EAST PROVIDENCE, RI - On Monday, February 3, the Rhode Island Library Association hosted U.S. Congressman David Cicilline (RI-01) at a roundtable for library staff and library patrons from around the state to discuss current unfair terms of availability and pricing in the e-book market.
The roundtable, which took place at the East Providence Public Library Weaver Library in East Providence, provided attendees the opportunity to voice their concerns to Congressman Cicilline about the increasing difficulty in gaining access to e-books and other digital content from the library.
“We are thankful to Congressman Cicilline for taking the time to listen to our concerns, as recent market changes in the publishing industry have put libraries in an unsustainable position,” said Rhode Island Library Association president Julie Holden.
The discussion was initially prompted by Macmillan Publishers’ eight-week embargo on sales of new e-book titles to libraries, a policy that went into effect on November 1, 2019. The Rhode Island Library Association denounced the publisher’s change in terms and joined the American Library Association’s #eBooksForAll campaign calling on Macmillan to reverse the embargo and restore full access to its complete e-book catalog.
“Last fall Ocean State Libraries made it clear that we strongly oppose Macmillan’s attempt to delay access to e-books for our library patrons,” said Holden. “This embargo stands in the way of our mission to provide information in a fair and timely manner to everyone who uses our public libraries. The purpose of today’s discussion was to make sure our Representative is aware of how the practices of Macmillan and other players in digital markets are hurting his constituents and library users across the country.”
The #eBooksForAll campaign, with nearly 250,000 petition signers, has broadened its scope of interest to other digital content providers, including Amazon publishing, which does not sell any of its e-book titles to libraries. In a report to Congress, the American Library Association identified “practices by companies like Amazon and Macmillan Publishers that threaten Americans’ right to read what and how they choose and imperil other fundamental First Amendment freedoms.” The report was submitted in response to an inquiry from the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law, which is chaired by Congressman Cicilline.
“As the Chairman of the House Antitrust Subcommittee leading a bipartisan investigation into the state of competition in the digital marketplace, I’m particularly interested in potentially anticompetitive practices harming libraries and their users, especially in Rhode Island,” Cicilline said. “I’m grateful that the Rhode Island Library Association put together today’s roundtable so we could discuss these issues in detail. I look forward to continuing our work together as the investigation wraps up and legislative fixes are introduced later this year.”
The Rhode Island Library Association is a professional organization that serves its members through career development, education, advocacy, networking partnerships, and legislative action. RILA believes in:
· Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
· Equal Access for All
· Intellectual Freedom