Fireside Chat with Roy Tennant – VALA2010 Day 3 Plenary

Roy Tennant was joined by Bart Rutherford, Heather Crosby, Carol Tenopir, Teula Morgan, Jane Burke and Ingrid Mason to discuss the future of published content.

Implications of ebooks and other online content for libraries? Continuation of process at libraries,which are becoming more digitised, The main difference is that our books are not coming to us bound. Libraries need to jump in with ebooks – its not going backwards. Its a replacement of reading behaviour, digital rather than print. Its the next natural way to read a book.

What is the impact on AV when that is the format most used by the younger generations?

What is the impact of this content coming through non-traditional channels? How does this impact our collection development processes? Is our publication medium going to become more television like and what is the impact on storage and management?

A lot of multimedia content is being produced, but no-one is trying to catalogue and manage this, to move beyond the streaming and/or immediate use. Something that need libraries really need to be thinking about.

‘The book is dead, long live the book.’ Is abstracting and indexing dead? Still a need as not everything is available in full text, so there is still value. There is a definite decline however, but its still fulfilling a niche market. If you are just trying to make money with that alone, its no longer enough. Still need the indexing work, because it supports good search.

As discovery layers are coming pre-populated with content such as abstracting and indexing, libraries are asking if they can stop subscribing to it separately. If they do however, then there will be no A and I to access at all.

What is the future of ebooks? Single purpose ebook readers are not dead – as Roy has been noted for saying in the past, the popularity of Kindles and other devices illustrates that. Real challenges for libraries providing ebook content, with DRM issues. Technology is not necessarily a long term issue, as it is constantly changing. Commitments will have to be made on a much shorter basis. Don’t get too caught up in technology restraining you as it will be changing.

Are libraries going to be more about delivering online audio-visual content and what will that mean for current library practices?

There is a role for libraries to help to upskill our users to help them produce content. ALIA will be having discussions with ABC Open. There is  definite potential for libraries partnership with media organisations to produce such content.  Same debates are happening in the media market – metadata and curating content. No parallel in the US that we now of.

What is the core role of public libraries in the world of ebooks? Aggregator, publisher, curator, collector?  Where is this puppy going? Trove could be the way of the future for public libraries. Digitisation of local content is only a niche, small community need. Still have to serve all the broader needs of our local communities, whatever their needs are.

Collaboration is very difficult. Easier to do it within the library world, but still has it challenges even there. Always looking for more Australian content. Potential to collaborate with publishers to get our concern online, the downside is that it is not freely available to all, only subscribers.  Should libraries be Bit Torrent sites. The time to lobby about more content is now – lots of agreements in process between publishers and ebook resellers.

If we can’t get content for our users, they will go and get the content elsewhere. Is it time then to consider whether we are relevant anymore anyway – if they can get it elsewhere, why do they need us?  Should we close our doors and move into other industries.

Agreement is being developed between the National Library of Australia, the National Archive and the National Sound and Vision Archive.  Well worth watching. Discussions will also be happening in the whole Government 2.0 movement.

One wish – simplified DRM and Copyright. Remember that even if the changes that are happening seem overwhelming, we do have power – move with it, adapt and make the most of it.  That libraries are the central point for information needs, to deposit their content, that they couldn’t exist with the products and services – a lot about PR but also about the choices that libraries make. That libraries can change more quickly delivering services our users want – not irrevelant but will be if we continue doing the old stuff after our users have moved on. That we could find tools to automatically generate high quality metadata a lot faster with a lot less effort. That we have more speed, but not to the point of wobbling – more unique material online with great descriptions – we can lead in this endeavour.