May 15, 2022

Book Industry Study Group and ALA Announce Research Partnership

At the bottom of this post we’ve included a few questions about topics we hope the research includes.

From the Book Industry Study Group:

The Book Industry Study Group (BISG) and the American Library Association (ALA) announced a partnership today to produce a major survey of public library patrons’ use of digital content.

This is the first time both organizations have engaged in a joint research survey.


The survey seeks to understand the behavior of library patrons, including their use of digital resources and other services offered by public libraries. It will examine the impact of digital consumption behaviors, including the adoption of new business models, on library usage across America. In a comprehensive survey, library patrons will be asked about preferred device usage, preferences for print or digital formats, collection assessment, and other issues that affect the use and distribution of published content in public libraries.

The questions are being developed jointly by BISG and ALA. The survey will be fielded by the research firm Nielsen, with editorial and analysis provided by Jim Milliot of Publishers Weekly.

Results from the survey will be first announced at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference in San Francisco, CA, June 25-30, 2015, and a printed report available for purchase will be published on September 8, 2015, which coincides with National Library Card Sign-Up Month.

Note From infoDOCKET:

We’ve reached out to BISG and ALA for some additional details. Here are some our questions. We will update this post if/when we hear back.

1. Will the report try to get some understanding about why non-library patrons do NOT use digital resources? Are they unaware of that these services are available? Are they to difficult to use? Just not interested?

While ebook use in libraries is growing it’s still small vs. the total number of digital content users WHO could gain access to some material via a public library. In other words, what can libraries and publishers do to get more people to use what is available?

2. Since the Book Industry Study Group is doing the research will digital content other than books be looked at?

3.Will the research provide any findings on the potential impact ebook subscription services might have on current library digital content users? On potential library users? Are there things we can learn from library patrons who once borrowed audio and video content but now use services like Spotify and Netflix?

4. Will issues involving digital privacy be looked at? Here’s one example. has a permanent record of the ebooks a user borrows from a public library who licenses OverDrive. Along with the record any notes the user might make in the book are also held by

Our view has always been that libraries don’t provide an easy to find disclosure about what’s going on and provide directions about how to remove this data from Amazon’s servers if a user would like to do this.

UPDATE: Here’s a comment BISG shared with us. We appreciate there quick reply.

It’s still early enough in the process that we we don’t yet have answers to your questions, at least in meaningful detail. I can say that the survey will be comprehensive. It will touch on topics including ebook subscription services, non-book digital content (such as digital magazines), and will consider what might hinder library patrons from borrowing more ebooks.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( 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, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.