January 27, 2022

ALA President Maureen Sullivan Has Letter to the Editor Published in NY Times

Sullivan is responding to an op-ed titled, “The Slow Death of the American Author” that was published by The NY Times earlier this week by Authors Guild President and bestelling author, Scott Turow.

In the op-ed Turow mentions HathiTrust and Google’s book scanning project.

Here is some of what Turow had to say about libraries in his two-page op-ed.

It seems almost every player — publishers, search engines, libraries, pirates and even some scholars — is vying for position at authors’ expense.


Even libraries and authors, usually allies, have grown less cozy. No one calls our public library system socialistic, though it involves free distribution of the goods authors produce, and even though in many Western nations, authors get a tiny fee when libraries lend their works. Authors happily accept our system, because libraries have nurtured them as writers and readers.

Now many public libraries want to lend e-books, not simply to patrons who come in to download, but to anybody with a reading device, a library card and an Internet connection. In this new reality, the only incentive to buy, rather than borrow, an e-book is the fact that the lent copy vanishes after a couple of weeks. As a result, many publishers currently refuse to sell e-books to public libraries.

Today,  ALA’s President Maureen Sullivan, has had a letter to the editor published in The Times responding to Turow’s comments.

In the letter Sullivan writes:

First, librarians love authors. Our business is knowledge-building and imagination, and writers form the backbone of our nonprofit exercise in supporting and promoting lifelong learning.

Second, there is nothing nefarious in our goal to offer e-books to local library cardholders; rather, it is an extension of our desire to connect authors and readers regardless of format.

She concludes:

Libraries understand and are also gripped by seismic shifts under way in the publishing ecosystem, but authors and libraries should work together to reach and serve readers.

Read the Full Text of Maureen Sullivan’s Letter to the Editor

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.