Tuesday, June 24, 2014

eRead Illinois!

I met the wonderful Veronda Pitchford (who is my new BFF) at ALA Midwinter in January when there was a meeting of lots of different ebook projects.  We then shared a booth at BEA (with three other groups), and so I've been learning a lot about her project, eRead Illinois.

Here's her summary of her project for this blog:

1. Is this an owned-content model? The eRead Illinois projects works with Baker & Taylor’s Axis 360 and 3M Cloud platforms. Under these platform, eRead Illinois does own the material in the shared collection. The Axis 360 shared collection is open to RAILS and IHLS non-SHARE public, school, academic, and nonprofit special libraries. (www.railslibraires.info) Only IHLS SHARE members are eligible to participate in the 3M Cloud Library. (www.illinoisheartland.org/)

 2. Is the platform/hosting owned, or are you using a vendor? Axis 360 and the 3M Cloud are both vendor created platforms.

 3. If you're using a vendor, who is it? We have two vendors. Baker & Taylor and 3M.

 4. Do you negotiate directly with publishers? Baker & Taylor negotiates with publishers with feedback and input from the eRead Illinois project staff.

 5. Do you have a shared collection? Yes, all participating libraries have access to the shared collection. Individual libraries may also purchase a local collection on either platform if they wish. 6. When did you go live? Both platforms went live in December 2013.

 More information about the eRead Illinois project can be found on our website(www.ereadillinois.com) and through our Twitter(@eReadIllinois).

Monday, June 23, 2014

NC Live's Home Grown eBook Project

The fabulous previously-mentioned Tim Rogers from NC Live was quoted in this Publisher's Weekly article about what's next for eBooks in Libraries, and so that made me want to write something about his project.

I first started talking with Tim regularly when we were both implementing MyiLibrary eaudio collections back around 2008.  This collection was then somehow sold off to Recorded Books in 2011, and we both had to deal with getting a new platform up and running for our libraries.  When we decided to do an eBook project of our own, Tim was right there, saying NC Live was also interested.  We initially thought our projects would be very similar, but they have diverged a bit.  This is a good thing.  There needs to be a lot of experimentation going on in this world right now.  One size does not fit all at the moment, especially when it comes to consortia or statewide access.

So NC Live has started what they call the Home Grown eBook Project, which focuses on North Carolina publishers and content.  If the PW article is correct, they're using BiblioBoard to do it (I have all kinds of opinions on everything from OverDrive to the Open Library project from the Internet Archive, but one area where I'm still really uncertain is BiblioBoard.  On one hand, I love what they're doing, and they're a fantastic group of people, and definitely a real game changer.  On the other, it's still a vendor...)

Anyway, you can check out the Sneak Peak collection at http://read.nclive.org/

And I'm pasting below a letter from Tim Rogers posted on their blog that explains what they're doing.

I hope I can get him to write an update for us here, but in the meantime, this was posted in February 2014.


Dear Colleagues:

 As you may know, NC LIVE has been working to put together an eBook project for some time, and we believe we've hit on something that will be of value to all NC LIVE libraries. The working title of this project is “Home Grown eBooks,” and it focuses on bringing both quality fiction and nonfiction content from North Carolina publishers (many of which are award winners!) together into one collection hosted by NC LIVE.

The main purpose of the project is to make local content (defined as “books published by a North Carolina publisher”) more accessible to all NC LIVE libraries at low prices. With this as our guide, the following bullet points highlight some specifics about the project.

- The program will begin as a pilot project starting this spring and will run through the end of the calendar year (December 2014).
- During the pilot, NC LIVE will purchase about 1,000 titles from 10-15 publishers including Crossroads Press, Press53, UNC Press, McFarland, and Algonquin (see the full list below).
- Because we know that no one likes limits, every title will be available to the patrons of every NC LIVE library (something we’re calling Always Available Rights) throughout the pilot. To clarify, Always Available Rights mean that there will be no turn-aways, no holds lists, and no limits for your patrons – every title will ALWAYS BE AVAILABLE during the pilot.
- To access the books, patrons will not need to create a user account, a virtual library card, or anything else. They will log in to the eBook platform just as they would for any other NC LIVE provided resources – using their library card, campus ID, or the NC LIVE password. And if they happen to be in the library or on campus, they don’t even have to log in! Once they download the book, they will simply use Adobe Digital Editions on a computer or the Bluefire App on a mobile device to access the eBook.
- Although the discovery platform/interface will be new, it will also be very simple … keyword searching and alphabetical title browse navigation. Additional search and browse options (such as facets and other filters) may also be available by July. Basic MARC records will be available to any library that wishes to add them to their local catalog, and all eBooks will be findable through NC LIVE’s discovery tools and search boxes.
- One aspect of the pilot is to come up with a sustainable pricing model for the Always Available Rights (unlimited simultaneous use), while another is to ensure we have perpetual ownership of eBook titles. NC LIVE will be working with publishers to develop an acceptable cost structure that accommodates both goals, and I can tell you that our initial discussions have been very positive – They are as excited about it as we are!
- In preparation for the pilot project, NC LIVE is launching our Sneak Preview Collection of 160 eBooks purchased from John F. Blair Publisher last year. This small collection includes fiction (novels and short fiction), as well as history, travel, and other general interest nonfiction titles. The no-frills interface, which currently allows downloading only (no in-browser reading), is temporary, and will include enhancements before the pilot project launches in July. The titles will also be included when you use the NC LIVE search boxes. We are making the MARC records available for libraries that wish to add them to their local catalogs, and to pull them down, simply select the records listed as “Sneak Preview Collection on http://www.nclive.org/librarystaff/marcrecords. The Sneak Preview Collection will be available to all libraries through June 2014, at which time they will be folded into the Home Grown collection.
- All titles in the Sneak Preview Collection can be downloaded to a PC/MAC using Adobe Digital Editions or to an IOS or Android mobile device using the Bluefire App. eBooks can be “checked-out“ for 14 days, and there are no limits to the number of titles a patron can check-out at one time, nor are there limits on the number of re-check-outs (i.e., renewals) of a specific title.
- If the pilot is successful, our intention is to continue the Home Grown eBook program with new titles on a quarterly basis. We’ll be working out the cost model, but my hope is to keep it at the $250 level.

 Alabaster Book Publishing (Kernersville, NC)
Algonquin (Chapel Hill, NC) Baen Books (Wake Forest, NC)
Black Mountain Press (Asheville, NC)
Comfort Publishing (Concord, NC)
Crossroad Press (Elizabeth City, NC)
Duke University Press (Durham, NC)
Gryphon House (Lewisville, NC)
Ingalls Publishing Group (Banner Elk, NC)
John F. Blair, Publishers (Winston-Salem, NC)
Lookout Books (Wilmington, NC)
McFarland Publishing (Jefferson, NC)
Press 53 (Winston-Salem, NC)
Second Wind Publishing (Kernersville, NC)
UNC Press (Chapel Hill, NC)
Wake Forest University Press (Winston-Salem, NC)

 Another thing we’ll be testing with this pilot is the way we’re paying for it. As you know, when NC LIVE has purchased content in the past, we did so with funding we received through our normal budget process and through LSTA grants. The planning, licensing, and platform costs will all be funded this way, as will the Sneak Preview Collection.

 Here is the new part … we are planning (hoping!?) that the rest of the content will be paid for by our libraries. We are asking each NC LIVE library to pay $250, about the cost of 25 eBooks from Amazon or Barnes and Noble. For that $250, you and your patrons will receive access to 1,000 books (less than a quarter per book!) There is no commitment from you to fund anything beyond the pilot, though we hope you will find it successful and will want to! Even if you choose not to pay beyond the pilot, your library will always have access to at least a limited number of copies of the 1,000 titles.

 We will be sending out another message in the next week or two asking for you to “Pledge” your support for the Home Grown project. Your pledge will consist of filling out an online form that says your will pay $250 (or more, if you’d like!) for the Home Grown pilot. As with any collaborative project, the most important aspect is to get 100% involvement, and I hope we can count on you all.

I know there’s a lot of information here, but you probably have a lot of additional questions … Feel free to contact me at your convenience about the Home Grown Project, and until then, enjoy the Sneak Preview Collection!

 Best, Tim

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Douglas County Libraries

Any blog on libraries owning ebooks and negotiating directly with publishers would be remiss if they didn't mention Douglas County during the first few posts.

I was inspired to do a platform of our own at Califa, after a meeting at ALA Midwinter in 2012 with Jamie LaRue and, oddly enough, Tim Coates, who was gathering feedback and information for his bilbary venture (which is now, I believe, called something like Frekle.)

The team at Douglas County were amazing in helping us get started.  I basically knew how to say the words "Adobe content server." and that was about it.  But Monique sent us some great technical information, and Rochelle was unbelievably helpful in pointing us towards publishers that we could start with.  In fact, when I went to BEA for the first time in 2012, pretty much overwhelmed at the number of publishers I could talk with, I had a list of Douglas County publishers to start with.

In fact, if you're considering doing your own ebook platform, you need to bookmark their evoke site, which lists publisher contacts, technologies, agreements, etc.

Simply put, Douglas County created their own platform, and started buying content from publishers, and went live in 2012. Their collection doesn't replace working with other vendors (they still buy from hoopla, OverDrive, zinio, freegal, and others) but they did start the trend in showing that libraries could do this themselves.  There are a lot of smart people in this space; if we use our collective brainpower, we can do great things.

They are now working on evoke2.0, to take their model throughout the entire state of Colorado, and information on that project can be found here: http://www.evokecolorado.info/  This project is a little different than Califa in that they are using OdiloTID, a Spanish eBook platform that they used for some of the work on their original site.  We actually looked into Odilo, and found the cost to be prohibitive, but they have made some changes to the pricing, and might be a bit more reasonable now.  We also had a philosophical issue with the idea of using another vendor for something we wanted to create ourselves, but for a lot of libraries this might actually be a good option (same with Biblioboard, which seems really creative, and supportive of libraries).

Anyway, the point of this post isn't to go into detail of their project.  Besides, most people who are reading this blog right now are already familiar with them. I am going to see if Rochelle would like to do a guest entry on things they've learned (especially around pricing and discounts), but for now, if you're interested in their project, go to that evoke site, and contact them!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Harris County's eSelect

I first heard about the Harris County Library project when, in 2012, the author Joe Konrath posted a blog entry about being approached by them to purchase eBooks.  It seemed that Harris County, TX, was also purchasing eBooks from publishers, hosting them, applying DRM, and lending them out.

I immediately contacted Joe Konrath via his blog, and apparently, thanks to what he learned from Harris County, he has started a whole new venture for libraries and eBooks - ebooksareforever.com - where authors and publishers may contribute their titles, and libraries can easily purchase them and have them delivered.  On a side note, I'm very interested in this project, because they seem to have done a lot of good work on the problem that all of us have, which is an acquisitions module.  We are all still using spreadsheets to order, copying and pasting into PO's, which is a lot of manual work and leaves room for error.  The thing is, ebooksareforever doesn't actually host anything, so while purchasing is cake, you need to have your own place to host the files, and a way to put DRM on them.  For most libraries who don't have this capability on their own, it probably won't be a great option, but I'm following where they go, because I know they're aware of this (I, along with lots of other people, have talked with them about it).

So anyway, leaving Joe Konrath for a little while (I'm sure we'll get back to them in another post, because he's coming at this from the perspective of an author wanting solutions for working with libraries, which I think adds a different dimension to the issue, and fascinates me), back to Harris County, TX.

Their project is called HCPL eSelect, and you can read all about it on their website here:

Harris County Public Library is proud to introduce HCPL eSelect, an exclusive new eBook collection made up of titles purchased directly from independent authors and publishers. The items in this collection are owned and managed by HCPL, so they can be directly checked out from the library’s catalog and are listed in your main library account with any other paper books, DVDs or CDs you borrow.

HCPL’s eBooks are so popular that over 637,000 were checked out last year – about the same circulation as one of the system’s largest physical libraries. Most of us already know about the popularity of eBooks.  What you might not know is that many major publishers won’t sell their eBooks to libraries. By working directly with independent authors and publishers, HCPL is able to expand our collection and increase the variety and value of materials available for library cardholders.

Readers aren’t the only ones benefitting from this new model.  Checking out books from the library encourages people to try new authors and subjects without adversely affecting their wallets.  Librarians will even help guide readers to books suited to their tastes, a benefit appreciated by writers like author Joan Rylen, who had this to say:

“The innovative HCPL eSelect digital library is an amazing tool that connects readers with new authors and old favorites, whether they're self or traditionally published, therefore opening doors that had previously been slammed shut. We're thrilled to have our Getaway Girlz series as part of the launch.”

Jason Aydelotte, Executive Director of Grey Gecko Press, sees the community benefit in eSelect:
“Grey Gecko Press is proud to be able to work closely with our valued partners in the local community, including the Harris County Public Library system. We look forward to providing many more great books for local readers for years to come!”

So, if you’re a digital reader and you want to try a new author, maybe read something local, or need immediate reading gratification at no charge, browse HCPL eSelect.

HCPL eSelect Items:

Check in automatically after 14 days and do not accrue fines.
Currently do not allow hold requests.
Work with Adobe Digital Editions and many free eReader apps.

For further instructions, check the FAQ or ask library staff for assistance.
I heard from Michael Saperstein, the Multimedia Selection Librarian, who also gave me the following information:

Our system is pretty simple as far as the public is concerned.  Titles in the eSelect system are added directly into the same catalog as the physical books.  We are in the beta testing phase of switching our old online catalog over to the one that supports API's so soon all eBooks will be able to check out straight from the normal catalog.  Since our new catalog (enterprise) can filter to just eBooks, we do not really need a separate website to pull out (or highlight) the eSelect titles.  Once the site with the API's is out of beta testing, I am hopeful that a customer using our normal site (not the Overdrive one) will see no difference between downloading an Overdrive title and an eSelect title.

There is a link on the record that the customer would select to download the title.  If on a computer is would download to Adobe Digital Editions.  If on a portable device, it will ask you what app you want to open it in.  Once you select you are up and running.

Like most libraries who do this, we use Adobe Content Server to put DRM on the titles. 


Thanks, Michael, for the information.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Amigos eBook project - Amigos eShelf

I am simply copying this from the Amigos eShelf page on their website.  This is a project that is very similar to ours, so of course I'm biased and think it's awesome.  I believe they are planning to go live with their platform in the fall of 2014, and they were actively meeting with publishers at Book Expo.

For more details, you can like Amigos on Facebook.

Amigos eShelf

In June 2013, Amigos undertook an ambitious and exciting new project: the creation of an e-book platform for Amigos members.

This project is similar to other e-book platforms, such as those from the Califa Library Group or Douglas County Libraries. Our focus is to provide e-books for libraries and their patrons by negotiating directly with the publishers. Once the platform is in place, libraries may access it through an Amigos search interface or a local library catalog. Libraries will be able to supplement their own collections with lists of e-books from the Amigos platform. Amigos will host and maintain the e-books collections and negotiate with publishers on future additions. For libraries that wish to purchase e-books themselves, Amigos can provide the DRM-based infrastructure necessary.

In late Spring 2013, Amigos acquired an e-book platform project from the North Texas Library Partners, providing us a solid foundation from which to move forward. Since then, we have focused on evaluating the project and investigating alternative options. In mid-July, we brought together a group of librarians for a brainstorming session. We received much valuable information from this session that we have used to develop the basic requirements for our system. The work of building the platform began in earnest in August 2013. Our basic service should be available to libraries in the summer of 2014. We will continue development into the next year.

To aid in this effort, in July 2013 Amigos received a Library Cooperation Grant from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, awarded specifically for creation of this e-book platform. "Having the support of TSLAC provides us not only with the resources needed to complete the project, it buoys our confidence as we move forward," said Project Manager Christine Peterson. "We hope to provide a service that will complement existing services and aid our members in providing e-books to their patrons."

If you would like to stay abreast of our progress on this project, you may do so in any of three ways:

Read Amigos Now, our bi-weekly news digest. As important project milestones are achieved, we will apprise you of them through AmigosNow articles.
Be sure to . Project updates will be posted to our Facebook page as they occur for prompt display on your Facebook News Feed page.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Introduction and Califa/CCCL's Enki

The idea for starting this blog came to me when leaving a voicemail for Tim Rogers at NC Live.  We had talked extensively when Califa was first launching our ebook project, Enki, and he had been working on something similar.  While in a meeting with Workman at BEA a few weeks ago, they mentioned a pilot of a project they were doing with NC Live, and I wanted to know more about it, and in general, I wanted to know more about his project.

It occured to me that there are many groups, states, consortia and libraries experimenting with their own ebook projects right now, and I have a hard time keeping up with them all (despite having just shared a BEA booth with four of them!).

And if I have a hard time keeping track of them, I know others do too.

So I'm collecting the stories and updates from all the different library ebook projects (or at least the ones I can get to send me information!) and will keep it updated as I am able here.

Let me start with the one I know best, our own Enki Library.  Named after a Sumerian deity of mischief, intelligence, and creativity, Enki is a consortium owned platform with consortium owned content.  We currently work with over 120 publishers (listed on our site as well as lots more information and further reading) to purchase content for a shared collection (used by 35 libraries currently).  The collection has about 20,000 items right now, and we're very proud of the depth and breadth in the collection.  There is some great stuff there.  We are building the capability for each library to have their own collection on their own site as well, and piggy back off of our agreements.

Enki launched in May 2013 with Contra Costa County (our tech partners in building Enki) and San Francisco Public.  CCCL is currently getting nearly 1500 circs/month, and other large libraries aren't far behind.   We're thrilled with the support we've received from the State Library to build the collection.

It occurs to me that there are some basic questions that should be answered for each project that I want to report on/keep updated with/

1.  Is this an owned-content model?  Califa's is.
2.  Is the platform/hosting owned, or are you using a vendor?  Califa owns our platform, and it was developed using VuFind+, an open source discovery layer.
3.  If you're using a vendor, who is it?  NA for us.
4.  Do you negotiate directly with publishers?  Yes for us.
5.  Do you have a shared collection?  Yes for us.
6.  When did you go live?  May 2013 for Califa.

Anything else I should be asking??

Thanks for reading.  I'm going to send a note out to the other major projects I know about, and see if I can't get some more participation and information on the blog.