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Digital Content & Libraries Working Group

The American Library Association (ALA) Digital Content & Libraries Working Group (DCWG) was created in late 2011 to address growing concerns that digital content providers were restricting or refusing access to ebooks and other forms of electronic information through our nation’s libraries. The group began establishing new relationships and seeking sustainable solutions in meetings with Big Six publishers. Since then, DCWG members have broadened their conversations to include distributors, author groups and other representatives in the reading ecosystem. They have identified challenges, conducted research, initiated new content delivery mechanisms, explored different business models, and worked to create greater awareness of the threat to libraries and public access to information. Learn more about the ALA’s work on ebooks and digital content at Transforming Libraries.

eContent Blog

The eContent blog of American Libraries magazine provides regular updates and library perspectives on the changing digital landscape. American Libraries also publishes special online editions covering digital content concerns, including collaborations with authors and publishers.

Authors speaking in support of library ebooks

Ebook Pricing

A frequent contributor to the eContent blog, Jamie LaRue, publishes a monthly comparison (PDF) of library pricing relative to consumer prices for ebooks. While the chart doesn’t detail the variety of licensing regimes used by different major publishers (e.g., one publisher may charge five times the consumer price, but offer perpetual access; another publisher may charge prices more comparable to those charged to consumers, but limit the number of circulations before the content needs to be re-purchased), it does provide a snapshot of library access to popular ebooks.

Peter Brantley

Publishers Weekly columnist Peter Brantley writes weekly about the digital landscape, including how authors and libraries may collaborate—“Authors: Say Yes to Libraries.”

More from Authors

Both the National Writers Union (“NWU Supports Librarians' Objections to Publishers' E-Book Licensing Terms”) and the American Society of Journalists and Authors (“No eBooks in Libraries is a License to Steal (Books) (PDF)”) have raised concerns about ebook licensing terms.

Data and Perceptions

A range of surveys, focus groups and data collection have taken place over the past several years to better understand how library patrons borrow and buy ebooks and their perceptions and desires in this area. A few of these include Pew Internet Project, OverDrive and Library Journal.

Marketing to Libraries

One of the most common questions the ALA receives from authors is how they might get their books into the 16,400 public library outlets, 99,180 school or nearly 4,000 higher-education libraries. The ALA Library provides this helpful overview about marketing to libraries.

United for Libraries

United for Libraries, a division of ALA, also offers a membership just for authors. Learn more about it and opportunities to connect with librarians at Authors for Libraries.