Rhode Island Library Association warns that Big Publishing’s e-book restrictions disproportionately threaten Rhode Island library users’ ability to access new releases, sets a dangerous precedent of exclusion
CRANSTON, RI – The Rhode Island Library Association (RILA), the American Library Association, local neighborhood librarians, and Rhode Island library patrons gathered today at Cranston Central Library to speak up against Big Publishing’s unfair, unconstitutional, and anti-competitive practices that limit libraries’ ability to provide residents, taxpayers, and library patrons with full access to new publications.
“Library support in our state is high, and our patrons know the intrinsic value of being able to freely access books, movies, music, high-speed internet, educational classes, cultural programs, and more. Rhode Islanders particularly value our access to e-books,” said RILA President and Cranston Assistant Library Director Julie Holden. “When Big Publishing blocks libraries from buying e-books, they’re obstructing Rhode Islanders’ constitutional right to public libraries. Librarians are speaking up loudly against these unfair and unconstitutional practices, and we urge Rhode Island elected leaders to take action that forces Macmillan and Big Publishing to end their anti-library and anti-competitive practices.”
Senator Mark McKenney (District 30 – Warwick) has filed legislation that would prohibit publishers setting any limits on the number of e-book and audiobook licenses a library can purchase.
“The bill I have filed simply requires publishing houses to offer libraries reasonable terms on electronic books and digital audio books. No more, no less,” said Rhode Island State Senator Mark McKenney. “Specifically, it precludes a publisher from limiting the number of e-book licenses libraries can obtain when new books come out. Libraries should be able to get these books in the same way as the public. It’s that simple.”
In November 2019, Macmillan Publishers put in place a new policy limiting libraries’ ability to purchase new e-books. Macmillan now sells only one copy of a newly released e-book title per library system. After eight weeks, libraries may purchase unlimited copies of the e-book for a two-year license. Because Rhode Island provides e-books to libraries through the Ocean State Library consortium, that means Macmillan limits one copy of a new e-book for the first eight weeks after publication for the entire state.
“The national response against Macmillan’s anti-library e-book policy has been overwhelming, and we are proud to stand with the Rhode Island Library Association to urge action that holds Macmillan accountable,” said ALA Senior Director of Public Policy Alan Inouye. “Rhode Island is a unique state with a single library system, a structure that provides library users with many benefits. But Rhode Island library users are disproportionately hurt by Big Publishing’s unfair and potentially unconstitutional e-book practices. ALA sees Rhode Island as a model for the rest of the nation on how to stand up against Big Publishing and work toward restoring library users’ equitable access to e-books.”
The Rhode Island Library Association signed on to the American Library Association’s #eBooksForAll campaign last year. At the press conference today, RILA spoke out on the Big Publishing policies to educate lawmakers and other elected officials, public advocates, library users, and the general public. In the weeks ahead, RILA will continue to speak out and inform library users about Macmillan’s and Big Publishing’s unfair and unconstitutional practice. Through their outreach, RILA aims to inspire a broad coalition to take a range of actions blocking Macmillan’s and other publishers’ unfair practices directed toward libraries.
In February, RILA held a roundtable meeting with U.S. Representative David Cicilline (District 1) to discuss steps Congress can take to ensure that publishers cannot discriminate against libraries and library users. Following that meeting, Congressman Cicilline said he “look[s] forward to continuing our work together as the investigation wraps up and legislative fixes are introduced later this year.” In addition to meeting with Congressman Cicilline, RILA board members will meet with the Office of the Attorney General in the weeks ahead to discuss Macmillan’s potential violations of Rhode Islander’s constitutional rights and individual RILA members will request meetings with mayors and town managers to encourage local leaders to sign on with #eBooksForAll.
“The United States’ public library system is considered by many to be our most democratic institution, providing the public equitable and full access to information. Cranston has a rich history of public libraries with our first, the Auburn Public Library, opening in 1888,” said Cranston Mayor Allan Fung. “Cranston is fortunate to have six vibrant branches, which provide access to library services throughout the city. The limitation of the licensing of e-books to libraries would undermine the basic mission of the library to promote and provide free literacy, access and opportunity to all Rhode Islanders.”
For more information on ALA’s #eBooksForAll campaign, visit https://ebooksforall.org/
The purpose of the roundtable was to discuss recent changes in the ebook publishing industry and communicate to the Congressman how these changes are negatively affecting the library patrons in his district and across the country. Congressman Cicilline is a member of the House Judiciary Committee and the Chair of the Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law (ACAL) Subcommittee, which is conducting a bipartisan investigation into competition in digital markets. RILA thought it fitting to have this discussion with him and bring to his attention how these publishers’ policies are affecting libraries and the public they serve.
Congressman Cicilline then spoke about his efforts in Congress and the bipartisan investigation that the ACAL Subcommittee is conducting into digital markets. The investigation began last June and the Subcommittee has been holding hearings and producing documents focused on three main areas: identifying and documenting competition problems, assessing whether dominant companies are engaging in anticompetitive behavior, and determining whether existing laws, policies, and enforcement procedures are adequate to address any issues uncovered by the investigation. The Subcommittee has already held five hearings looking at the free and diverse press, innovation and entrepreneurship, the role of data and privacy in competition, perspectives of the antitrust agencies, and competitors in the digital economy.
Stephen Spohn, Executive Director of Ocean State Libraries (OSL), provided an update on the current state of electronic materials purchasing and the challenges the state-wide consortium faces. Stephen used blocks to illustrate how, unlike with print materials, where a library or library consortium may purchase as many copies as it likes at the same price as the average consumer - or even at a discounted price - the consortium is only able to purchase licenses to electronic materials at significantly higher prices. Despite the increase in price, the library or consortium still doesn’t own the material - they only own the license to use it for a specified amount of time, after which they must purchase another license. In the end, libraries end up paying three times more than the average consumer for ebooks and six times more for audiobooks. The result of this purchasing model is that, while ebooks make up only 3.2% of the OSL collection, they make up about 15% of the budget. Embargoes, such as the one Macmillan has employed, only exacerbate this problem.
Following these opening statements, the floor was opened for discussion by the roundtable members of how these digital sales practices are affecting patrons directly. For example, Jill Smith spoke of her son, who relies on OSL’s ebook and digital audiobook collection, and her mother, who is visually impaired and uses the state’s Talking Books program as well as OSL’s digital audiobook collection. She also stated that, as a licensed therapist, she often refers her clients to ebooks and digital audiobooks on mental health topics that they can access privately on OSL’s eZone. She expressed concern over the effects of the Macmillan embargo on her family’s and patients’ abilities to access digital materials. Charlotte Toolan spoke of the frustration of wanting to read a new series, only to find that the third and fourth books in the series were available on the eZone, but the first two books were not. She discussed this with OSL staff and learned that, because of low circulation, OSL had decided not to repurchase the licenses to the earlier books in the series - but then that means that the money spent on the later books has likely been wasted, as no one wants to start a series midstream. Karen Mellor, Chief of Library Services for Rhode Island, described an example in which a young student would have to wait 6 to 8 months for the next ebook in a popular series - she would be in different grade by the time she was able to access that title.
Throughout the discussion, Congressman Cicilline was engaged and asked a lot of questions. At the end of the session, he requested copies of statements and examples of the effects discussed in order to weave them into the ACAL Subcommittee investigation. He remarked that the concerns raised during the roundtable discussion provided great examples of why issues of digital market dominance matter to regular people.
EAST PROVIDENCE, RI - On Monday, February 3, the Rhode Island Library Association hosted U.S. Congressman David Cicilline (RI-01) at a roundtable for library staff and library patrons from around the state to discuss current unfair terms of availability and pricing in the e-book market.
The roundtable, which took place at the East Providence Public Library Weaver Library in East Providence, provided attendees the opportunity to voice their concerns to Congressman Cicilline about the increasing difficulty in gaining access to e-books and other digital content from the library.
“We are thankful to Congressman Cicilline for taking the time to listen to our concerns, as recent market changes in the publishing industry have put libraries in an unsustainable position,” said Rhode Island Library Association president Julie Holden.
The discussion was initially prompted by Macmillan Publishers’ eight-week embargo on sales of new e-book titles to libraries, a policy that went into effect on November 1, 2019. The Rhode Island Library Association denounced the publisher’s change in terms and joined the American Library Association’s #eBooksForAll campaign calling on Macmillan to reverse the embargo and restore full access to its complete e-book catalog.
“Last fall Ocean State Libraries made it clear that we strongly oppose Macmillan’s attempt to delay access to e-books for our library patrons,” said Holden. “This embargo stands in the way of our mission to provide information in a fair and timely manner to everyone who uses our public libraries. The purpose of today’s discussion was to make sure our Representative is aware of how the practices of Macmillan and other players in digital markets are hurting his constituents and library users across the country.”
The #eBooksForAll campaign, with nearly 250,000 petition signers, has broadened its scope of interest to other digital content providers, including Amazon publishing, which does not sell any of its e-book titles to libraries. In a report to Congress, the American Library Association identified “practices by companies like Amazon and Macmillan Publishers that threaten Americans’ right to read what and how they choose and imperil other fundamental First Amendment freedoms.” The report was submitted in response to an inquiry from the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law, which is chaired by Congressman Cicilline.
“As the Chairman of the House Antitrust Subcommittee leading a bipartisan investigation into the state of competition in the digital marketplace, I’m particularly interested in potentially anticompetitive practices harming libraries and their users, especially in Rhode Island,” Cicilline said. “I’m grateful that the Rhode Island Library Association put together today’s roundtable so we could discuss these issues in detail. I look forward to continuing our work together as the investigation wraps up and legislative fixes are introduced later this year.”
The Rhode Island Library Association is a professional organization that serves its members through career development, education, advocacy, networking partnerships, and legislative action. RILA believes in:
· Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
· Equal Access for All
· Intellectual Freedom
An enthralled crowd of mostly public librarians from all over the state attended a day-long Office of Library and Information Services (OLIS) training, “The Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness,” at the Central branch of Cranston Public Library on December 11, 2019. Presenter Ryan Dowd is the Executive Director of the second largest homeless shelter in Illinois and is well-known both nationally and abroad for his expertise on the topic.
Dowd, who toured the U.S. with filmmaker Emilio Estevez to promote “The Public,” the 2018 movie about the intersection of library services and marginalized patrons, brought plenty of experience, compassion, and humor to his presentation. He runs a “low-threshold shelter” that will accept “just about anyone” and sees a great deal of colorful behavior on a daily basis. During Dowd’s many years of working in the field, he has observed that people experiencing homelessness frequently struggle to follow the rules wherever they are, for a variety of reasons that were made clear during the session. His training program is designed to educate library staff about the need for “empathy-driven enforcement” of the rules in the face of such complex circumstances.
Ryan Dowd addresses a rapt audience; photo courtesy of Sarah Bouvier, CPL Communications Manager
Dowd divided the day into four parts: (1) understanding how the lives of people experiencing homelessness are very different from others’ lives, (2) examining when and what kinds of punishment works and doesn’t work, (3) the “psychology of voluntary compliance,” and (4) practical advice for synthesizing elements of parts one through three by using “tools of empathy and psychology.”
Empathy took center stage in every discussion and is the driving force behind Dowd’s “pennies in the cup” concept. His premise is that by earning goodwill (represented by those metaphorical pennies, which also can be called “positive relationship credits”) in advance—by going out of their way to be kind to all patrons but especially to marginalized ones—library staff are much more likely to see voluntary compliance from those they serve, including from patrons who may have nothing left to lose and who otherwise may be prone to exhibiting aggressive reactions to any kind of confrontation.
Ryan Dowd explains the three types of homelessness; photo courtesy of Sarah Bouvier, CPL Communications Manager
The complexity of the homelessness issue and how libraries can and should respond to it was not lost on the organizers of the event. In fact, this “was an easy decision,” according to information provided by OLIS staff member Nicolette Baffoni, because Dowd’s “training addresses the root causes of cyclical poverty and trauma that many people experiencing homelessness face, while also providing a vast array of tools to build relationships, increase empathy and, as a result, increase compliance with rules.”
Attendees seemed to grasp the value of the training and gave it high praise. According to Baffoni, “86% of [evaluation] survey respondents strongly agreed that they learned something and were more confident in applying what they learned.” “It was the shortest 7-hour training I think I’ve ever sat through,” wrote one participant. Another commented that the “staff from [my library] who took the workshop continue to bring up what they learned in almost every meeting I have attended since the training.” Someone else pointed out that Dowd’s “techniques can be used to smooth over relations with any kind of patron.”
Appreciative CPL staff members with Ryan Dowd; photo courtesy of Sarah Bouvier, CPL Communications Manager
The Rhode Island Library Information Network for Kids (RILINK), the state’s consortium of K-12 school libraries, has reached an unprecedented level of growth in the 22 years since it was first founded. Now with 205 member libraries, Executive Director Dorothy Frechette decided the consortium was overdue to develop a 5-year strategic plan. Work on the planning process has begun in earnest.
On December 7, RILINK staff met with members of its newly created Advisory Committee for a brainstorming session. The Committee will provide vital feedback on the development of the plan during the coming months.
Members of the Advisory Committee are:
RILINK staff looks forward to working with committee members over the next several months to develop a plan to support and improve RILINK’s benefits and services. Frechette hopes to implement the plan before the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year.
One benefit of RILINK membership is access to Springshare’s LibGuides CMS to build library websites. The RILINK Schools collection of LibGuides sites was recently featured as a client story in Springshare Buzz. Frechette states that RILINK Staff members Sharon Webster and Zach Berger were instrumental in researching, implementing, and offering trainings for LibGuides to RILINK members. Read the client story and learn more about RILINK on the consortium’s website.
The Providence Public Library (PPL) and Rhode Island Historical Society (RIHS) are excited to announce the award of $250,000 in federal funding that will support an ongoing partnership to complete an extensive digitization project of Rhode Island’s historic newspapers. The funds are being awarded as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Library of Congress, to create a national digital resource of historically significant newspapers published between 1690 and 1963 from all the states and U.S. territories available through the Library of Congress. This is the first time that Rhode Island has participated in the program.
RIHS holds a remarkable collection of microfilm reels of 314 Rhode Island newspaper titles that ceased publication prior to 1923. However, this collection, critical to understanding the development of both the state and the nation's rich history, remains unavailable for research in an online format.
This grant funding supports PPL, in partnership with the RIHS, to digitize at least 50,000 pages of historic RI newspapers, provide the Library of Congress preservation copies of microfilm reels, and promote the accessibility of these digital resources to the broader community.
The principal project activities and results will include:
Woonsocket's homeschool community has noticeably grown over the past several years. As more families came to the Woonsocket Harris Public Library during school hours, Library staff realized there was a need for programming.
In March 2019, the homeschool outreach coordinator, Solitaire Frisby, and Chris Goldstein, the Children’s Librarian, met with Sarah Carr, Assistant Director at the Museum of Work and Culture. What started in May as a small, one-time program developed into a well-attended, free, bimonthly educational program for all ages. This partnership is ideal in meeting the specific needs of Woonsocket residents, as many are challenged with a lack of finances and/or transportation. Melissa Robb, of ENRICHri, reached out and helped invite homeschoolers beyond the Woonsocket area. The program had visitors from Worcester, Cumberland, Pawtucket, and other communities.
Homeschool families register with the Museum of Work and Culture, and the program starts at the Museum at 10am. A volunteer from the Museum leads families on a tour of specific parts of the Museum related to the topic of the day. Families then leave the Museum and travel to the Library nearby to continue in an immersive educational experience, which may include snacks, a craft, a hands-on STEAM activity, and green screen and other technology from the library's 2017 Studio Rhode Grant.
Each program has a different topic. In May, they focused on the French-Canadians' journey to America and how they established roots in Woonsocket, predominately by working in the mills; they had 23 participants. October's topic focused on mill work and the ecology of the Blackstone River; they had roughly 45 participants.
December’s program was entitled, “Global Holiday Traditions.” The museum offered four fantastic speakers from Dorcas International who shared their personal experiences having grown up in Quebec, The Congo, Israel, and Portugal; there were 68 participants. While the Museum provides area-specific tours of its facility and provides volunteers to lead discussions, the Library followed up with a slew of activities, including: a stamp-as-you-go holiday scavenger hunt, a holiday card-writing station for residents of a local nursing home, green screen photos, and the opportunity to taste new foods at the refreshment station. They had various displays, including a Chinese New Year dragon, as well as a functional 'German Christmas Market' in which homeschool students took turns as the vendor, selling donated children's books. It was a big hit, enjoyed by all, with lots of great feedback.
The Library's homeschool program collaboration with the Museum will continue into 2020 with two more events already scheduled for February and April.
Did you know that January is National Mentoring Month? Mentoring is a wonderful opportunity to make a difference in the life of another person and to gain new insights into our rich profession. You can also give and receive guidance and take your career to the next level. RILA is officially launching its new Mentorship Program this year, and we would love your participation. Please join our program today to develop lasting professional relationships with others in the field.
To be a part of the RILA Mentorship Program:
You must be a current RILA member.
You may be a library employee, retired librarian, or current library school student.
You must make a 1-year commitment that includes meeting with your mentor/mentee at least 3 or 4 times per year by phone, email, web conferencing, or in-person meetings.
You can sign up to be a Mentor or a Mentee. We are seeking both types of applicants and anticipate formally launching our first cohort this Spring.
Click here to fill out the Mentor Application.
Click here to fill out the Mentee Application.
You can read the Program Guidelines for more information.
For questions, please contact email@example.com.
This news story out of Multnomah County, Oregon, provides a good summary of the issues at play in the battle between public libraries, which have seen increased ebook use, and ebook publishers which are raising prices and instituting policies that restrict access.
Watch the Video Here
Access the full article here: https://katu.com/news/following-the-money/multnomah-county-library-in-the-fight-with-publishers-over-price-of-ebooks
On July 25, Macmillan Publishing announced it would become the only major (Big 5) publisher to limit eBook lending for U.S. libraries. Under its new licensing model, scheduled to begin November 1, 2019, a library may purchase one copy upon release of a new title in eBook format, after which the publisher will impose an eight-week embargo on additional copies of that title sold to libraries.
As American Library Association (ALA) President Wanda Brown asserted that same day, “Macmillan Publishers’ new model for library eBook lending will make it difficult for libraries to fulfill our central mission: ensuring access to information for all. Macmillan’s new policy is unacceptable.”
Rhode Island Library Association (RILA) President Julie Holden agrees and adds, “By providing readers with wide access to authors and their works, libraries are partners, not adversaries, of the publishing industry. We contribute to the success of Macmillan’s writers and authors, who will be negatively affected by this embargo.”
See the full Press Release here