DPLA launches Open Bookshelf, a Collection of Free Ebooks

By Michelle Bickert, June 21, 2018.
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The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) is pleased to announce the launch of Open Bookshelf, a digital library collection of popular books free to download and handpicked by librarians across the US. The collection currently has more than 1,000 books, with new titles added daily. Open Bookshelf is designed both for libraries and for readers: it is currently available to libraries through the DPLA Exchange and to readers via the SimplyE mobile app.

Open Bookshelf contains an exciting, diverse collection of titles spanning a myriad of genres. Readers will find: the classics they know and love, from Austen to Twain, updated for EPUB 3.0 format with beautiful covers; the best Creative-Commons licensed works from innovative authors like Cory Doctorow; freely available textbooks and academic titles representing the push for open scholarship; and an exciting multicultural children’s collection.

“With Open Bookshelf, free-licensed ebook content will no longer be a second class citizen in libraries,” said Eric Hellman, president of the Free Ebook Foundation. “The Free Ebook Foundation is thrilled to be contributing feeds from Unglue.it to the project.”

Open Bookshelf titles are selected by DPLA’s Curation Corps, a team of librarians and information professionals representing communities across the US. They have built the collection on a title-by-title basis, using their expertise to add books readers will enjoy.

Open Bookshelf is available to libraries through the DPLA Exchange, an e-content marketplace DPLA is currently piloting with six libraries. With DPLA Exchange, member libraries can add the openly-licensed books in Open Bookshelf alongside traditionally-licensed titles to their e-content offerings. Patrons will find exciting open content next to their favorite bestsellers. Libraries won’t need to point patrons to different websites and apps to find great open content, or pay for books already in the public domain.

“The Connecticut State Library is pleased to participate in DPLA’s Open Bookshelf project,” said Eric Hansen, eGO and eResource Coordinator for the Connecticut State Library, a DPLA Exchange pilot partner. “It is gratifying to be able to contribute to the project with title selections, and the Bookshelf will be a valuable resource for libraries that use the SimplyE app.”

Readers can explore Open Bookshelf today in the SimplyE app. To get started, download the app (iOS and Android), add the Digital Public Library of America to the account, and browse the collection. No library card or account is required, and all books are free to download and keep.

Libraries interested in how they can add Open Bookshelf to their collections or participate in DPLA Exchange can contact DPLA at ebooks@dp.la. Content providers who want to make their books available in Open Bookshelf are also encouraged to contact us. For more updates on DPLA Ebooks projects, sign up for our mailing list.

This work to improve access to books is made possible through the generous support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.