Category Archives: vendors

Good Reads, Amazon & ALA

With the recent announcement of Amazon purchasing Good Reads, I’ve really begun thinking about vendor control in libraries, and the same vendor control over patron reading habits.  As my dear friend Leah White said

I worry about the collection of reader data, when Amazon already collects so much from the public. Amazon has no reason to keep any of our reading information private from any institution requesting it, and we know for a fact that they use this collected data in many ways – probably many that I cannot even imagine.

Not only will this purchase impact reader’s privacy, and how we offer reader’s advisory, but it will impact the full reading ecosystem.  Amazon is slowly becoming a monopoly over all things reading.  Amazon now controls publishing, marketing, distribution and reviews.  They single-handedly have the power to make or break a book.  This power is not in the best interest of the country.

What really bothers me is the lack of leadership to address these issues.  Who am I really pissed with? ALA.  Yes, I’m pissed with the American Library Association.  Why, you might ask, am I pissed off with ALA, because ALA has the economy of scale, the resources, and the ethically and fiduciary responsibility to step up and create a new version of Good Reads.  ALA is supposed to ensure the intellectual freedom and the right to read that accompany the ability to have checks and balances in the reading ecosystem.  But we sit idly by as publishers crush us in eBooks, awful vendors continue to provide less than adequate products, and the entire book business is continually compressed into the hands of a few MAJOR players.

I don’t understand why I pay dues to “organization that advocates” without advocating, “promotes diversity” without any substantially change in the diversity of the profession, advocates for “funding and policies that support public libraries” as our funding continues to decline, “actively defends the right of library users to read, seek information, and speak freely” as those rights are slowly eroded through court cases and monopolization, or many of the other key action areas that ALA touts but does little to accomplish.

Don’t misunderstand me; I think ALA does some great stuff.  Moreover, I think many of the librarians who are affiliated with ALA work hard for libraries.  But I expect more of you ALA.  Why is it that the NAR (National Association of Realtors), AMA (American Medical Associate), and other professional associations have national market campaigns, and even produce TV and radio spots, but you do not?  Why is it that the AMA and NAR produce the technologically tools that their professionals and clients use?

In the end, I think that ALA can do a lot more to defend and promote public libraries.  I think the ALA can work harder to improve services for library users.  I think the ALA can work to truly defend intellectual freedom, the right to read, and the importance of having checks and balances in the publication and distribution of materials model.



Filed under advocacy, vendors

DIY Libraries

I have been extremely busy the last few weeks, but felt I had to post on the DIY phenomena sweeping across libraries.  (Side note, I can never hear Do-It-Yourself without thinking about the scene in 40 Year Old Virgin in the bookstore:) I have posted about our love/HATE relationship with vendors especially ILS vendors, but libraries are striking back.  The most recent worthy news is found in an LJ articleQueens Library, the highest circulation library in the country, has created their own ILS working with VTLS (the only RDA ready vendor), and their own Drupal site.  The site is available to preview hereKing Country Library System also went open-source recently using Evergreen and a lot of in-house development.

The best part is that libraries are developing and giving away, or slightly charging, for ILSs.  Many of the major vendors were once part of libraries.  I hope that this time we don’t sell off our hard work to vendors who turn around and charge us for something we created.

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Mango Languages Round II

I just had a wonderful call from Beverly, the head of marketing at Mango Languages.  They have been very helpful in resolving the issue.  The learned of the problem via social media.  And that got me to thinking, do libraries pay attention to what our patrons are saying via social media?

So, I recant and recommend Mango.

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