DPLA to Expand Access to Ebooks with Support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

By DPLA, January 13, 2017.

The Digital Public Library of America is thrilled to announce that the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has awarded DPLA $1.5 million to greatly expand its efforts to provide broad access to widely read ebooks. The grant will support improved channels for public libraries to bolster their ebook collections, and for millions of readers nationwide to access those works easily.

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.

As part of the grant, DPLA will also develop an expansive, open collection of popular ebooks, formatted in the EPUB format for smartphones and tablets, and curated so that readers can find works of interest. Together, these programs will increase substantially the number of ebooks that are readable by all Americans, on the devices that are now broadly held throughout society.

“From its inception, DPLA has sought to maximize access to our shared culture,” Dan Cohen, DPLA’s Executive Director, said at the announcement of the new Sloan grant. “Books are central to that culture, and the means through which everyone can find knowledge and understanding, multiple viewpoints, history, literature,  science, and enthralling entertainment. We deeply appreciate the Sloan Foundation’s support to help us connect the most people with the most books, which are now largely in digital formats.”

“The Sloan Foundation is delighted to support the Digital Public Library of America’s efforts to create new channels for better ebook access,” said Doron Weber, Vice President and Program Director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “Sloan was the founding funder of DPLA and its mission, enabling a nationwide, grassroots and non-profit collaboration that to date has provided access to over 15 million digitized items from over 2,000 cultural heritage institutions across the U.S. With its timely new focus on ebooks, DPLA will leverage its national network to expand reading opportunities for thousands of schools and libraries and millions of students, scholars, and members of the public.”

The Sloan grant will help DPLA build upon its existing successful ebook work, such as in the Open eBooks Initiative, which has provided thousands of popular and award-winning books to children in need. Recently, DPLA announced with its Open eBooks partners the New York Public Library, First Book, Baker & Taylor, and Clever that well over one million books were read through the Sloan-supported program in 2016.