Kindle Unlimited

I wrote the following post for the iSchool’s Information Space Blog. Thought folks here might find it useful.

Can I tell you why I’m so excited about Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited service? Because, aside from all my publications with academic presses and journals, I am an independent publisher. My book, Expect More, was published as a physical copy and digital copy through Amazon’s tools. What’s better, I’m automatically part of Kindle Unlimited, and maybe this will get me more readers. You see, the vast majority of the 600,000 titles in Kindle Unlimited are self-published books.Want the top sellers in the New York Times list? Ah, go to a library.

Surprised that a professor of library and information science isn’t all that worried about the fate of libraries (mostly public libraries) in the light of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited launching it’s “Netflix for Books?” Don’t be. Amazon joins a pretty crowded field, including Overdrive,Scribd, and Oyster. What’s more, Amazon is leading with 600,000 items, where libraries have access to tens of millions of titles…seriously.

Perhaps, you may think, I am an ivory tower academic blind to the coming disruptive change…like when the Internet was going to put libraries out of business… then Google…then Netflix…then Yahoo! Answers. Here’s the plain truth: there is a HUGE disruptive change happening in libraries, and it is facilitated by things like Google and Kindle Unlimited. Libraries are shifting from collection-focused buildings to centers of innovation focused on communities. If you think of libraries as places filled with books, you are in for a bit of a shock. Any library that can be replaced by a $10 a month subscription to stuff SHOULD be replaced.

Kids watching a 3D printer working

Kids at the Fayetteville Free Library watch a 3D Printer in action. Image via

Let me give you a small example of what I mean. My wife recently had to be out of town for 2 weeks, so I got single-father duty. The majority of those days we were at the library. We were there so the kids could 3D print iPhone cases for their friends, borrow games, and join Minecraft groups. Did they check out books? Sure, on our way out…if we had time. Why was the public library doing all of these things? To meet the library’s mission of improving their community through knowledge creation. My kids were learning through books, sure, but also video games, Do It Yourself (DIY) printing, and by interacting with other folks in the community. In the coming weeks, the same library is having DIY sessions on home improvement, including electrical work…I NEED that.

Now, this might seem a flippant response to a major technology mover. After all, was there nothing in Amazon’s move that worried me? Oh yes…hell yes if I’m allowed to swear on this blog. It terrifies me and should terrify you how Amazon is currently working to break publishers and pursue a monopoly in book sales. They are making information unavailable to their customers trying to improve their position in the market. They are making titles harder or impossible to find out of a drive to the bottom line, not the good of the people.

Comic depicting what would happen if big ISPs were allowed to charge for tiered internet access.

An example of the consequences of the end of Net Neutrality. Image via

But honestly, that is nowhere near as scary as things like network neutrality, where Internet Service Providers are trying to figure out how to monetize your viewing habits and pick the winners and losers in new Internet services. And that, frankly, pales in comparison to digital sharecropping, where huge corporations get massive billion-dollar valuations based on the content and work of their “users.” I mean, who is using whom when YouTube gets bought by Google for over a billion dollars and not one video producer saw a dime?

So are there scary things going on? Yup? Thank God we have some folks who are in the information industry and base their work on century-old values.Thank goodness there are information professionals that continue to maintain an internationally-distributed network of local knowledge hubs dedicated to community engagement and free and fair access to the life blood of democracy: information. Thank goodness there are librarians who long ago realized that it is not the size of your collection, but the reach of your community that really matters.

By the way, if you have $10 a month lying around, try Marvel Unlimited. If you are a comic book fan it is fricken incredible.

Posted in Links | 2 Comments

New Librarianship MasterClass/MOOC Starts Monday

Just a reminder that the New Librarianship MOOC will be offered again starting on Monday.

Look here for more information:

Look here for self-registration information:

Posted in New/Participatory Librarianship, Teaching | 3 Comments

Innovation in the Country

“Innovation in the Country” Keynote for ILEAD USA.

Abstract: Innovation should look like Silicon Valley…if you serve Silicon Valley. Otherwise, it should look like your community.

I tried something different for this one…live video with on screen pop ups. Please let me know if you like it or how it could be better.


Innovation in the Country from R. David Lankes on Vimeo.

Posted in 2014, New/Participatory Librarianship, Presentation | 5 Comments

Interview with Anna Maria Tammaro

Video and audio from a short interview with Anna Maria Tammaro on New Librarianship and Italian librarians:

Interview on New Librarianship with Anna Maria Tammero from R. David Lankes on Vimeo.

Audio Only:

Here is a list of the questions we started with:

1. What is the value of librarians and how can it be measured? if the librarians’ value is facilitating learning in our communities, how can we measure the achievement of members, their outcomes, and our impact?

2. In the Italian context, the autonomy of librarians is very limited: how can we feel responsible of improving our society?

3. In Italy, librarians have different education levels and work in different contexts in the North and the South of Italy: how can we share a common Library model?

4. As university librarians, how can we facilitate knowledge creation? should our role be in line or in collision with our University role, that shares the same mission of knowledge creation?

5. You put forth a kind of subversive vision of our profession. The first words that come to my mind are: overall change, assertion, participation. I find your idea of a new librarianship very inspiring. As an academic librarian, I ask to myself how librarians’ mission of improving society through facilitating knowledge creation can be reconciled within the academic community we first serve, whose mission is in a way parallel or identical. Isn’t that a role our parent institution will never let us play, if not just as a second choice?

Posted in New/Participatory Librarianship | Leave a comment

Master Class Now Open for Enrollment

Starting at the end of June I’ll be running the New Librarianship Master Class (June 30-July 27). For those who are familiar with the MOOC I did last summer, this is a repeat of that course. For those unfamiliar, here is a description:

About the Class

Libraries have existed for millennia, but today the library field is searching for solid footing in an increasingly fragmented (and increasingly digital) information environment. What is librarianship when it is unmoored from cataloging, books, buildings, and committees?

The vision for a new librarianship must go beyond finding library-related uses for information technology and the Internet; it must provide a durable foundation for the field. New Librarianship recasts librarianship and library practice using the fundamental concept that knowledge is created though conversation. New librarians approach their work as facilitators of conversation; they seek to enrich, capture, store, and disseminate the conversations of their communities.

Join David Lankes for this online course that provides a foundation for practicing librarians and library science students in new librarianship. It builds on The Atlas of New Librarianship, the 2012 ABC CLIO/Greenwood Award for the Best Book in Library Literature and seeks to generate discussion about the future direction of the profession.

Course Introduction

For a brief video introduction see:

For a brief video introduction of New Librarianship see:

Join Others

Thanks to the generosity of the State Library of Illinois, the class will be open to all comers, but is targeting participants in the ILEAD USA project. To enroll, use the following instructions. Note that the class won’t start until June 30, but you can register now and get a sense of the course management system used.

Self Enroll

This course is being taught using CourseSites by Blackboard, an online platform for organizing and securely sharing course materials, online lectures, discussion and other learning activities. To request enrollment into my course, follow the steps below:

1. Launch a browser and enter the following URL to the course home page:

2. Once at the course home page, click the “Self Enroll” button.

When signing up, take note that you can register using existing account information from popular web services like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Gmail, Yahoo and Windows Live to make it easier to login.


If you have any questions please let me know at, or use the Discussion board under “Overview and Introduction.”

Posted in Events, New/Participatory Librarianship, Teaching | 4 Comments

EveryLibrary Rapid Response Fund

I love this idea. I have been a big fan of EveryLibrary since it started. They are doing good work for a good cause (libraries) and they are doing it in a smart way. Their latest effort, Rapid Response Fund, will allow them to help libraries at the 11th hour:

“Our Rapid Response Fund is designed to amplify the voices of local library advocates during a crisis by supporting paid ads for outreach and action. “

I urge you to take a look:

Posted in Links | Leave a comment

A Good PET Scan

If there is one thing that cancer has not taught me it is patience, so here’s the punch line: Had my first PET scan since the stem cell (bone marrow) transplant on Wednesday. Got the results today. The results: no indication of cancer at this time.

Now for more nuance than Twitter will allow. My oncologist sees no indications of lymphoma on the scan and is comfortable waiting 3 to 6 months for another scan. This is clearly good news. I don’t (and probably never shall) use the word cure. The cancer can come back, that’s why I’ll be monitored for the next several years (remember that the stem cell transplant procedure has a 50% success rate).

So. Great news. A great reason to have a great summer. I still have a compromised immune system, so I watch what I eat, stay away from sick folks, and off of airplanes (and cruise ships).

One scan down – a bunch more to go!

Posted in Biography, Cancer | 13 Comments