Advocacy Alert: #FundLibraries Update

Our Friends at the ALA Washington Office have shared a call to restore Library Funding.  Please help!

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What Happened

This year's "Dear Appropriator" letters have started to circulate in the House, asking Representatives to preserve at least $210 million in federal library funding. One letter asks members of the House Appropriations Committee to fully fund the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) and the second does the same for the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) program.

Why It Matters

The battle for domestic spending is becoming more intense, and Congress is looking for programs to cut. The more members of Congress who sign these letters, the better the chance that the Appropriators will preserve the funding for the LSTA and IAL programs. And as you know from our previous emails, these programs represent the bulk of the federal funding that is provided for libraries. Under the rules of LSTA, states are required to match one third of their federal contribution. Any cut to LSTA in the FY 2019 budget will likely lead to a cut in library funding at the state level. Additionally, IAL is the only dedicated federal funding provided for school libraries.

What You Can Do Now

Many Representatives will only sign on to a "Dear Appropriator" letter if their constituents ask them! Use the ALA Action Center to send your representative an email and ask them to contact Rep. Raul Grijalva's office to sign on to the LSTA letter and Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) to sign on to the IAL letter.

Time is short - the deadline for the letters is March 19th, so don't delay!

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Not sure if your Rep. has signed yet? Check our tracker.

Need more information? Check out our lastest post on District Dispatch.

And stay tuned! The Senate will soon be circulating "Dear Appropriator" letters of their own. We'll be back with more updates soon.


#OneMoreVote to Restore Net Neutrality

Join our friends at the ALA in asking for the restoration of Net Neutrality:

Send your message here:


The FCC voted to gut the net neutrality protections that limit the power of Internet Service Providers – like Verizon and Comcast – to slow websites, block mobile apps, or in any way control the information we access. This 3-2 vote to roll back strong, enforceable net neutrality protections was made amid widespread protests, millions of public comments and overwhelming opposition from across the political spectrum. 

Modern libraries rely on the internet to collect, create and disseminate essential online information and services to the public. Strong, enforceable net neutrality rules, like the ones Chairman Pai just rushed to dismantle, are critical to keeping the internet working the way it does now. 

The Congressional Review Act gives Congress the ability and authority to nullify the FCC's actions -- and we already have 50 votes in the Senate. With one more vote, the Senate can and should vote to restore net neutrality and protect the free and open internet. And the House will be next. Call and email your members of Congress today and ask them to use a Resolution of Disapproval under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to overturn the FCC's disturbing rulemaking.


More Support for Library Funding Urgently Needed

Our friends at ALA Washington's Office have sent the following request.  Please consider supporting library funding nationally! 

Advocacy Alert: Federal Library Funding

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What Happened

This week, the White House released its budget proposal for FY2019. As we anticipated, the budget proposed a significant cut to federal library funding. The administration's budget proposal eliminates the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), which provides approximately $183 million in direct funding to libraries through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). The budget proposal also eliminates the $27 million Innovative Approaches to Literacy program administered by the Department of Education.

Why It Matters

These proposed cuts would impact many libraries across the country. While public and school libraries would see the largest effects, academic libraries with state-funded databases are also implicated. Since each state is required to match one-third of their federal LSTA grants, any cut to LSTA in the FY2019 budget is likely to lead to a cut on the state level. In addition, the cuts to IAL specifically target school library funding, which will make it harder for vulnerable schools to acquire the books, resources, and training needed to provide high-quality literacy programs for their students. 

Wait, What Happened to the FY 2018 Budget?

Last week, Congress passed and the president signed an FY2018 budget deal that will likely include at least level funding for federal library programs at FY 2017 levels. While this budget agreement is a positive step towards resolving the FY 2018 budget, Congress will still be working on the final spending bill for a few more weeks. The ALA Washington Office will continue to monitor progress on the bill.  

What You Can Do Now

Congress will have the final say on budget allocations for these programs in the FY2019 budget. Now is the time to let them know how important federal library funding is to their constituents. Use the ALA Action Center to send your Representatives an email  and ask for their public support of library funding throughout the FY2019 appropriations cycle.

This will be a many-step process and we will need your help at key times along the way. Stay tuned for updates.

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Save the IMLS: Ask Your Senators to Support the MLSA

Advocacy Alert from the ALA Washington Office: MLSA

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What happened:

At the end of 2017, the Museum and Library Services Act of 2017 was introduced by Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Susan Collins (R-ME), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). The 2017 MLSA (S. 2271) reauthorizes the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), showing congressional support for the federal agency. IMLS administers funding through the Library Services Technology Act (LSTA), the only federal program that exclusively covers services and funding for libraries. LSTA provides more than $183 million for libraries through the Grants to States program, the National Leadership Grants for Libraries, the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program, and Native American Library Services.

Why this is important:

A federally funded agency or program typically requires an "authorization", which is legislation passed by Congress providing its justification. The authorization must be periodically reauthorized. IMLS and LSTA were last authorized in 2010, and the authorization expired in 2016. Although an authorization is not a requirement for a program to receive federal funding, passage of a reauthorization sends a strong signal of support to the Appropriations Committees.

An agency lacking an authorization risks becoming a target for elimination by "budget hawks" in Congress. With the FY 2019 budget looming, it is important for IMLS to be reauthorized.

What you can do:

Contact your Senators and urge them to show support for libraries by becoming a cosponsor of S. 2271. Tell them how your library supports the constituents of their state, and tell them how LSTA funds enable your library to offer valuable services to your community

Need more information? Check out the most recent District Dispatch post or read up on the history of MLSA.

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ReadersFirst encourages all library staff and supporters to sign!

The FCC is Not the Last Word

ALA's Washington Office has released the following. ReadersFirst asks all to "Take Action for LIbraries." 

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What happened:
On December 14, a majority of FCC commissioners voted to gut net neutrality protections that limit the power of Internet Service Proviers (ISPs) to block, throttle, degrade or preference some online content and services over others. This 3-2 vote to roll back strong, enforceable net neutrality protections was made in the face of widespread protests, millions of public comments and overwhelming opposition from across the political spectrum.
What's next:
The FCC vote, though, is not the final word on this vital issue. The Congressional Review Act (CRA) gives Congress the ability and authority to nullify the FCC's actions. Congress can and should vote to restore net neutrality and protect the free and open internet.
What you can do:
Call and email your members of Congress today and ask them to use a Resolution of Disapproval under the CRA to repeal the recent FCC action and restore the 2015 Open Internet Order protections.

 Send an email 

Another Way to Support Net Neutrality

American Libraries has published an update on the fight for Net Neutrality.

Here are some excepts on how to get involved:

"Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers (ISPs) must enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source and without favoring or blocking specific services or websites. The American Library Association (ALA) has been on the front lines of the net neutrality battle with the FCC, Congress, and the federal courts for more than a decade, working in coalition with other library and higher education organizations as well as broader coalitions of net neutrality advocates."

The existing rules are crucial for public institutions like libraries. Now is the time to make your voice heard. The FCC will be accepting comments on its proposed rollback of these rules until July 17.

To leave a public comment on the FCC site:

  1. Go to the FCC’s page for filings related to the Restoring Internet Freedom proposal.
  2. Click on Express Comment in the middle of the page.
  3. In the Proceedings box, add 17-108 to associate your comment with the right proposal.
  4. Enter your name and address, and your comment. Note: This information will be publicly posted on the FCC’s website once it’s submitted and cannot be edited.

Tell the FCC why net neutrality matters to you as a librarian or information professional. The best stories are local, compelling, personal, relatively recent, and have details.

  • What digital content do you offer your community that might be relegated to “slow lanes” or might bring higher costs to the library if your vendors are forced to pay for prioritized delivery? (This may include ebooks, streaming media, interactive homework assistance, online language learning, and digital special collections.)
  • Do you offer no-fee Wi-Fi to patrons?
  • Do patrons use the internet at your library to access online government programs and services? Would deprioritized access hurt them?
  • Do patrons use the internet at your library to upload and share their own digital media, develop and support small businesses, use video conferencing, or collaborate online for school or research projects? What would slower service do to these activities?

ReadersFirst encourages all librarians and groups affiliated with libraries to comment in support!

Results of ReadersFirst E-Content Business Models Survey

205 responses came into our survey of what e-content business models librarians would like. Libraries responding ranged from across Australia, Canada, and the United States.  Thanks to all who responded!  You can see a list of the responding libraries and also the survey comments here:

A PDF of the results can be seen here:

88% of the responses were from public libraries; since some of the consortiums also consist primarily of public libraries, the survey seems primarily valid for this group. Academic or school libraries will require another survey.

The results and comments overwhelmingly suggest four points:

·         No business model currently available is adequate for all library needs

·         Librarians would like a choice of business model options at point of sale:  the ability to choose traditional, metered, or other ways on a per-title basis

·         Librarians believe that currently available models are preventing us from fully realizing the advantages of e-content and thus limit access by patrons

·         If a variety of models were offered, librarians would likely spend as much or more on content, offering a greater variety of titles and more of less well-known or new authors

The comments also suggest many librarians believe that prices, especially for the traditional model (unlimited lease period, one user at a time per title), are expensive enough that they make some titles unattractive to acquire and maintain and that they certainly to limit circulation. A variety of models might also serve to address this issue while offering fair value to publishers. Responders also suggest that a tiered pricing (a price for one copy, a lower price per copy for 5, and a lower cost per unit still for 10 copies) would be of interest.

Fully 94% of responders said multiple license types would be beneficial. 82% would like the traditional model to be one option. Fewer—only 39%--seem to favor the metered (limited by number of circulation and/or lease period) model. If asked, more would prefer a lease limited by number of circulations (say, 26) rather than being bound by a time period such as 1 year. This option is viewed much more favorably by 65% if some metered titles could change to perpetual access after a period of time.  Fully 83% would dislike metered access only for best sellers, since it prevents long-term preservation of titles. 68% would like to see some sort of subscription model, where a certain number of uses for a range of titles could be purchased, especially if librarians could choose to “bundle” certain authors. But a combination of many models, each offered for every title, is strongly favored. To quote one comment:  “[We want] A model wherein a title is available in various checkout models (at various price points) such that we might . . . purchase a perpetual one license/one user version . . . so that the long tail of the collection might be maintained but that we could also purchase a metered . . . version so that when peak demand ebbs we can still provide the title [without] versions languishing on our virtual shelves.”

Pay-per-use, although it offers the advantage of simultaneous access for titles, was not rated as highly as some might suspect.  Only 42% favored it, while 44% came out strongly against. This response must, however, be considered in light of budgeting:  as the comments make clear, librarians a wary of this model because the more successful it becomes, the more likely it is to be a “budget buster.” One must either keep stoking with more money or else begin to limit the number of uses. When asked to rank seven models, the response was to put pay-per-use at the bottom. The models were ranked as follows in preference (with low scores being better):

1.       Simultaneous use by checkout -- i.e., when buying 26 checkouts, have the checkouts available all at once: if ten people are on a holds list, let them all have the title at the same time—score 390   

2.       Variable licensing (changing a license model after 6, 12 or 18 months. For instance, I choose a title on the 26 circ per license model and it does well; I would like the option to renew some or all of the copies as One-copy/One-user)—score, 453

3.       Traditional (perpetual, one user at a time—score, 455

4.       Metered, sequential use (when buying 26 checkouts on a title, they would be available one user at a time for that title)—score 496

5.       Subscription (a lump sum either per year or per month, buying a defined number of circulations)—score 658

6.       Pay-per-use with standard price—score, 710

7.       Pay-per-use with variable pricing (pay per each copy checked out at a different agreed-upon price, depending on the demand for the title)—score of 800

Simultaneous use does, however, earn strong support, as is suggested by one model ranking “first” in the list above.  Many comments mentioned it as a desirable model. Perhaps there is no perfect model, but one that offered flexibility in lease terms but gave some greater control over budgeting than pay-per-use seems to be getting close to that elusive ideal.

That the status quo is inadequate for librarians is reinforced by 80% agreeing that “Implementation of new business models will allow our library to expose the maximum number of titles to new audiences” and “74% agreeing that “Implementation of new models will allow our library to purchase more new authors while maintaining our purchasing of better known authors.”    

ReadersFirst hopes that the results of this survey will be useful, sparking conversations among librarians and, perhaps even better, a dialogue between publishers, library e-content vendors, and librarians. That we have made progress in access to titles and in ease of use in platforms over the last five years in undeniable.  Isn’t it time, however, to think about how we can continue to move forward? Digital content use (especially perhaps in audiobooks but certainly in e-books too) is NOT on the decline in libraries.  Indeed, we continue to see growth in digital circulation, even as print circulation remains stagnant or even falls. If libraries could make better use of their admittedly limited materials budgets to offer more to their readers, publishers and libraries could all benefit, with more authors discovered, more books read, and (likely) in the end, more books in all formats sold. Library e-content vendors might take notice of the survey results as well. How might implementing some of these models in your platforms allow libraries to explore the ever-expanding offerings of independent e-book authors?

We have made progress, indeed, but for librarians, it is time for yet another step.

The author offers special thanks to Cathy Mason of Columbus Metropolitan Library for her work on business models for the survey, Tressa Santillo of Massachusetts Library System and Micah May of DPLA for help polishing the survey, and Andrew Albanese of Publishers Weekly for spreading awareness of our effort.  The comments made by responders have been very helpful in interpreting the results and are worthy of a read.  

Michael at St Mary's County Library

Speak Up For Net Neutrality

ALA Washington's Office has issued the following release:

The day before Thanksgiving, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Pai publicly shared his plan to dismantle network neutrality protections approved by the FCC in 2015 and affirmed by the federal appeals court in 2016. The new draft order is scheduled to be voted on by the five FCC commissioners on December 14.

Why It Matters:

Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers (ISPs) must enable access to all legal content and applications regardless of the source and without favoring or blocking specific services or websites. Strong, enforceable rules are critical to the functioning of modern libraries because we rely on the internet to collect, create and disseminate essential online information and services to the public. Libraries and our patrons cannot afford to be relegated to "slow lanes" on the internet. ALA has two resolutions regarding net neutrality: the first affirms net neutrality and the second reaffirms our support.

What You Can Do:

Right now, the FCC is not accepting public comments (that may come later), but strong disapproval from members of Congress (especially from Republicans and those that serve on committees with oversight for the FCC) could force a pause in the December 14 vote to derail net neutrality. Make your voice heard now by emailing your member of Congress to support net neutrality protections.

To take action, visit the American Library Association’s (ALA) advocacy engagement and contact your members of Congress. A pre-written letter is provided and you can personalize your email to make it more effective. If you prefer to call, you can use Engage to identify your members of Congress and obtain their contact information.

ALA is seeking disapproval from all members of Congress, but has a particular interest in those who serve on committees that have oversight for the FCC—the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

ReadersFirst joins the ALA and many libraries in advocating against dismantling Net Neutrality and encourages all to affirm Net Neutrality.   

What Do We Want? A Library Survey

Members of our Working Group have servedon ALA’s Digital Content Working Group, whose leaders informed us that publishers have asked for information on what e-content business models libraries REALLY want.

We have therefore prepared a survey. We special thanks to one of our members, Cathy Mason of Columbus Metropolitan Library, for her input. We hope that someone from all libraries will take the survey. Please take the survey by November 6. It should take about 10 to 12 minutes.

We also hope that librarians will share this survey with various lists and other contacts.  We hope for many responses. Publisher’s Weekly has expressed interest in sharing our survey in their e-newsletter, reaching thousands of libraries.  PW may also do an article on the results if they prove interesting.

ReadersFirst will share the results on our website. Let’s let our friends in publishing know what we’d like to see from them!

Thank you for your support for making the library e-content experience as simple, streamlined, and rewarding as possible.

Here is a direct link to the survey too:

DPLA Launches Its Library E-Content Exchange

ReadersFirst is happy to share news from our friends at DPLA about a development that could greatly enhance ow libraries offer digital content. (Full disclosure--I am the director of one of the libraries that is piloting the project).

DPLA Exchange Offers Library-Centered Ebook Marketplace

For more information, contact .

From Interim Executive Director Michele Kimpton, Ebook Consultant Micah May, and Ebook
Program Manager Michelle Bickert

The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) is proud to unveil a pilot program to test a new model for a library-owned and library-centered ebook marketplace for popular ebooks, together with free public domain ebooks. The DPLA Exchange (, will allow staff at six pilot libraries to log in and start selecting ebooks from over a hundred thousand licensed titles and thousands more that are public domain. The new program will be administered through a partnership with LYRASIS, which will provide the hosting and other technology resources.

The launch of the Exchange represents a major milestone in the DPLA ebook pilot announced earlier this year. The goal of the program is to demonstrate how DPLA can help libraries maximize access to ebooks for their patrons. For the pilot, DPLA sought out a mix of library types including a state library, a consortium, and both a large public library and one serving smaller and rural populations. The diverse group of pilot libraries are Alameda County Library (CA); Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (PA); Connecticut State Library (CT); Califa Library Group (CA, KS); St. Mary's County Library (MD) [which will work to share content state-wide] and Yavapai Library Network (AZ). After a preliminary period working with these selected libraries, DPLA will explore expanding the Exchange to more institutions.

“We are eager to explore the great possibilities for accessing high-quality and cost-effective e-content inherent in this Exchange,” said Michael Blackwell, Director of St. Mary’s County

Library and project manager for implementing Library Simplified in Maryland. “Even a small and largely rural library system like mine is likely to have more content that is easier for users to access. We are grateful to DPLA for their pioneering work in making this vision a reality.”

One of the goals of the Exchange is to make it easier for libraries to add open and diverse collections from multiple sources to their e-content collections. Pilot libraries will soon be able to offer open content alongside purchased publisher content, including: public domain classics; Creative Commons titles, including children’s books in multiple languages; and open educational resources spanning the humanities and STEM subjects.

"The DPLA Exchange offers a much-needed utility for acquiring and managing digital content from a wide variety of sources. We are excited to use the Exchange to further diversify our

eResource offerings,” said Toby Greenwalt, Director of Digital Strategy and Technology Integration at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

The DPLA Exchange is one piece of an emerging open architecture for library ebooks connected by the standard Open Publication Distribution System (OPDS) protocol and the enhanced Open Distribution for Libraries (ODL) protocol. This openness allows libraries to curate and serve e-content from a variety of licensed and open sources through the user experience of their choice. To accomplish this, DPLA will be partnering with LYRASIS, one of the oldest non-profit organizations serving libraries in the United States, to provide a multi-tenant hosted Library Simplified software solution, developed by The New York Public Library. The software provides library staff an administrative panel to edit metadata, blend content from the DPLA Exchange and other sources, and curate the collection. By providing a hosting solution, libraries that do not have the technical infrastructure or capacity to run Library Simplified can still participate in the DPLA exchange. Over the coming months, the e-content collections of each pilot library will become available to patrons in SimplyE (available for iOS and Android) and will also be available in other OPDS readers when integrated.

This work to improve access to widely read ebooks is made possible through the generous support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Many members of the DPLA community have also contributed to this effort, so we want to thank you, our community, for your help and ask you to join us in celebrating the launch of this national library-owned e-content marketplace, the DPLA Exchange.


LYRASIS is one of the longest serving non-profits focused on libraries, including public, academic, state libraries and more, as well as archives, museums and galleries. LYRASIS supports enduring access to our shared academic, scientific and cultural heritage through leadership in open technologies, content services, digital solutions and collaboration with archives, libraries, museums and knowledge communities worldwide.

About the Digital Public Library of America

The Digital Public Library of America empowers people to learn, grow, and contribute to a diverse and better-functioning society. We do this by maximizing public access to our shared history, culture, and knowledge. DPLA connects people to the riches held within America’s libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural heritage institutions. The Digital Public Library of America is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Boston.

Posted by Michael Blackwell, Director, St Mary's County LIbrary