A Mini-Conference in Class + How to Tell Patrons the eBook Story

I’m impressed. Really impressed. It’s not that I didn’t expect to enjoy last week’s class. I figured that my colleagues would pick out some interesting topics upon which to focus their workshops. However, I honestly didn’t expect the range and relevance of these mini-workshops to be so dang good.

Yet again, I’m grateful to be in a program where my fellow grad students are so actively engaged in the world of libraries. The workshops didn’t have the feel of “this is just some assignment I have to do.” The topics felt carefully chosen, and led to some excellent discussion. I felt like I was at a lightning-version of a professional conference. Having just returned from SXSW Interactive, I can say that my cohort exhibited thoughtfulness and passion above what some SX presenters exhibited! (No offense SXi, you had some great sessions too!)

I feel like many of the short workshops in class could be expanded upon to make solid additions to something like QuasiCon in the future.

Topics for the workshops included:

  • Issues related to ebooks in libraries
  • An academic writing intro for college freshman
  • Google’s new privacy policy
  • The library as a third space
  • The Patriot Act and its implications for libraries
  • Ethical Considerations of Libraries as Maker-Spaces/Content-Creation Hubs (my group’s)

I could write a post on each of these topics, but there was one specific question raised by the ebook group that has really stuck most with me, so that’s the thread I want to pursue in this post.

While we know from following library blogs that ebooks are a hot topic in library land, this workshop helped make the topic much more personal — we each had to draft a poster that would inform patrons at our own library about what the heck was up with ebooks.  Seeing others’ examples was really helpful here — some folks chose to highlight the fact that certain publishers weren’t playing nice, while others seemed made to catch the patron’s attention and then direct them to ask/talk to a librarian.

A really important question came out of this session, though, and I’m intrigued to know what other folks think might be the answer. In a lot of the blog discussion and even in the signs librarians have made, <em>publishers</em> Penguin, etc. have been highlighted.

However, does the average library patron know/care/recognize the books they can/can’t get by publisher?  My sense is no.

Might it be more effective to list specific titles or authors whose work is harder/impossible to get via ebook because of the actions of publishers wrt libraries? Is listing publishers only meaningful for librarians?

Might this be a more clear way to communicate, and a better way to educate patrons and/or get them to care/take action about the implications of publishers not always playing nice with libraries?

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2 thoughts on “A Mini-Conference in Class + How to Tell Patrons the eBook Story

  1. Great recap! I wonder if a point-of-need information-share on the eBook issue would make more impact. Would patrons notice a well-written note in catalog records for an item they hoped to request in eBook format? Or maybe that’s just another case of “too many pop-ups” … it does seem like point of need is an important element here for making the case.

  2. Good point/question. In a way, I feel like having something alert patrons at the point of access might seem more meaningful. But in another way, I wonder if this could contribute to either a “psych!” feeling or frustration or even notification fatigue (ala “too many pop-ups). I’m not sure yet what the best solution might be, but I also think that the way we connect to patrons on this issue has a lot of room for improvement, and that that improvement can provide more leverage for change/action by the patrons to articulate their needs to the libraries and the publishers.

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