I want to credit the cybersphere with having some real, heartfelt, and intelligent discussions about the future of eBooks — both for consumers and for libraries. Discussions have happened in every medium with thousands upon thousands of people participating.
But who isn’t participating? The American Library Association.
To date, a week after the HarperCollins debacle hit the press, there is still no formal statement from the American Library Association President, Roberta Stevens. (Update: Roberta Stevens issued a statement on her personal Facebook page an hour or so after I posted this – for more on that method and the statement itself, read on). To add insult to injury, ALA’s digital magazine (American Libraries Direct) was released yesterday without this story at the top. You have to scroll way down to the publishing section before you read word one about a story that hit the mainstream media.
Psssst, ALA! Your members are making news. Your members are the ones who are upset, on behalf of their profession and their communities. Your members are the ones who are making news by protesting a publisher’s short-sighted and antiquated decision that is not only anti-library but anti-consumer. Perhaps you can listen to your membership, and cover what’s going on in a more intentional way. Perhaps you can issue a formal statement to the press about what libraries believe in, and how publishers’ choices on how to sell or not sell digital formats to libraries is subverting a core value we hold dear.
The silence is deafening. We’re waiting.
I originally posted the following as a comment to this post in response to others, but am moving it here for ease of following my thoughts:
I’m not asking ALA to officially endorse a boycott. I am asking ALA to speak up on behalf of all libraries about this issue, and to do so immediately. Roberta Stevens’s post on Facebook is something – but let’s see something official on ALA’s website too, not just on Facebook. The decision about the forum through which the message is communicated, to me, seems like a cop out of responsibility for the message itself. A wink and nod that ALA isn’t endorsing this statement.
In the vacuum they’ve left, other voices are rising — and none with the authority or community trust that ALA possesses. Other voices are absolutely a good thing, but lacking a centralized voice speaking with authority we’re now left with disparate chaotic communications and no official leadership being taken. Other voices are absolutely stronger than ALA’s right now, those of individuals and groups. ALA’s voice should be a prominent one (if not the dominant one) in these discussions. We, long time dues paying members, are looking for leadership and support. We are looking for ALA to become visible on this issue, and now. I’ll be damned if I’m going to wait patiently and quietly in my corner until June when somebody comes out with some official statement or report.