The Big Shift: Public Library Strategies for Access to Information in Any Format

OCLC received a grant from ILMS in 2012 to explore the challenges that US public libraries face in providing e-book content, and to work with library leaders to identify possible strategies for addressing these challenges – the Big Shift.

The report of this project is The Big Shift: Public Library Strategies for Access to Information in Any Format.

The report summarises the results of desktop and market research undertaken in late 2012, including:

  • An overview of the e-book ecosystem in the US, including the market share of major publishers before and after recent mergers
  • The demand for e-books in 65 of the largest 100 library systems in the US, including their current spend on e-books
  • The expected future spend on e-books in these library systems, both if supply problems stay the same, and if they were improved (the increase would double if supply limitations were removed)
  • The level of purchasing of best-selling titles in both hard-copy and e-books at these library systems
  • The likelihood (quite likely) of these library systems sharing e-book usage data with publishers, distributors and retailers

The report also summarises strategies for addressing e-book issues, developed through workshops with library leaders in 2013, which are now being actively pursued by public libraries:

  • Create NEW value in the e-book supply chain
  • Use data to articulate library value in the e-book supply chain
  • Educate about the public policy issues around e-book access
  • Develop a common narrative
  • Coordinate and administer these plans
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The Big Shift: Advancing Public Library Participation in Our Digital Future

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has awarded a grant to OCLC for a new initiative, “The Big Shift: Advancing Public Library Participation in Our Digital Future.” Its purpose is to more fully understand the challenges that U.S. public libraries face in providing e-book content to borrowers, as they ensure that all Americans continue to have access to commercially produced content through their local public libraries, even as formats change.

OCLC will partner with the American Library Association (ALA) and the Public Library Association (PLA) to review the e-book landscape and jointly develop recommendations for managing the e-book environment, in order to ensure adequate public access to these emerging resources.

The final report is expected in May 2013.

The media releases from IMLS and OCLC were released in June and July 2012 respectively, but there does not appear to be a dedicated web presence to the project at present.