Friday, 26 September 2014

3 Library Assistants from the University of Strathclyde went to an E-Book Conference...

It's great to hear good reports of professional development opportunities that went well!  Three library assistants from the University of Strathclyde went to the recent E-Book Conference, and Lynsey Sampson of the Book Acquisitions Department was the first to share her report.

If you work in in a Scottish university or higher education library, keep a watchful eye on this blog.  We often flag up interesting forthcoming events.

Now, over to Lynsey:-
13th Annual E-book conference – 5th September 2014
 
I was given the opportunity to attend the 13th annual e-book conference, ‘Happily Ever After’, held at the University of Strathclyde on Friday 5th September 2014.
 
The conference centred on whether e-books and their associated reading devices signified a move away from print to electronic formats. It also examined the benefits of utilising electronic formats as well as the restrictions imposed by publishers in providing access to these formats; changes in reading patterns; and the rise in self-publishing due to technological advancement.
 
The keynote speaker, Gerald Leitner from EBLIDA, discussed how publishers view e-book lending in libraries as an economic threat. Gerald argued that this has resulted in publishers imposing inflexible terms and conditions in their e-book accessibility to libraries resulting in a collection that does not match public demand. Gerald maintained that unless a form of ‘mandatory fair licensing’ exists then publishers will still be able to exert power over a library’s electronic collection policies. This was an interesting presentation raising the questions of ownership and the essence of a library’s ethos in enabling information for all. The second speaker, Stephen Pinfield from the University Of Sheffield, looked at how different formats, such as social media, open access, mobile devices, are being widely used by users of academic libraries. This also raised the issue of incompatibility between what publishers provide to academic libraries and what users are able to access.
 
After a case study on the uptake of e-books in UK public libraries provided by PhD student Christopher Gibson, we were provided with a morning refreshment break and a chance to look around the exhibitor stands/stalls. This provided me with an opportunity to talk with book publishers as well as pick up a large amount of reading information!
 
The second half of the morning session focused on how technological advancement has brought about the rise of self-publishing. The issue of ‘vanity publishing’ where publishers will publish anything, irrespective of its quality, if they are paid highly enough was one of the issues discussed by Maggie Boyd from Leicestershire Library Services and Rachel Gregory from Troubador Publishing.
 
After a buffet lunch and a chance to meet other information professionals, the first afternoon session consisted of a practical demonstration by Alistair McNaught from Jisc on how the use of digital text can be utilised as a reading aid for groups of readers, such as those who are visually impaired or dyslexic. Alistair demonstrated how, if used correctly, aids such as magnifying text or changing the colour of text can be used to enable reading accessibility and improve concentration levels. I found this presentation to be worthwhile as understanding the ways to enable modifications on e-devices can be applied to any library environment thus enhancing more choice and inclusion for library users.
 
The next session looked at a current collaborative approach taking place amongst Scottish academic libraries to purchase e-book packages from publishers. This seemed to act as a case study session in order to highlight ways in which libraries are using innovative means to enhance their e-book collection as well as creating consistency in their collections and reducing the costs of purchasing e-books.
 
Following on from the concluding session, ‘A Brief History of the E-book’, a panel discussion took place discussing the future of the e-book. I found the discussion to be the most beneficial as it raised some thought provoking points from a variety of perspectives as well as summarising what was discussed in the earlier presentations. A number of points were raised in the discussion: are we living in the era of the “bookless library”?; are people’s reading habits changing?; and how technologically advanced will e-reading devices become? From the discussions it emerged that electronic devices enable people to access books in situations where they would otherwise be viewed as physically cumbersome in printed format. Electronic devices also provide immediate access to news and current affairs. It was suggested that young people feel more confident than other generations in reading on a multitude of formats. Gerald described the future of e-reading as incorporating a vast array of multi-media technologies.
 
My understanding from attending the conference is that the print book and e-book will continue to co-exist. In addition, it seems that more conversation and understanding needs to take place between publisher’s and libraries to establish a fair publishing e-book model. Overall, I really enjoyed the conference and I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to attend.
 
Lynsey Sampson, Library Assistant, Acquisitions, University of Strathclyde.

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