Digital Futures, 2015
This supplement to American Libraries features articles both on how libraries are innovating and leading, as well as paths ahead for taking the initiative.
“I’m so pleased to see story after story about librarians being proactive related to the opportunities and challenges presented by the digital revolution,” said ALA President Courtney Young. “For example, the National Digital Platform proposed by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) will accelerate the necessary trend of increased sharing of technology tools and services across libraries, as discussed in an article by Maura Marx, IMLS acting director, and Trevor Owens, IMLS senior program officer.”
In the report, two articles focus on particular innovative projects In “Click, Click, Read,” Micah May, director of business development at New York Public Library (NYPL), and James English, Library Simplified product owner at NYPL, tell the story of Library Simplified, a service under development that may ease ebook access for library users. Larra Clark, deputy director of ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP), describes some of the digital innovation project ideas recently funded by the Knight Foundation in “Empowering Libraries to Innovate.”
A trio of articles hones in on future directions for libraries and ebooks. In “Building Out the Book Niches,” Shannon Okey, publisher of Cooperative Press, makes the case for heightened attention to smaller publishers, while Tim McCall, former vice president at Penguin Group USA, posits that the education market will be the next big disruption for libraries and ebooks in “Digital Library 2.0.” In “ALA’s DCWG, Ebooks, and Directions,” Carolyn Anthony, director, Skokie (Ill.) Public Library, brings together these threads and other ALA priority directions.
“Being on offense includes both taking action and planning for future action,” said Alan S. Inouye, guest editor of the supplement and director of ALA OITP. “Thus, the final four articles articulate areas in which the library community has a particular opportunity and responsibility to emphasize in the near-term.” James G. Neal, university librarian emeritus at Columbia University, warns us that “we are in trouble” regarding born-digital materials and digital preservation in his article “Preserving the Born-Digital Record.” There are some specific actions that we can take to improve our management of digital privacy in libraries and upgrade the user experience, explains Eric Hellman, president of Gluejar, in “Toward the Post-Privacy Library?”
Sari Feldman, executive director of the Cuyahoga County Public Library (CCPL) and ALA president-elect and Hallie Rich, director of communications and external relations at CCPL, urge us to reconsider how we can recruit the best and brightest into librarianship and what skills these students must possess in “Transforming the Library Profession.” Finally, Vailey Oehlke, director of the Multnomah County (Ore.) Library and president-elect of the Public Library Association and Alan S. Inouye conclude the supplement with “A Policy Revolution for Digital Content,” which lays out an overall framework for how the library community needs to be ever-more proactive in its national policy advocacy.
Digital Futures is the fifth American Libraries magazine supplement on ebooks and digital content. For more information about the ALA’s digital content activities, visit the American Libraries E-content blog.