What Do We Want? A Library Survey

Members of our Working Group have servedon ALA’s Digital Content Working Group, whose leaders informed us that publishers have asked for information on what e-content business models libraries REALLY want.

We have therefore prepared a survey. We special thanks to one of our members, Cathy Mason of Columbus Metropolitan Library, for her input. We hope that someone from all libraries will take the survey. Please take the survey by November 6. It should take about 10 to 12 minutes.

We also hope that librarians will share this survey with various lists and other contacts.  We hope for many responses. Publisher’s Weekly has expressed interest in sharing our survey in their e-newsletter, reaching thousands of libraries.  PW may also do an article on the results if they prove interesting.

ReadersFirst will share the results on our website. Let’s let our friends in publishing know what we’d like to see from them!

Thank you for your support for making the library e-content experience as simple, streamlined, and rewarding as possible.

Here is a direct link to the survey too:  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSd9Uk69ISzFLeMlqZ9PN9S8t6MI9enmPMhPPRMVwBDOkk3DgA/viewform?c=0&w=1&includes_info_params=true

DPLA Launches Its Library E-Content Exchange

ReadersFirst is happy to share news from our friends at DPLA about a development that could greatly enhance ow libraries offer digital content. (Full disclosure--I am the director of one of the libraries that is piloting the project).

DPLA Exchange Offers Library-Centered Ebook Marketplace

For more information, contact micah@dp.la .

From Interim Executive Director Michele Kimpton, Ebook Consultant Micah May, and Ebook
Program Manager Michelle Bickert

The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) is proud to unveil 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 ebooks. The DPLA Exchange (exchange.dp.la), will allow staff at six pilot libraries to log in and start selecting ebooks from over a hundred thousand licensed titles and thousands more that are public domain. 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 diverse group of pilot libraries are Alameda County Library (CA); Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (PA); Connecticut State Library (CT); Califa Library Group (CA, KS); St. Mary's County Library (MD) [which will work to share content state-wide] and Yavapai Library Network (AZ). After a preliminary period working with these selected libraries, DPLA will explore expanding the Exchange to more institutions.

“We are eager to explore the great possibilities for accessing high-quality and cost-effective e-content inherent in this Exchange,” said Michael Blackwell, Director of St. Mary’s County

Library and project manager for implementing Library Simplified in Maryland. “Even a small and largely rural library system like mine is likely to have more content that is easier for users to access. We are grateful to DPLA for their pioneering work in making this vision a reality.”

One of the goals of the Exchange is to make it easier for libraries to add open and diverse collections from multiple sources to their e-content collections. Pilot libraries will soon be able to offer open content alongside purchased publisher content, including: public domain classics; Creative Commons titles, including children’s books in multiple languages; and open educational resources spanning the humanities and STEM subjects.

"The DPLA Exchange offers a much-needed utility for acquiring and managing digital content from a wide variety of sources. We are excited to use the Exchange to further diversify our

eResource offerings,” said Toby Greenwalt, Director of Digital Strategy and Technology Integration at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

The DPLA Exchange is one piece of an emerging open architecture for library ebooks connected by the standard Open Publication Distribution System (OPDS) protocol and the enhanced Open Distribution for Libraries (ODL) protocol. This openness allows libraries to curate and serve e-content from a variety of licensed and open sources through the user experience of their choice. To accomplish this, DPLA will be partnering with LYRASIS, one of the oldest non-profit organizations serving libraries in the United States, to provide a multi-tenant hosted Library Simplified software solution, developed by The New York Public Library. The software provides library staff an administrative panel to edit metadata, blend content from the DPLA Exchange and other sources, and curate the collection. By providing a hosting solution, libraries that do not have the technical infrastructure or capacity to run Library Simplified can still participate in the DPLA exchange. Over the coming months, the e-content collections of each pilot library will become available to patrons in SimplyE (available for iOS and Android) and will also be available in other OPDS readers when integrated.

This work to improve access to widely read ebooks is made possible through the generous support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Many members of the DPLA community have also contributed to this effort, so we want to thank you, our community, for your help and ask you to join us in celebrating the launch of this national library-owned e-content marketplace, the DPLA Exchange.


LYRASIS is one of the longest serving non-profits focused on libraries, including public, academic, state libraries and more, as well as archives, museums and galleries. LYRASIS supports enduring access to our shared academic, scientific and cultural heritage through leadership in open technologies, content services, digital solutions and collaboration with archives, libraries, museums and knowledge communities worldwide.

About the Digital Public Library of America

The Digital Public Library of America empowers people to learn, grow, and contribute to a diverse and better-functioning society. We do this by maximizing public access to our shared history, culture, and knowledge. DPLA connects people to the riches held within America’s libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural heritage institutions. The Digital Public Library of America is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Boston.

Posted by Michael Blackwell, Director, St Mary's County LIbrary

PW Reports on the MIT Press/IA Initiative

In "The Business of Making E-books Free," Alex Green of Publishers Weekly has reported on the ongoing progress of MIT Press's collaboration with the Internet Archive to release their backlist for free digital use. 

The project began in a phone conversation between Amy Brand, head of MIT Press, and Brewster Kahle of the Internet Archive.   "Kahle wanted her permission to digitize an obscure 1965 MIT Press book entitled Libraries of the Future, authored by computing pioneer J.C.R. Licklider. Kahle recalls asking Brand, 'If I digitize this without your explicit permission, would you get mad?'”

The phone conversation has led to the ongoing digitization of MIT Press's impressive backlist  of titles.  The process has been difficult, not merely in finding the funding (thanks to the Arcadia Fund for stepping forward) and the massive digitization process.  Authorial permission also had to be asked, the needs of MIT Press to maintain sustainable publishing had to be balanced against the Internet Archive's commitment to open access, and older titles had to be evaluated to see which might have potential for ongoing sales, with some titles seeming so important that they are being re-released in print.

 The results of the ongoing digitization not only have the potential to reduce piracy but to improve access. "Through the project, participating libraries that hold MIT Press print books will have the opportunity to lend e-books of select backlist titles to patrons. These titles will also be made available for lending via the Internet Archive."

As exciting as this project is, it is, we hope, only the beginning.  "As he continues to work with Brand to digitize and upload MIT’s backlist, Kahle says, 'the next step is to see if this works for others.' In the near term, he hopes to partner with the Arcadia Fund to persuade other academic publishers to follow MIT’s lead. In the long term, he has his sights set on convincing a trade publisher to take the leap. 'I think we should not underestimate the value of the materials from the 20th century,' said Kahle. 'There’s demand. People want access'.”

ReadersFirst salutes this increase in access and the Internet Archive's desire to create OPDS feeds that will allow easy access to titles for libraries that adopt apps. Could this be another step towards a digital library that will ensure access to and preservation of titles for centuries?  Mr. Brewster and Ms. Brand are thinking big.  May the results of their vision thrive! 

Onwards and Upwards at the Internet Archive Open Libraries Project

The Internet Archive's Open Libraries project was one of 8 semifinalists for the $100 million MacArthur Grant.  Unfortunately, the project was not selected to move into the Final Four.  No project related to IT advanced. The education of children displaced by conflict or improving infant survival in Africa certainly represent formidable competition

The good news is that the project will still happen. "This experience showed that we have a good idea worth doing," said Internet Archive Founder Brewster Kahle in an email. Brewster and Internet Archive Director of Partnerships Wendy Hanamura are taking steps to find other funding and have funding on hand to continue work. "The Internet Archive will be moving forward toward Open Libraries in the months and years to come," says Ms. Hanamura.

Internet Archive friends and partners are invited to a  forum to explore the next steps. 

"We will be forming working groups to shape the plans for a sustainable, collaborative digitize-and-lend service.  Our Legal Working Group will be presenting a statement outlining the legal framework supporting this work," Ms. Hanamura adds.

Please register at www.libraryleadersforum.org

ReadersFirst salutes Internet Archive for the great achievement of finishing in such high contention and even more for continuing this worthy project. We encourage libraries to get involved for the greater good for access to and preservation of library materials.

 Onwards and Upwards!

SimplyE circulation Manager 2.0 Beta just landed!

In other library app news, ReadersFirst is happy to recognize another development in SimplyE.

A significant milestone was achieved by the Library Simplified / SimplyE community with the release of the SimplyE Circulation Manager 2.0 software.  SimplyE 2.0 represents a community effort among Connecticut State Library’s eGo initiative, Minitex’s SimplyE for Consortia grant and The New York Public Library’s SimplyE team.  This version packs a wallop with multitenant capability which reduces the initial setup and ongoing  maintenance costs for adopters.  Multi Tenant architecture allows multiple libraries to exist in a single instance of the software, making the overall service less expensive to host.  This version also brings consortial ebook lending support and includes OneClickDigital integration. LIbraries can now access consortial and their owned content across vendor platforms in one easy-to-use app. It is currently being evaluated by Datalogics and soon Deloitte Digital, two systems rolling out the SimplyE service.  Coupled with the SimplyE app, distributed by NYPL, the SimplyE platform is even more financially possible for libraries looking to simplify their ebook user experience and expand and enhance their ebooks services offering.  

For those who are curious and would like to try out SimplyE, visit http://www.simplye.net. This site was also used to power a recent reading campaign called Subway Library, featured in The New York Times.  This collaboration between New York State, the MTA and Transit Wireless gave riders access to econtent such as excerpts, short stories and books, utilizing the seamless and easy to use SimplyE web reader technology.  

Congratulations to all the member libraries and commercial enterprises who came together around SimplyE Circulation Manager 2.0 and Subway Library to get more people reading more from their public library.

Amigos Receives Texas Grant for SimplyE

Interest in the "one app to rule them all" is spiking!

On August 7, 2017, Amigos Library Services was notified that our proposal submitted for the Texas State Library & Archives Commission Cooperation Grant was accepted. Funding from this grant will support our work in assisting public libraries interested in implementing the SimplyE app.

SimplyE is an open source ereading platform developed by libraries for libraries.  In short, it simplifies your library users experience finding, borrowing and reading an ebook from the library. Developed using ReadersFirst principles, it makes borrowing ebooks from a library easy and quick, hiding the DRM frustrations from the patron.

Amigos had already received funding from the Arizona State Library, Archives & Public Records to begin work on the technical infrastructure necessary to support public libraries. This grant from the Texas State Library & Archives Commission gives Amigos Library Services the ability to create a stable service for not only our members, but other libraries interested in the app, but without the technical resources to implement the app themselves.

Christine Peterson will be scheduling webinars focused on the functionality and development of the app in the fall. Watch for these to be announced through our Amigos Now newsletter. If you are interested in helping with this project, contact Christine at peterson@amigos.org or 800-843-8482, ext. 2891.

This project is made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act. (2018) [RF note:  If you haven't yet voiced your support for the IMLS funding via your congressional representatives, keep looking for opportunities and act!]


Christina Peterson for the E-book Superfriends

Thank you to BiblioLabs

Once again, ReadersFirst salutes a library vendor for taking a step to improve the e-content experience by supporting a platform that works across platforms. 

BiblioLabs has released its OPDS compatible gateway for SimplyE!

A big shout out to Mitchell Davis and his team at BiblioLabs.   As consortia and state libraries began planning their implementations of SimplyE, many wondered what they would do with their Biblioboard platform investment.  As usual Mitchell and his team were eager to explore how they could help improve the eBook user experience for ebook readers using libraries. The BiblioLabs team stepped up to make the integration of their collections part of the mainstream catalog of e-content available in SimplyE by publishing their catalog using their Open Publication Distribution System (OPDS) protocol which SimplyE is built on.

On behalf of the libraries around the country looking to improve their ebooks users experience and library ebook services with SimplyE, thank you Mitchell and the rest of the Biblioboard team for continuing to invest in the future of libraries.


The E-Book Superfriends

Thanks, Bibliotheca: We Couldn't Do It Without You!

ReadersFirst is always delighted to report when a publisher or library vendor steps forward to make the library e-content experience even better.  With profound thanks, then, we give a shout out to Tom Mercer of Cloud Library (Bibliotheca). Tom has been very supportive of SimplyE, a library reading app initially developed by New York Public Library (NYPL). This “one app to rule them all” has been adopted by NYPL and Brooklyn Public Library, and will be coming soon to the states of Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, the multi-state network of Minitex, and huge swaths of California and Texas. When approached about an important development in the app—how to serve audiobook content from Cloud Library--Tom Mercer came to NYPL and brought his expert cadre of folks so they could understand what SimplyE is proposing and how they could be of support. A big thanks, too, to Findaway, a third party service provider of audiobook content for both Bibliotheca and Baker & Taylor.  Ralph Lazaro, Findaway VP of Digital Products, joined Tom to learn more and see how they could support this advance.

Not only was this visit and discussion promising, but Bibliotheca, working with Findaway, have responded with prompt action, extending their APIs and providing engineering support to SimplyE. We are that much closer to integrating e-audio into the app, allowing a full range of content from many library vendors into a single app, simplifying and improving the experience for libraries and their users.

Equally supportive are Michael Bills and Livia Bitner of Baker & Taylor, who have been receptive to SimplyE and instrumental in related SimplyE efforts like Open eBooks.  We look forward to Baker & Taylor taking action soon to enhance how Axis 360 works with SimplyE. Thanks, as well, to Recorded Books for making RB Digital audiobook content work with the app, while supporting Connecticut’s related eGO platform.

Tom, Ralph, Bibliotheca, and Findaway - a tip of our library hat to you for Finding-A-Way to move forward, and putting the Reader (and Listener) First! Libraries rely upon partnerships with vendors to enhance service with us, and you have won today.  

Signed--the E-book Superfriends!  

Larra Clark on the Extension of the Comment Period on Net Neutrality

Ms. Clark's posting on Net Neutrality from the ALA Washington Office's District Dispatch is worth consideration. ReadersFirst supports ALA's advocacy on this issue.  Please consider making comments to help!

n Friday, the FCC announced it would extend the public comment period on its proposal to roll back a 2015 order protecting net neutrality for an additional two weeks. This phase of the process is supposed to allow for “replies” to arguments raised by other commenters.

With close to 20 million comments in the public record so far, any additional time is useful. It’s worth noting, however, that many advocates have called for the FCC to release the consumer complaints received since the 2015 Open Internet Order went into effect and all documents related to the ombudsperson’s interactions with internet users. The comment extension, while welcome, does not address the fact the FCC has yet to make public more than 40,000 net neutrality complaints that could provide direct and relevant evidence in response to numerous questions that the FCC poses in this proceeding.

The extra time means more opportunities for the library community to engage. Even if you have already submitted comments, you can do so again “on reply” Here are a few easy strategies:

  • Submit a comment amplifying the library and higher education principles for an open internet.
  • You can cite to specific examples or arguments in the initial comments submitted by ALA and alliesearlier in the proceeding.
  • Thousands of librarians and library staff from across the country have filed comments on their own or via the ALA’s action alert. Members of the library community called on the FCC to keep the current net neutrality rules and shared their worries that the internet with “slow lanes” would hurt libraries and the communities they serve. The comments below offer a few examples and may help with your comments:
    • The New Jersey Library Association submits: “Abandoning net neutrality in favor of an unregulated environment where some content is prioritized over other content removes opportunities for entrepreneurs, students and citizens to learn, grow and participate in their government. It will further enhance the digital divide and severely inhibit the ability of our nation’s libraries to serve those on both sides of that divide.”
    • “If net neutrality is to be abolished, then our critical online services could be restricted to ‘slow lanes’ unless we pay a premium,” wrote John, a public library employee in Georgia. “These include our job and career gateway, language learning software, grant finding, medical information, ebooks, and test preparation guides, such as for the GED and ASVAB. Ending net neutrality would hurt the people who need equal access the most. These people use our career gateway to find jobs, our grant finder to support their businesses and nonprofits, and use our test aids to earn their GED or get into the military. If we were forced to pay a premium to access these resources, it will limit our ability to fund our other programs and services.”
    • Catherine, a reference librarian at a major university in Oregon writes, “I [have] learned that imaginative online searching is an invaluable research tool for personal, professional, and scholarly interests. Yes, going online can be fun, but the internet must not be considered a plaything. Access must not be restricted or limited by corporate packaging.”
    • Hampton, a chief executive officer of a public library system in Maryland, wrote about all the functions and services of the modern library dependent on reliable, unfettered internet access: “In our library, we offer downloadable eBooks, eMagazines, and eAudiobooks as well as numerous databases providing courses through Lynda.com, language learning through Rosetta Stone, 365-days-a-year tutoring for kindergarten through adult with BrainFuse, and many more resources online. We have public computers with internet access as well as free WiFi in our fifteen libraries extending Internet access to thousands of customers who bring their tablets and smartphones to the library. We work with customers to help them in the health care marketplace, with applications for Social Security and jobs, and every conceivable use of the internet. Obviously, being relegated to lower priority internet access would leave our customers in a very difficult position.”
    • Others wrote with concerns about the need for access to information for democracy to thrive, like Carrie, an information professional from Michigan: “The internet is not merely a tool for media consumption, but is also a means of free expression, a resource for education, and most importantly, an implement of democracy. I will not mince words: Allowing corporations to manipulate the flow of information on the internet is not the way forward. An end to net neutrality would hurt businesses large and small, inhibit the free flow of speech online, and allow telecommunications corporations to unjustly interfere with market forces.”


Our Friends at ALA Washington Office Suggest Some Ways to Help Politically

Congress may be on recess until after Labor Day, but there are still ways you can stay involved in advocacy during the month of August!

Telling the FCC to Save Net Neutrality

There's still time to submit a comment to the FCC in support of net neutrality! The deadline to submit a comment is August 16, 2017.

 Leave a Comment 

Urging Congress to vote yes on library funding

We expect to see both the House and the Senate vote on their respective spending bills this fall. Give your representative and senators a call at their district offices during August and remind them how important federal library funding is to you and your community.

 Send an Email 

Asking your representative to sponsor the Congressional App Challenge

The 2017 Congressional App Challenge is an annual competition that aims to engage student creativity and encourage participation in STEM and computer science education. This nationwide event allows high school students from across the country to compete against their peers by creating and exhibiting their own original app. Students can't enter the competition unless their representative agrees to participate in the challenge. Ask your representative to sign up!

 Send an Email 

Looking for other ways to advocate for libraries? Consider writing a short letter to the editor of your local paper, scheduling a meeting with your elected officials, or starting a creative campaign in your library!

--ALA's Washington Office