit giving. I mean this in the most fundamental way possible and as a damning critique for media companies…The logic of protecting offline revenue pushed most media companies away from aggressively reevaluating their role in the information ecosystem. Something you hear a lot in the magazine business, for example, is that you “can’t trade print dollars for digital pennies.”

Kindle Library Lending Coming to OverDrive

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Amazon announced this morning that they are working with OverDrive to make eBooks available for Kindle users later this year. The story is being carried by several national news sources:

NYT, Media Decoder blog; Coming to Your Kindle: Library Books

CNN, Amazon announces e-book loans for the Kindle

TIME; Amazon Announces e-Book Lending Partnership with Local Libraries

Wall Street Journal; Amazon to Add Library Lending to Kindle

The Associated Press; Amazon says library e-books coming to the Kindle

Specific question about the program are being addressed on the OverDrive blog.

NPR on HarperCollins’ eBook Limit

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Last night, NPR’s All Things Considered looked at “The Future Of Libraries In The E-Book Age,” in light of HarperCollins’ newly-instituted limit of 26 circulations in libraries.

Two librarians offered differing solutions. Christopher Platt of the NYPL is in favor of a leasing model that allows libraries to buy a number of uses and apply them as they see fit. Eli Neiburger, Ann Arbor District (MI) Library (who has said elsewhere that libraries are “screwed” in the ebook world) thinks libraries should bypass publishers and deal directly with writers and artists to get content.

The NYT on Libraries & HarperCollins

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

It’s now official; in a front-page story, the New York Times, the “national newspaper of record” writes that libraries are protesting HarperCollins new 26-loan restriction on library e-book lending (the NYT covered the story earlier, but in the “Media Decoder” blog. It’s also been covered by other newspaper, such as USA Today).

Ironically, this attention may serve to bring more users to libraries for ebooks. As the article notes, “It is still a surprise to many consumers that e-books are available in libraries at all.” Nevertheless, ebook lending has risen by 36% in the New York Public Library in the last year.

The story quotes Macmillan CEO Jon Sargent, one of the two major trade publishers that does not loan ebooks to libraries (the other is S&S), who says Macmillan will continue that policy until they “…find terms that satisfy the needs of the libraries and protect the value of our intellectual property.”

As to whether other major publishers will follow the HarperCollins’ approach, Stuart Applebaum of Random House says they have no immediate plans to do so, but will not rule out that possibility.

How important are library sales to large trade publishers? In an industry where statistics are difficult to come by, there are no reliable industry-wide figures. Two major trade publishers told the NYT reporter, “Sales to libraries can account for 7 to 9 percent of a publisher’s overall revenue.”

Towards a New Model of Ebook Circ in Libraries

Monday, February 28th, 2011

On Friday, news broke that, as of March, new HarperCollins ebook titles licensed though library vendors, will have a cap of 26 circulations.

Librarians, concerned about the limits this puts on their ability to serve their communities, immediately began protesting on blogs, listservs and Twitter (#hcod). The protests caught the attention of The New York Times, which published a story last night on the “Media Decoder” blog.

Some librarians are now urging their colleagues to boycott all HarperCollins’ titles, in print and well as eBooks.

Both parties are nervous right now, which makes this discussion particularly heated. Libraries are struggling for their existence, and publishers fear they are, too. The Borders bankruptcy puts a particularly strong light on the shrinking number of bookstores. Further, publishers worry that ebooks will send them the way of the music business.

Two other Big Six publishers have their own ebooks-in-libraries solution; they aren’t making them available at all. John Sargent, CEO of Macmillan, explained  last year that he doesn’t see the current model of licensing ebooks to libraries as good for his business. He later met with a group of librarians at BEA, but that did not seem to change his mind; Macmillan (which includes FSG, St. Martin’s, Holt, among others) still does not make their ebooks available to libraries. One of  the concerns Sargent articulated is that an ebook can circulate forever without replacement. The HarperCollins’ circulation cap is one alternative to that objection.

Now is the time to offer other ideas that allow you to serve your users. Creating new models is not easy, but librarians, who have dealt with electronic licensing for decades, are more expert than trade publishers in this area.

On Twitter on Friday (#hcod), HarperCollins tweeted —

We’re reading your posts – and listening to our authors. If you want to share longer thoughts with us, email

Take advantage of that; get a real discussion going.

You Can Download eBooks from the Library!

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

The media has discovered that libraries offer eBook downloads (note to journalists: a million new library users signed on to OverDrive last year and the company experienced 200% growth in library eBook checkouts).

“All Things Digital,” the popular Wall Street Journal technology blog, writes you can now get eBooks from your local library and that OverDrive has introduced an eReader app for the  iPad; below is the video version of the abridged story (love that opening assumption that the tech savvy readers of “All Things Digital” consider public libraries passé):

No New Books for Queens

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

It’s no news that many libraries across the country have reduced book purchases because of budget cuts. A few have even stopped purchasing books altogether, hoping that funds will be restored before the public notices.

Queens Borough Public Library CEO, Tom Galante, however, is making no bones about his library’s decisions. Last week, he told the local NPR station, WNYC (via Publishers Lunch Automat, subscription only), that they chose to maintain hours rather than buy books,

Galante said the mission of the library has shifted subtly, from lending books to providing English lessons, aiding job seekers and providing Internet access.

“It really comes down to libraries being about community — being a place for seniors in the morning, kids after school,” Galante said.

Prison Librarian Gets New Attention

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Running the Books, prison librarian Avi Steinberg’s memoir gets an additional dose of press attention (see earlier stories) from USA Today, which calls it “a smart new memoir” and says it is “about the ways in which the library provided refuge, companionship and solace to the people [Steinberg] met,” and praises the author for “leaven[ing] his often-grim memoir with unexpected bits of comedy and insight, weaving his family’s story into the narrative.”

Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian
Avi Steinberg
Retail Price: $26.00
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Nan A. Talese – (2010-10-19)
ISBN / EAN: 0385529090 / 9780385529099

The L.A. Times Examines Libraries

Friday, November 12th, 2010

The L.A. Times today publishes a remarkably clear-eyed story about the issues libraries face in the digital age (with only a few laughable overstatements, like “Libraries are reluctant to digitize new bestsellers”).

Unfortunately, the article states that some libraries show declining circulation of books, without noting that the culprit could be reduced hours and book budgets.

Featured is the Rangeview, Colorado library as well as the L.A. Public Library.

Prison Librarian in NYT Mag

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

What are the odds? While being mugged, you suddenly recognize the knife-wielding attacker as one of your former library patrons.

The odds are greater if you are a prison librarian, as Avi Steinberg recounts in his memoir, Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian, excerpted in this week‘s NYT Magazine.

Steinberg, who worked in a Boston prison, says that inmates’ reading tastes, unsurprisingly, run towards true crime. Coincidentally, the AP backs up that observation today; “Connecticut Prison Inmates Reading True Crime And Other Violent Books.” The article quotes State Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, who says he will ask that In Cold Blood and “other true crime or graphically violent books be removed from prison libraries. If the department does not remove the books…he will introduce legislation to force them.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut said it would oppose any such ban.

Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian
Avi Steinberg
Retail Price: $26.00
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Nan A. Talese – (2010-10-19)
ISBN / EAN: 0385529090 / 9780385529099

A Tribute to Bookmobiles

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

On NPR’s All Things Considered last night, W. Ralph Eubanks talked about how the bookmobile shaped his life [Listen to the Story],

…it is my identity as reader that shaped the type of writer that I am. And I owe that to an old Ford bookmobile, a summertime pleasure that changed the way I see the world. Rather than feeling alone and isolated in turmoil-ridden Mississippi, a cool, air-conditioned library on wheels connected me to a world beyond the limits of where I grew up. In my life, that has made all the difference.

Eubanks, the Director of Publishing at The Library of Congress, wrote the memoir Ever is a Long Time, called one of the best books of 2003 by the Washington Post’s Jonathan Yardley and The House at the End of the Road.

Ever Is a Long Time: A Journey Into Mississippi’s Dark Past A Memoir
W. Ralph Eubanks
Retail Price: $15.95
Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: Basic Books – (2005-01-03)
ISBN / EAN: 0465021050 / 9780465021055


The House at the End of the Road: The Story of Three Generations of an Interracial Family in the American South
W. Ralph Eubanks
Retail Price: $26.99
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Smithsonian – (2009-06-01)
ISBN / EAN: 006137573X / 9780061375736

Old Spice Guy on Libraries

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

We’re not sure how much this will do for libraries, but thanks for the effort (and the great abs) Old Spice Guy.