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 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 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, 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

The Internet Archive Is Accepting Applications for Public Libraries & Librarians

Internet Archive is offering $25,000 in web archiving services to each library, plus training and travel grants to public librarians

Internet Archive is currently offering grants to public libraries and librarians as part of a new program to build community history web archives. This program is designed to support public librarians in developing expertise in creating collections of historically valuable web materials that document their local communities. The project, Community Webs: Empowering Public Librarians to Create Community History Web Archives, is funded by the IMLS as part of a Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian grant.

Internet Archive is now accepting applications from public libraries to participate in the program. Applications are open now and will close on August 25.  Visit the program's web page for more information, and view the project's grant materials, available through the IMLS award page.

ReadersFirst supports efforts that lead to digital preservation, especially if they increase titles available to users through OPDS feeds. 

Good luck to all who apply!

Reactions to Cost-Per Circ-Model

Reactions to the HarperCollins announcement of a "cost-per-circ model (CPC)," with several library e-content vendors quickly announcing they would support the model, have been quick in coming.  Some of the reactions have been cautionary.

For example, Bill Rosenblatt suggests Libraries:  Be Careful What You Wish For. This thoughtful post points out the new model is "great for library patrons . . . in theory." The reality may be "CPC may end up being better for the publishers [and] give more control over the titles that libraries make available and reduce libraries' traditional curatorial roles." He contrasts the CPC model with the current "Pretend Its Print (PIP)" model. Rosenblatt points out that PIP offers advantages: more titles, including front list bestsellers; furthermore, there is no need to limit circs per month, as many libraries must to make CPC fit into a budget. He explains that cost per use figures aren't available yet and wont be until "the catalogs that publishers make available under the two models are similar." 

CPC also "gives more control over e-book distribution to publishers." Libraries can no longer argue, as they might more easily under licensing with PIP, that we have "the right to acquire which e-books titles they want and (probably) pay consumer prices." Pricing of e-books under CPC, he adds, may have no relation to cover pricing, allowing publishers to set high price-per-use for high demand titles; libraries might respond by suppressing "availability of certain highly popular e-book titles, because  . . . patrons will blow through the e-book budgets." Publishers, he adds, may "deliberately choose [what] to make available over which services and at what license fees." He concludes that though "we are in early days" with CPC, libraries "will need to consider their traditional functions of curation and community services as well as the bottom line." 

On The Digital Reader, Nate Hoffelder points out in "The Problem with Hoopla’s Pay-Per-Loan Model" that "librarians also liked the model because it meant they would not have to pay full price to get copies that might go unused, but then the monthly bills started arriving and the honeymoon ended." He then cites how 4 libraries have put borrowing limits on Hoopla. He reports the 43 library system Clevnet dropped the consortia offering of Hoopla due to cost; most of the libraries then got Hoopla on their own without funding issue "but then again only 2% or 3% of their patrons are signed up. As that number grows, the libraries are bound to be facing a budget crunch."

The point of this post is not to dispute these claims but to add to the discussion. Doubtless, libraries should pay attention to curation, access to content, and cost when examining new e-content business models. Cost per use is a potential budget buster.  To use the example of my own small (3 location) system, Hoopla use has increased 93% over last year, compared to a 10% increase in our PIP e-book vendor. The amount initially budgeted was not adequate. Our users overwhelmingly tell us that they prefer having any title they see be available, however, and therefore so far we have put money where we see use and growth to the detriment of some other materials budget lines. Might we have to put further limits on what we allow to be borrowed (currently 6 titles per month)? Probably.  But there are limits on the types of physical materials than can be checked out and on the number o PIP titles a patron might have at any time, too. For our users, the honeymoon is definitely not over. Therefore it is not for us as a library, either.

As far as curation of and access to titles goes, though Rosenblatt's points that they be considered is well taken, does the CPC model necessarily change anything? Since we already lease under the PIP model, how are we currently ensuring curation? This is a serious question, but could things be any more of a mess than they are now? Efforts like the Internet Archive's Open Libraries initiative may help, and libraries should seek ways to improve what we conserve in the digital space, but expecting publishers or library e-content vendors to help in this endeavor will be bootless. And might having anytime access to backlist titles perhaps increase their use, helping to ensure they are more likely to be preserved and available in digital format than before?

Rosenblatt and Hoffelder are eminently correct to say libraries must be careful in moving forward with e-content business models.  Many of the details have yet to be seen with the new HarperCollins model for e-books. We ReadersFirst nevertheless approve of this publisher's willingness to experiment. It is a good step in what we have long advocated: a RANGE of e-content models that will foster the most use possible of the widest range of titles while assisting curation, from ownership/perpetual access to some titles down to the wide reading of today's ephemeral best seller. Give us the models. Let us count the costs and do what is best for us.   


An ALA Presentation by Internet Archive: "Making Your Library a Digital Library by 2020"

Brewster Kahle and Wendy Hanamura Internet Archive (IA) reported progress in the Open Libraries Project, an initiative of great interest to library e-content aficionados.

The IA currently offers three million ebooks, in addition to many other formats including audio files and television shows.

Most of the eBook titles date prior to 1923 and are in public domain, but some 540,000 titles are more recent titles and usually copyright orphaned. IA is apprehensive about the nearly century of 1923 to present, often out-of-print and difficult to find in physical format, in danger of being lost forever, and certainly not available and in way preserved digitally. Many of the these titles can still be found on library shelves, but nowhere else: even publishers often have no remaining print copies. E-book licensing and copyright restrictions and lack of library staff and funding resources mitigate against preservation and digital discovery and circulation. Enter the Open Libraries Project.

IA is looking to provide free access to 4 million impactful titles.

If a library has a physical copy of a book, IA will digitize it. Will give the book back. If a small library, and don't have resources, will build a centralized circulation to help distribute.

Partners in/supporters of the project include Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), Digital Library Federation, the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom "Our Voices" initiative, MIT Press (which is allowing digitization of their complete backlist), Boston Public Library and Houghton-Mifflin on their backlist. Houghton realizes that often only one copy of orphaned backlist titles exists--Boston Pubic. They are worried about preservation. Also worthy of mention is Delaware County Library in Ohio, which has shared its catalog to aid with discovery. Interestingly, as with many non-research libraries, fully a third of Delaware's titles were already digitized. It would seem that a the project already has a great start. Also instrumental are and TASCHA of University of Washington.


How it works--and the part that makes it interesting for ReadersFirst--is as follows. Libraries may pull one copy (if they have multiples) from circulation, have IA digitize it,  have it returned and then hold it back from physical circulation, and thereafter circulate digital copies on a one circ-one user model (i.e., no multi-user access). Libraries with resources may build a digital circ manager of their own, while others will get an assist from IA to foster circ. Alternately, libraries may de-accession a title, send it to IA, and have IA maintain a sole physical copy and handle digital distribution.


This process is interesting from a copyright perspective as an extension of right of first sale and fair use.

Of perhaps even greater RF interest is that IA hopes, Hanamura said, to "Create a delightful reading experience across devices." They are especially interested in software reading capabilities to extend accessibility for the visually impaired and dyslexic. They wish to build interoperable cross-platform systems with library and technology vendors and partners. They already plan to make the titles accessible via the SimplyE app, and libraries that deploy that app either individually or in consortia will be able to take advantage of the titles created in the project, which will foster both ePub and PDF releases.


The 5400,000 in-copyright works that have been digitized and made available to borrow digitally are on the 1 user/1 circ model to suit fair use. The titles are not those currently available via licensing from vendors. The aim is not to supplant such titles but to fill in the vast number of digitally unavailable titles.


IA seeks help in two ways. 


First, they are hoping for a grant with MacArther Foundation for $100 million.  This project is currently one of eight semi-finalists. They are up against fierce competition: for example, curing river blindness. Still, the view this project as a human rights matter:  it ensures knowledge access.  They also hope to build their platform to highlight reader privacy. "Long term free public access to knowledge is vital, and is not being done by Google or Amazon," said Kahle. They will move forward even without the grant, or a part of it, but it would be most helpful.


To make the project viable, they are also looking for 119,000 libraries to come on board to provide content and visibility


The project presents many opportunities. It can vastly increase circulation of materials, making works accessible only through ILL, or, not at all, available nationally. It can provide more equitable access, more room in libraries for people, and save money in ILL expenditures and staff time. It can use technology to read improve accessibility.  It can help ensure preservation, with publishers partnering.


So, how can you help? You can make your library a part by having works digitized by IA and circling them electronically. IA is developing processes to identify which works they might use, so you could de-accession some titles safe in the knowledge they will be preserved by IA. You can encourage ILS vendors to make adaptations to help get the content working in systems. You can encourage readers to suggest what titles they would Iike in the library. Support for the grant is welcome and helpful. You can Tweet your support @internetarchive and #100andChange.

After experiencing the disruptions of the digitization, libraries and our partners are aggressively launching initiatives to ensure discovery, access, and preservation. We live in exciting times. The Open Libraries project has enormous potential to help libraries at little cost to us, especially as it integrates with work such as SimplyE and NISOs's efforts to create API standards. ReadersFirst endorses the project and encourages libraries to find out more.


Breaking News--A Long Awaited Business Model from a Big Publisher

Thanks to RF Friend Andrew Albanese for sharing some great news,

"In a major announcement ahead of this week’s 2017 ALA Annual Conference, HarperCollins has agreed to make a selection of its e-book backlist titles available to public library users on a multi-user lending model."

Yes, you read it right. Something ReadersFirst and the library community as a whole have wanted for a long time is finally happening.

"Starting in July, the publisher will make about 15,000 e-book titles available via hoopla, including works from bestselling authors like Neil Gaiman, Louise Erdrich, and Dennis Lehane. The agreement builds on a 2016 deal that made HarperCollins’ digital audiobook backlist available to library users . . . . It is an enormous step forward for library e-book lending, as HarperCollins becomes the first Big Five publisher to offer e-books to library patrons on a multi-user, on-demand model."

This is indeed welcome news! For too long, library e-book use has been stalled by a lack of flexible business models of precisely this sort. It's a win-win, offering publishers a chance for greater circulation on back list titles and libraries a chance for multi-user access. There will be less waiting for titles. Will other publishers follow? Could high demand front list titles follow? What will it ok like in library catalogs? Great questions. We can hope for continued progress. In the meantime, THANK YOU Harper-Collins! You have once again proven yourself to be willing to experiment to work with libraries for our mutual benefit.  May others follow your example.