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COSLA: eBook Feasibility Study for Public Libraries

Final Report:
• Library Leader Interview Findings

• Industry Expert Interview Findings and Scenarios for Action

Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010

1104 NW 15th, Suite 400
Portland, Oregon 97209
Table of Contents
Executive Summary 3

Interviews with Library Leaders: findings and recommendations

Summary 6

Devices: changing them, lending them 7

Access: high interest, low usability 9

Working together: buying power and leverage 11

New roles: going beyond content 13

Interviews with Industry Experts: findings and scenarios for action

Summary 16

Assure Access: cooperate for quality 18

Purchasing power, vital collections

Scenario One 20

One point, many libraries

Scenario Two 25

eBook reader certification

Scenario Three 30

Data and Leadership: show value 33

Research connections between library use and book buying

Scenario Four 35

Create authors and support self-publishing

Scenario Five 40

Civic discourse and public policy

Scenario Six 45

Living Literature; discover new roles 48

Library as laboratory and new skills for librarians

Scenario Seven 50

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 2
Executive Summary
In the fall of 2009, the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA) began an internal
conversation about eBooks. What will they mean to the future of libraries, especially public
libraries? Will these institutions be able to turn another digital format to its advantage, as
they have with audiobooks? Or is it different this time? COSLA members wanted to arm
themselves for action, instead of waiting to see how commercial forces would impact popular
reading materials and the public library’s central role in providing them.

COSLA initially wondered whether they could force a disruption in the eBook marketplace
by creating their own eBook reader, designed especially for people who borrow from public
libraries. To discover whether this was feasible, COSLA formed a task force and approached
the design strategy and research consultancy Pinpoint Logic. Together, we crafted a study to
find out.

In the course of the research, we talked to library leaders and industry experts who raised
critical issues that shaped our thinking. We changed direction as we learned more, moving
away from product design and toward areas of opportunity for public libraries and eBooks.

In this report, you’ll read concerns and ideas about access and ease of use for library eBooks,
library purchasing models, shifting relationships with vendors and publishers, cost and
selection, copyright and fair use, and how to make the public library’s voice heard as eBooks
change how people read for leisure and learning. We found new roles for public libraries and
ways that COSLA could help provide leadership.

The research is cumulative, so the second part of the report builds on the first and finalizes
our thinking. We hope those who love and serve public libraries everywhere will find
inspiration in this work, especially the scenarios for action. There are many paths COSLA and
its partners can take together to make eBooks work for public libraries, ensuring these much-
loved institutions continue to delight and engage the people they serve.

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 3
COSLA Task Force Consultants
Stacey Aldrich Diane Cass
State Librarian, California Senior project manager, Pinpoint Logic
Email: Email:

Stacey is an inspiring and creative library leader. She knows every type of Diane is a creative problem solver who builds relationships carefully and well,
library, from the inside out. What makes Stacey special is the torch she carries always adjusting to the people on her teams, how they communicate, and what
to understand and speak about the future of libraries. After all, she is a card- they need. Her motto is, “Let’s figure out how to move forward from here.”
carrying member of the Association of Professional Futurists.

Jo Budler Dwayne King
State Librarian, Kansas President and senior strategist, Pinpoint Logic
Email: Email:

Jo just joined the team at the State Library of Kansas, continuing her intrepid Dwayne King has led creative teams for over 15 years, always asking for less. Less
trek into what state library leadership can accomplish. She carries years of state complexity, less ego, less whiz-bang, less copycat thinking. That leaves room for
library agency experience from past work with Michigan, Nebraska, and Ohio elegant, useful design that brings something new into the world. Dwayne digs
state libraries. Jo also attended the prestigious Iowa Writer’s Workshop, so she into business and customer needs first, transforming himself from a questioning
has the heart of an artist. student to a confident strategist.

Rob Maier Eva Miller
Director, Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners Senior user experience designer, Pinpoint Logic
Email: Email:

Rob has been part of library leadership in Massachusetts for nearly 20 years. Eva’s business card says she’s a user experience designer. Sometimes, she’s
He led library development services for eleven years, then became director of a content strategist. Sometimes, she’s an information architect or a design
the Board of Library Commissioners in 2002. Rob knows how state libraries can researcher. Really, she’s a librarian, organizing a new collection to suit a particular
drive innovation. audience every time, and blending that age-old practice with a visual sensibility.

Jim Scheppke Tom Peters
State Librarian, Oregon CEO, TAP Information Services
Email: Email:

Jim began working with the Oregon State Library in 1986. He’s learned the value Tom has worked in and with libraries and library-related organizations for over
in supporting projects that solve problems for libraries and their users and giving 20 years. He has led projects in academic, public, special, and governmental
up-and-coming library leaders their chance to shine. Jim started this project by libraries. He also has worked with publishers, vendors, and technology
stating a concern based in simple fact: The e-book revolution is coming. What companies on a variety of development and testing projects. Tom’s areas
can we do to shape it? How can we make sure libraries are part of it? of interest and specialization include librarianship in virtual environments,
downloadable digital audiobooks, and digital library services.

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Interviews with Library Leaders

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We analyzed these interviews to surface larger themes and insights that guided the remaining
research with industry experts, through which we gathered a more complete picture and
determined areas of opportunity for COSLA and its partners to pursue.

Participants expressed needs around eBooks in these areas:

• Finding a low-cost way to lend devices through the library or let people try them out
• Improving the ease of use for discovering and getting library eBooks
Background and methods • Expanding access to eBooks through larger collections and national buying pools while
delivering real-time local statistics in a manner that helps library funders see the value of
As electronic books grow within the public consciousness and more devices and large-scale collaboration at the local level
economic models arise to vend them, public libraries are increasingly concerned about
• Applying leverage to publishers and vendors for better pricing, licensing models, more
how it will affect their core audience. Many library leaders believe a tipping point is not
reasonable copyright or DRM models around shared use, and standards
far off. When enough people choose convenience over a sharing model, the relevance
and mission of public libraries are in jeopardy. Libraries need to anticipate this shift and • Exploring how libraries can transition from an emphasis on content supplier to creating
become part of the eBook story. spaces that invite social interaction around learning and living literature

These needs range from a short-term help to a long-term view. We feel the best strategy lies
To discover what library leaders want and need to make eBooks an effective piece of
somewhere between. Would a national buying pool have the intended effect of bringing larger
their service model, COSLA worked with Pinpoint Logic, a design strategy company. We
collections and a establishing a good foundation for additional leverage with publishers? If so,
interviewed ten library managers and staff from urban, suburban, and rural public libraries.
how does that effort raise the importance of solving the user experience issues in finding and
Each interview lasted an hour and covered these topics:
getting library eBooks from a national project? And what local usage reporting would we need
to provide to gain credibility and high participation from member libraries around the country?
eBook access and delivery
• Buying decisions: print vs. electronic We’ll elaborate on our findings in the following areas:
• Licensing models
1. Devices: changing them, lending them
• Purchasing through consortia
2. Access: high interest, low usability
• Competing for the public’s attention
3. Working together: buying power and leverage
eBook devices
• Lending them to patrons 4. New roles: going beyond content
• Designing a library-centric device
• Haves and have-nots

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 6
Devices: changing them, lending them
Devices drive eBook use buying and borrowing. Some wanted the ability to rate or comment on titles they’d read or
send an eBook recommendation to a friend.
Respondents agreed that the new generation of eBook readers has created a sudden demand
for eBooks. Many felt eInk screens are the major factor because they make devices lighter and Libraries can’t compete with product vendors
reduce glare for more comfortable reading, like paper.
Questions about whether libraries could or should produce a library-centric reading device
Before long, the device’s role in driving eBook growth may change. Some respondents felt revealed a clear “ghetto” mentality about libraries. Responses didn’t dwell as much on
there may be a better future for browser-based eBook reader software than operating systems strategic considerations as libraries’ inability to compete with product designers. No one
found on a single-purpose device, like the Kindle or Nook. Many stated they believe people felt libraries would do a good job getting a device to market or that libraries even support
prefer devices that can do more than one function, like iPhones, though lengthy or leisure basic technology very well. A few respondents said that designing our own device might be
reading requires a design that makes it comfortable for people to use the device from a a source of inspiration, but only if we could make something better than anything else out
variety of resting positions. there to show we know what readers want. A sense of helplessness tinged other responses
about large efforts to persuade vendors and publishers to take libraries seriously, though not
No great device for library use yet as sharply as when participants considered creating a library-centric eBook reader. Mostly,
respondents voiced little enthusiasm or confidence in the idea of creating actual devices.
In general, respondents believe these devices are not well-designed or mature yet. They
had clear and compelling ideas about what current devices lack, especially for the voracious Libraries want to show or lend devices
reader who uses libraries heavily.
Because devices are expensive, respondents worry about haves and have-nots, but they also
Many felt eBooks should support multiple media types, including video, audio, Web, and worry that devices are not common. People can’t try them or see how they work before getting
other enhanced content. They should represent an entirely new reading experience, not just one. Most respondents felt comfortable with a limited device lending model meant to let
display text on a screen. The main thing respondents wanted was eBook readers to be flexible people try them out, meaning they would not have many of them or favor a single device.
in accommodating eBooks from all suppliers. But they also wanted to see more consistency Others preferred the “technology petting zoo” approach that exposes both staff and the public
among devices in features that readers want, such as creating and saving annotations from to these devices through programs that encourage handling them. Some wanted to lend
the text, wireless capability for browsing and downloading eBooks with the device itself, the devices as a reader’s advisory opportunity, preloaded with a book series, popular genre, or
ability to adjust text size and brightness, a read-aloud mode for dyslexic or visually impaired readalikes. Most needed a low maintenance solution that limited staff time with the device,
people, and word definition or translation tools for those trying to read in something other such as vending machines managed by an outside company.
than their first language.
The catch is that no one could justify the expense against the cost of more traditional
For devices meant for library lending and use, respondents added some remarkably materials. Most respondents expressed discomfort over lending somewhat fragile devices that
consistent needs. They would need to be simpler than any other device, more durable, much cost over $300. Some stated they couldn’t include devices in their public services until the
cheaper ($100 or less seems to be the magic number), rechargeable, with no cords required price drops significantly.
for use, larger controls, and accessibility options that work for the largest range of people
possible. They may not need much storage space, since they are aimed at both lending the
device and using library materials, though some respondents felt people always want to blend

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Devices: changing them, lending them

Thoughts from the participants • If libraries were to truly compete in this realm...they’d have to have a device that’s better than
those being offered.
• I know that eBooks have finally started to take off because of the non-glare readers. I think the
device is key. • Try it and see if it works for them. Check a reader out and have books on it. Maybe a lease-to-
own type of thing.
• Patrons are looking for it. It was all of a sudden, too. I gotta think the Kindle was the catalyst.
• I’m a mystery reader. Load me up. Put the whole series of vampire stories on it. All of Harry
• Would making a dedicated device really be the right way to go when the browser is
Potter on one book.
reigning supreme?
• People like readalikes...that’s a constant reference desk question. What can I read next?
• I think most people are really happy when a device does more than one thing.
• What I would like to do is come up with something preloaded and have it in a vending machine.
• If you’re sitting up and reading a backlit screen, it feels like work instead of sitting in an easy
chair or lying down. • There are so many formats and interactions between those and the devices. There are just so
many variables. We’d have to devote another team of people just to keep up on that.
• If people are gonna see the library as a provider of eBooks, they need to be able to read off of
whatever device they have. • Expensive. I’m more inclined to do a technology petting zoo. Come try or test them.
• I had a mother whose son got her a Kindle ask me about using the library, and I had to tell her • Equal access isn’t realistic if it’s a $500 device..If I have to choose between buying $500 of
no. She was really disappointed. books or one device, I won’t do it.
• I saw the Nook. I was disappointed in it. Mystery meat navigation. Little dots and symbols to • No way we’ll spend $400 on a reader and circulate it. I can see a $100 item.
navigate. I found that very frustrating.
• I feel the dust hasn’t settled on them yet. Maybe the next generation might be better.
• I don’t think current eBook products are taking advantage of their digital nature. Just texts in
digital format.
• I want a holographic novel. I want it to rise off the page, any language I want, and I want to
participate in the story.
• By the time libraries do this, it’ll be too late. Apple moves really fast to replace one idea with a
better one.
• Competing on features. We can’t win that. Some say it’s depressing. I’d say it’s realistic. Glare Less glare
• It should look like whatever you could buy at Best Buy or Target. Not some weird library
version, the way we do with our computers.
• We are buying commodity equipment that’s one generation back. We’re trailing not bleeding
edge by nature.
• Maybe it would be something like the OLPC project. It’d be great if we could lead the way and
pressure the rest of the market.

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Access: high interest, low usability
Haves and have-nots. Will and will not.
For now, respondents feel that eBooks clearly widen the digital divide. Patrons often can’t
download these titles using public computers, meaning access depends on having both
Internet access and your own computer. Unlike commercial offerings, library eBooks do not
load directly to reading devices. In the case of eBooks, many people also fall into “will” and
“will not” camps. The 2009 Forrester’s North American Technographics Media and Marketing
online survey shows nearly 70% of adults say they won’t buy an eBook reader that is more than
$100, which may indicate people place low value on single-purpose devices.

But most respondents believe libraries have an obligation to provide all emerging
information formats, if possible. Some stated that it is just as dangerous to cease being
relevant to average citizens who can easily look elsewhere for information and entertainment.
Haves and have-nots are connected in their needs, with the library hanging in the balance.

High-demand titles and portable browsing serve those who do not
visit the library
Earlier eBook collections from NetLibrary featured time-sensitive or quick look-up titles,
eBooks will drive patrons to libraries such as technology training, cookbooks, rules for card games, or business books. Most
Most of our respondents felt eBooks will increasingly attract or keep library patrons who respondents reported low usage. Some have ceased buying or updating these collections
like this format or desire convenience. The Internet, audiobooks—all have driven traffic to for the public. Respondents from smaller systems stated they have replaced nearly all print
libraries, despite worries they would do just the opposite. Respondents reported that patrons reference materials for staff use with searchable eBook versions. This gives all locations equal
will often get a reader and immediately run to the library to try filling it with eBooks. access to basic resources they need to help patrons, regardless of collection size. But eBook
collections aimed at patrons now focus mostly on popular fiction and non-fiction eBook titles.
Respondents agree the recent history of audiobooks is instructive here: they see the Respondents said patrons have responded well to the change.
same energy and sudden interest around a new format. But people still do not like to buy
audiobooks, even though devices to play them are now cheap and can be used to listen to Maybe too well. It’s a common behavior to “load up” on eBooks. Some respondents stated
other things. Unlike text, audio controls your time and pace, and the files are larger to retrieve. it’s a natural extension of browsing the library to see what you like first and wanted to
After listening to a book, people are unlikely to revisit it or want to store it, and the cost per support this need. But others admitted “one copy, one user” licensing models or consortium
title remains high. Even rental services for audiobooks cost more per month than movie or restrictions make it poor stewardship of limited resources. To assure reasonable access
television rental services (two-at-a-time plans are twice the cost on SimplyAudio as they for everyone, libraries are often forced to create awkward rules people don’t understand.
are on Netflix). Libraries are a natural place to get items like these. The question is whether Respondents expressed frustration that easily shared materials like eBooks still don’t free
eBooks will be the same: cheap devices and costly titles. them from this. Leasing “always available” titles helps, but these do not belong to you and

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 9
Access: high interest, low usability

are more expensive than buying eBooks. Some respondents felt leasing would work better • I feel an investment in digital collections and services is really important, even though we
for resources that always need to be updated, but preferred to own and control materials on know some people can’t access them.
behalf of patrons.
• It’s extremely important to be able to offer access to information in every format available.
Nearly all respondents expressed strong feelings about attracting patrons who can’t or won’t • We want to appeal to the digital haves. The library is relevant to them. Then use these
come to the building. Virtual library services aren’t new, but eBooks create fresh urgency initiatives to raise the boat for the digital have-nots.
and opportunities for reaching people who are mainly interested in reading for pleasure, a
core constituency for public libraries. Some respondents talked about the long commutes or • We had been largely collecting non-fiction in Overdrive until six months ago. Added
distances within their service area, reduced staffing and service hours, and how busy lives fiction and that’s what’s really popular.
mean getting home late and staying there. Many felt libraries need to find, understand, and
• We bought 25 popular [eBook] titles to see how they’d move. In 3-4 days time, they were
serve this audience better.
all checked out. We got more. In a few days, the rest were checked out.
Finding and using eBooks from the library is too difficult • What gets used the most are the “always available” titles. Feeds instant gratification.
Despite the rising demand for eBooks, all agreed that getting eBooks from libraries is not • If you can load up a reader with 13 titles and check out whether they’re good, that’s better.
convenient or easy to do. We heard just as many concerns about this as assurances that
eBooks will bring patrons to libraries. “One copy, one user” eBook licensing is hard to explain: • Any artificial limit on how many books you can download will make it awkward, too.
the title is listed, digital, but not “checked out.” Plus, users must navigate through multiple • Some people are not going to come to the library. This is a whole user base. We know they
layers and interfaces to find eBooks on a library site. To get one, they must load proprietary are there. They are every bit as important as physical visitors.
software on a personal computer, download the title there, then transfer it onto a reading
device. Improving the eBook browsing and downloading experience for library patrons is • Once you get home, you’re not going to get back out again. I would never set foot in a
critical for competing more effectively with commercial alternatives. When someone values library again, if I didn’t have to.
convenience, as you might expect from eBook lovers, ease of use matters greatly.
• If you can basically use your library without setting foot there, we can gain customers.
Thoughts from the participants • No one understands “one copy, one user.” That is the most difficult concept to explain to
• We’ve seen a rise in demand for eBooks and had people write us specifically for ePub format.
• My issue has come down more to the steps necessary to access these titles. Paucity of
• It’s a small, devoted group, not dissimilar to people who use audiobooks a couple of years
display options. It’s a discovery problem.
ago. Very, very devoted to that service.
• It’d be ideal if the ease of use and accessibility issues are ironed out. Otherwise, we’ll lose
• But with eBooks and the cost of it being not much cheaper than a hardback book, I don’t
customers to eBooks.
think people will be as apt to spend that kind of money and delete the digital file or store
it and never see it again.

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Working Together: buying power and leverage
Most expressed concern about being able to present convincing, current data to their funders
at the local level showing they spent their money wisely in consortial efforts. This is crucial
to encouraging widespread participation. Members of a collective buying group need
continuous, local measures that tell the right story about expanded access to resources at
reduced costs. Libraries need to demonstrate value to the community that paid their fair share
of the load.

A few respondents worried about local needs, such as foreign language materials or items of
greater interest to residents of communities made largely of retirees. But this concern seemed
less important than the larger problem of facing increasing interest in eBooks and only being
able to afford a collection of a few hundred titles.

Applying pressure to vendors and publishers
Many respondents want more leverage with the industries they depend on for the
Greater buying power and larger collections products and services they bring to their communities. They universally expressed
frustration at how little libraries seem to matter to vendors and publishers, and many felt
Most respondents stated they need much larger and more varied eBook collections to
this is at the heart of many difficulties they are having navigating the current landscape
serve patrons well, especially in popular fiction and non-fiction. Cost is an issue. Nearly all
of digital information formats.
respondents have already joined regional or statewide purchasing programs in order to
purchase eBooks and other digital materials at less cost. Some reported being unable to
Respondents were at their most passionate in describing how important it is to work with
purchase these resources at all without the price break they can get through a collaborative
publishers from a position of strength. Most feel publishers are the key. Nearly everything
arrangement. It’s a small logical leap to a national or even an international buying pool
bad about digital media for individuals or libraries stems from their business practices:
that may create greater efficiencies for all libraries involved. Most respondents expressed
excessive copyright restriction and DRM that make titles hard to share, overpriced content,
enthusiasm about the potential benefit for their institutions.
lack of standard formats to work on any device, separate purchasing by format, and licensing
requirements that ignore how people think about or use digital media in a shared model.
The local view One respondent noted a deep concern about the life cycle of library materials, due to DRM
While most respondents had no ideological problem with the idea of joining a larger or licensing restrictions that disregard a reasonable period of initial ownership based on
buying pool at the national level, they nearly all expressed a few, similar reservations payment. Weeding used to mean releasing an outdated or low-interest book to others who
about it. Some doubted that libraries would be able to work together at that level in a may want it, giving it a second life. Now it can mean the item disappears, cutting short the life
timely, sensible way because they had all seen examples of long, drawn-out attempts to cycle for that piece of knowledge.
reach consensus about shared purchasing or other cooperative efforts at much lower
levels within much smaller groups. Respondents offered ideas for creating leverage with publishers. A national buying pool may
be the foundation for gaining more attention and influence as a valuable customer. But they
also wanted to help find ways to show publishers that libraries are not their competitors but

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Working Together: buying power and leverage

their allies. What would show that having a source for sampling materials people would not • It’s not like we missed the boat. The boat left without us because we don’t rate.
otherwise buy does not undercut sales and may even increase them? Some suggested crafting
• We’re letting vendors lead the way instead of saying what will work for us. Not using our
studies to determine the nature of the connection between library use and book sales.
position or clout.
One respondent suggested establishing an interlibrary organization as an independent • If COSLA is really trying to figure out where to put the energy, spend it talking to Apple,
publisher. Libraries could play an active role in cultivating and producing high-quality to Amazon. They are keeping us out of the game on this
eBooks from new authors, free for libraries to own and distribute, similar to the Best of
British Columbia Books Online project that releases all locally authored books to B.C. • Libraries can talk about why [standard formats] are important and why they benefit to
libraries for free. publishers and people working on the devices

• We need someone to go to publishers and make sure their stuff will run on whatever device.
Apple was successful in selling to people and didn’t care to sell to libraries. Took pressure.

Thoughts from the participants • I walk by the Electronic Frontier Foundation a few times a week. Why aren’t we partnering
with them to raise a ruckus about why we need to do things differently?
• Trying to use our buying power to bring those costs down... The talk was to get together
nationally and get the cost down. • The first thing that comes to mind is make sensible DRM and to change the
landscape of copyright.
• A critical mass or some kind of coming together and using the great numbers that
libraries have to get a little bit more purchasing power and be taken seriously. • I can download 15 books, try them out, maybe I like all of them. I might go buy the
author’s other books, or look at other things the publisher does.
• It would be a sea change in eBooks: how we organize our operations, a structural change
in how we work that would get us to that point. • Could we compare people getting print stuff from libraries and how that encourages
more purchasing?
• It’s a balancing act between efficiency of centralizing processes and the need to tailor it to
a specific community • Could we get a reputation as a small, high-quality publisher? The same thing works now:
small presses identify authors. Libraries could launch authors.
• We are part of the collaborative, but we can’t get local measures. That makes it more
difficult for me to explain to local officials.

• I’ve been in database licensing meetings and the complete cluster THAT is. I can’t
imagine what it would be like on the national level.

• It’s a scary thought at the national level. That could be overwhelming.

• It’s shutting libraries out of this whole market. I worry that we don’t have a seat at the
table. We don’t have a voice in this.

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New Roles: going beyond content
Reference services felt a similar upheaval as Google and Wikipedia began to reveal that
people prefer self-service tools and will often take convenience over quality. For many lines of
inquiry, good enough is good enough. Libraries no longer need to see themselves as the main
place people would go for quick reference or looking up simple facts. That leaves time and
money for something deeper and richer.

The public library’s main role as a democratic institution that procures and organizes
content for the public good may also need to be examined and balanced against what
other providers can do more effectively and how people prefer to receive information.
If public libraries no longer need to worry so much about an archival role or providing
popular materials, how should they fulfill a noble mission to support a vibrant “life of the
mind” in their communities?

A few respondents felt libraries should shift from a content repository to a community center
for learning and events. They urged a stronger focus on performance, programs, storytelling,
and using physical space for social interactions that let people hear, learn, meet, and mingle
around shared meaning. These respondents imagined a more curated or mediated experience
with information.

Making content come alive
Some libraries have taken on this mantle already. Recently, Cushing Academy in
Massachusetts got rid of all print books in their school library and transformed
themselves into an “interactive learning center,” with quiet study spaces, real-time
interactive data and newsfeeds, high-definition screens for research, a cafe and lounge for
relaxing, and eInk readers for everyone. They report their learning center is now the most
Letting go
heavily used space on campus.
Some respondents said they think the writing is on the wall for libraries. The smart thing to
do may be to prepare for a new future and begin to let go of functions where public library’s Poets House in New York City just dedicated a new space, designed to make poetry come
are no longer able to provide the most value or keep the public’s interest. eBooks may herald alive. While they do have many books of poetry, they emphasize programs and events that
the beginning of this transition and should be considered in that light. celebrate the form and bring people together to appreciate, learn, and participate.

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New Roles: going beyond content

Thoughts from the participants
• Because of the competition, I’m not sure libraries should be concerned about providing
content for people. I see us getting squeezed out.

• I’m not convinced at all that libraries can compete with Netflix and Amazon, no matter
how ideal the library world. Even if we have all the funding we want.

• Libraries keep seeing themselves as content repositories and competing with other
providers. Not a necessary future for libraries.

• I had one gentleman in his 70s, bought a Kindle, loved it. Said, “Oh, my god, I’m worried
about you. You don’t have a future.”

• The idea of a community hub. Live performance. If we free up the space, there could be
programs, live music, storytelling all the time. Living literature.

• I would open up a 5000-square foot addition to our building with a display wall for
discovery of eBooks, loadable on the device of your choice.

• In the last fiscal year, we cut back to four days a week. We’re seeing a huge drop off in all
respects. But tons of people come to story times and programs.

• I’m thinking about libraries focusing on other things like shared experiences around
content instead of vending content.

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Interviews with Industry Experts

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 15
roles to enliven community spaces that may no longer need to store so many print books. In
this phase, we focused on the views of industry experts and interviewed a range of people,
most of whom are listed below (some preferred anonymity):
• Barbara Genco, editor for collection management, Library Journal
• Heather McCormack, managing editor of book reviews and editor of BookSmack!
Library Journal
• Joe Janes, Associate Professor, iSchool, University of Washington
• Jana Bradley, Professor, School of Information Resources and Library Science, University
of Arizona
• Maggie Balistreri, librarian at Poet’s House, New York, New York
• Brenda Bailey-Hainer, President and CEO, Bibliographic Center for Research (BCR)
• Kate Nevins, CEO, LYRASIS
• Peter Brantley, Director, Internet Archive

Background and methods • Steve Coffman, Vice President, LSSI
• Steve Potash, President and CEO, Overdrive
Pinpoint Logic crafted and conducted design strategy research to determine whether it would
• George Coe, President of Library and Education, Baker and Taylor
be feasible for COSLA to design and produce an eBook reading device that would serve the
needs of public libraries: low-cost, rugged, simple to use, works well for lending books, and We analyzed industry expert interviews to surface final themes and insights, then crafted a
could be borrowed by patrons. range of scenarios for action. COSLA’s original concern about the cost and design of eBook
readers came from a deeper question about the future of public libraries, as eBooks begin
To test this premise, we interviewed a range of library leaders and quickly discovered they to change industry relationships and service models. This was COSLA saying, “We want to
didn’t care about the devices very much. Most felt the marketplace would soon resolve create our destiny. We want to be ready. We are tired of allowing others to decide these things
problems around the cost of these devices. But they worried about eBook standards that for public libraries.” The scenarios in this report are clear paths COSLA can pursue to meet
assure books are truly portable among devices, fair use for eBooks, library purchasing models eBook challenges head-on and are meant to provoke critical discussion.
that work, lower cost and better selection on eBooks, and easier ways to find and use library
eBooks. They also felt public libraries should look beyond storing books for new ways to be In this report, we describe seven areas of opportunity that show potential for COSLA
relevant and exciting to the communities they serve. and its public library partners, as they wisely face concerns about the future. We’ve also
prepared visual scenarios to illustrate these possible futures for public libraries, based on
Findings from the library leader interviews informed the direction of the research in this each area of opportunity.
report. We carried over themes of improving access and eBook findability, working together
to influence publishers and vendors, shaping public policy and fair use, and considering new

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 16

Conclusions • Create authors and support self-publishing: take advantage of the explosion in do-it-
yourself publishing to differentiate public libraries from other sources of popular reading
We recommend sharing this work with others in the form of futuring workshops. COSLA materials and better serve community needs
is blessed with an expert on the power of this approach in the person of California State
Librarian Stacey Aldrich, a member of the COSLA task force for this study. As COSLA helps • Civic discourse and public policy: foster serious discussions and leadership around
others imagine the opportunities presented in this report and what tomorrow could look copyright and fair use
like, it becomes possible to “plan backwards” from a preferred future. Backcasting from the
• Library as laboratory: prototyping new uses for library spaces, new ways to engage the
horizon you seek means determining what your first steps must be to get where you want to
public in a life of the mind, and identifying new skills for librarians
go: in this case, how to make eBooks a clear advantage to public libraries. Each state library
organization could run a series of futuring workshops based on this report, share their results,
and help COSLA pursue the best direction for their organization.
We’ll elaborate on these seven areas of action under the following themes:
One thing is very clear, though. It’s a good thing COSLA is an organization that has national
reach. Nearly everything in this report benefits from or requires a national or large-scale 1. Assure Access: cooperate for quality
approach to be successful. A local or regional innovation is more powerful when combined
and shared with others. Public libraries must expand the ways they learn from and assist each 2. Data and Leadership: show value
other. If any ship has sailed, it is the idea that public libraries can operate individually or even
regionally and still compete effectively for the public’s attention. Large-scale, cooperative
3. Living Literature: discover new roles
efforts are essential for the continued health and vibrancy of public libraries because only
enormous effort can make a dent in the marketplace of information exchange and capture the
public’s attention.

Participants expressed opportunities for public libraries and eBooks within these seven areas
of action:

• Purchasing power, vital collections: group purchasing leverage, tough vendor and
publisher negotiation, and quality collection development

• One point, many libraries; using BookServer to deliver eBooks at the point of interest

• eBook reader certification: testing and assessing eBook reading devices against
usability and design guidelines for public library use

• Research connections between library use and book buying: showing how public
libraries support authors and publishers and feed an ecosystem of reading

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 17
Assure Access: cooperate for quality
As books shift to electronic formats, public libraries need to re-think collection
development. Cost pressures will rise for eBooks as publishers struggle with pricing that
ranges from “pay per sip” licensing to high-cost “library pricing.” Some simply refuse to
sell eBooks to libraries. eBooks themselves are moving from a stable object you download
to a networked resource you view and never possess, connected to value-added content,
like audio, video, author discussions, and more.

Journal costs are relevant here. As the Association for Research Libraries (ARL) has shown
by comparing the Consumer Price Index against journal costs (ARL Statistics, 2007-08),
library pricing far outstrips inflation, partially because pricing models designed only for
libraries remove any consumer-driven factors that might cause downward pressure on price.
eBooks could be the same. A related concern is that first-sale doctrine in copyright law is not
Public Libraries, United States
translating well into electronic media and isn’t designed for “rentals.”

Purchasing power, vital collections How can libraries gain more leverage with publishers and vendors, save money, and raise
collection quality? Working together on a large scale may help on all counts.
The amount of money most public libraries can devote to collections has been falling
steadily over the past few decades. One participant stated that, as a percentage of total library When asked about the power of national, consortial agreements, several participants praised the
operating budgets, collection budgets now average only about 9 cents per dollar for print efficiencies of large consortia. Each library doesn’t have to cultivate vendor relationships, place
materials and 13 cents per dollar for all materials (based on 2007 figures from the Institute of orders, and cut invoices. The scale of the purchase can mean discounted prices. So far, so good.
Museum and Library Services). Each precious collection dollar represents increased pressure
to buy high-demand materials over lesser known works. In a 2000 study, Juris Dilevko at the But going big worried other participants. Some felt larger libraries would never participate.
University of Toronto found that, from 1994-1997, bookstores did better at offering diverse One participant argued that larger libraries can often negotiate better deals on eBooks than
materials from independent presses than public libraries, because they could sell those titles consortia and select materials more carefully, plus vendors want direct relationships with
at regular prices instead of steeply discounted bestsellers. There are no signs that public these “flagship” libraries. Others felt that getting so many libraries to agree on a single plan
libraries have worked to re-balance collections that seem increasingly skewed towards would be impossible. Libraries often sound positive about sharing but resist without solid
bestsellers and mainstream materials. assurance they will get as much as they give. They join, drop, and play their options, not fully
committed to the consortium. It can also be difficult to get timely, useful data that shows
For one thing, libraries often select only reviewed works, which means choosing increasingly a library serves its local patrons well through consortial purchasing (product vendors are
mainstream material. 80-year-old Kirkus Reviews nearly shut down earlier this year, but partially to blame). Libraries that already belong to regional or statewide groups may not feel
survives as Kirkus Media to review only 5000 titles a year. Publishers Weekly provides only good about joining a national group and abandoning more local neighbors.
7500 reviews annually. But Bowker reports that traditional publishers produced about 288,000
titles in 2009. Libraries have also reduced many decisions about collections to standing Some participants mentioned the poor quality of eBook collections purchased through
orders or approval plans with vendors to save staff time and money. consortia, where the vendor may sell the consortium a package with few options to select

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 18
Assure Access: cooperate for quality

individual titles. Several mentioned publisher resistance to selling eBooks through large • I do think the library has ceded its role in deciding what their communities want. I think
consortia. Some publishers and vendors believe that group sales mean fewer units sold. libraries need to do better at finding materials that work for their communities.

For example, Overdrive won’t sell to the LYRASIS consortium and has begun to balk at • With increasing financial pressure, there’s only so much you can do. How much is the
statewide purchasing groups. Maybe this is for the comfort of nervous publishers who view 37th copy of Sue Grafton? How much is midlist? How much is something obscure that we
eBooks as frictionless, ripe for piracy, or long-term profit losses as library products. But while should have?
libraries are each dabbling in various eBook purchasing plans, vendors and publishers will • Some libraries spend more than 75% of operating on salaries. Doesn’t leave much for
demand models they feel serve them best. Changing this means convincing most public collections or programs, technology, etc.
libraries to participate in one model together. But it can’t just be about purchasing power.
A national consortium would also need to quell concerns about collection quality and • Maybe “by the sip” is better…if you charge a hundredth of a cent but have high volume,
continually measure benefit at the local level. you can still make money on it.

One participant spoke about how academic libraries are far ahead of public libraries in how • With budget constraints, we’re not promoting [library pricing]. If libraries see the price,
they do collection development. Some universities select materials through a cooperative they’ll buy bestsellers only, fewer titles.
model, relieving any one of them from having to cover every subject. Art experts select art • Different publishers have different perspectives. Some won’t work in the consortial
books. Biology experts select biology books. Selections are shared with all participants. environment or stick with smaller ones.
Public libraries could work together in a similar fashion for eBooks, dividing the effort and
sharing their work through a national consortium that coordinates selecting and purchasing • We are fighting with publishers and suppliers who don’t want a single point of access.
materials. Each member could also select a small percentage of content for local needs. Let’s say California had this. That would raise some prejudice in major publishing houses:
With the willing participation of representative libraries from the Urban Libraries Council, today I’d sell more to every branch, but a single point of contact reduces units.
members could also pool their negotiating savvy to strike better deals.
• Buying pools are a mess, especially state library consortia. Can’t get agreement.
A single, national purchasing point for eBooks combined with expert selection, tough • Try to get two libraries to cooperate…Sharing is in our nature, but strictly to save money.
negotiation, and data mining that gives members a compelling story for local funders is We don’t do it to save each other.
a different beast from consortia that mostly fill operations or content gaps for have-not
libraries. It forces a reckoning and concentrates eBook access to create real leverage. But it’s a • How are my tax dollars being spent? Are those materials here for my constituents and not
steep climb from where we are. Inspiration and leadership will be key. floating around the state?

• The data issue is an important one—showing value to funders at the local level. Vendors
are also to blame: their data isn’t consistent or shows what local libraries need.

Thoughts from the participants • If libraries stand behind a consortium and say they want to purchase this way instead of
individually, it’d make a big difference.
• Many aim at popular materials and formats more than diversity within their collections,
chasing models we can’t compete with and frittering away what little resources we have. • An organization can get a commitment from all of its participants to either join or not…
That gets you a certain leverage.

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 19
Scenario One: purchasing power, vital collections

eBook Union eBook Union
Better together Better together
Last week, we finally got Some. Still
BigPubCo, so five of the have a handful
Barbara and Heather
big six publishers are of states
persuaded them to
working with us now. How’s library holding out. Some of the
allow multi-user on all
membership? Did urbans, too.
midlist titles
we persuade a few Can’t get
more last month? them to

What if we all buy most of our eBooks together? Not just bigger, but better
A national, consortial arrangement would only work if most libraries join. This Some libraries will only be persuaded if they get better deals and collection quality
creates leverage that may make the difference when negotiating with vendors and through the consortium than they would on their own.
publishers for contracts that work for public libraries.

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 20
Scenario One: purchasing power, vital collections

I got the collection analysis from
eBook Union. 89% overlap with our
stuff and 23% unique titles. Pretty
good! The city manager will like these
I’ll send out the BigPubCo news and reports, too. Maybe we should join.
links to the community reports
generator. Maybe make a few calls.
eBook Union. Better together

Community Reports

A different kind of consortium Community impact data
Cooperative eBook purchasing at the national level can’t be aimed only at libraries The tipping point for many libraries may be how easily they can demonstrate to
that would otherwise not purchase anything. There need to be clear benefits to every funders and others that the consortial arrangement is beneficial at the local level.
kind of public library or existing consortium so they will pool purchasing efforts. Relevant local usage reports and data are key. Member libraries will want to play
with this data and work with it continuously.

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 21
Scenario One: purchasing power, vital collections

Every time I think I’ll use our
“Local Picks” option to buy some
Vietnamese titles, eBook Union People at Queens and Oakland, I
already has them. Who picks those? think. They really know their stuff! I
should just follow them on eBook
Yammer. Get some tips, maybe.

Six months later...
Selection quality and flexibility New connections among libraries
Libraries will want some room to make local selections. But the goal should be to create a structure that lets libraries share their strengths
without having local needs suffer.

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 22
Assure Access: cooperate for quality
centralizes resources and serves as a gatekeeper for them. BookServer enables libraries to
keep their own holdings, pool descriptive information about eBook collections, and make it
freely available across the Web. People aren’t forced to navigate through an integrated library
system or specialized product page on a local Web site. They will find electronic materials in
the course of ordinary Web searching.

BookServer allows libraries, booksellers, and publishers to make catalogs easily, using Dublin
Core metadata. BookServer can also pull together book reviews, reading lists, annotations,
and fan fiction. Search engines are the gateways for finding it all. The schema allows for a
transactional link, as well, giving people an easy way to borrow or buy eBooks from almost
any device, since the Atom XML schema is easily rendered in Web browsers, news readers,
and mobile applications.

For example, a person could type “dragon tattoo” in a search engine, looking for the Swedish
mystery The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The results show where it can be borrowed, and the
links lead to local copies, with prompts for a library card to allow access. Transactions could
allow for borrowing or buying, creating a possible revenue stream for libraries. BookServer
may also allow discovery of all available formats or editions of a title, leveraging OCLC’s
FRBR technology that draws together all expressions of a work.

Baker and Taylor has a MyLibrary Bookstore option for libraries to offer their patrons.
One point, many libraries Overdrive also presents their materials through a separate microsite. But these “storefronts”
eBooks offer an immediacy that demands easy discovery and use. Amazon’s Kindle store has are hard to discover. They are each tied to a particular library Web site, instead of
set the bar for this, with Apple’s iBooks store close behind. But for libraries, eBook collections concentrating discovery and browsing behind one, well-designed interface or tool that people
are often relegated to separate pages or microsites, scattered among thousands of individual will remember or use every day, like Open Library, a BookServer effort that allows anyone to
library Web sites. Many participants in the research commented on the difficulty of finding add descriptive records for books or eBooks that link back to library holdings or even original
and using eBooks through public libraries. scanned materials generated by participating libraries. (See for more.)

Why not pull together a single online channel for people to discover and use electronic Each library system is struggling to create a better user experience for finding and using
materials? Brewster Kahle’s BookServer provides a way to do it. library materials. Each library system is wondering how to be at the point of need. This is a
problem more easily solved together. Because of Amazon, Google, Netflix, and more, people
A project of the Internet Archive, BookServer launched in October 2009 and offers a simple are used to searching and browsing collections at a national level and beyond. They have
way for libraries to concentrate and promote their riches, using open standards and the come to expect this. A BookServer approach for all library eBooks would help strike a blow
simplicity of the Atom XML schema. It’s a distributed model, unlike Google Books, which against centralized, corporate control of intellectual property and promote wider use and
appreciation of community resources. A joint BookServer project like Open Library may be a
Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 23
Assure Access: cooperate for quality

way to apply pressure to Google’s increasingly commercialized search algorithms: providing
access to all the world’s information should not mean Google needs to own it, control it, or
profit directly from it.

Thoughts from the participants
• What about a single channel for browsing, borrowing/buying? Publishers would balk.

• Maybe what some library in Arizona should do is intensively cover all resources on pit
mining. Because of digital catalogs, that niche area is available to others.

• It would be easy in any BookServer lending system to convert a borrow transaction to a
purchase transaction if the user wants.

• For a commercial publisher, [BookServer lets] you start buying the book. For a free book,
you might just allow users to download the book. Another kind of transaction would allow
the user to borrow the book.

• The first proposed [Google Books] settlement excluded consortia...We filed a statement
with the court and it was changed.

• In some societies I get certain “tickets.” Health care, social support, a library card. What
does it mean? We still get stuck on the library building metaphor. Doesn’t need to be that.
It’s a virtual service, a network service. How do I get access to that?

• Digital access has to live somewhere. If I’m a publisher and selling ePub, that has to live
somewhere. I either do that myself or do this through a third party. That wholesale model
that Amazon sells books through is from the print world.

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 24
Scenario Two: one point, many libraries

I wonder if the library has Crap. That can’t be right. I
that new Mark Kurlansky
as an eBook... MyTown Public Library probably have his name
wrong, Can’t remember
the title...
Search kerlansky
MyTown Public Library
Found 2

1 Faith of Graffiti
Kerlansky, Mervyn 1974

2 How to have it all 1989
Kerlansky, Sara

Library eBooks are not easy to discover Library catalogs don’t always help, either
eBook vendors like Overdrive or Baker and Taylor create separate “storefronts” or Public library information retrieval and Web site design is still catching up with
microsites for library eBooks, separating them from the rest of the collection or commercial experiences designed for discovery. Library systems often fail when
making a user experience that doesn’t blend with the rest of the site. people don’t know exactly what they’re looking for.

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 25
Scenario Two: one point, many libraries

Borrow it? I wonder
what that does...
Google usually gets me
outta this.
Search mark kerlansky
Did you mean Mark Kurlansky?
Search mark kerlansky
Top results shown:

Mark Kurlansky - BookServer eBooks
Cod, a biography... Borrow (8902 libraries)
Salt, a world history... Borrow (3228 libraries)
Eastern Stars Borrow (4561 libraries)
Basque History... Borrow (7824 libraries)

Mark Kurlansky - Wikipedia

People use Google or Amazon to find a title or author first BookServer search results bring people to your eBooks
People commonly defer to other resources for browsing and discovery and do only BookServer, a project of the Internet Archive, could be used for libraries to pool
known-item searching on library Web sites. But if they are already looking elsewhere descriptive information about their eBook holdings and make them easily found
for inspiration and ease of use, why not take advantage of that? across the Web. Unlike Google Books, materials aren’t centralized. Just the way you
find them. BookServer links can include transactions like borrowing or buying.

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 26
Scenario Two: one point, many libraries

They say it’s available
at the library. Great!

This is so cool. Just search the Web and get
a library book. Why didn’t
Eastern Stars (eBook) they think of that before?
Mark Kurlansky

Find public libraries that carry this title:
Zip or city/state terra haute in
Vigo County Public Library
1 available

To view, enter:
Library card number
Password or PIN

Find it first, authenticate last Public libraries can use channels they didn’t create
The idea is to be at the point of interest, allow people to search and discover, and If you can’t beat them, join them. BookServer is one way public libraries could
worry about the nature of the transaction last. Often, public libraries make people do it transcend expensive, less flexible systems inside their organizations and work
the other way around. Stumbling across an eBook you want and could use right now if together for a higher profile nationally. eBooks are an opportunity for this.
you had a library card is a good way to bring more people to public libraries.

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 27
Assure Access: cooperate for quality
between the content and device. While Apple’s iPad may accept eBooks from other vendors, titles
purchased from Apple won’t transfer to non-Apple readers because of DRM.

To address some of these problems, Overdrive is launching an eBook reader certification program
that defines what makes a device library-friendly. That means creating a set of guidelines for
companies that develop eBook readers and assessing products against them for certification. This
approach both helps libraries select and recommend appropriate technology for their patrons and
promotes usability standards aimed at avid readers. Companies can pursue certification for their
devices to differentiate their products and benefit from the library’s “brand.”

There is room for libraries to be involved in Overdrive’s certification project, and they should.
Overdrive has a long history of testing firmware and devices for compatibility with their
products and is a natural partner, but any certification program aimed at library lending
should include a library point-of-view. Involving libraries also reduces any bias that may
eBook reader certification result from having an eBook vendor conduct device certification reviews. Overdrive welcomes
library participation, but cautions that they are under great commercial pressure. Business
Concerns about eBook readers originally drove this research. COSLA worried about the
needs aside, applying the public library’s “brand” to a commercial device is not something
expense of these devices and what that means to library users who are increasingly offered
that should be done without the consent of an independent group convened and empowered
digital versions of popular reading materials. The device seemed like a barrier to access
to represent the needs of library users.
among the core constituency that public libraries serve.
In crafting a feature set and guidelines for library-approved devices, it helps to know about
As we spoke with industry experts, though, it became clear that eBook readers are evolving
rapidly. The magic threshold for most individuals or library managers to consider buying emerging eBook reader technologies and where that market is going. Our research found that
devices for reading eBooks is about $100. Several participants work with eBook manufacturers the key problem engineers want to solve for eBook readers is power consumption. Reducing
and technologies and expressed certainty that we will see eBook readers at that threshold or power consumption makes the devices lighter, batteries smaller, and leaves more room for
below before year’s end. Borders recently announced a $120 LIBRE reader that uses reflective innovative features. For instance, some have rumored that many competing tablets did not
LCD (similar to eInk in reading comfort), has good battery life, plays MP3s, and is preloaded make it to market after the iPad launch because no one expected Apple to make a device that
with 100 classic titles. would have more than five or six hours of battery life or sell for less than $800. When both of
these expectations proved false, competitors chalked it up to how well Apple controlled power
What remains from worries about the devices is whether they can accommodate eBooks from any consumption and went back to the drawing board with their products.
vendor (Amazon, Overdrive, Apple) and if they work well in library situations, such as lending
books or the devices themselves. The ePub standard resolves issues with proprietary formats Transflective LCD displays may be a key technology to watch for this reason, such as those
that made it impossible to use some eBooks on any reader. The worse problem is how eBooks produced by Pixel Xi (company formed by originators of screen technologies for One Laptop
are wrapped in a variety of ways for digital rights management (DRM), forcing a connection Per Child). These displays can store memory in the very pixels on the screen, dropping

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 28
Assure Access: cooperate for quality

refresh rates and saving a lot of power. They are reflective and easy to read, but can be full • There’s a push to see books as smart packages of network resources, available off of
color and use touchscreens, something that is proving difficult for eInk. LCD technology the net. You’ll have portions of them on your device, maybe, but they’ll be increasingly
also has a large, mature industry behind it, which keeps prices lower. One of our participants on the server.
stated that many industry leaders feel transflective LCD may eventually dominate eInk in
eBook readers: it’s a more flexible technology that will be able to support multimedia books. • Cloud computing model: your eReader connects to cloud computer and everything—
application, content—is shown to you. You don’t store it.
Another technical capability that helps library-centric eBook reading devices is the • Print will always be part of the picture. But the assumption that a book exists because it’s in
emergence of cloud computing. Publishers should be much more comfortable with eBook print is disappearing,
reader networking and display technology that merely views eBook content stored elsewhere
but does not download anything to the actual device. In this mode, digital rights management
becomes much simpler or even unnecessary for those who never go beyond “borrowing” a
book for use.

Thoughts from the participants
• New users are frozen: choice of formats, choice of devices.

• We’ve defined three categories of devices and want to create a certification program that
marks these devices as library-friendly: an inexpensive black-and-white eInk reader, an
LCD color reader, and digital touchscreen kiosks for use inside libraries.

• [Publishers] want to make sure circulating library devices can’t be preloaded by librarians,
except in certain cases. Patrons who borrow the device need to have a library card and
load it themselves.

• The majority of eReaders are 6” diagonals. The $99 price is the big target by the fall of this year.

• We’ll see very low cost LCD-based eReaders coming that put a lot of pressure on eInk.
Could see $79 or $69 dollars by the end of the year. Very aggressive pricing.

• As soon as you put color filters on top of an eInk display it becomes too dark. Doesn’t
reflect well.

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 29
Scenario Three: eBook reader certification

Looks like the consultant Now I can send the test guide
finished the eBook reader along with some of these eBook
design guidelines. They sent out readers to our Lab Libraries. See
a usability test guide, too. how well these babies do!

MyState Library

Today COSLA Design Guidelines

Library vendors want to ask for better products Public libraries should help
eBook vendor Overdrive is launching an eBook reader certification program to If the public library’s “brand” is going to be used by industry as a differentiator,
highlight which of the many devices on the market are best for library use. They then libraries should be involved in how that happens. A national standards group
will establish design and usability guidelines for eBook readers manufacturers, then could be formed and coordinated through COSLA and state library agencies with
review new devices to see how well they measure up. partnership from groups like LITA.

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 30
Scenario Three: eBook reader certification

We need to find six patrons
who would like to take this
usability test. They can
That helps. We found some
keep the readers this time.
good people last time MyTown Public Libra Now, try to view one
through the email newsletter. ry of the books you
found on the reader

Readaway P

Testing devices helps staff Testing devices helps libraries
Public library staff benefit from getting their hands on new technology and seeing Seeing the library as a partner in eBooks and reading devices is good advertising for
how it changes both the world and their work. Plus, observing usability testing the library. Many people may not think of the library as a place that is tech-savvy or
teaches powerful lessons about how people perceive devices and interfaces and even interested in new devices and innovations.
encourages empathy.

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 31
Scenario Three: eBook reader certification

MyTown Public Libra Four of our Lab Libraries failed

Please keep the reader
ry this device on the same three
usability guidelines. Guess it
as a thank-you from us. looked better than it worked.
Use it, and we'll call you
next week to ask a few
last questions.

Back at MyState Library...
Testing devices helps patrons COSLA and state libraries can coordinate this effort
In a safe environment, patrons get exposure to new reading devices they may have Device manufacturers, vendors, and other industry partners will want a coordinated
been unable to try anywhere else. It may even be possible to allow people to keep the response from libraries for any device assessments or testing in which they
test models. participate. This means there is a role for a group at the national level, participating
in testing activities and compiling results.

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 32
Data and Leadership: show value
But eBooks are changing perceptions about this. Electronic versions lack the friction and
natural lifespan of physical objects: they can be used by many simultaneously and don’t need
to be replaced. Publishers want library models that collect payment for every use, lease access
instead of sell objects, or have digital rights that enforce methods that worked for print, such
as one copy, one user. They fear piracy, and some project a loss of profits over the long term in
providing eBooks through libraries.

When a library’s existence is threatened, we see the public’s outcry as evidence these
institutions are valued. How can public libraries tell their story in more positive terms at
crucial junctures like these, when their business model is threatened?

Public libraries could do more to demonstrate their value to publishers, vendors, and authors
in ways that transcend the limits of circulation data, a measure that indicates what happened
but not why. As roles in the chain of cultural production blend and disappear, libraries need to
become experts about publishing and attuned to forces that are changing it. One participant
explained, “Trying to work with publishers is better than ignoring them. Publishers are going
to try to assert their role, just as writers are asserting their independence.” Both libraries and
publishers are living in a climate of fear about their futures. These groups seek leadership and
need solid information to support strategic decisions during uncertain times.
Research connections between library use and book buying
Several participants we interviewed expressed concern about the relationship between COSLA could work with academic and consortial partners to design a research approach,
publishers and libraries as eBooks rise in importance. eBook vendors say they often need create a pilot to test it, and eventually fund a large-scale effort through an IMLS Leadership
to persuade publishers about the value of libraries for promoting books and authors and Grant. The research would explore correlations between using print and eBooks through a
creating stronger readers. Overdrive recently produced a white paper meant to show how library and any measurable impact on book sales. Once established, this connection could
libraries promote books and readership. Baker and Taylor also believes in the marketing become an on-going indicator that grows in scale and fidelity: the “Book Promotions Index”
power of libraries and researched high-circulating items in larger libraries to identify which would be a snapshot of how public libraries expand awareness and consumption of the
systems buy more high-demand titles and are the “promotional friends” of publishers. written word, both inside and outside of libraries.

In 2007, the American Library Association’s Office for Research and Statistics and Harris Perhaps a good approach would compare existing library use data for selected people against
Interactive surveyed about 4000 people, half of whom visited a library in the previous year. self-reporting on book purchases, while assuring individual anonymity. These research
Of those, 40% of adults and 36% of youth bought at least one book they had also borrowed. subjects would be like library “Nielsen families,” reporting relevant activity as it happens.
Libraries have been a natural source of marketing for publishers and not a threat to sales.
The pilot project could begin with one city that has a strong reading ecosystem: busy
libraries, bookstores, and a public with strong readership, such as Portland, Denver,

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 33
Data and Leadership: show value

Minneapolis, or Ann Arbor. For individual “Nielsen family” subjects, researchers would Thoughts from the participants
automatically collect and track their borrowing history, have them self-report any book
purchases for a year, and look for relationships between the materials. Are there common • Research has shown in the past that people who read from libraries tend to buy books.
subjects? Similar titles? How do eBooks differ from print in this assessment? There is a reading class.

• I remember when it came to publicity, coveted reviews were not only from the Times
Other research activities might include looking for correlations in existing, large data sets,
but also librarians. Publishers courted librarians for their reviews and ability to hand
like several years of library circulation and bookselling data, online and local. One participant
sell books to visitors.
suggested comparing Overdrive titles in a local collection with usage of the print equivalents
or area bookseller data for the same titles. Another suggestion came from an experiment • If you could get compelling data that demonstrates people in public libraries who use
offered through Library Journal’s BookSmack! newsletter. Macmillan released The Holy books are no less likely to buy books...Who’s in a position to generate this kind of data?
Thief by William Ryan and gave BookSmack! librarians a rights-free, advance copy through Maybe OCLC, or Urban Libraries Council.
Overdrive for four weeks. They could read and talk about it. Connect this activity with library
usage and book sales for the title, and you have a way to see direct results of librarians • Do an analysis by state and city where there’s an Overdrive contract. What are the
discussing a book, especially if they liked it. Mid-list or hidden gems are natural targets for holdings on print where Overdrive is in place? Where there’s not? Is there a difference?
some librarian buzz. Are print sales higher where Overdrive is in place?

• There’s no reason why there can’t be an effort to have some kind of organization—a
As mentioned earlier, Overdrive recently published a white paper about how libraries help,
consortium might be a good place to house an IMLS grant or some other kind of
but many points they make seem questionable. Overdrive “storefront” pages for public library
research organization.
sites do not make titles more findable in search engines (try to find one). The book Eat Pray
Love got its second wind in paperback through smart work by Penguin executives, an excerpt • [LYRASIS] would love to have a role in leading up research like this. We have researchers
in Oprah Winfrey’s O Magazine, and a mention in the New York Times Book Review, not that understand cause and effect.
library word-of-mouth (so explains the Wall Street Journal). People who visit library pages,
look at titles, then leave to buy a book online may be disappointed customers who won’t
return, so that’s short-lived marketing. We can find better reasons that libraries help.

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 34
Scenario Four: research connections between library use and book buying

“This public broadcasting
program sponsored by
Libraries Count, researching all
the ways public libraries
promote reading. Be counted
at” es Count
Librari nted t o help
and be cou
Sign up s
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y o ur libra
t e 54301
F in d ty/S t a
p c o d e or Ci
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W e ' ll track it e.
s o m ething? , o r lo g it her
Borrow ema il
b o o k ? Call, r p rivacy.
u y a y o u
B tect
e a lw ays pro

Creating a compelling case for how libraries help Data exists but could be more compelling
As eBooks rise in popularity, publishers, authors, and agents see potential loss of ALA’s Office of Research and Statistics recently determined a significant correlation
profits by having their product in libraries. One eBook can be used by multiple between using a library book and actually purchasing it. Maybe the same idea could
people without wearing out like print books. The push is towards a relationship that be made into an ongoing data collection effort among many public libraries, asking
exacts fees based on use. Libraries need to make their case anew. These are places patrons to log purchases and allow data mining on their circulation history.
that create readers and promote authors and books.

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 35
Scenario Four: research connections between library use and book buying

Better load up a Flyaway Books
Cit few library
eB ub
books for my
oo Li
k so bra vacation...
Wo ny ry
Vow y Sd o ur
ell, hipm she
Sa lf:
o rah ates
So p Cl /
u a
Ma lcraf ss as
tth t/
ew Cra
Libraries Count
Book log for:
Person 728
Better get a cheap book
for the beach before I
Wordy Shipmates /
get on my flight...
Vowell, Sarah
Shop Class as Soulcraft /
Crawford, Matthew

Use circulation data to tell more See the reading life as an ecosystem
Public libraries use circulation data to show library use, perhaps encouraging a false It’s a safe assumption that many reading formats will live alongside each other,
comparison with bookselling. It may be better to find stories in this data. If people driven by personal taste and needs. Print is not going away soon. Public libraries
who read certain subjects tend to buy in those areas, when do they decide to buy? can work together to craft research that reveals how and why people blend print
What would they never buy and why? Looking for patterns can tell us more about and electronic formats to make a stronger case for the library as a critical part of
readers and how the library fits into the way they use information. that formula.

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 36
Scenario Four: research connections between library use and book buying

Did you see this
peak in August?
I’ll just log that
Vacations, maybe?
book I bought
Libraries Count on my phone...
Add a book by:
Title or Author Libraries Count
Just Kid
just kidding trudy ludwig Libraries Count
just kids patti smith Book log for:
Q W E R T Y U I O P Person 728 Yeah, and a lot of
libraries reviewed
A S D F G H J K L 07/25/2010 advance e-copies of
Z X C V B N M Just Kids / Smith, Patti Sarah Vowell's new
07/21/2010 book about Hawaii
.?123 space return
Wordy Shipmates /
Vowell, Sarah

Depend on your good name and make it simple Telling the story everywhere
People may resist helping nameless companies, but they do love public libraries. Creating research that streams data continuously and allows for any interested
If a large-scale research effort sponsored by COSLA and interested partners helps parties to see relevant visualizations or even download the data for use in other
make public libraries stronger, people may be happy to participate. Assuring projects or “mash-ups” helps get the public library’s story out there and could lead to
confidentiality and making data collection automatic or easy to do helps, too. surprising results and alliances. Data from civic institutions is becoming more open
to citizen use. This can, too.

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 37
Data and Leadership: show value
libraries work together to become the champions of these titles? They represent new territory
and a way for public libraries to diversify collections, promote unsung authors and titles, and
serve local needs better, instead of worrying so much about bestsellers.

Professor Jana Bradley at the University of Arizona is researching the self-publishing
phenomenon and urges public libraries to return to true collection development for their
communities, focusing more on these materials. They increasingly represent an effort to
write books others will enjoy, instead of aiming for high style or using self-publishing to gain
access to traditional publishers. Some self-published works are calling cards for a company
or business, written to share expertise. Others are personal stories or life experiences. Self-
publishing also includes a lot of genre writing. This is middlebrow stuff, but often very
readable. Bradley was surprised to discover she would happily read a third of the 385,000 self-
published titles she reviewed for her research.

Other ideas for promoting authors from small presses or self-publishing include:

COSLA and interested partners coordinate and sponsor tours for unsung authors instead
Create authors and support self-publishing •
of competing for big names: libraries in participating cities schedule an author event,
Several participants raised the issue of explosive growth in self-publishing and what it could promote it, provide local accommodations, create buzz about the author and their work,
mean for public libraries. From 2008-9, Bowker states that self-published titles increased 181% encourage “word of mouth” marketing, and post images and reviews of the event on an
(authors who requested ISBNs). The cultural production represented by self-publishing is “Unsung Author” site. The author is encouraged to share impressions of their journey,
now more than twice that of mainstream publishing. While there is still “vanity press” stigma as well. Libraries supply circulation and sales data for the author’s work as the tour
attached to self-publishing, it’s beginning to change. Traditional publishers are putting out progresses. This idea caters to interest in “indie” culture and art—forms of expressions
more literature titles, hoping for a winner, as if playing the lottery. Though total numbers of that are less processed and closer to the source.
traditionally published titles dropped a bit in 2009, literature titles have increased from 6000
• COSLA leadership helps launch a small, non-profit, high-quality publishing house. New
titles in 2002 to over 9000 in 2009, with no measurable increase in readership. Because of this,
authors pay nothing initially: participating libraries could provide support in the form of
quality control and marketing support from traditional publishers are naturally decreasing;
book editors, advance copy reviewers, cataloging, and library promotions or events for
budding authors can expect little help from publishing houses in these areas. Suddenly,
the titles released through the “Public Library Press.” Contracts with authors exchange
making your own book seems sensible, just as musicians are beginning to bypass big labels
professional services against future success. If the titles are well-used and begin to sell,
and do it themselves.
some percentage goes back to the publishing house to support further work. Public
But self-published work is difficult to track or find, isn’t usually reviewed, and often has libraries are guaranteed a free electronic copy for public use.
inadequate descriptive data attached to it. Some participants asked the question: why don’t

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 38
Data and Leadership: show value

This is not as unbelievable as it sounds. Librarian Maggie Balistreri of Poet’s House in • How could consortia support this long tail? How could we make niche books easy to find?
New York City depends entirely on donated works to build her poetry collection and pays I like that idea a lot.
back her poets and publishers at every turn, including an annual collection development
event that showcases all the new work she collected over the past year, organized by • I for one am very pessimistic about libraries if they do not adapt to changing situations,
publisher. This event is a promotional coup for any small press and brings in would-be particularly, as we emphasized, the need to rethink their collection, selection and
poets, who want to easily find niche publishers or artist’s collectives like Ugly Duckling procurement policies, and to embrace “local” community needs, both print and online.
Presse and talk to others about how to produce chapbooks and publish their work. While • Not everything is highbrow. You have to understand that great literature doesn’t pay the
her collection has a single focus, there is no reason this idea couldn’t be adapted to public bills. There’s a whole range of materials that doesn’t fit the cultural snobbery.
libraries and multiplied to support a larger range of subjects and titles.
• Self-publishing represents a different model. It’s a model where the ordinary person is
As in previous suggestions about shared collection development, public libraries should incorporating authorship into their lives. It’s not for money.
plan any dive into collecting self-published work as a cooperative effort. There is far too
• Writers need to learn to be more professional: do it right. Know why you need a copyright
much to tackle alone. Library staff across the country could work together to find, review, and
page. Invite people to make their books more professional by supplying data about it.
select self-published materials of local interest, then share that work with the larger group in
ways that also expose the best of self-publishing to a wider audience, perhaps through the • Librarians could start their own publishing company and have at least as good a chance at
BookServer project mentioned previously. An “Unsung Authors” effort of this type could also succeeding as mainstream publishers.
provide needed guidance to new authors on how to describe their work well and make sure it
can be found.

Thoughts from the participants
• What’s becoming clear is that libraries are becoming more disintermediated from a large
part of the corpus that’s really out there.

• It is all about introducing new authors and broadening the selection choices of the
reader/user beyond the tried and tired. Today’s well-run libraries are all about genre
fiction and midlist writers, not to mention local or regional authors.

• When we anticipate popularity, we just promote it.

• I don’t think our rhetoric matches the reality: we aren’t tailored to our communities.

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 39
Scenario Five: create authors and support self-publishing

Libr ary
MyTown Public This book is so funny, and it’s not
in here yet! I’ll add a little review,
Did you find any
too, so people pay more attention.
good stuff at the
Wonder what else he’s written?
DIY Book Fair?

Unsung Authors Project
Step 1 Step 2 Step 3 Step 4

Add cover art

Yes! I got some interesting
memoirs, a few cool kids books.
And this one, hilarious alphabet
book, all about beards!

Self-publishing is huge and growing But self-published titles are hard to find
No longer just a “vanity press” or way to get the attention of traditional publishers, University of Arizona professor Jana Bradley feels it’s time to return to traditional
many people are self-publishing for a direct mode of expression, not money. Experts selection that reflects the flavor of the community. Self-published materials are an
want to share what they know, people have personal stories to tell, artists want to untapped source of readable, relevant materials. They just need a librarian’s touch:
control their work. While traditional publishing fell slightly in 2009, self-publishing someone to discover them, describe them, and make them easier to find.
grew 181%.

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 40
Scenario Five: create authors and support self-publishing

B is for Beard...what What a crazy book! 28
could THAT be? libraries added it, though.
ePub...might as well
MyTown Public Library have a quick look...
Worth a look. Maybe we
should buy this one...
Search beard
Unsung Authors Project
Found 23
\Sort by: Popularity | Date added
Beard on bread 1973
Beard, James
Description | Reviews Print

B is for beard 2010
Livermore, BT
Description | Reviews Print ePub

One Thousand Beards 2001

It’s too hard to do this one library at a time Many hands make light work
Fewer public library dollars go to purchasing materials every year, so libraries stick Collaborative cataloging isn’t new, but it may need a shot in the arm. Instead of the
with reviewed materials and use vendor plans or standing orders. This skews their random approach, public libraries can focus on what’s produced locally, then share
collections toward popular materials. Self-published material adds more “flavor,” but what they find with other libraries and indie book lovers. COSLA and its partners can
each library can’t go it alone. The staff time and cost would be considerable and the help launch and coordinate this work.
benefits largely end with their own community.

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 41
Scenario Five: create authors and support self-publishing

What's going on? Lots of orders YourTown Public Library
coming in on the beard book,
especially ePub. Libraries are Unsung Authors Tour 2012
buying these? Maybe I'd better
I owe a lot to public libraries. You guys
plan another print run.
found my stuff and told people about it. And
you helped me learn what cataloging is!
Librarians are my heroes, seriously.

ss is too cool for y
Banner Pre

Self-published authors need help and promotion Don’t stop there
Traditional publishers provide less editorial and marketing support than they once did, Libraries could make Unsung Authors a public project and even create their own
mostly because they offer a larger percentage of literature titles to a stable readership, book tours together, hosting authors and making it homegrown and real. This
like playing the lottery for the one that will “hit.” Together, public libraries can give does more than market deserving authors and titles. It markets public libraries.
self-published authors help in getting their works found and noticed, maybe even Cultural production is not for money. It is for people to know themselves and their
create a non-profit, high-quality publishing house. communities. It is for the ages.

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 42
Data and Leadership: show value
In Great Britain and the United States, people seem enthralled by a program that presents
live debates on key issues of the day called Intelligence Squared. The live events sell out, and
many others listen to Intelligence Squared radio broadcasts, iTunes podcasts, or watch online
videos of the debates. It’s not unusual for thousands and occasionally tens of thousands of
people to review an Intelligence Squared debate video online.

Cultivating the public’s interest and lively discussion around copyright in a digital world
would show leadership in the face of fear. It also helps tell an old story in a new way: public
libraries amplify fair use into reading as a civic act and give democratic societies a place
where time-tested ideas and new cultural expressions can collide and become stronger—the
original mash-up and something we need more than ever as materials take digital form and
cannot be legally transferred or shared as easily as print.

Some participants felt it is simply time for public libraries to push harder on the legislative
front to protect the public interest and make a bigger noise about library models for fair
use that include eBooks and other digital materials. COSLA may want to coordinate its
membership on this topic and throw active support behind existing lobbying and legislative
Civic discourse and public policy efforts, either in the library world through the American Library Association or through
organizations like Electronic Frontier Foundation. People love their public libraries. COSLA
One participant mentioned the value of leadership over data alone, especially in a time of
could lend strength to voices calling for digital fair use provisions, raising awareness that a
uncertainty and fear. Publishers won’t be persuaded by either the library as a public good
few strokes of the legislative pen can do more to decimate the value of public libraries than
or even studies that prove public libraries are a great way to expose titles and promote
any budget shortfall.
interest in authors and their work. The message is one thing. Who carries that message
and makes it heard is another. This provocative comment led to a line of questioning
among other participants about leadership over data. Most agreed that data cannot stand
alone, but when asked, no one was quite sure who might provide the necessary voice on
behalf of public libraries. Thoughts from the participants
• The publishers worry about how easy it is to download books. They are proceeding from a
Copyright and fair use emerged as an area of special concern, where strong leadership position of fear. You don’t contradict fear with data, you do it with leadership.
and new ideas are urgently needed to protect fair use of all cultural materials, digital and
otherwise. COSLA could work with appropriate partners like the Internet Archive, Electronic • This idea of one book, one reader is something the industry has been pursuing a long
Frontier Foundation, and ACLU to sponsor public copyright debates. These events could time. DRM is an electronic handle on that.
include activists, historians, lawyers, publishers, librarians, authors—anyone who can
• In the 1920s, the publishers association ran a national contest to get a pejorative name for
compellingly defend a point of view.
someone who borrows a book from someone else. Winner? Book Sneak. Tried to get this
But would it work? Public discourse may not be as dead as it seems, sometimes. to catch on. Not a nice thing to share books.

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 43
Data and Leadership: show value

• One book, one copy idea? I’m gonna go all the way back to working for a document
delivery supplier. We delivered faxed copies of journal articles. Huge concern in the
publishing industry that this would gut their print sales, even though copyright was paid
for each article

• Fairly to an author means they get paid every time you read it. The economy has changed.

• There will have to be some resetting of how we think about intellectual property:
nationally and internationally. I don’t want to wind up in a license economy where only
the barest definition of fair use is acceptable.

• [Copyright] seemed to suit all of us. Similar aims and objectives. A lot of that is gone. We
are both different and here we stand, at the threshold of all these possibilities.

• Not commercially available, not available for sale or lending. Libraries are caught between
copyright issues.

• Another role that a consortium the size of LYRASIS could do is create forums for
discussion, events and symposia that bring publishers together with librarians and public
officials. Making a space where discussion can take place.

• If there’s an articulation for a way forward for the “public book,” then we might be able to
do something. “The public book,” or something like that.

• There’s a role in influencing how buying groups are structured, speaking out on
copyright issues.

• [Change copyright law?] Nobody ever gets what they want. Careful what you wish for.
Publishers have more money and clout than we do.

• Libraries need to be very involved and very articulate about the policy framework they
need to create to continue to serve populations they serve and get access to digital books.

• The one card we have is people love us. Philly, Boston, Chicago want to close branches
and people stand up and say no. The best high card in our hand is the public and the
willingness to advocate for us when we’re under threat.

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 44
Scenario Six: civic discourse and public policy

What are Ursula K. Le Guin is Why? He wants libraries to
you telling off Rupert pay every time
watching? Murdoch at this Digital someone borrows a
Freedom debate. She digital book. Forever!
is KILLING him!

Fair Use Fair Use
or Pay or Pay
Per Use? Per Use?

rt? rt?
our TPS repo our TPS repo
Did you file y Did you file y

Leadership persuades more than data Who should lead?
Public libraries and publishers are both fearful about their futures. In that climate, One way to build leadership is define key issues and draw influential voices around
it’s important to make strategic decisions based on solid data and understanding. them. Copyright and fair use affect how eBooks will be used in libraries and among
But uncertainty means people want clear leadership: a voice to define the issues and the general public. It’s an issue that needs more voices and unified leadership from
suggest the best direction. Who will carry the message? public libraries. Public libraries do have powerful, articulate allies on this. COSLA and
its partners can create a forum at the national level.

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 45
Scenario Six: civic discourse and public policy

No, I don’t think
that’s the problem.

Are people STEALING
them or something?

Then why pick on the
freakin’ LIBRARY?

Public discourse is hot again Appeal to people’s love of public libraries
In the United Kingdom, a series of live, Oxford-style debates has become a hot-ticket People do find lively, respectful argument compelling and vote before and after
event, with videos and podcasts of the pro and con arguments on critical issues of Intelligence Squared debates to show how opinions shift. A series of Digital Freedom
the day freely available online. The same is true of the American version of these debates may demonstrate that understanding copyright increases public support for
Intelligence Squared debates. digital fair use.

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 46
Scenario Six: civic discourse and public policy

And the public is behind us.
After each of our recent Digital
Madame Chairperson and members of the Freedom Debates, viewers
Senate Judiciary Committee, we represent supported fair use positions
America’s public libraries. We seek expanded fair even more strongly than before.
use provisions that include all digital materials

Take legislative action Make it a public campaign
The situation around the first-sale doctrine is eroding rapidly for eBooks and other When public libraries are threatened with closure, people rise up to save them.
digital materials. It may be that shoring up this limitation to copyright will require As cultural production becomes digital, copyright laws can be as great a threat to
COSLA and its partners to craft and support legislative action that represents the public libraries as budget cuts. People need to know this and have ways to easily
best interests of public libraries. lend their support.

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 47
Living Literature: discover new roles
Aarhus Public Libraries learned their buildings need open spaces in public view that are
easy to adapt for different purposes. Hosting a range of open events like Monday University
or Friday Open Jam Session gives people simple ways to drop in, enjoy a new library
experience, and connect with others. Augmenting the space with interactive information,
like participatory exhibits or touch-sensitive surfaces, encourages people to be playful in this
environment, cooperate with others to create or change the space, and relish the physical
place. The fluid nature of the space depends on sophisticated networking and technology
that enables many different installations. And people want to be seen in the library. They may
want to host a workshop of their own or leave signs behind to show they were here.

Can we create a distributed “Libratory” that supports experiments in many different libraries
and find the best ideas through prototyping? Then share them with each other?

COSLA could both pursue Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation support and pool a percentage of
LSTA monies for experiments in living literature. Libraries would submit descriptions of their
experiments through state libraries—something risky the library wants to test first that shows
new ways to curate collections or design compelling activities. Libraries should match grant
awards to indicate they are serious. Descriptions should include what the library would give
up in order to sustainably offer the service or activity beyond the grant.

Schools of Information and Library Science could teach their students how to perform
design research or partner with students from design schools: for these classes. Students
Library as laboratory could then lead service design research for proposed library experiments, help craft a good
Participants discussed new roles for public libraries, as collections increasingly become strategy based on the research, learn a lot in a short time about library environments, and
digital and popular materials become plentiful and cheap in the marketplace. At the heart of report findings or discoveries from the actual experiments. Library staff can also begin to
public libraries is a belief that democracies benefit from having a place that celebrates the understand how to do this research for themselves. They can serve as digital diarists to
open exchange of ideas. How can we find new ways to do this that go beyond collections? publish written and visual reporting about their project on a central “Libratory” site for all to
read. They owe the larger community their experience and insight.
Several years ago, the Aarhus Public Libraries in Denmark launched the Transformation
Lab, an open, flexible space for experimenting with new modes for public libraries. As a New skills for librarians
learning project, they ran five different labs to see what would happen: literature, news,
music, exhibition, and The Square (a free speech forum). The Aarhus Public Libraries Four broad roles for library staff emerged from the Transformation Lab experiments in
funded half the effort with help from The Danish National Library Authority and The Bill Aarhus, Denmark: disseminator, host, facilitator, and advisor. These are not entirely foreign
& Melinda Gates Foundation. to librarians but show the need to look for staff who have non-traditional talents and enjoy

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 48
Living Literature: discover new roles

creating opportunities for people to gather and participate in a life of the mind. People with • If we’re just book people, then doing books better is extremely well-taken. But what does it
these talents approach a blank space as a curator or designer might: what do we have to work mean? Shaping demand, shaping taste? Is it helping people find books? Get books? Read
with? Materials? People? Space? Sound? Light? How shall we create a compelling stage and them? Understand them? Write them? It’s all of those.
draw life to this space, so something interesting can happen that people will associate with
public libraries? • They’re concerned. Am I going to get a job? Being able to see that they have some small
part in creating a future where there is a professional role would be good. What does this
Several participants expressed the need to have different skills on staff as public libraries all mean for me as a future professional?
begin to bring more electronic materials into collections and have more space to deliver new • I know fellow librarians who are good at programming: that helps, too. Publishing
services or ways to experience the power of words and story. COSLA could craft professional experience helps me. Have some other experience when you become a librarian.
development support in public libraries around exposure to curatorial thinking, event planning,
public speaking, design, theater arts, and more. • Are librarians curators and producers (as publishers are) or guides to finding and
refinding (as a search tool is)? Librarians can be both.

Thoughts from the participants
• Whatever you decide to do now is something you do to learn about what works in a volatile
time. That’s freeing really. You can experiment with different kinds of situations and figure
out where your best leverage will be.

• Failing is OK. It’s going to be a different world in a very short time.

• What are libraries for? The kind of reductions we’ve seen in public libraries: branches
closing, reducing hours. This question comes up all the time. Has for generations. More
immediate and more profound over the last few years.

• We as a profession haven’t gotten to the line in the sand stage. Deep down inside, we
feel the world is better with us than without us. We are willing to change to make sure
we stick around.

• [Independent booksellers] offer a community of like-minded people a shared space. If those
are the qualities others appreciated and relied on as well, offer it in a different way.

• I’m suggesting that librarians appreciate that a library patron wants to see but also be seen.
A consequence to my involvement gets my return visit.

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 49
Scenario Seven: library as laboratory

Dear Diary... Dear Diary...
There is a saying “paper is more patient If the misery of our poor be caused not by the law
than man” of nature but by our institutions, great is our sin
I feel lost Don’t you I like my
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank Can’t find The Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin
and miss love a job. I'm dog more
her so rhubarb? I than my
1942 scared. 1845
much. do. wife.
Write in the diary Write in the diary
What’s this? A People can
diary? see what you

It’s an idea we got from another library. You
write a private thought on the digital diary
wall. Just use the touchscreen over there. Not right away. Later. On the
walls at the side. The entries are
random and anonymous.
Embrace new roles Create flexible spaces
eBooks may free public libraries to try new roles and leave others behind. If a viable The Aarhus Public Libraries in Denmark created an open space for experimentation in
Netflix model arises for reading popular eBooks and a larger portion of library their main library. This taught them how to both engage people with library materials
collections are digital, libraries need to celebrate a life of the mind in more visible (literature, news, music) and encourage them to look at public libraries differently
and engaging ways in their buildings. There will be more space and less need to (exhibitions and a free speech forum).
focus on collecting popular materials.

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 50
Scenario Seven: library as laboratory

They’re fascinating reading! We
Dear Diary...
What will the
might make a book from them If you tremble indignation at every injustice, then
library do with all
when we take this exhibit down. you are a comrade of mine.
of this?
And we're sharing what we’ve
learned with other libraries, too. The Bolivian Diary of Ernesto “Che” Guevara
People I’ve been
Next week:
1967 humming
always lie.
Maybe I La
Party like am, too. Oh! I guess I’ll Write in the diary
Traviata all
it's 1899 have a look. day.
You can read portions
of some famous diaries
up there, too. Enjoy!

Give people easy ways to share or create an experience Share your experiments with other libraries
There is something powerful in seeing your thoughts or creativity expressed COSLA and partners like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation can help support a
alongside others, feeling free to change a public space, or knowing that you are distributed model for experimentation through matching grants that give public
entering a “stage” carefully prepared for you to play a part. It demonstrates that libraries some latitude to prototype new ideas. They can also create an online channel
cultural expression is only alive when people see or hear it. for public libraries to share lessons learned with each other.

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 51
Scenario Seven: library as laboratory

Dear Diary...
The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt
the diary
The Journals of Sylvia Plath
1953 Iʼve had cancer. But
Liking I sing in
Anne Frank,
my car but Iʼm OK, and now I try
someone Charles Darwin, more things.
is better Che Guevara,
than Write in the diary anywhere
Sylvia Plath,
loving hmm...

Mine your gold Create a consequence to visiting the public library
Public libraries are a world of riches. Librarians will need new skills to give these People want to see but they also want to be seen. Creating opportunities for this in
treasures new form. This is a more curatorial role: finding threads of meaning open, flexible spaces helps assure that patrons come back to try your next experiment
among the collection and weaving them into something special for people to in celebrating a life of the mind. And they leave traces behind that can be used to show
experience and enjoy. something interesting about a community.

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 52
We encourage you to freely circulate the ideas in this report.
Digital copies are available from the COSLA Web site:

For further information, you can also contact Jim Scheppke,
director of the Oregon State Library:

Client: COSLA | Project: eBook Feasibility Study Final Report Version 1.0 | June 30, 2010 Page 53