NA Publishing, Image Data Conversion, Announce Bankruptcy.

Saline, Michigan’s NA Publishing, Inc. and its parent company, Image Data Conversion, LLC, have announced they are bankrupt.  Posted to their website and distributed to some circles of the library community in late May was this statement:

NA Publishing, along with its parent company Image Data Conversion, has ceased operations and is working with its bank to resolve its outstanding obligations. NA Publishing is seeking to find buyers for its digital collections, including: Music Magazine Archives, and Leftist/Marxist Newspapers. In the mean time, NA Publishing will continue to provide access to these collections until a buyer(s) has been found. NA Publishing is in the process of transitioning the Publishers Weekly Digital Archive directly to Publishers Weekly who has agreed to maintain access for all libraries that have previously purchased this collection.

For outstanding serials in microfilm orders, NA Publishing has been seeking an agent to fulfill outstanding orders but has not secured one as of this date. Efforts to secure a viable solution for fulfilling these will continue.

Numerous customers have had longstanding business relations for purchases of microformed periodicals and other products with NA Publishing in its current and previous incarnations. There was a routine to it, which included paying in advance for the products. Substantial time could elapse before the product arrived, which could be a year or two, but the routine of the relationship masked red flags that otherwise would have gone up had it been different.  Not until early Spring did people start noticing that routine communication with NA Publishing had ceased. A March The Flash blog post did provide some reassurance that things were okay.

Shortly thereafter I learned that a community college library had smelled something was wrong and had contacted their administration about the concern. The resulting check on the building by the police department found a For Sale sign planted in front of their former headquarters, 6564 S. State Rd., which then prompted me to locate its availability on It also prompted me to do some digging on the history and nature of the company.

I could write a couple paragraphs about what I unearthed, but with ALA Annual coming up soon I think it would be useful to know a few things. An entry for Image Data Conversion, LLC, on the Center For Research Libraries describes IDC as the parent organization for three companies: NA Publishing, Inc., eBeam Film, LLC; and Reveal Digital. Links to the other two businesses show a May 31 website expiration. I also discovered that Reveal Digital had recently cancelled an editorial board meeting scheduled for June 24 at ALA Annual.

What ties most of this together is one name, Jeff Moyer.  While I have not discovered his role in the eBeam Film business, as President of Image Data Conversion, President of NA Publishing, and Founder and co-Program Director of Reveal Digital it would make sense that an explanation of sorts ought to be shared as well as what will be done for reimbursement of funds should efforts to resolve its obligations fail.

Representatives from Center For Research Libraries, LYRASIS, and a large number of universities are on Reveal Digital’s executive committee and editorial board. Going forward those institutions should feel a substantial degree of trepidation with regards to their involvement.

Future Libraries, Part I

When this community formed and this blog activated, I volunteered to contribute a monthly post.  Luckily for me, there was no strong incentive (beyond guilt) to follow through, because I haven’t posted since August and am finding it difficult to write this one.  Certainly I have some valid reasons, but the underlying block has been a paralyzing feeling of uncertainty about the future of libraries and librarianship.  Is that enough of a downer for everyone, if the post-holiday January blues are not enough?  Well, I’m tired of mulling it over on my own.

Let’s gloss over for a moment that higher education has been in self-proclaimed flux for the past decade if not longer, and that technology-inflected rose-colored predictions about the end of libraries have been around since at least the 1930s.  Let’s also set aside what most library employees know: That the toil accompanying the practical considerations of physical collections can lead us to genuinely welcome non-physical components even when they do not actually mean a reduction in workload.

Instead, let’s focus on the purpose of a library.  What is a library meant to do?  Is a library supposed to be a repository for all human knowledge?  Personally, I have never thought so, but some of the loudest anti-library sneering I’ve heard seems to come from folks under that impression.  I’ve also seen some correlation between this attitude and the idea that librarians don’t know about the internet.  But back to the question:  What is the purpose of a library?  The answer I like best is that the purpose of a library is to collect, organize, and curate broadly-accessible, relevant materials for the benefit of a certain user population.  (At a community college, this would include introductory materials to as many of the various academic disciplines as possible; materials to support success in careers, academics, and home life; faculty-oriented materials to support teaching and practice; and yes, even some textbooks.)

To me, with this purpose in mind, a library seems like an obviously beneficial and fundamentally useful thing for a group of people working toward a common mission, such as at a college.  And yet the vibe locally that I’m picking up right now is that libraries are nice but not essential, and fundamentally vestigial.  As spaces, it’s true libraries can be lovely, but devoid of their original purpose of housing materials that were once only available in a physical format, they can also seem merely symbolic and expensive, decorated with printed ornaments.

As I go about dismantling our physical collection in favor of an electronic one, the more creating a robust, shared library collection of electronic materials seems strange and unnatural.  Strange because where once the materials had a physical presence — living proof, in a way, of something’s existence — we now have to guarantee it’s there on the computer and cross our fingers that all the technology is working today.  Strange also because of the artificial boundaries:  Do we have ten thousand academic e-books in the collection today, or twenty thousand, or one hundred thousand?  How does that number impact student outcomes and the mission of the institution?  Is a higher quantity always better, or at a certain point do we begin to stray into information overload?  At what point do we betray our goal to be relevant in favor of the sheer number of things that are now available to us electronically, where once we were limited by space?  And unnatural because often these electronic objects were not designed to be used as part of a shared, durable library collection in the way that libraries have traditionally operated.  Arguably neither were printed materials, but past a certain point these at least had an inherent immutability.  Immutability is not part of the appeal of electronic materials, and with the pace of technological change it seems possible it never will be.  The result is that libraries end up with an oddball assortment of electronic versions, in various stages of obsolescence, which many of us are not currently equipped or staffed to deal with.

Then there’s librarianship. How distracted and insulated must we become before acknowledging that there is a sea change going on in libraries that affects the very core of professional librarianship?  What kind of skills, besides management, must an individual possess in order for an institution to justify the expense of someone with a Master’s degree in Library Science? [Side note: Perusing the really exciting-looking librarian postings on listservs, it appears part of the answer is at least a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, and/or knowledge of specialized programming languages.]  Relying on tradition and established practice will prolong the game, particularly in academic libraries, but ultimately it will not preserve the requirement of a graduate degree from a library school.

The point I’m trying to make is that the way forward for libraries is unclear, at least to me.  The libraries that I see being being celebrated as forward-thinking and futuristic seem like basically bland, anonymous, technology-enabled conference rooms, and they don’t thrill or inspire me.  So even though on the one hand I think libraries and librarians are more necessary than ever, on the other I feel oppressed and stymied.  But I’d like to end on a hopeful note, so maybe I should acknowledge that if I’m going to work in this field I had better darn well get excited, or exit.  New Year’s Resolution: Part II here will include some optimism and enthusiasm. Until then, apologies for being such a grouch.

Good Audio-Visual Vendors

There are many places to buy educational media, some better than others.  Some reliable vendors are listed below–are there any others that you’ve found useful for particular subjects? Thanks to Christine Godin for this list!


ABC News Store –

Agency For Instructional Technology –

AIMS Multimedia –

Ambrose Video –

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Book Budget Allocation

How do community college libraries allocate their collection development budgets among various departments?  I was curious about how other librarians handles this–the following is a brief breakdown of their responses I got from the CJCLS listserv some time back:

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