Category Archives: Groundbreaking Initiatives

Digital Public Library of America unveils a pilot program to test a new model for a library-centered ebook marketplace

The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) unveiled this week a pilot program to test a new model for a library-owned and library-centered ebook marketplace for popular ebooks, together with free public domain and openly-licensed ebooks. The DPLA Exchange (exchange.dp.la), will allow staff at six pilot libraries to select ebooks from over a hundred thousand licensed titles and thousands more that are openly-licensed. The new program will be administered through a partnership with LYRASIS, which will provide the hosting and other technology resources.

The launch of the Exchange represents a major milestone in the DPLA ebook pilot announced earlier this year. The goal of the program is to demonstrate how DPLA can help libraries maximize access to ebooks for their patrons. For the pilot, DPLA sought out a mix of library types including a state library, a consortium, and both a large public library and one serving smaller and rural populations. The  pilot libraries include: Alameda County Library (CA); Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (PA); Connecticut State Library (CT); Califa Library Group (CA, KS); St. Mary’s County Library (MD) and Yavapai Library Network (AZ). After a preliminary period working with these selected libraries, DPLA will explore expanding the Exchange to more institutions. Continue reading Digital Public Library of America unveils a pilot program to test a new model for a library-centered ebook marketplace

The City of Opatija is a FREE READING ZONE

No Shelf Required joins forces with ebook provider Odilo to launch a FREE READING ZONE in Opatija, a major tourist draw on the Croatian Adriatic. Local university sponsors the free reading for tourists and residents within city limits; publishers from around the world participate.

September 27, 2017No Shelf Required is pleased to announce the launch of a new FREE READING ZONE under its leadership in the Adriatic city of Opatija, known for its promenade, luxury hotels, and a long history of cultural and business tourism. Starting today, on World Tourism Day, Opatija becomes an open virtual library, called Opatija Reads, accessible to all people inside the city limits, without a library card or access code. To celebrate this milestone, the city is enveloped with flags bearing teal flags and featuring quotes about the importance of reading and access to books.

“At the core of the FREE READING ZONE Project lies the belief that the power of technology to transform how books and knowledge reach us is profound. We can do with them what we have never been able to do with paper books,” said Mirela Roncevic, Director of No Shelf Required. “The city of Opatija today stands as an inspiration to other tourist destinations, because it shows that the tourism industry can be transformed through technology,” added Roncevic.

“Technology has long been breaking down barriers, equalizing access to content and information, and connecting people. We have created an unbreakable relationship with it. Because of it, we read news freely, listen to music freely, even watch movies freely. Why should the book not be given the same chance to reach the widest audience possible?,” added Roncevic.  Continue reading The City of Opatija is a FREE READING ZONE

NC LIVE Partners with Credo to provide users with a research tool to combat fake news

Just in:

Conducting research in the 21st century often means navigating fake news sites, biased media, and contradictory online information. Information literacy has emerged as a critical skill to achieve academic, professional, and personal success. Thanks to a partnership between the state’s library consortium NC LIVE and Credo Reference, Credo Online Reference Service will offer North Carolinians a starting point to find information about their research or personal topics of interest.

Credo provides background knowledge, illustrates relationships between topics, and cites the information they provide simply and consistently. North Carolinians won’t need to worry that what they are reading is bogus. Continue reading NC LIVE Partners with Credo to provide users with a research tool to combat fake news

ODILO chosen by European Commission to help boost literacy in schools

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​​​​​​​Just in:

Denver, CO, August 15, 2017 – ODILO, a global leader in the eBook industry, has been selected by the European Commission to provide their digital reading platform to European schools and universities.

Improving literacy and reading comprehension in schools has become one of the main challenges across Europe. With the support from the Commission, ODILO can now provide innovative and affordable solutions to assist schools and universities in their own reading plan implementations. Continue reading ODILO chosen by European Commission to help boost literacy in schools

DPLA to launch a membership program

On September 1, 2017, DPLA will launch the Hub Network Membership program. According to DPLA’s announcement, “the program will create a closer, more formal collaboration between DPLA and the members of the Hub Network to achieve [their] common goals and is an essential step in providing a structure and framework to give Hubs a voice in the direction of DPLA.” Continue reading DPLA to launch a membership program

The [powerful] connection between digitalization, creativity and society

An interesting discussion is taking place in the Frankfurt Book Fair circles. This press release hints at the opportunities afforded to society through digitalization, To understand it fully, it helps to understand what THE ARTS+ is about.  It is “a fair, business festival and international meeting place for the culture and creative industries,” which launched in October 2016 during the Frankfurt Book Fair and will return in October 2017.

The goal is to exploit the potential of digitalization for creative content and to develop new business areas. International artists, opinion leaders and experts will present at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair innovative approaches from the fields of publishing, museums, architecture and design, brands and agencies.

Publishing professionals and librarians can draw inspiration from such discussions as they may lead them in the direction of new partnerships, collaborations, and initiatives with ebooks and econtent, particularly (but not limited to) those promoting visual arts. Continue reading The [powerful] connection between digitalization, creativity and society

Libraries in New York City launch Subway Library, a new initiative that provides subway riders with free access to ebooks

Subway riders in New York will now be able to read free ebooks. It’s all orchestrated by the city’s three main library systems. Good for them. They certainly have the funds to do it (especially the NYPL), and this is long overdue.

But allow me to add: Croatia Reads was the ultimate scenario of an open virtual library — a Free Reading Zone in the truest sense. What we pulled off in Croatia last December took the idea of an open virtual library and free access to books and knowledge to new heights. It was THE ULTIMATE scenario. Let us still strive for that scenario. Let us not forget that millions of people around the world do not have access to NYPL and do not live in affluent areas. We opened an entire country for reading, and the collection wasn’t limited to a small number of titles. It was vast and relevant. And it was bigger than libraries. Because ebooks transcend libraries. They transcend borders and time zones, too.

Still, kudos to New York. This is a step in the right direction.–Ed.


Just in:

“We’re excited to announce the launch of Subway Library, a new initiative between The New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library, and Queens Library, the MTA, and Transit Wireless that provides subway riders in New York City with free access to hundreds of e-books, excerpts, and short stories—all ready to read on the train.

As part of the Subway Library celebration, don’t miss the specially wrapped “Library Train,” with the interior designed to look like NYPL’s Rose Main Reading Room! The train will alternate running on the E and F lines, running through Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens.

How to Access the Subway Library
To access the Subway Library, MTA customers in underground subway stations can connect to the free TransitWirelessWiFi through their network settings and click on the SubwayLibrary.com prompt to start reading from a large selection of titles for all ages. The site was developed with the same technology we used to create our free SimplyE e-reader app.”

Read more here.

 

Flood victims in Peru receive free ebooks to continue their education [via ODILO]

From an Odilo press release:

ODILO, the Spanish startup tech/eBook company, will provide all children in Peru with free technology due to the horrible floods that wreaked havoc there at the end of March. ODILO allows for the management, distribution, consumption, auditing, and preservation of all types of digital content (eBooks, audio, video, images, documents, etc.).

The floods primarily impacted the northwest coastal region of Piura, where a third of the population was harmed. In total, over 134 thousand homes were damaged and more than 600 thousand people were affected by the floods. As most of the roads are ruined, over 200,000 children are not able to get to school. The ODILO platform will provide students with access to their necessary materials and other educational content, so they can continue to learn while the country works to repair itself. Continue reading Flood victims in Peru receive free ebooks to continue their education [via ODILO]

Digital Public Library of America Launching Ebook Pilot

This just in from DPLA:

This is the second in a series of updates about DPLA’s work to maximize access to ebooks. Check out the first post in this series introducing DPLA’s plans.

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At DPLAfest this past April, the DPLA Board of Directors approved a plan to move forward with an ebook pilot aimed at improving access to a broad selection of open and licensed ebooks through market-based methods. We at DPLA are evaluating what we could potentially do from a community and technology perspective to help libraries maximize patron access to ebooks and other e-content. Through the pilot, set to launch in early fall, DPLA will manage technology solutions for 3-5 large public libraries and consortia.

First, some background: US libraries began providing ebooks through OverDrive in 2004. Since then, library ebooks have been provided through siloed, vertically integrated systems in which users can discover and borrow books from a given vendor only in that vendor’s website and apps. In 2012, a group of frustrated library leaders mobilized to form Readers First to fight for a better user experience for their patrons. This grassroots movement has advocated with some success for more open systems and empowered libraries to demand more from e-content vendors. These innovative, library-driven efforts have also led to multiple IMLS-funded grant projects moving us closer to the vision of a national digital platform. Continue reading Digital Public Library of America Launching Ebook Pilot

Library for All — not another ebook collection, but rather an idea

It has been a pleasure and an honor to write about various free ebook collections for the No Shelf Required community. I believe we share a number of commonalities about  reading and ways to make it more accessible apart from historical models  based on a buyer-customer relationship. The nine free e-collections I profiled thusfar have various models by which they operate, but all wish to disseminate information outside of  traditional methods.  And, to go a step further, I would be safe to assume that those of us who read NSR, share Mirela Roncevic’s passion to bypass the corporatized process by which print or electronic books are made available worldwide.  From our perspective, Mirela’s efforts to show that a country in its entirety can be a “Free Reading Zone” were not merely experimental, but could well be the leading edge of a future norm. Thus it is, dear readers, that, in my tenth post, I want to present you with not another collection, but rather an idea. Continue reading Library for All — not another ebook collection, but rather an idea

Croatia Reads was not about Croatia [but about free access to books for all mankind]

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So what exactly  happened with ebooks in Croatia in December of 2016? The first two articles in the “Lessons from Croatia Reads” series, which focused on why the project was immensely beneficial for readers and books (and the future of books), left some questions unanswered, owing largely to my affinity for describing life’s experiences (not just this one) not in a linear fashion but instead in the way in which they get stored in my memory. This often has little to do with chronology and more to do with how various lessons from the experience present themselves to  me after the fact.

The Croatia Reads project, which I founded and managed, was many things to many people who are, in one way or another, affected by books either because they write them, read them, sell them, distribute them, or manage them. In retrospect, and perhaps more than anything, Croatia Reads was an attempt to present the library of the future. And this library is able to (finally) fully democratize the written word by virtue of becoming completely invisible, thus accessible to all people, all at once. This, as I’ve written in various other posts, is the vision I have both for the industry I love and have devoted two decades of my life to and for the world, which I’ve had the privilege of experiencing through life on three continents.

The idea came to me about a year ago in the midst of a meeting I was having with my (at the time) colleagues at Total Boox, the company behind the pay-as-you-read ebook model for libraries and direct consumers. Continue reading Croatia Reads was not about Croatia [but about free access to books for all mankind]

NSR Presents: Ebooks & Tourism — A Passport to Heaven

NSR is pleased to announce that NSR’s Mirela Roncevic will be a keynote presenter at the Tourism in Southern and Eastern Europe Conference in Opatija, Istria on May 4th, 2017. The presentation, titled Ebooks & Tourism: A Passport to Heaven, is strongly aligned with the Conference’s focus on ways in which the Tourism sector can parter with creative industries through innovative ideas and projects.

Mirela’s presentation will center on her Free Reading Zones efforts, explain the benefits of a society in which open virtual libraries thrive beyond physical libraries and zero in on ways in which the Tourism industry can join forces with the Publishing and Library industries to tap into the potential of ebooks to transform the world from one where readers must go to ‘knowledge’ to the one where knowledge comes to readers.

Mirela will invite the attendees to consider turning physical spaces as small as cafes and hotels and as big as cities and countries into Free Reading Zones, where visitors, tourists, and residents can have access to free books via reading apps (supported by private and government sponsors and in cooperation with publishers and libraries).

Roncevic founded and now directs the Free Reading Zones Project, which brings developers, publishers, and sponsors together to turn public and private spaces into zones where people have free and uninterrupted access to books, so that individuals all over the world, regardless of their location, status or education background, can be empowered through knowledge. The culmination of  her FREZ efforts was the turning of the entire country of Croatia into a Free Reading Zone this past December.

The presentation will be streamed live on Facebook and later archived on NSR for future viewing.

Western Sydney University makes etextbooks available for free to all first-year students

Western Sydney Uni

A ground-breaking collaboration between Western Sydney University and ProQuest provides digital textbooks for commencing university students through the University’s library, reducing the overall cost of education to students and increasing access to required learning materials.

One of the world’s largest initiatives of its kind, Western Sydney University is differentiating itself from other universities by making etextbooks from 60 academic publishers available to students via Ebook Central, ProQuest’s ebook platform. Continue reading Western Sydney University makes etextbooks available for free to all first-year students

ProQuest launches free access to its databases for researchers affected by travel ban

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Kudos to ProQuest for this.

From a ProQuest press release:

No-charge access to ProQuest databases helps individuals continue their research and learning

ProQuest has launched a program to provide no-cost access to its databases for students and researchers who have been separated from their universities and libraries because of travel bans or other immigration changes. The company has an email hotline ContinueMyResearch@proquest.com where these displaced researchers can arrange for access to the materials they need to continue their work.

“ProQuest is an open and inclusive organization that takes its role in supporting research and learning very seriously,” said Kurt Sanford, ProQuest CEO. “We’re doing whatever we can to mitigate the interruptions facing our community of students and scholars around the world.” Continue reading ProQuest launches free access to its databases for researchers affected by travel ban

Croatia is the world’s first country to become a Free Reading Zone

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Croatia is the world’s first country to become a Free Reading Zone

No Shelf Required and Total Boox join forces in turning the country of Croatia into an open virtual library accessible via a free application—to residents and tourists alike—without a library card or an access code. The growing collection boasts 100,000 titles by top publishers in several languages.

Zagreb, Croatia — Croatia has just made history by becoming the first country in the world turned into a free reading zone, an open virtual library accessible to all people free of charge regardless of their location. This includes not only Croatian citizens but millions of tourists from around the world who visit the country each year, who may download a free reading app, called Croatia Reads. The app is powered by Total Boox, an ebook service known to publishers and librarians for its pay-as-you-read model, which makes ebooks instantly available—with no restrictions—while paying publishers for reading and affording readers a seamless and uninterrupted reading experience.

“As a web site advocating free access to books and knowledge for all people, No Shelf Required is honored to be the first sponsor of this historic project,” said Mirela Roncevic, director of No Shelf Required and manager of the project. “NSR’s mission is to make access to books a right of every citizen, not a privilege tied only to institutions and corporate interests, so it is fitting that we stand behind it. It also holds a special meaning to me personally because this remarkable story of books escaping the confines of book stores and library walls is taking place in the country of my birth.”

Readers may browse Total Boox’ collection of 100,000 titles, which includes books in all categories of fiction and nonfiction; from popular to academic, from professional to practical. Over 250 publishers are participating, including an array of world-class brands, among them, Lonely Planet, Workman, Sourcebooks, Berlitz, Oxford University Press, F&W Media, O’Reilly, Other Press, Elsevier, Wolters Kluwer, New World Library, Marshall Cavendish, Berrett-Koehler, Lerner, and many others.

The goal of the  project is to spread reading to public and private spaces and endow them with culture. The ‘zones’ may be sponsored by private and public institutions, corporations or government entities and can be as small as single buildings (e.g., hospitals, cafes) or as big as cities and countries (as in the case of Croatia).

“With the launch of Croatia Reads, we have created a circle in which all segments of Croatia’s society benefit: culture, education, and tourism,” added Roncevic. “We have begun the next chapter in the story of the book—the one where the potential of the digital medium is finally used to disperse knowledge to all who want it, when they want it, and how they want it. Croatia stands as an example of what is possible with the book in the 21st century, and what is possible looks a lot like the democratization of the written word we have not seen before—the kind that will finally give books in digital format the chance to show their true potential.”

See also

Croatia is home to the First Café in the world turned into a Free Reading Zone

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No Shelf Required is honored to announce that Café Velvet in Zagreb (Croatia’s capital) is the first café in the world turned into a Free Reading Zone. Guests of the café (located in downtown Zagreb, on the iconic Dezmanova Street) can log into a virtual library (via any iOS and Android smartphone and tablet) and access thousands upon thousands of books in several languages, including English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, and Croatian, among others. The locals may enjoy literature in their native language while countless tourists who visit the country’s’ capital each day can read in other languages. All they need is to log in using an Access Code provided by the café.

The technology is powered by Total Boox, ebook service known to U.S. publishers and librarians for its pay-as-you-read ebook model which makes ebooks instantly available, with no limitations, holds, or expirations, while paying publishers for reading. Readers may browse Total Boox’ collection of 100,000 titles, which includes books in all categories—from literary and genre fiction to poetry and philosophy; from cookbooks, arts, and photography to sports, entertainment, and travel; from children’s books and YA literature to professional and scientific literature. Publishers represented include an array of world-class brands from around the globe, including, to name a few, Lonely Planet, Workman, Sourcebooks, F&W Media, O’Reilly, Other Press, Elsevier, New World Library, Marshall Cavendish, Berret-Koehler, Lerner, and Berlitz.

The Free Reading Zones project and initiative was launched in 2016—under the leadership of Mirela Roncevic, Editor of No Shelf Required, and in cooperation with Total Boox—with the goal to spread reading to various public and private spaces beyond libraries and endow them with culture. These ‘zones’ may be sponsored by private and public institutions, corporations or government entities and include, among others, parks, hospitals, trains, airports, schools, universities, cafes, etc. When Free Reading Zones are sponsored by libraries, users inside the zone access the collection via their active library card; when sponsored by private entities (as in the case of Velvet Café), readers simply log in using an access code and the cost of reading is transfered from readers to the cafe.

“It’s an honor to lead such an important initiative, and to take it outside the United States,” said Roncevic. “It’s strongly aligned with the mission of No Shelf Required—to educate, enlighten, and inspire everyone inside and outside the book industry about what ebooks and digital content can do for literacy. In short, they can transform the world into a place where access to knowledge flows freely in all directions. There is a way. And we are paving it together.”

Read Mirela Roncevic’s editorial on how it all came together here.

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Zagreb, 06.12.2014 - Praznicki ukraseni kafici

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Publishers, librarians, authors: Please support the Free Reading Zones initiative. It supports YOU.

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The enthusiasm for Free Reading Zones (an initiative of organizations and individuals to spread reading and enable free access to knowledge everywhere) is growing steadily on Facebook since we launched the campaign less than two weeks ago. Why Facebook and not LinkedIn? Because Facebook is where the READERS are. We spend too much time on LinkedIn thinking like professionals, and not enough time connecting with those we are in this business for: readers.

We spend too much time at book shows and library conferences trying to impress each other (as professionals) while failing to see that our industry (in its broadest sense) is painfully disconnected from those it claims to serve: readers. And even though we beg to differ, we rarely want to admit that we don’t care to help readers connect with other readers (something ebooks and econtent can help us accomplish like no other medium ever has in the history of mankindand no, online communities where people get to discuss books isn’t what I have in mind here, although these communities are surely helping us get ‘there’).  If we really did care, people would by now have more free access to books everywhere (just like they have free access to music, art, and other forms of human expression). If we weren’t so paralyzed by fear, we would spend more time looking at the horizon and less time stressing over ‘the bottom line.’

Free Reading Zones (FREZ) is about supporting PUBLISHERS and the AUTHORS they nurture (because they benefit every time someone reads). It’s also about supporting INDEPENDENT AUTHORS (because it is a channel for them to expose their work, and, as it turns out, the world is full of independent authors producing high-quality work every single day). And about helping LIBRARIES ‘go beyond’ the confines of their walls to support literacy in all incarnations. Giving people knowledge, regardless of their zip code, is the kindest, most humane way to serve any society because it serves THE INDIVIDUAL, not the institutionand it is far more important than inviting people to visit the local library, however beautiful the architecture or the smell of paper.

Most of all: it’s about giving access to the written word to people around the world by relying on sponsorships from organizations willing (and eager, in fact) to support unleashing of the stories that have been locked up in print books. Libraries have, for centuries, been the ultimate free reading zones. In 2016, we have the technology and the willingness of an army of people involved in this initiative to turn all kinds of places—public and private—into free reading zones (with help from libraries and other organizations): parks, hospitals, laundromats, airports, airplanes, hotels, beaches, schools, etc. etc.

I have the privilege of running this initiative and working with many of you already. It is an honor to utter the following brands in my conversations with sponsors: Workman, Elsevier, De Gruyter, Berlitz, Lonely Planet, Sourcebooks, O’Reilly Media, Other Press, Oxford University Press, Chicago Review Press, Marshall Cavendish, Lerner, Rourke Educational Media, New World Library, ECW Press, Berrett-Koehler, Algonquin, Artisan, and over 200 other publishers from around the world whose content is available for reading in these Zones (in English and other languages).

To all of you whose books are exposed for reading in these zones: thank you. To the publishers that want to join us, please let me know (non-English language content is especially welcome). To the libraries that want to take part: please don’t wait another day.

To all others who wish to help, please spread the word and support the Free Reading Zones page on Facebook. The page itself serves as ‘proof’ that we are all in it together. Every ‘like’ is a vote for free access to knowledge. Every ‘like’ is a statement to the sponsors everywhere that READING MATTERS. It matters more than publishers. And libraries. And authors. It even matters more than books. If we are unable to ‘see’ it, then who is?—MR


Mirela Roncevic is Managing Editor of No Shelf Required and Director of the Free Reading Zones initiative (launched in 2016 in the United States and around the world). For all NSR-related news and reviews, follow her on Twitter @MirelaRoncevic. For her writings related to books and all things creativity and literacy, follow her on Facebook.