TB lawmakers and librarians reviewed e-book licensing costs
HARTFORD, CT – Senator Tony Hwang (R-28), Rep. Cristin McCarthy Vahey (D-133), and Laura Devlin (R-134) have raised awareness of an ever-growing budget deficit to which these important community cornerstones and resources are confronted. They are committed to working together to provide solutions to support our local libraries.
Lawmakers were joined for a press conference by Deborah Schander, CT State Librarian, Ellen Paul, CT Library Consortium and the Fairfield Librarians Scott Jarzombek, Fairfield Public Library and Stephanie Coakley, Pequot Library. Each member of the group brought their own stories of the challenges they face in balancing providing their virtual and in-person visitors with state-of-the-art works, materials and programs while maintaining high standards of access and security. public.
As a budget item under constant scrutiny, Connecticut public libraries now receive an average of only 1.15% of municipal budgets to provide needed services to the communities they serve. Additionally, libraries are faced with increasing costs associated with obtaining digital resources that allow people to access materials regardless of location or disability status.
According to the State Library, the cost for libraries to obtain an e-book license is twice what it costs to purchase a hardcover copy of the same resource and these licenses often expire after a period of time or a defined number of uses. To obtain an audio version accessible to people with visual impairments or other reading disabilities, the costs can be another 4 times higher.
“Libraries are at a critical time. Two years into this pandemic, they are providing both traditional and innovative services to their communities, but not without figurative and literal costs. A particular pressure point is the cost of providing electronic hardware, which is much higher than that associated with printed books. With more people borrowing eBooks and audiobooks than ever, now is the time to talk about ways to support our libraries’ collections and their bottom line,” said Deborah Schander, CT State Librarian.
“I appreciate Senator Hwang’s leadership on the critical issue of inflated library e-book costs. This issue affects all Connecticut taxpayers who support their local library with their hard-earned taxes. Libraries routinely pay four to five times what consumers pay for the same eBooks, then are forced to repurchase the same titles each year, costing taxpayers thousands of dollars over the life of a single eBook and makes a solid collection of e-books beyond the reach of many libraries.. Publishers have been taking advantage of libraries and taxpayers for far too long, and I commend Senator Hwang for bringing this critical issue of access and equity to Connecticut residents to the public’s attention.”said Ellen Paul, executive director of the Connecticut Library Consortium.
“During the pandemic, libraries have pivoted to providing digital resources and content. Although libraries have resumed offering in-person services, demand for all digital and hybrid services has not diminished, creating additional pressure on our budgets and staff,” said Scott Jarzombek, of the Fairfield Public Library.
“As Pequot Library looks to the future and develops a plan for our library in a post-pandemic world, we strive to provide even more programs and services both in person and digitally. Located in a historic building, the Pequot Library is a 21st-century library that simultaneously serves as custodians of a special collection of rare books, manuscripts, and archives and offers a collection of circulating books, including e-books. We now host both on-site Special Collections exhibits and online exhibits, featuring live author talks, expanding the content of our video-recorded program, and more. As a non-profit association library, municipal support is essential to carry out our work to foster a lifelong pursuit of learning for all, especially in these times when there is a need for expanded services. and library programming, said Stephanie Coakley, Executive Director, Pequot Library Association.
“Libraries are pillars in our communities, connecting residents to each other, resources and information,” Representative McCarthy Vahey said. “Countless members of the community depend on these vital resources daily, making it essential to commit to ensuring sufficient funding for Connecticut libraries.”
Senator Hwang pointed out, “Our public and private libraries are gathering spaces, social hubs for residents of all ages, places of learning, community connectors, and a vital way for people to access resources and information. . I am deeply concerned about the growing challenges facing Connecticut libraries to provide Internet access, educational programs, physical library materials and digital resources. These are issues of social equity, access and affordability. Libraries offer seniors a way out of their isolation at home as well as a way for new families to connect with their child’s future classmates in the city. Regardless of your age, socio-economic background, and information needs, I’m here to say I love our libraries.
The Legislative Assembly’s bipartisan Planning and Development Committee raised SB 131 and will hold a legislative public hearing on February 25, 2022 on reducing the digital cost of e-books to better support Connecticut libraries and schedule a public hearing in the coming weeks. Importantly, library leaders and legislators respect the delicate balance between copyright protection, municipal funding, and the unique challenges of public policy on public/private corporations, but look forward to a ongoing conversation in search of solutions that will work for all stakeholders. .
NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING FROM THE PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE
February 25, 2022 at 11:00 am., the Planning and Development Committee will hold a virtual public hearing on SB No. 131 (RAISED) AN ELECTRONIC BOOK LICENSING LAW.