February 6, 2012
Consumer Advocacy by a Library Association: ALA asserts at Midwinter and in meetings with publishers "you need to deal with libraries and you need to do it as soon as possible"
Recently several elected ALA officers plus an association official and a task force chair met face-to-face with senior executives of Penguin, Macmillan, Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Perseus in New York City. At issue was publisher policies and practices with respect to library acquisition of eBooks.
Two of these publishers (Random House and Perseus) currently do offer their ebooks to libraries; these two publishers approached us to meet when they learned we would be in New York.The three others either do not sell ebooks to libraries (Macmillan and Simon & Schuster) or sell only their backlist (Penguin).
(Emphasis added.) Quoting from Beverly Goldberg's Ebook Talks: First Report on ALA's E-Content blog. Unless otherwise indicated all following quotations come from this post, which is an official ALA web publication.
The meetings between the ALA group and each publisher were conducted separately. ALA President Molly Raphael explained
Our purpose was not only to express our dismay about those restricting sales to libraries but also to understand the concerns that publishers have in general in this new digital environment, including those who do sell to libraries.
Whoa, Call the US AG, the FTC! Is it lawful for a group that represents institutional buyers to advocate directly with five different publishers in five separate meetings? Didn't those ALA-ers get our professional association's rejected but implemented policy memo?
Whoa, Part Two. Keep an eye out for more radical violations of "antitrustism." An ALA report about last week's meeting is expected to be released early this week. ALA President Molly Raphael reports
[It] will provide more detail about issues discussed and what we (ALA) will be doing to reach our goal of opening access to all ebooks in libraries.
Whoa, Part Three. It gets worse -- at least for AALL -- consumer advocacy for institutional buyers was openly discussed at ALA Midwinter before the publisher meetings. LJ's Annoyed Librarian reported on Jan. 30, 2012:
There’s some tough talk from the ALA Executive Director, who said, “I want to assure you that the dialog will begin with us saying ‘you need to deal with libraries and you need to do this as soon as possible,’ then we can have a dialog starting from there.”
The Annoyed Librarian (an AALL plant?) added "I’ve attended a lot of meetings in my time and I’ve never seen one that began so belligerently accomplish anything." Loop back up to how two publishers asked to meet the ALA group when they heard ALA was going to be in town.
Whoa, Part Four. "The Annoyed Librarian seems to have been a bit annoyed by ALA’s use of assertive language" wrote Christopher Harris on Feb. 2, 2012 in his ALA E-content post, ALA Goes to New York, Things Don’t Get Violent. Harris responded with the following comment:
[A]ssertiveness is what many librarians want from their organization.
Damn right. Time and duty to one's employer is "of the essence" in vendor relations; much less so for AALL.
Whoa, Part Five. Now that's just going too damn far. You mean members who represent their institutions can tell their library association what they want done and how they want what they want done, and that actually registers with the library association in words and deeds in a timely manner! Doesn't ALA have a vendor liaison to tell its members, its sections, its chapters, etc., "whoa, hold on, wait a minute or a year or a decade until I get back to you after I find out exactly what the E-Board wants to 'assert'. AALL might have to create a task force and wait for the results of its work, you know."
(Note well, the co-chair of ALA's Digital Content and Libraries Working Group participated in the publisher meetings and that task force has only just begun its work. But I digress... .)
Perhaps our association's executive director better talk to ALA's executive director about how library associations are supposed to behave before this gets out of hand. [JH]
the first impression I have of this posting is that it's very bitter. It also states that once someone is voted on to a Board they some how are no longer a viable thinking member of the group but have moved to the not being aware of the needs of the community side. That in itself is very shameful thinking. But as to ALA's vendor approach. Why don't we see if they are successful or it bites them in the behind.
--- Bitter no. Disgusted with AALL about this issue, yes. Once voted on AALL's board doesn't make a person no longer viable but it does take a majority to enact change. Thanks for your comment, Janice, but I do disagree with your suggestion that AALL should wait 'n see what happens with ALA's approach. Wouldn't it be better if AALL joined in now? -- Joe
Posted by: Janice E. Henderson | Feb 6, 2012 7:49:52 AM