Great ideas on econtent from Montana Libraries

September 18, 2012
Posted in: News

Workshop on econtentMichael Porter and David Lee King (that’s me) recently presented a workshop on econtent at the Montana State Library’s Fall Workshop. We gave our usual overview of the econtent marketplace, showed some statistics about ebooks, etc … but then we divided participants into small groups, and had them answer three questions:

  1. What do you want with ebooks?
  2. What is realistic for your organization?
  3. What can you do to make what’s realistic actually happen?

Michael and I want to share those answers here, for two reasons: so the workshop participants can have a takeaway from the session, and also (and more importantly) because these answers provide a great overview of current thinking in libraries about wants and needs for econtent, and some potentially realistic ways to reach those wants and needs. Good stuff here!

Here are the answers to those three questions from all five groups:

Group 1:

1. What do you want with ebooks?

  • affordability
  • access
  • universal compatibility
  • more diversity in content
  • ownership
  • one copy/multiple users
  • buying model not based on print
  • consortia buying/expand buying pool
  • libraries help publish local authors/content
  • single easy interface
  • all books in a series

2. What is realistic for your organization?

  • forming regional consortia
  • focused marketing
  • buy/lease from several places (local authors)
  • sell our Montana content to publishers – MMP
  • get one publisher to sell to libraries at the same price as to individuals
  • make the library/economic issue known to Montana representatives in Congress

3. What can you do to make what’s realistic actually happen?

  • coordinated action – talk to vendors when ordering, ask for a better deal
  • investigate using our own local publishers – Falcon Press
  • talk to our Montana representatives in Congress, make case libraires are important economically
  • use our regional consortia – MPLA, PLNA

Group 2:

1. What do you want with ebooks?

  • patrons to know we have them and use them
  • titles that allow libraries to do what we need to do (without arbitrary restrictions)
  • immediate access to what I want to read
  • accessible titles and an easy interface – able to order from all publishers
  • $, $, $ – to provide content
  • long-term access
  • no silos

2. What is realistic for your organization?

  • consortium based solutions
  • build our own platform
  • work together in a systematic way for change
  • continue to build our Overdrive collection – grant funding, outside funding
  • healthy ecosystem – content-focused

3. What can you do to make what’s realistic actually happen?

  • confirm the importance of econtent
  • dedicate consortium time to these issues
  • educate patrons about problems
  • library budgets change to reflect importance of econtent
  • Montana State Library take lead in staffing econtent issues

Group 3:

1. What do you want with ebooks?

  • read them
  • popular titles
  • many available copies or unlimited access
  • affordable for all libraries
  • universal way to download

2. What is realistic for your organization?

  • no money so don’t participate
  • helping with devices even though we don’t have huge selection
  • meet the needs of community with what we have available
  • support state library efforts and use it
  • partnerships

3. What can you do to make what’s realistic actually happen?

  • more informed
  • enhancing what we are doing
  • educating the public and library staff

Group 4:

1. What do you want with ebooks?

  • an infrastructure within the state to collect econtent – for accessibility as well
  • ANY book we want – in any content (accessibility)
  • affordable
  • digital divide issue – rural areas have difficulty getting the content on their device
  • standard reader format – all the same file type
  • all formats available at one price

2. What is realistic for your organization?

  • working as a consortium – teamwork
  • having a state infrastructure for content collection (local and state)
  • leader education within the governing body to promote why the funding is necessary

3. What can you do to make what’s realistic actually happen?

  • work together
  • identify funding sources
  • explaining the need – to the public, to governing bodies
  • ensure that representative (ALA) is expressing true Montana library concerns
  • advocating for the “middle ground” – libraries are a place for information and entertainment – we still need to serve all our patrons

Group 5:

1. What do you want with ebooks?

  • readily available – all content, no wait-time, shorter wait
  • same rules for ebooks from vendors – same pricing, same circulation, no limits, library binding = better quality – slightly more $$
  • have video and games
  • affordable pricing
  • flexibility – trade books/content in and out
  • audio books – digital format, not just CD
  • software/tools to create econtent
  • interactive – like Facebook, share notes and flags, choose ending, hyperlinks, especially for fiction

2. What is realistic for your organization?
3. What can you do to make what’s realistic actually happen?
(this group combined questions 2 & 3)

  • central clearinghouse/coordinator for online resources / hyperlinks, video, etc). Local libraries don’t have time & effort. Don’t reinvent wheel. State agency, regional consortium?
  • we need to come together to up buying power and influence
  • political reform & leadership – $$, publishing statutes, MLA, ALA, regional and beyond
  • each library send a representative to MBSHP group (staff, board, or trustees), small libraries may group together & have a representative (rural eastern) represent different types of libraries (MSC model)
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