RBRfDB @ ACRL 2011!

We're happy to announce that we will be presenting the Readers Bill of Rights for Digital Books at the Association of College and Research Libraries National Conference in Philadelphia, PA in 2011! We're excited to have a full hour for this presentation (a luxury!), and the RBR labs will be humming in the months leading up to the conference.

What follows is the proposal for our talk.

"This is an apology for the way we previously handled illegally sold copies of 1984 and other novels on Kindle. Our "solution" to the problem was stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles."—Jeff Bezos, Founder & CEO,

What happens to our rights as readers and authors when books go digital? Librarian Alycia Sellie and technologist Matthew Goins will challenge the status quo of book digitization and argue that the advent of electronic books may destroy established rights that readers have held historically with print. More than just an issue of convenience, we will outline what changes when books go from print to restricted digital format. We will examine the restrictive licensing agreements and closed technologies used in current digitization projects that deny readers fair use of copyrighted materials and explain the technical and social problems that arise through the use of Digital Rights/Restrictions Management (DRM).

Librarians are currently exploring the functionality and aesthetics of ebooks and the lending possiblities of devices. Many open source technology advocates are currently critiquing closed, restrictive systems in all media. The intersection of these two conversations is the focus of our inquiry. Working in each of our fields and in conversation with each other, we realized that there is an unusual convergence of legal implications, technical problems and challenges for readers in the case of book digitization.

We are offering a guide—The Readers’ Bill of Rights for Digital Books—to serve as a reference to examine the problems with the current state of ebooks that we have identified both for collections and for consumers. As electronic book devices are becoming popular accessories visible in our daily lives, it is critical to evaluate the impact that digital book purchases have upon libraries as well as upon the rights of individual readers. This talk will cover the implications of technological restrictions upon permanent library collections, the relationship that these technological and legal structures have upon a reading public, and alternative options that librarians can demand for digital collections.

Our focus is the rights of readers as people, not as devices. This is a critical moment in the development of the field of electronic books. Libraries and individuals can shape what is to come by our decisions concerning whether we purchase ebooks, from whom we purchase them, and under what legal terms. We would like to invite our colleagues to adopt the Readers' Bill of Rights for Digital Books within their local communities. It is our hope that readers will find it useful, and that ACRL librarians will engage in an ongoing dialogue and discussion to refine and define the bill of rights, even beyond our session and the conference.

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