Abstract: This paper uses the concept of neoliberal responsibilization, the reductive framing of systemic power dynamics as questions of individual choice and agency, to critically interrogate equity of access to information, a central value of the broader field of library and information science (LIS). Based on a case study of Accesso Libre, a public/private partnership based in a South Los Angeles public library, I argue that equity of access to information is an insufficient concept to evaluate the power dynamics of this (and similar) partnerships, wherein powerful corporations encourage the use of commercial informational resources in minoritized communities. As an alternative, responsibilization directs analysis to different questions about equity, a set of concerns that offer LIS theorists and practitioners a way of reflecting on the ethical commitments at the core of the field.
“The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation today announced a $750,000 investment in the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) to create a national cohort of public library leaders and technologists. The group will work together to help advance libraries’ use of digital technologies….”
” In a memo to authors and agents last month, Macmillan CEO John Sargent all but blamed libraries for depressing book sales and author earnings. “Historically, we have been able to balance the great importance of libraries with the value of your work,” Sargent claimed. “The current e-lending system does not do that.”
I’m far from the first to observe this, but the claims in Sargent’s memo are questionable at best….
Do publishers and authors see the library’s relationship to them as more symbiotic, or parasitic?…”
There are dark hints that the hand of Amazon is at work in the current tensions over library e-book lending, including reports that Amazon reps have been showing publishers data to portray library e-book lending in a negative light….”
“America’s libraries are committed to promoting literacy and a love of reading with diverse collections, programs and services for all ages. Libraries are invested in making sure millions of people can discover and explore new and favorite authors through digital and print collections. Downloadable content and eBooks are often many reader’s front door to accessing material at their local library.
But now one publisher has decided to limit readers’ access to new eBook titles through their libraries.
Beginning November 1, 2019, Macmillan Publishers allows libraries—no matter the size of their city or town—to purchase only one copy of each new eBook title for the first eight weeks after a book’s release….”
“In the coming months, library patrons will likely experience extended wait times for new e-books. Readers can thank Macmillan Publishers—a “Big Five” publishing house with imprints including Picador, Henry Holt and Farrar, Straus, and Giroux—for the delay: As of November 1, the company only allows library systems to purchase one electronic copy of a book during the first eight weeks following publication.
The publisher’s new policy has generated widespread outrage among librarians and book lovers alike. Macmillan, however, argues that the moratorium is necessary to ensure the publishing industry’s survival in lieu of digital lending’s increasing popularity….”
“Libraries across the U.S. are furious with one of the country’s big five publishing houses. As of Friday, Macmillan Publishers Ltd. is drastically restricting the sales of its e-books to libraries.
For the first eight weeks after an e-book goes on the market, a library system can buy only one copy. So if you are used to getting your books from a library and you are an e-book fan who has been eagerly awaiting Hillary Mantel’s next book, The Mirror and the Light, for example, you may have a long wait when it comes out in March 2020.
Under the old rules, a large library system like New York’s or Chicago’s might have ordered hundreds of e-book copies. Now each system — large or small — can buy only one when it goes on sale….”
“Several large library systems across the U.S. plan to suspend purchases beginning Friday of all electronic versions of Macmillan Publishers’ new releases, in a protest against the publishing house’s planned restrictions on library sales….
Macmillan’s library embargo, which also begins Friday, will restrict public libraries and consortium of all sizes to buying a single copy of each newly released e-book for the first eight weeks of publication….
“By limiting the number of copies our library can purchase, Macmillan is allowing only a certain segment of our society to access digital content in a timely manner — those who can pay for it themselves,” he said in a statement. “And that’s unacceptable in a democratic society.”
Last year, nearly 67,000 Columbus library patrons checked out nearly 2 million items from our digital collection. Digital content downloads continue to trend upward….”
“The American Library Association (ALA) has delivered a written report to the House Judiciary Committee telling lawmakers that “unfair behavior by digital market actors,” including Amazon and some major publishers, is “doing concrete harm to libraries.”
The report, delivered last week to a House antitrust subcommittee investigating competition in the digital market, comes as lawmakers are taking note of the growing backlash to Big Five publisher Macmillan’s decision to impose a two-month embargo on new release e-books in public libraries. In a September 13 letter to ALA executive director Mary Ghikas, the House Judiciary Committee asked ALA to respond to a set of questions in connection with its ongoing investigation, an invitation that came just days after an ALA press event at the Nashville Public Library kicked off a public awareness campaign calling attention to issues in the library e-book market. As of this writing, an ALA online petition opposing Macmillan’s planned embargo, launched at that press event, is approaching 150,000 signatures….”
“If you haven’t visited your local public library lately, you might not realize that you no longer need to physically drop by to check out a book or a movie.
Thousands of public libraries now let their members check out e-books they can download on their smartphones, tablets, and e-readers. They also lend digital audiobooks anyone can listen to as they commute and streaming online movies to view on a computer, phone, or smart TV. Like other public library materials, they’re generally available for free to anyone with a library card….
This summer, publishing giant Macmillan announced that starting November 1, library systems will only be able to buy one digital copy of every book for the first eight weeks that it’s out….
Macmillan’s move drew criticism from major libraries and the American Library Association, which launched an online petition urging Macmillan not to implement the policy. So far, it’s drawn more than 89,000 signatures, but Macmillan hasn’t announced any changes to the program yet. A spokesperson for the company declined to comment….”
“In July, Macmillan announced that come November, the company will only allow libraries to purchase a single copy of its new titles for the first eight weeks of their release—and that’s one copy whether it’s the New York Public Library or a small-town operation that’s barely moved on from its card catalog. This has sparked an appropriately quiet revolt. Librarians and their allies quickly denounced the decision when it came down, and now the American Library Association is escalating the protest by enlisting the public to stand with libraries by signing an online petition with a populist call against such restrictive practices. (The association announced the petition Wednesday at Digital Book World, an industry conference in Nashville, Tennessee.) What’s unclear is whether the association can get the public to understand a byzantine-seeming dispute over electronic files and the right to download them….”
“The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), The New York Public Library (NYPL), and LYRASIS are pleased to announce a new collaboration to help provide all public libraries with a free, open, library-controlled platform for managing their ebook and audiobook services….
The DPLA Exchange (https://exchange.dp.la), launched in 2017 and now providing access to over 300,000 titles including thousands of openly-licensed works, offers a new model for a library-centered marketplace for ebooks and audiobooks. …”