Last week (Class week #8) we had a chance to discuss about current conflict between libraries and publishers. In particular, Random House’s recent decision to increase e-book prices made us think how librarians can manage the collection development of e-books with a library’s limited budget. I certainly did not agree with an argument that a library must purchase e-books whenever there is a request of purchase of e-books from a small amount of patrons who own an e-book reader no matter how much they would cost. One of my classes last semester was about the topic of library management, and I learned that many libraries (and especially public libraries) were struggling to balance the necessary collection development and tight budgets under recent long-term economic recession. It means that how many e-books should be purchased and which e-book (e.g. fiction or non-fiction) collection needs to be developed are dependent on a library’s budget and reading patterns of patrons: if a library has some budget to invest on a new project or collection development, then it can spare some to create or expand its e-book collection; when the library decides to do so, it should look into reading preferences of its patrons (e.g. which do they read more, fictions or non-fictions?) and purchase e-books (e.g. the library may purchase some fiction e-books and non-fiction printed books if this is patrons’ reading habits).
What I am concerned about an issue of e-books is that there is no certain norms and regulations about the price of e-book so publishers can set a price as they want. It makes it difficult for libraries to plan on their future e-book collection since they cannot project the price of e-books even of the next year. Furthermore, it might unexpectedly strengthen a current monopoly of large-scale publishing companies in book market. We discussed in last class that small publishers were willing to lower the price of e-books but large ones wanted to increase it. Considering that libraries are the most source of revenue of publishing companies, their purchase and payment are very important to financial health of publishing companies. Because of price difference of e-books between small and big companies, small publishing companies will get paid less and make only a small profit, which will make it hard for them to keep their business. I believe that libraries and publishing companies make efforts to have some sort of rules or regulations on a price of e-book.
This week Kirsten and I are going to present a face-to-face workshop to class as our group assignment. Our topic is “Getting Stared with Professional Development: How and Why to Join ALA”. We chose this topic since ALA is one of major sources where we, as professionals, can get ideas of what is important issues in library world, how we can develop professional skills, and which jobs are available in current job markets. I am really excited about this opportunity to talk about ALA with colleagues.
ALA is a very student-friendly organization as well as a professional association with lots of valuable information on all kinds of library jobs. There are some academic ALA journals which are willing to publish students’ articles. For instance, Documents to the People, the journal for the Government Documents Round Table (GODORT), had a special issue for student’s articles in its winter term (for more information, visit here.) A tenure-track librarian of academic library are required to prove research ability so I thought this information might be of some help to anyone who are interested in publication.