Thursday, November 6, 2014

Seattle Public Library and "eBooks Now!"

I had been planning to have this blog be simply a list of all the libraries and groups that were doing self-hosted platforms, or pursuing direct relationships with publishers, even if it was on a vendor hosted platform.  But there just don't seem to be enough projects going on that would justify a regular blog, and anyway, the point has been to highlight library-driven innovation, which can take a lot of different forms.

So I'm going to expand it a bit more to cover a lot more library-driven development in the eBook sphere.  That means more stuff to post about!  But, seeing as how they're a pet project of mine, self-hosted projects will still be highlighted more often.  Because it's my blog, and I make executive decisions like that.

I've been noticing Seattle Public Library in the news a lot lately.  Back in August they partnered with Smashwords to have a self-publishing contest where they invited patrons to write a book, create an account on Smashwords, and then enter the contest.  Up to three winners would be added to the library's eBook collection.  The winners will be announced on November 15.  They have a very complete Seattle Writes section of their website with tools and support for self publishing, as well as the Smashwords portal.

Something else that caught my eye was the article on October 25 about their new project eBooks Now! which allows patrons to see eBooks which do not have a waiting list. We all know how holds lists are a pain in the ass for patrons.  Patrons can browse the digital collection and find items currently available.  The list repopulates every hour with newly available books.

According to Jim Loter, the Director of Information Technology at Seattle Public, they are using the OverDrive API to query the holdings from OverDrive and sorting out the items that have at least one copy available.  That information is populated into a website that patrons may browse by format, or search.  Then they took the interface elements from Bibliocommons so the page looked more like their website.

This is yet another project that shows how, if you combined the brains of all the amazing librarians out there working on the issues around eBooks, you can really create some awesome solutions.

After browsing a little bit more on their site, I found their collection of photographs of the history of the Pike Place market.  Totally worth a look if you ever have some spare time.


In enki news, we just signed a deal with Kensington, which I am extremely pleased about.  They have amazing romance and mystery titles, and the files are currently being ingested into our system so the patrons will be able to read the titles soon.  I'm going to do another Happy Dance after I post this.

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