Greenhill & Schmidt on Publishers & Content

Aaron Schmidt writes:

“Or we could save our energy and find untapped sources of content created by our local users and work together to create a single publishing platform and rights-management tool to allow easy creation and access to local content.”

That’s the excellent ending of Kathryn Greenhill’s answer to her own question:How do we force publishers to give us ebook content that includes works that our users want and that they find easy to download to their chosen device?

This is such a compelling vision of a way forward for libraries. Not only is it more attainable than forcing publishers to do anything (or even compelling them) but it would result in a much more meaningful public library.

I’m looking forward to the rest of the posts in her series!

I am also watching closely for Kathryn Greenhill to add to her series of thoughtful posts.

Her opinions also amplify and reinforce my own. I’m finishing up an article based on The Hyperlinked Library model that addresses this future. It includes this:

When asked what I see for the future of libraries – all kinds of libraries – I imagine a space where users will connect, collaborate, and CREATE.

Create: Users will find the tools they need to share their own stories with their family, friends and the world if they so choose. The best technologies and support for these endeavors will be a part of library services. Library staff will become guides and co-creators. Local content will reign as one of the most unique offerings of the library.

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2 thoughts on “Greenhill & Schmidt on Publishers & Content”

  1. It looks like this model depends heavily on a library’s website as the means of displaying to the world what the local community produces. As the guy who takes care of our library’s site, I’m initially attracted to the idea.

    And generally, from a public librarian’s point of view, it’s exciting. We can be the impresario for our local talent. We’ll talk up our local talent to the townspeople, and showcase them to the world. Help them make it big. Our website will show the world what a unique and special community we are. At last, a fresh new vision for our dying library model! Not just a passive repository, an active creative source!

    But wait. Look at it from the point of view of the creative people in town. Will the photographers choose us over flickr? Will the writers withdraw from Scribd? Rock bands post their videos on our website instead of YouTube? What’s the advantage for them?

    Why would any creative person prefer to use the local library as an outlet for their work in preference to the wildly popular websites already out there? Sites that have global audiences in the millions? Artists of all kinds want exposure. Can we compete with Facebook?

    Furthermore, exactly what tools can we provide? How much specialized help can we give? Vocal training for singers? CGI classes for videoers? Expert critique on verse structure for poets? Big city libraries might draw on talented residents to volunteer their services. Small communities might have fewer possibilities.

    Anyway, this is what schools do. Sounds like the public library system merging into the public school system. NYC has its PA – The High School of Music & Art and the Performing Arts. Maybe this model would be the lifelong learning version.

    I can see libraries doing this to some extent, but not as a defining feature of our identity in the community. We can host contests – Teen Photographers, etc. We can install video-editing software. But who are we?

    I’d say the library website will be important – it’s the ideal place for local historical archives – but always an annex, so to speak, to the building. Our perennial position within the community will focus on what happens inside the building. We will be a gathering place for the local community. People will come to share their Life-of-the-Mind experiences with others. They will discuss current events, they will study together in teams, they will read quietly with others reading quietly. The stacks of books and other shelvable items will give way to tables and chairs and couches and meeting rooms and workrooms where our members will use digital devices of many kinds. The warehouse will become a clubhouse. But our core will remain. Discovery, creativity, and sharing while in the physical presence of others, in a physical place – that is the venerable past and the vital future for the public library.

  2. Just a corpus of eReader and publishing thoughts…

    1)Force.
    If we want to force something (and I get that we don’t want too; we want to change something), bring out your heavy hitters. Just ’cause we don’t want to force something, doesn’t mean we can’t throw our weight around. Books are heavy after all. And lots of books carry lots of weight. To get any industry, (let alone the publishing industry), listening we need a kind of meta-consortium. The cooperatives, associations, membership organizations -all those organizations that focus collective library energy- might consider saying, “look we’d love to see an eReader do this. And we’ll give it our seal of approval!” Literally this means a sticker that says “approved for use at your local library”. Or something. The point is we can have a lot of input into this conversation if we have a unified voice.

    2)ATMS.
    We’ve long missed the opportunity for a unified platform. Heck- there’s probably only one industry able to pull off something like a unified platform: money, banks, and the ATM. Now that’s a unified platform. Works so well most people don’t even know what it took to start or what it takes to keep going -kinda reminds me of libraries.

    3)Imagine.
    What would be great: a kinda rapidly developed android/dublin/standard-hardware platform library-eReader (think USB ports) …or something like that… I don’t have it figured out. Though- we do need a single unified force speaking for our own interests.

    4)Futures.
    Our future most certainly will be found as users find ways, to create. Let them push, pull, uncover, and download untapped resources and then let them shape, (or force if need be) the market players to respond to their need for an eReader that doesn’t control their content or creations.

    5) Imagine, again.
    Imagine if we had an eReader that let the zinesters of the world unite. If you know how passionate for publishing zinesters are, then you now what a whirlwind of force they’d be on the tightly controlled pages of the publishing industry. Further imagine the other users- what about all those genealogy folks that come in? What kind of device would they love for storing and sharing rich family histories?

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