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.
If you are an author, have you ever wondered if a library could not only buy your book but provide expert help developing your writing and publishing skills? If you are a librarian, have you ever wondered why your library doesn’t go beyond holding events for local authors and actually publish some books? Lissa Staley and Miranda Ericsson, two librarians at the Topeka-Shawnee County Public Library have sorted all this out and created a program, now in its seventh year, that organizes local authors, beefs up their writing and publishing skills, and the produces print and ebook edition of a collaborative work. And yes, you read that right. Two librarians have done all this while continuing their other library work. Welcome to the TSCPL Community Novel Project.
In 2003, Lissa Staley was at work at her job as a librarian at the Topeka-Shawnee County Public Library. She noticed that one of her colleagues had put up a new display, so she stopped to look at it. This was her introduction to NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month, an event held every November since 1999. She quickly decided to participate and set to work writing a novel of her own. At the same time, the idea that everyone could be a winner, that every participant in NaNoWriMo could win by completing the first draft of a novel inspired her. Everyone could win. No one had to lose.
What happens when you take a world-class public library system, mix in hundreds of indie authors, power up with Smashwords, and use OverDrive to top it all off? You get Multnomah County Library’s Library Writers Project.
As I have researched the issues and realities of indie authors in libraries, I have found that the intersection of indies and libraries is potentially a much nicer place than I had originally thought. The technology and distribution problems have been solved, and the solutions comes from reliable vendors. No doubt there will be new developments, but existing technology and distribution systems are more than adequate to empower libraries to add indie ebooks to their collections and to promote them to their patrons.
We learned last week that Pottermore will make J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone ebook available to UK library users for two weeks in order to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its publication. The ebook will be available through library distribution apps OverDrive, BorrowBox from Bolinda and Askews & Holts from June 26 until July 7. During that time, the U.K. library system (which signed an agreement with Pottermore) will offer unlimited number of loans to the first book in the massively popular series.
We also learned that Pottermore is supplying participating libraries with posters, flyers, social media materials and competition ideas to help them publicize the free loans (as they are called) and, in essence, help publicize the book and the series in digital format.
Those of us who have worked with ebook vendors and engaged publishers (big and small) to consider alternative ebook business models (for consumers and especially for libraries) have long been aware of the resistance on the part of established, traditional publishing houses to expose their content digitally in ways other than through the one copy-one user model.
So when a publisher such as Pottermore decides to provide a Harry Potter title in ebook format through a library in ‘unlimited’ ways (which means no restrictions are placed on how many readers can read at the same time during the two-week period, and only during that period), the first reaction is certainly one filled with hope that a new trend may be on the horizon showing signs that publishers hesitant to embrace less restrictive ebook models in libraries are embracing innovation by making some bold digital moves. What’s more, some are touting this move as a great way to ‘support’ public libraries in the U.K., which have been struggling.
This is the second in a series of updates about DPLA’s work to maximize access to ebooks. Check out thefirst 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→
The concept of a public library as self-publishing platform for aspiring writers isn’t new and libraries across North America are steadily warming up to it, increasingly becoming the go-to places for aspiring local writers to produce, publish and share their work in their community and nationally. In recent years there has been an explosion of self-publishing platforms available to writers all over the Internet and several are used in libraries in the United States and Canada. The three that stand out include Biblioboard, Pressbooks, and Self-E (by Library Journal).
Stratford Public Library (SPL), Ontario, Canada, provides access to all three of these resources for its card holders who may use them through the library’s website. Clearly, the library is trying to position itself as the place where local residents don’t just get free books but also create them from scratch for free.
Just underneath the “Self Publishing Resources” heading on SPL’s website, one notices this quote by Guy Kawaski: “The only really necessary people in the publishing process now are the writer and reader.” Public libraries such as SPL are certainly making the necessary steps to stand as examples of institutions that serve the needs of their patrons in an age that transcends traditional publishing channels and recognize that emerging digital technologies are democratizing the written word like we’ve never seen before. They are making it possible for writers in their community who would normally not be able to get exposure to share their writing and possibly realize their greatest dreams and ambitions. Continue reading If the only necessary people in the publishing process are the writer and reader, shouldn’t libraries serve both?→
DPLAfest 2017—the fourth major gathering of the Digital Public Library of America’s community—will take place on April 20-21, 2017 in Chicago at Chicago Public Library’s Harold Washington Library Center. The event will bring together librarians, archivists, and museum professionals, developers and technologists, publishers and authors, educators, and many others to celebrate DPLA and its community of creative professionals.
DPLA has just released the schedule, including a very extensive listing of the speakers.
From a DPLA press release:
We received an excellent array of submissions in response to this year’s call for proposals and are excited to officially unveil the dynamic program that we have lined up for you. Look for opportunities to engage with topics such as social justice and digital collections; public engagement; library technology and interoperability; metadata best practices; ebooks; and using digital collections in education and curation projects.
It’s no secret that technology has impacted reading. As eReading has become more prevalent, readers demand publications in both print and digital formats. Not only has that thirst for varied formats allowed greater freedom for how and when we read — devouring short serials on the bus or listening to audiobooks while running, for instance — it has also allowed more freedom in what, or who, we read. In addition to books available from big publishers, digital publishing has seemingly conjured scores of indie and self-published books out of the shadows. And judging by the success of Hugh Howey and CJ Lyons, among others, readers are happy to include indie books along with those from big-name presses.
However, while most libraries around the country meet patrons’ digital demands by lending eBooks, many have historically been less than enthusiastic about the idea of adopting indie eBooks. That has been changing in major urban libraries and in the thought leadership of the library world, with good reason. By examining evidence around the consumer demand and affordability of indie eBooks versus eBooks from traditional publishers, we can demonstrate how incorporating indie eBooks into libraries’ catalogs can be good for both patrons and libraries. Continue reading A time to (finally) incorporate indie eBooks into library catalogs→
Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library (TSCPL) in Kansas has been named the 2016 Library of the Year by Gale, a part of Cengage Learning, and Library Journal. The press release (below) and other news stories about the award point to the library’s exemplary engagement with its community. The library is to receive $10,000 at an ALA reception in Orlando, FL, on June 26th.
Glancing at the library homepage makes it clear that TSCPL engages in all sorts of activities, including filling prescriptions for patrons.
Relevant to NSR readers and advocates for digital literacy: the library offers ebooks and digital content, too, including a large collection of audiobooks. According to its web site, TSCPL provides access to thousands of ebooks and audiobooks through OverDrive, Hoopla Digital, BookFlix, and TumbleBooks for Kids. Its econtent offerings also include videos, music, and magazines.
An interesting new electronic resource has just been released by Gale: American Fiction, 1774-1920. This “new digital archive” in Gale Primary Sources program comprises over 17,500 works of literature, including novels, short stories, travel accounts, and sketches (“many of which have never before been available online”), all brought together to support research in U.S. history and literature.
Gale is no stranger to literature resources. Its other products include Literature Criticism Online, Literature Resource Center, and the well-known Dictionary of Literary Biography. Given the interdisciplinary nature of today’s research as well as the capabilities of today’s technologies, one can’t help but wish that at some point, in the-not-so-distant future all this wealth (and breadth) of literary content will eventually blend into one mega resource on all things American literature.
Boopsie, Inc. has released a case study that explores its collaboration with the District of Columbia Public Library (DCPL). The two worked together to develop a customized app that provides access to the library’s services for the system’s users.
From the study: “Since its launch in June 2015, the Library’s customized app has been downloaded over 10,000 times with an average of over 1,000 unique users each month. Feedback provided to librarians indicates that DC Public’s patrons have a preference for leveraging the user-friendly mobile app to connect with their Library.”
OverDrive has just announced its plans to support public libraries in their efforts to cultivate more reading (and take advantage of the flexibility of the digital format) through Digital Book Clubs. Participating institutions include public libraries in cities like New York and London, among others.
According to recent numbers (from BookBrowse), 22 percent of readers belong to at least one digital Book Club with friends and family. Efforts by libraries and companies that support libraries to cultivate reading by taking advantage of all that the digital format has to offer are commendable on every level. They are, of course, especially impressive when they involve places and institutions other than the world’s most affluent cities and countries. If the below press release is any indication, our industry is well on its way to reaching (and creating) more readers regardless of their zip code. Continue reading Digital Book Clubs — the next chapter in the evolution of Book Clubs→
April 5, 2016 — Total Boox, a revolutionary ebook service seeking to break all barriers between readers and ebooks, and the Tocker Foundation (TF), a non-profit supporting public libraries in rural Texas, are pleased to announce a groundbreaking partnership, which will make Total Boox’s collection of nearly 100,000 quality ebooks initially available to 20 rural public libraries in the state.
“We are honored that in its first effort to fund an ebook initiative, the TF chose our service over all other available services,” said Yoav Lorch, CEO of Total Boox. “A small selection of books has always been the main impediment for the ability of small libraries to serve their patrons. With Total Boox, any small library can have the exact same selection as a large urban library. This immediately increases the library’s ability to effectively serve its community, and the TF was quick to recognize this.” Continue reading Total Boox and the Tocker Foundation Bring Ebooks to Rural Communities in Texas→
Library Journal/School Library Journal conducted the 6th annual survey of public libraries regarding ebooks. The 2015 report is available for download here. The report is made available courtesy of Freading. Registration is required.
From the executive summary: ” If it appears from the current survey (based on 317 U.S. public libraries responding) that much of the enthusiasm for ebooks has cooled, it is only because they have become less of a novelty and more mainstream.”
“Ebook pricing is too high” is the most common complaint from public librarians about ebooks.
Here’s a page snip showing the number of public libraries offering ebooks over the last 6 reports:
OverDrive conducted an end user survey from June 26-July 15, 2015. Administered via library websites, the survey collected input from 16,756 respondents. Their full report examines the positive effect the shift to digital content has had on the role of libraries in their communities by helping attract new readers, serve existing patrons better and reach beyond their physical walls.
Farmington Hills, Mich., April 23, 2015 Supporting public libraries’ life-long learning initiatives, Gale, a part of Cengage Learning, is pleased to announce Miss Humblebee’s Academy, a new early literacy product that will assist the library’s youngest learners in building foundational literacy skills. Partnering with Miss Humblebee LLC., Gale has co-developed a robust product tailored specifically to the public library user, which includes the assessment tools libraries need to measure their impact on early literacy development in their communities. Studies show that participating in quality early learning can boost children’s educational attainment and earnings later in life, underscoring the importance for public libraries to provide resources that serve this young audience.
Sunnyvale, CA — February 26, 2015 – Boopsie, the leading mobile platform-as-a-service provider for libraries worldwide, and Baker & Taylor, the premier worldwide distributor of digital and print books and entertainment products, have integrated the Boopsie Mobile App with Baker & Taylor’s Axis 360 digital media library. The partnership will drive circulation and usage of Axis 360 and meet patrons’ expectations for easy access to the library’s digital information and entertainment materials.
IPSWICH, Mass. January 30, 2015 EBSCO Information Services (EBSCO) is introducing Exploraâ„¢, an appealing new EBSCOhost® interface for K12 schools and public libraries. EBSCO designed Explora following a series of user research studies with the goal of better assisting students in completing research and classroom assignments and providing a more intuitive search experience for public library patrons.
CHICAGO — Jan. 30, 2015 — The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation today named 22 projects as winners of the Knight News Challenge on Libraries, awarding the recipients a share of $3 million for their ideas.
The projects will provide new tools and approaches that leverage libraries as a platform to build more knowledgeable communities. They propose a range of ideas from library-driven toolkits that communities can use to share and archive their histories online to digital platforms that improve access to education and information in developing countries. Eight of the winners will receive investments of $130,000 to $600,000, while 14 early-stage ideas will receive $35,000 each through the Knight Prototype Fund, which helps innovators take media and information projects from idea to demo. Continue reading Knight Foundation’s News Challenge on Libraries awards $3 million to 22 projects that reinvent libraries→
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