Patricia Schroeder (Past President & CEO of the American Publishers Association) on Libraries, eBooks and Publishers

March 13, 2011
Posted in: Board Member Posts

A battle between libraries and publishers?

Nah…but this technology really hasn’t been oversold…in fact, it is shaping the future of what libraries will be in the coming decades.

Check out this fascinating clip from the RLTV show “Encore with John Palmer” I believe the original air date of this was 02/17/09. It is fascinating to hear how the American Publishers Association thinks of and talks about libraries and Ebooks.

As this happens, more and more, libraries, librarians and the general public are insisting on finding truly compelling and competitive access options in and through libraries. Of course, this certainly doesn’t mean we won’t or don’t want to pay for access to electronic content for our library users. Just as we have been paying for access, we will continue to do so. But paying or not paying isn’t the dangerous issue when you look at the future of this country and it’s libraries.

The danger lies in the fact that the major legal infrastructures created and being created thus far for access to electronic content are almost solely commercial services. They are designed to make money and allow access primarily to those that can pay. Commercial services for electronic content access are certainly necessary, even often good in the ways that they drive technology evolution. But in the face of commercial options cornering the market for electronic content access, libraries, and the very country itself, desperately needs a new electronic content access and distribution infrastructure or our own. This infrastructure must be created to ensure that libraries continue to exist and thrive as technology and access methods and patterns evolve. We’ve built the Library of Congress, and other lovely, gigantic libraries all across the country. Yet we have no infrastructure investment of any significant scale that will build and grow build libraries that work in the coming decades. Just because technology and access evolves doesn’t mean our society doesn’t need libraries as critical points of content access and community engagement. In fact, it isn’t to difficult to argue that this evolution makes the need for community libraries even more acute.

What I’d give to to have a nice friendly dinner with Congresswoman Schroeder (or current AAP President Tom Allen) to talk over the issues with her (or him). I think we would see eye to eye on most things, disagree a bit and likely both learn some very useful things. Patricia really is a fascinating person who’s done some important and interesting things, particularly in her political career.

More info on Patricia Schroeder:

“Schroeder was named president and CEO of the Association of American Publishers in 1997 and served in that post for 11 years.[5] She has been a vocal proponent of stronger copyright law, supporting the government in Eldred v. Ashcroft and opposing Google’s plan to digitize books and post limited content online. She has publicly criticized libraries for distributing electronic content without compensation to publishers, writers and others in the publishing industry, telling the Washington Post, “They aren’t rich…they have mortgages.”[6] At the same time, she has tried to make the publishing industry more socially responsible, cooperating with organizations for the blind and others with reading difficulties to help make materials more accessible to them, particularly by encouraging publishers to release books so that nonprofit groups can transfer them to electronic formats. She has also sat on the panel of judges for the PEN/Newman’s Own Award, a $25,000 award designed to recognize the protection of free speech as it applies to the written word.”

This is a post by Michael Porter, Library Renewal Board Member and President

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