DPLA partners with state libraries to offer statewide ebooks access

By DPLA, May 21, 2020.
Published under:

Earlier this month, the DPLA ebooks team met virtually with state librarians from across the country as part of the annual spring COSLA members’ meeting. We enjoyed this opportunity to hear directly from state libraries about their ebook needs, as well as from states who have already adopted SimplyE about how it is helping them expand critical access to ebooks for people across their states. As Washington State Librarian and COSLA ebook engagement group chair Cindy Aden said, “I am happy to see so many COSLA members working with SImplyE. Ebooks have never been more important, as libraries remain closed. Additionally, though, it’s clear that libraries must address the economic issues around ebooks and find a way to successfully work with the entire publishing ecosystem to find licensing models that work for everyone. DPLA and SimplyE give libraries some tools to explore better options.”

SimplyE is an open-source ebook platform developed by the New York Public Library. Over the past year, we’ve seen a wave of interest in SimplyE from libraries who want to provide more diverse content for more people while maintaining control over the patron experience and protecting patron privacy. There are currently more than 150 library systems across the country that have launched SimplyE, and it’s being tested and deployed in Washington, Connecticut, Texas, Georgia, and Montana. In addition, Rhode Island, Hawaii, the Maryland digital consortia, and American Samoa have begun the process of rolling out the platform. We have been working closely with these libraries to put together statewide ebook collections that include a wide variety of materials from different providers, including ebooks with flexible licensing terms and public domain works available through the DPLA Exchange

The New York Public Library is more than just the founder of SimplyE,  they are the longest-running and biggest user of the platform. At the COSLA meeting, we were joined by NYPL’s Chief Digital Officer Tony Ageh, who shared how SimplyE allows NYPL to surface compelling ebooks for patrons while making the most of their budget and better utilizing existing digital licenses. It was exciting to hear how NYPL is using SimplyE to promote the books they feel are of highest interest to their patrons and how their librarians can create collections within SimplyE like their “125 Books We Love” in honor of NYPL’s 125th anniversary. As Tony said, SimplyE “…absolutely allows us to completely control the books we think are the most interesting, the most useful, for our patrons at this time without having to take a one-size-fits-all approach from a vendor.” 

If you’re brand new to SimplyE and are interested in a brief overview of how it works and its benefits, we invite you to view this recording of our recent public webinar. It includes a demonstration of the technology from Carissa Egan at LYRASIS, which provides turnkey hosting of the platform, and some perspective from Brad Bullis at the Connecticut State Library and Michael Blackwell from the St. Mary’s County Library in Maryland about their experiences choosing, deploying, and using SimplyE. If you have any questions or would like to learn more, we’d love to hear from you.

DPLA’s ebook work is supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.