Libraries have been facing an uphill battle in collecting and disseminating eBooks for American citizens. While the eBook issues around Overdrive and the Big 6 publishing houses as well as the role of Amazon are worthy of a separate debate, I want to focus on a different, much bigger issue. While the debates about how to deal with eBooks rage on, one enduring value of libraries has fallen to the wayside. The eBook issue needs to be framed in a different philosophical light. The recent struggle to obtain access to eBooks for libraries is a freedom to read and equity of access matter.
The real issue here is the issue of human rights, inequality and social justice. Article 19 of the Declaration of Human Rights states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers” (italics mine). American citizens, regardless of economic status, have a fundamental right to seek and receive information through any format, especially when that format becomes mainstream. Just about 1 in 3 Americans owns a tablet or eReader.
Food for thought.