This past week I had a conversation with some friends at my library school about the Librarian In Black’s sign protesting publishers’ ebook lending policies (or lack thereof) that has been making the rounds recently. I really like what LIB did with that sign - it’s proactive and to the point, which is something that I wish I could see more of on this front in libraryland. I’m completely behind her call to arms and I recommend you go read what she has to say.
We can do more. Some of my fellow librarians are floating the idea of developing an online ebook sign along the lines of the plugins and scripts that people used during the SOPA blackout last month. This is something that could pop up whenever a library user tries to look for an ebook that isn’t available to them. This may actually be more effective than physical signs posted at the library, since ebook users are more likely to be accessing the library’s catalog remotely. And with users already online, they are in a better position to actually act on the information given to them. This hypothetical library plugin / script should have a feature that makes it easy for users to directly contact the publishers, such as a link or contact form similar to what many of the SOPA blackout scripts provided for contacting legislators.
Granted, this might not be as easy to implement as the SOPA protest scripts. Inserting something into an ILS or OPAC probably takes a little more legwork than downloading a plugin for one’s WordPress website. But I’m certain it can be done, so let’s make this happen! If the SOPA protesters can find so many talented programmers to write these plugins and scripts for others to freely use, surely we can do the same.
Compare. The physical sign created by the Librarian in Black:
A common SOPA protest “sign” from Tumblr:
Which format do you think would be more effective for reaching library ebook users?