This post first appeared in March 2011 on Just in Case, the (then) blog of the Judge Ben C. Green Law Library. Just in Case blog content was subsequently migrated to the integrated law library website.
“Lending” libraries are fundamentally ill-equipped to cope with digital materials, including “ebooks.” These must be freely copy-able, “tethered” within networks, or protected by strong DRM. None of the options is compatible with the traditional business model of lending libraries.
We’ve mentioned before that eBooks pose some major and unresolved business-model challenges for libraries. Because a digital file, unlike a bound book on paper, can “natively” be copied with near perfection and nearly zero cost, both publishers and libraries are in a quandary. A lending model makes a sort of natural sense for printed books — they can, after all, only be in one place at a time. And if a library needs more copies to serve its user base it will simply buy additional copies. American copyright law has also evolved to explicitly make room, through limitations on the “distribution right,” for library (and personal) lending and re-sale. (Lending rights are handled differently in European countries, but that’s another story…)
In addition to the usual low level of “back to school” press attention to the cost of college and graduate school textbooks, this year textbook pricing and textbook business models have gotten additional attention for two reasons.
First, a federal act passed in 2008, the Higher Education Opportunity Act, included provisions requiring educational institutions to better describe the costs of textbooks and instructional materials, and to require the “unbundling” of textbooks from supplements and study guides. Read the rest on lawlibrary.case.edu
This post originally appeared on lawlibrary.case.edu.
Tom Boone, of Loyola L.A., has a useful post on his personal blog regarding the challenges of implementing the Durham Statement on Open Access to Legal Scholarship, in which a group of directors of major law libraries called on law schools to move to publishing law journals solely in an online, open-access, format. The Durham Statement was drafted by a group of library directors meeting in November of 2008 at Duke Law School. Additional directors, law school CIOs, and other librarians subsequently became signatories to the statement, including our own Kathy Carrick.
Tom’s post usefully reminds us, though, that promoting meaningful and robust subject access to journal content requires more than merely asking our journals to kindly publish online.