Joint Working Group on eBooks and Digital Content in Libraries Addresses Library Concerns

For Immediate Release
Tue, 02/18/2020


Ninah Moore

Program Officer-Continuing Education


(312) 280-4398

The American Library Association established a Joint Working Group on eBooks and Digital Content in Libraries following a resolution passed by ALA’s Council in June 2019 and supported by the ALA Executive Board in October 2019. The Working Group, representing ALA and related library organizations will address library concerns with publishers and content providers. The charges to the committee are to explore, analyze and share the information on various options for improving access to digital content for libraries and the public and to assist in identification of models and strategies to influence decision makers for the future.

ALA President Wanda Brown appointed members to the working group, often referred to as the Digital Content Working Group. Co-chairs of the working group are Leah M. Dunn, University Librarian, The University of North Carolina at Asheville/ Ramsey Library (NC) and Kelvin Watson, Director, Broward County Libraries (FL). ALA staff support for the working group is provided by Alan Inouye, Senior Director, ALA Public Policy and Advocacy Office and Jeannette Smithee, Interim Executive Director, Association of Specialized, Government, and Cooperative Library Agencies.

Appointed representatives of ALA Groups include Robert Barr, Library Director, Juneau Public Library (AK) (ALA Committee on Legislation), Marilyn Billings, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts, MA (ACRL), Brett S. Cloyd, Research and Government Information, University of Iowa Libraries (GODORT), Christine K. Dulaney, Associate University Librarian/Director, American University-Bender Library (LLAMA), Anita Foster, Electronic Resources Librarian, The Ohio State University Libraries (ALCTS), John Klima, Assistant Director, Waukesha Public Library, WI (LITA), Richard Kong, Director, Skokie Public Library, IL (PLA), Shenise McGhee, Associate Professor/Librarian, University of Arkansas Pine Bluff, John Brown Watson Memorial Library System (ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee), Andrew Medlar, Director of BookOps, New York Public Library & Brooklyn Public Library (ALSC), Elizabeth (Liz) Philippi, School Program Coordinator, Texas State Library and Archives Commission (AASL), Veronda Pitchford, Assistant Director, Califa, CA  (United for Libraries), Dave Schroeder, Executive Director, Kenton County Public Library, KY (ALA Committee on Library Advocacy), Stephen Spohn, Executive Director, Ocean State Libraries, RI (ASGCLA), Natalia Tingle, Business Collections & Reference Librarian, University of Colorado Boulder (RUSA), and Jamie Watson, Collection Development Coordinator, Baltimore County Public Library (YALSA).

Appointed representatives from related organizations include Cindy Aden, Washington State Librarian, Washington State Library, WA (COSLA), Susan Benton, President & CEO, Urban Libraries Council, DC (ULC), Michael Blackwell, Director, St. Mary’s County Library, MD (Readers First), Fannie M. Cox, Outreach & Reference Librarian/Associate Professor, University of Louisville-Ekstrom Library, KY (BCALA), Sandra DeGroote, Scholarly Communications Librarian, University of Illinois at Chicago, IL (MLA), Cynthia Hohl, Director of Branch Operations, Kansas City Public Library, MO (AILA), Minhao Jiang, Web Master and Software Development, Wayne State University Library (CALA), Jessica Krill, Digital Content Team Librarian, Los Angeles Public Library, CA, (REFORMA), Clifford Lynch, Executive Director, Coalition for Networked Information, DC (CNI), Tara Murray, Librarian for Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures, Penn State University, PA (SLA), Brian F. O’Leary, Executive Director, Book Industry Study Group, NY (BISG), Steve Potash, Founder and CEO, OverDrive, Inc., Kevin Smith, Dean of Libraries, University of Kansas, KS (ARL), Sandy Wee, Library Services Manager, San Mateo County Library System, CA (APALA), and Rachel Williams, Assistant Professor, School of Library and Information Science, Simmons University, MA (ALISE).

Since the formation of the Joint Working Group on eBooks and Digital Content in Libraries, the group has met twice in November 2019 and January 2020.  The November 12, 2019 meeting was an online virtual meeting with 26 members present. Members met for the first time and heard Alan Inouye’s updates on the Macmillan policy on embargos and new pricing structure and the success of the ALA #ebooksforall campaign. In addition, he summarized the ALA testimony before the US House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary on various barriers to competition in digital markets resulting in blocked access or prohibitive pricing for library access to digital materials. ALA’s testimony to the House Judiciary Committee is found at Working group members offered a range of ideas and directions for the group to focus on for near term and long-range issues. There were so many ideas that the co-chairs agreed to distill the ideas and bring them to the meeting at Midwinter.

On January 26, 2020, the working group met at the ALA Midwinter Meeting with 21 members plus guests attending. Following an ALA update from Alan Inouye, group members offered comments and reactions to the various meetings of library groups with John Sargent of Macmillan, including an Ask Me Anything session held on Saturday, January 25, 2020. The group then discussed issues and options for exploring additional access models and legislative or legal routes to open access for libraries. The working group members represent eBook committees and interest groups from several related library groups. There is opportunity to coordinate efforts. Discussion of these topics will continue at virtual meetings and an in-person meeting at the 2020 ALA Annual Meeting in Chicago.

For additional information, contact working group co-chairs, Leah Dunn, or Kelvin Watson,

The Association of Specialized, Government and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASGCLA) is a division of the American Library Association. ASGCLA is the premier destination for members to find information and build capacity to serve populations that are served by state library agencies, federal libraries, armed forces libraries, specialized libraries, library cooperatives, library networks and library consultants among others. ASGCLA focuses on providing a voice and advocating for libraries serving populations that are underserved such as those with sensory, physical, health or behavioral conditions, those who are incarcerated or detained and more. Member activity is centered around our interest groups