It's National Library Week!
The national theme this week is "There's More to the Story" highlighting the different services that your library offers. I hope that you have tried out our new Palace App available for Android & iOS devices. We're excited to increase access to our community. Speaking of eBooks and digital content...
Have you heard of the Internet Archive? Located in San Francisco, Brewster Kahle created the largest non-profit library in the world - with the goal to make a modern day Alexandria of digital content. They are best known for the "Wayback Machine" where you can search over 800 billion archived web pages to get a history of websites evolved. But they are also a magnificent resource for millions of items outside of copyright, along with unique community collections being built by public libraries. Our upcoming Ruppel collection of historic Monterey images will be presented on the California Revealed page of the Internet Archive.
Their OpenLibrary is a free eBook collection built by digitizing physical content donated by numerous libraries around the country. Most of the books here are from items that are no longer in print, too old to have been created as digital files, and were bound to be recycled by the library. Instead they have a new home to increase the collective knowledge of our communities. From the perspective of the Internet Archive, the content they offer is through the Fair Use Doctrine: the items were purchased by one party, then lent to another person through a controlled digital lending model. Just think about how many books you read as a kid that can only be found in a used book store and may be lost for future generations?
During the height of the pandemic, the Internet Archive created a "National Emergency Library" to expand access to their digitized content and expanded access to multiple users at a time. They were then sued by four publishers for copyright infringement for digitizing books and allowing people to check them out...recently the Internet Archive lost the case and are appealing.
Why is this important for libraries?
We pay a lot for eContent and there are limited distributers in the marketplace. With eBooks & eAudio, we lease the content and still pay a higher fee than buying something in print - that we own! For every item that we checkout, Consolidation of the information market can drive up costs and limit accessibility. I recall several years back when Amazon decided to limit the compatibility between Kindles and eBooks from public libraries. Overdrive's parent company (at the time) Rakuten produced a competing eReader called Kobo; I believe that Amazon limited access for this reason due to competition. Overdrive (aka Libby) has changed hands and is now owned by a private equity firm. Nothing is static, and access to digital content, costs, and privacy issues will surely arise in the next 10 years as companies consolidate and information is a commodity. Just think about how many streaming services have been created, and how movies and shows are now exclusive to subscriptions services.
So for National Library Week - let's look at the whole ecosystem of digital content and support ways that we can collect and preserve our history! Libraries are going to have to adapt in the coming generations, especially if reading content becomes more accessible but at the same time, less accessible.