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DPLA & Ebooks

DPLA & Ebooks

DPLA & Ebooks  /  Open eBooks  /  DPLA Curation Corps  /  Get Involved

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As part of its core mission of maximizing access to our shared culture, the Digital Public Library of America seeks to expand the availability of widely read ebooks for the general public. We have felt since DPLA’s inception that even with the extent of our ebook collection, we could be doing much more to connect the public, in more frictionless ways, with the books they wish to read. It is no secret that the current landscape for ebooks is rocky and in many ways inhospitable to libraries and readers. We plan to leverage our extensive connections to our nation’s libraries, and DPLA’s national network, to address this essential need.

Below are some of the ways DPLA is actively contributing to the ebook landscape.

Community Conversations

Thanks to the generous funding of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, we are excited to facilitate ongoing and in-depth discussions about ebooks and their future, and what DPLA and our partners can do to help build a national strategy. DPLA looks to support other organizations working in this area, including Readers First, ASCLA Consortial Ebook Interest Group, The Power of Libraries, and ALA’s Digital Content Working Group. We support these groups in continuing discussions with publishers, authors, libraries, and the public about how to connect the maximal number of ebooks with the maximal number of readers.

Along with The New York Public Library, a leader in library technology and services, DPLA has been exploring avenues for a national digital platform that allows libraries to control the e-content experience. DPLA is a partner on two grants funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services which NYPL’s Library Simplified, serving as a community convener to help solicit feedback and build consensus from stakeholders: the Library E-content Access Project (LEAP) and SimplyE for Consortia. To learn more and to stay up-to-date on these grants, visit Library Simplified.

Open eBooks

open ebooks logo

Open eBooks is an app containing thousands of popular and award-winning titles that are free for kids from in-need communities. Open eBooks launched in February 2016 with the support of the White House, including a video from First Lady Michelle Obama. Open eBooks has received overwhelming feedback from teachers, librarians and students praising the initiative. In its first nine months, Open eBooks served over 1 million ebooks to kids in need.

These eBooks can be downloaded immediately with no holds and no late fees. Children from in-need families can access these eBooks, which include some of the most popular works of the present and past, reading as many as they want without cost using the Open eBooks app. Titles were selected by DPLA’s Curation Corps of school and youth librarians.

DPLA joins a coalition of founding nonprofit partners the The The New York Public Library and First Book; educational technology company Clever; and content support provided by digital books distributor Baker & Taylor.

To find out more about the Open eBooks, visit

Questions about Open eBooks? Email us.

DPLA Bookshelf

Thanks to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s continued support of our mission, DPLA will greatly expand its efforts to provide broad access to widely read ebooks. We are seeking to develop a substantial, free and open collection of popular ebooks, formatted for modern devices and curated by our nation’s librarians. The selection of these ebooks, to number in the thousands, will be strongly tied to popularity and use in critical realms like education. This Bookshelf will be made available on the devices that are now broadly held throughout society, with a positive user experience and content curated by libraries rather than vendors.

We are particularly enthusiastic about the role that our large and expanding national network of hubs can play in creating an open collection of ebooks. Many of our service hubs have already scanned books from their regions, and are generously sharing them through DPLA. Public domain works are being aggregated by content hubs such as HathiTrust, with more coming online every month. Thanks to our many partners, the Digital Public Library of America already contains over two million books, fully open and free to read. It is clear that we can bring these threads together to create a richer, broader tapestry of ebooks for readers of all ages and interests.

DPLA will leverage its extensive connections to America’s libraries through its national network to pilot new ways of acquiring ebook collections. In the same way that DPLA has worked with its hubs in states from coast to coast to improve access to digitized materials from America’s archives, museums, and libraries, DPLA will collaborate with other institutions to improve access to ebooks through market-based methods.

DPLA Curation Corps

For the past two years, the Curations Corps has focused on the Open eBooks library, building a collection of books kids love. In 2017 the Curation Corps is expanding to include the DPLA Bookshelf. Librarians will curate public domain and open access texts in fresh and innovative ways, making them easily discoverable for readers. Other curation activities include making reading lists for educators, and helping identify acquisition priorities.

Curation Corps members are motivated, engaged librarians who have experience with building and organizing collections, and who have time to spend growing ours. If you are interested in helping us connect books readers, and you have expertise in this area, please consider being a member of our Curation Corps.

More information about the roles and responsibilities of DPLA Curation Corps members can be found here.

Questions about the DPLA Curation Corps? Email us.

HathiTrust and DPLA Partnership

The Digital Public Library of America and HathiTrust have had a strong relationship since DPLA’s inception in 2013. As part of our ongoing collaboration to host and make digitized books widely available, we are working to see how we can provide our services to exciting new initiatives that bring ebooks to everyone.

To find out more about the HathiTrust and DPLA open ebooks partnership, click here.