New scorecard lets libraries give feedback on e-book offerings from publishers

The American Library Association has created a scorecard that asks library workers to grade publishers on the way that they are offering e-books for lending.

Mark Lennihan/AP
Libraries can rate publishers from one to five on their e-book offerings.

In an effort to help the relationship between libraries and publishers when it comes to e-books, the American Library Association recently released a scorecard that asks library staff members to rate e-book offerings from publishers on factors like availability.

The scorecards grade criteria from one to five and include 15 questions. Questions range from the price publishers are charging libraries for e-books to the length of time for which patrons can check them out. They were developed by the ALA Digital Content & Libraries Working Group.

“Our goals are that you will have the needed information for developing and negotiating ebook licensing agreements locally, and that the Working Group will be better positioned to communicate and advocate with publishers, distributors, and other ebook players nationally,” reads the introduction to the scorecard.

The introduction also discusses sticking points between libraries and publishers, including what the ALA says are publishers' fears that readers will check out e-books from libraries instead of buying them.

“To counter this, many publishers insist on terms that replicate aspects of print book lending,” the introduction reads. “Some of these terms may be necessary and tolerable, at least temporarily, to offset perceived risks in selling ebooks to libraries. Others, such as requiring patrons to come to the library to check out ebooks, will be onerous to patrons and damaging to perceptions of library service. In any case, innovative models that test new and alternative potentials offered by ebooks should be encouraged, rather than slavishly imposing restrictions based on the characteristics of print. Currently the accepted practice is one copy/one circulation at a time.”

The release of the scorecard comes as libraries try to integrate electronic reading into their offerings. A Pew study released in June revealed that 62 percent of readers didn’t know whether their local library had e-books, and another study from the Pew Research Center said that 53 percent of respondents felt libraries should “definitely” broaden their e-book offerings.

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