The Moral Imperatives of Controlled Digital Lending

Library Futures, in concert with the Georgetown Intellectual Property and Information Policy (iPIP) Clinic, has recently released an excellent, succinct summary of the ethical reasons for public policy-makers to craft legislation that protects the ability of libraries to continue practicing Controlled Digital Lending:

  • CDL Maximizes ECONOMIC Efficiency and Opportunity for Communities
  • CDL Promotes Equitable and Dependable EDUCATION
  • CDL Improves the CIVIL RIGHTS Function of Libraries
  • CDL Democratizes Knowledge by Expanding ACCESS

Libraries have traditionally been not merely purchasers but more importantly stewards of content, content that they own and which they distribute on their own terms in accordance with Fair Use and First Sale law. More and more these days, Libraries are becoming mere consumers, mediators for digital content vendors to extract as much money and data as they can from their patrons. CDL preserves the traditional role of Libraries while allowing us to have alternatives to accepting restrictive, expensive, and exploitative vendor terms and licenses.

Kudos to the Library Futures team for elaborating these moral imperatives as excellent and thoughtful supplements to the legal reasoning in the CDL White Paper.

Libraries have an important role in legislative activism for the sake of the public good. Let’s get to it!

Amazon disintermediates libraries, Librarians deconstruct libraries, and Congress doubles down on libraries

Three fascinating reads on currents in librarianship today:

First, a disturbing WaPo article by tech reporter Geoffrey A. Fowler describing in detail how Amazon’s growth as a publisher has come at the steepest of prices for libraries: not being able to lease or lend e-books, especially for its most popular titles.

Second, a thought-provoking article by Argentinian librarian Edgardo Civallero about the history and call of libraries to reinvent themselves constantly in service of the needs of people.

Third, an inspiring ALA update on the library-specific and library-eligible funding in the American Rescue Plan. Not only does it grant $200 million to the Institute of Library and Museum Services (most of which will be distributed to libraries through state agencies), but also invites libraries to compete for the $7 billion in funds to bridge the digital and informational divides in our communities: “Participating libraries will receive 100 percent reimbursement for the cost of hotspots and other Wi-Fi capable devices, modems, routers, laptops, tablets and similar devices to loan to patrons.” If these funds can also include 3D printers, portable book scanners, VR equipment, data visualization screens, machine learning stations, and other maker-oriented tech and the software to support it, that represents an enormous opportunity for libraries to re-tool.