Takeaways from Trendspotting Ebooks Symposium

Highlights from CLC’s Trendspotting Symposium, Ebooks: Collections at the Crossroads, included a fiery, funny, and provoking talk by keynote speaker and library super geek, Eli Neiburger, and continued with a fascinating panel discussion that included Mr. Neiburger, the remarkable Barbara Genco, Harper Collins President of Sales Josh Marwell, and an exec from Overdrive, Mike Shontz (moderated by Kate Sheehan aka the Loose Cannon Librarian.)

Some takeaways:

  • Josh Marwell from Harper Collins said that the 26 checkout limit is NOT set in stone.  It is “a work in progress.”  (Also, bravo and major props to an HC man stepping into a roomful of wary librarians. That’s bravery.)
  • Dedicated ereaders (black and white devices whose sole purpose is to read ebooks) will be obsolete in a few years.  The future is in multifunction devices.
  • For libraries to adapt successfully in this brave new world of digital content, we need to Geek Up.  Libraries need to hire more geeks and train existing staff to be more geeky. That is, we must be comfortable navigating, creating, storing, archiving, and curating digital content.  And, we need to be able to confidently help our patrons do so as well.
  • It’s impossible to know what libraries and the ebook market will look like in 5, 10, 15 years.  But, as Barbara Genco put it, “we are beyond the tipping point.”  Ebooks and digital content are here to stay- and growing exponentially.  We need to dig in, learn, and experiment now- even if it’s scary and we aren’t exactly sure where we are going.
  • Librarians are really good at what we do- helping patrons, building collections, fostering community.  We are not so hot at marketing those value-added services and skills.  Even in the midst of being cut out of some of the digital community (ie, Kindle and Apple’s App Store) we can nevertheless put our awesome librarian skills to work.  We can be the learning labs in which our users play with content creation.  We can be the Genius Bar-like staff that assist them in creating their own stories, videos, apps, and photo collections.  We can be the storehouse, archive, and curators of this unique content.

In case you’d like to browse through the day’s tweets, there were two hashtags (one official, one grassroots): #clcebks and #clctrendspotting.

photo courtesy of Flickr user Pen Waggener
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