January 18, 2022

Full Text Report: “The Big Shift: Public Library Strategies for Access to Information in Any Format”

Here’s a report from that will likely be of interest to some of you. Thanks to Matt Weaver for pointing it out to infoDOCKET.

The full title of the report is:
The Big Shift: Public Library Strategies for Access to Information in Any Format and it’s available via the OCLC web site.


In 2012, OCLC received a planning grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to more fully explore the challenges that U.S. public libraries are facing in providing e-book content, and to work with library leaders to identify and discuss possible strategies for addressing those challenges.

In the first stage of the project in late 2012, market and original research was conducted to inform the discussion. The resulting research contains information about the top commercial organizations in the e-book ecosystem and findings about demand for e-books in public libraries. It also offers public library purchasing projections and public library reach.

On January 24, 2013, OCLC, the program advisors and the program team hosted a meeting with 30 public library leaders at the Seattle Public Library to discuss the report and formulate strategies for addressing e-book issues. The half-day program was designed to help participants:

  • advance knowledge required to make concrete decisions that advance the goal of public access;
  • collaboratively derive realistic solutions/approaches to current barriers to public access, and;
  • commit to working together to apply those solutions/approaches.

Following the meeting in Seattle, OCLC, the Public Library Association and the Urban Libraries Council organized two additional sessions to gain broader feedback on strategies that resulted from the Seattle meeting. These represent a diverse set of strategies that working groups of public librarians are now actively pursuing.

The strategies are:

Create NEW value in the e-book supply chain—Look at how libraries can work with emerging opportunities and technologies in order to be proactive in understanding what can be done to enhance the chain from author to reader; this may include developing a shared platform for e-book discovery and lending.

Use data to articulate library value in the e-book supply chain—Understand and mine the aggregate data that libraries have that will help publishers, distributors and retailers understand the behavior of library users in aggregate.

Educate about the public policy issues around e-book access—Work with local, state and federal legislators, within the confines of individual library policies, to understand how legislators and community citizens might influence access to e-books.

Develop a common narrative—Develop common voice and messages about the importance of public libraries’ access to e-books that are influential with diverse set of players and influencers across the e-book ecosystem.

Work with additional partners—Continue to work with new partners to expand libraries’ ability to collaborate around access to e-books.

Coordinate and administer these plans—Create an administrative/consultative owner and action plan around the above strategies to ensure that each can be advanced.

Advisory Team Members

  • Brian Bannon, Chicago Public Library
  • Cathy De Rosa, OCLC
  • Sari Feldman, Cuyahoga County Public Library
  • Martín Gómez, University of Southern California
  • Susan Hildreth, IMLS
  • Chrystie Hill, OCLC
  • Bob Horton, IMLS
  • Melanie Huggins, Richland Library
  • Alan Inouye, ALA – OITP
  • Patrick Losinski, Columbus Metropolitan Library
  • Vailey Oehlke, Multnomah County Library
  • Jennifer Pearson, OCLC

Direct to Full Text Report: The Big Shift: Public Library Strategies for Access to Information in Any Format (28 pages;PDF) 

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.