NISO Staff Attend 2018 ALA−ASCLA National eBook Summit
On June 22, NISO staff Todd Carpenter and Nettie Lagace attended the 2018 ALA−ASCLA National eBook Summit, held in conjunction with the American Library Association (ALA) Annual Conference in New Orleans. This one-day invitation-only meeting was a working session, with the specific goal of producing components of a written plan to address the issues of ensuring greater access to e-books by library users and improving the library sector’s analytic and evaluation foundations in regards to e-books. An additional goal was to create a space for participants, all experts in e-book creation and usage in libraries and industry, to listen and learn from each other in order to make contributions to a shared e-book agenda. This meeting was sponsored and planned by the ALA, the Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA), and Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS). Todd and Nettie were able to contribute their experiences from standards projects where decisions made in a consensus process have produced outputs valuable to all stakeholders, and were also able to better understand the current issues faced by public libraries, academic libraries, consortia, and systems and service providers in their decisions around e-book access for end users.
The meeting agenda focused on providing sufficient time for discussion work groups to brainstorm issues and potential solutions around several distinct topics: Accessibility (meeting guidelines for the visually impaired or people with intellectual disabilities); Content Deserts (obtaining desired but unavailable content); Curation (giving libraries greater ability to curate materials to help improve patron discovery); Licensing Models (more flexibility to choose to meet different circulation/usage patterns); and Impact and Benchmarks (sharing and aggregating metrics across libraries/vendors/publishers). These working sessions took place simultaneously at tables placed in different areas of the large room, so it was easy to get a sense of energy and enthusiasm from everyone. Participants were assigned to a work group for the morning session and could choose their own discussion for the afternoon session. Sandwiching the brainstorming sessions were a cross-sector panel discussion on the current state of affairs and reports from the work group facilitators, respectively.
The Summit facilitators, staff from Luma Consulting, supported the entire meeting and encouraged all meeting participants to “participate at your edge—if you’re someone who enthusiastically participates, consider holding back a bit, and if you’re someone who is usually quiet, lean in a bit.” This advice, repeated several times throughout the day, resulted in a particularly lively set of discussions and extra input that might not have been contributed otherwise. Participants were also encouraged to create notes of their discussions, which the facilitators collected for distillation into an overarching report of the day.
Participants represented almost all areas of the e-book landscape—from directors of large public libraries and state libraries to technical representatives of scholarly book collections to marketing and salespeople from the trade book industry to consortia representatives and people working on digitization and description of shared book collections, to label just a few. The meeting’s outputs and next steps are expected to become available in the coming months, but in the meantime the experiences and opinions expressed by the participants in response to the topical discussions stimulated many potential areas of work. Stay tuned for what projects might need further input!