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Massachusetts State-wide Ebook Platform: Coming Soon!

   April 24th, 2013

Library EbooksHere's something that will hopefully have a significant impact on libraries in the future: there's a state-wide ebook initiative getting underway in Massachusetts.

This project was begun after hearing about the Douglas County (CO) Libraries "host your own ebooks" platform (and why). However, instead of just a single library system, Massachusetts wants to involve all the libraries in the Commonwealth.

Also, the end goal is a little different than Douglas County. Instead of hosting all the content we buy ourselves, the Massachusetts Library System (who is spearheading the project with support from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners) is looking to develop a "discovery layer" interface that can search multiple vendors' ebook catalogs.

That way, patrons will just have one place to search all available ebooks, no matter which publisher or vendor they come from. This is good because the project includes all types of libraries - public, academic, school, special - which all have different ebook requirements. In the public world, people like to download fiction; in the school world, simultaneous online access to textbooks is required. This model is designed to accommodate the gamut.

My library is one of 50 pilot libraries that will begin testing this summer. The initial collection should be approximately 10,000 titles, negotiated directly with as many content providers as possible.

The current status of the initiative is, I believe, that proposals from vendors are still coming in. The project seems like it has a very quick timeline (see the project timeline & FAQ [pdf]), but I think that's a good thing.

In addition to the Colorado project, the Califa Consortium in California is also engaged in a similar endeavor. The Massachusetts project is unique in that it is the only state-wide program. Hopefully, as projects like this become larger and more numerous, libraries across the country will be able to adopt or join to give libraries a larger voice in the future of ebooks.

This is definitely something I'll be talking more about in the future. It's still early days yet (for the pilot libraries), but we're excited to get going.




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4 Responses to “Massachusetts State-wide Ebook Platform: Coming Soon!”

  1. Madeline Kelly Says:

    Brian: Am envious of your library’s status as a pilot library. Will be wanting to hear details of your experiences. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Sam Musher Says:

    This sounds like a great idea! But does it mean that all those ebooks will be available to all MA library patrons, or will people get a lot of “sorry, you can’t access that book with your library card” messages when they search? I’m excited to hear more about how the pilot goes!

  3. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Sam: The idea is that everyone will be able to use them (although I do expect a lot of error messages anyway), and the state is also laying the groundwork for a single state-wide library card. I’m excited about this too, and hopefully we’ll know more soon.

  4. Massachusetts State-wide Ebook Platform: Coming Soon! | The Travelin' Librarian Says:

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