Presidential Task Force on Equitable Access to Electronic Content (EQUACC) Community
The Equitable Access to Electronic Content (EQUACC) Task Force met for the first time at a meeting held at ALA Midwinter and had a more substantive session at a one-and-a-half day retreat at the Washington Office, March 7-8, 2011. The retreat happened to coincide with the announcement that HarperCollins would limit loans for its e-books. Throughout the retreat, the significance of the HarperCollins decision factored into most of the discussions. In addition to addressing this timely issue, the Task Force made significant progress toward identifying challenges and solutions for improved electronic access, use, distribution, and preservation. The Task Force focused on long-term strategic issues given that there could easily be a situation similar to the HarperCollins decision in the future and ALA must be prepared to respond effectively.
The full report is attached.
Greetings fellow Task Force members,
Here's the story of why I'm here with all of you. I'm grateful to have the honor to work and serve with you all and am very excited to see the results we come up with. Our charge is significant, but I also believe it is absolutely critical for our profession. It's been an interesting journey getting to this point and I hope by the time we start completing work I know your stories as well. Here's mine:
Though a very long time ALA member, and even past ALA Student Chapter President (Indiana University 1998-99) frankly, I shied away from deeper engagement with ALA for quite a while. While it clearly did many good things to contribute to the profession and to American Libraries, to me it seemed somewhat bogged down in process and bureaucracy and even somewhat exclusive and alienating at some levels, particularly those that could affect significant change. Besides, from a personal perspective, I was excited and grateful to find that there seemed to always be an increasing numbers of opportunities elsewhere opening up for me professionally (day job of course, plus blogging at libraryman.com and even an ever growing list of speaking invitations and writing opportunities).
But in the last five years I've been working to listen and learn and study and reach out to people in order to figure out why we (libraries) haven't been able to be leaders when it comes to electronic community engagement and electronic content access. I believe in a simple (and amazingly complex) equations when it comes to libraries and that is: Libraries = Content + Community. Keeping that belief in mind and focusing my learning and research (I've also spend a great deal of time studying business and marketing as well in the past 5-7 years) has been an eye opening and fascinating journey.
During the course of this work, after much careful thought and debate and discussion, I decided to try to get involved more with ALA, in largest part to try and help us better use our organizational and institutional power and influence to address what I have come to believe is the most important issue facing the future or American Libraries: equitable access to electronic content though libraries.
In the coming years and decades consumption patterns for content will move dramatically towards electronic formats, and frankly, even with our tradition of service and access, libraries are largely failing. Commercial entities like iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, and in much of Europe, Spotify are the real leaders in electronic content access, all with successful technologies and business models that can both encourage us and point us toward intersting ways of thinking while at the same time revealing potential models or options for service provision going forward.
I ran for ALA Council in 2009 to get involved with ALA to help lead or efforts to address these issues. While not installed on Council till the end of Annual, I worked with two other Councillors (our very own Jackie Rafferty, as well as the indomitable Larry Romans), to write and pass, with my 180 fellow ALA Councils, the very resolution that spawned this task force.
After several months of conversations and much hard work from all of us and from current ALA President Roberta Stevens, as you know, our Task Force formed in December of 2010.
As we lead up to our retreat in early March, and as we continue to work together in the months and even years to come tackling the issues of electronic content access and the future of American Libraries, I am filled with excitement and energy and hope. This Task Force is proof ALA and ALA membership and ALA Council and ALA senior leadership "get" that this issue is very important. It is up to us to now do the work that will result in the appropriate forward movement. I, and many others say "Huzzah!" in the same breath that we say "It's about time!". So now lets dive in and get this thing moving! If we succeed we really have a rare opportunity to make an impact on the future of American Libraries though our work here. What could be more inspiring?
Ahhh yes...I was supposed to provide bio information here, not a feel good motivational speech, wasn't I? Ok then, here goes:
"Michael is a librarian, presenter, author, practical technology fan, and PEZ collector. He has 20 years of experience working in Libraryland and has presented hundreds of times to library staff around the world. His writings regularly appear in major library journals around the world. In 2009 he was selected as a Library Journal “Mover & Shaker”, in 2010 was elected to the American Library Association’s governing Council and in 2011 was also elected to the ALA Executive Board. He currently works at WebJunction.org in Seattle, Washington as their Communications Manager and also serves as the President of Library Renewal, an organization dedicated to research, partnerships and grassroots support for libraries as they struggle to offer electronic content to their users in competitive ways."
Thanks to all of you. Can't wait to get to know and work with each of you,
Task Force Co-chair