No secret. LibraryCity wants libraries to take over OverDrive and slash middleman costs. And here’s a great twist—partial inspiration for this already exists.
Douglas County Libraries in Colorado is dealing directly with some publishers. The system applies its own Adobe DRM even though OverDrive books are also still available for now (this isn’t a complete bypass). And hundreds of libraries in California will be experimenting with going direct, according to TheDigitalShift. Kudos to the Califa Group, the nonprofit library cooperative that made this possible.
Laudably these topics will come up during the Public Library Association’s gathering convention that began in Philadelphia today.
On Thursday, March 15, at 2 p.m., at 8:15 a.m., there will be a session called “Getting eContent to Your Customers: Challenges, Best Practices, and solutions.” The Digital Public Library of America, scheduled to present separately at PLA at 2 p.m. the same day in Room PCC 120-A/B/C, should pay close attention. And then the DPLA should strive as much as possible to cut out or at least reduce the role of the middlemen. Just aggregating commercial services is not enough.
Mind you, the Colorado and California solutions are not flawless. I dislike their dependence on Adobe DRM: is this truly complete ownership of the books, in theory and practice? And I doubt that the Adobe-centric system will be as easy to use as, say, Kindle devices—most popular among library patrons (via an OverDrive-Amazon alliance). A Kindle-smooth cloud-based approach, allowing offline reading and working on a number of devices without libraries relying on one company’s “protection” technology, would be better (“company” would include Amazon, of course—not just Adobe or OverDrive).
Still, the experiments are definite progress, as well as useful bargaining fodder to use with OverDrive. The more libraries can accomplish without OverDrive, the more likely OverDrive will be to agree to a sellout at a fair price. No certainty here, but empowerment of libraries can only help, whether or not an OverDrive deal comes through.
More details on the Thursday workshop on eContent: “Lisa Long-Hickman, sales manager, Dzanc Books, Ann Arbor, Mich.; Alan Inouye, director, ALA Office for Information Technology Policy, Washington, D.C.; Gina Millsap, CEo, Topeka & Shawnee County (Kans.) Public Library; Tom Peters, CEO, TAP Information Services [co-founder of LibraryCity], Oak Grove, Mo.; Michael Porter, president and CEO, Library Renewal, Seattle, Wash.” The official program says that “Panelists will discuss emerging e-book content and the access and delivery landscape. They’ll also provide solutions and tips to getting e-content into libraries, and more importantly, into your customers’ hands.” The workshop will be held in Room PCC 122-A/B.
More on the DPLA presentation Thursday: Presenters are “Michael Colford, director of library services, Boston (Mass.) Public Library; Martin Gomez, city librarian, Los Angeles (Calif.) Public Library; Susan Hildreth, director, Institute for Museum and Library Services, Washington, D.C.; Maura Marx, fellow and executive director, Open Knowledge Commons, Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Cambridge, Mass.; John Palfrey, vice dean for library and information resources, Henry N. Ess III professor of law, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Mass.” The DPLA will welcome “questions and comments…in an interactive session.”
Related: DPLA workshop notes on content aggregation-related matters, as well as a draft memorandum of understanding that just might apply to OverDrive-style aggregators.