An Update on our Ebooks Initiatives

By John Bracken, October 11, 2018.
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On the DPLA Ebooks Team, we are excited about our role supporting library-driven platforms for e-content delivery. Check out what we are up to this fall, and stay tuned for updates and possibilities for innovation over the coming months.  

DPLA Exchange

We are thrilled to be heading into the second year of running the DPLA Exchange ( DPLA Exchange is operated by DPLA and enables libraries to provide their patrons with bestselling e-content titles alongside free open content in a simple, easy-to-use platform. Content from the DPLA Exchange integrates seamlessly with materials from other vendors like Overdrive in SimplyE, a free mobile app developed by New York Public Library (NYPL), available for iOS and Android. After a successful first year, we have five pilot libraries set up on the Exchange, ready to buy content or download free materials and over 100 new libraries deploying SimplyE, thanks to our partnerships with LYRASIS and NYPL.

We have been working with Alameda County Library (CA), Califa Library Group (CA, KS), Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (PA), Connecticut State Library, Maryland Digital eLibrary Consortium, and the Yavapai Library Network (AZ). As we begin the second year of the pilot, we are excited to build on what we’ve heard from our initial group of partners. For example, when DPLA Exchange pilot partner Corey Christians of Yavapai Library Network was asked about the most important reason for his library’s participation in the pilot, he said he was excited to be able to serve his forty-three public, school, and academic libraries on the same platform rather than pay annual fees to his current provider for each library type and buy three copies of each book.

Michael Blackwell, Director of the St Mary’s County Library (MD) and a DPLA Exchange pilot partner sourcing books to be shared across their network of over twenty libraries, expressed excitement for the Exchange’s platform interoperability. When integrated with the SimplyE app and Library Simplified, patrons can search and discover great e-content in the mobile catalog, download it, and start reading all without leaving the app. As we add new library partners of all types, we will be able to maximize the advantage of our interoperable platform to serve all of their ebook readers.

Library Simplified Hosting with LYRASIS

Library Simplified and the SimplyE app, both developed by New York Public Library, provide critical elements of the DPLA Exchange system. Library Simplified, an open source platform, lets librarians merge e-content from multiple sources; manage and curate titles; and make ebooks available to patrons through OPDS readers such as SimplyE. Our partners at LYRASIS offer cloud-based hosting and technical support for Library Simplified, which makes deploying easy for libraries. LYRASIS has helped Exchange pilot partners like Connecticut State Library, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, and Yavapai County Library District get the DPLA Exchange and Library Simplified up and running smoothly and we look forward to strengthening this successful partnership over the next year.

Open Bookshelf

We are proud to feature Open Bookshelf, our collection of popular and classic openly-licensed ebooks, as one of the collections available to libraries through the DPLA Exchange. Since its launch at the American Library Association Annual Conference in June, we have heard that librarians appreciate how Open Bookshelf augments their e-content offerings, allows for free and unlimited simultaneous access, and helps them take advantage of the emerging open content movement. Open Bookshelf includes unique content not always found (or freely available) through commercial distributors, such as multicultural children’s books and open textbooks.

We have also heard from librarians that they are eager to see the collection grow—and it has! Open Bookshelf now has over 2,000 ebooks, and is growing daily, shaped by input from the community. Librarians on our Curation Corps review and enhance the records for each book selected for the collection. We look forward to continuing to work with libraries to share free ebooks—please email if you would like to get access to the collection for incorporation in your catalog or you are interested in learning more about our Curation Corps. Learn more about ways to access Open Bookshelf.

Open eBooks

DPLA is a proud partner of Open eBooks, a program run by a coalition of literacy, library, publishing, and technology partners including The New York Public Library, First Book, Clever, and Baker & Taylor. Open eBooks is an app that makes thousands of popular and award-winning titles available for low-income K-12 readers for free, including 600 new books added this summer. To learn more or get started, visit

What’s Next

At DPLA, we are excited to be at the table with partners across the country as we explore how to continue to expand access to digital knowledge through our ebooks projects. We heard lots of enthusiasm for ebooks work at the COSLA Fall Meeting last week and look forward to continuing these conversations over the coming months. Join us at DPLAfest on April 17-18, 2019 to join the conversation and stay connected with our ongoing ebooks work at DPLA by joining our ebooks mailing list.