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Two States Creating State-Wide Library E-book Collections

by on September 4, 2014

A recent Library Journal Online article examined a newly passed bill in Connecticut that gave the state’s library board of trustees the authority to create a state-wide e-book collection. Connecticut’s small size means there are no county governments and therefore no individual library systems. A Connecticut library card is valid in every library in the state. That set-up makes it an ideal state to try out a state-wide library e-book collection.

Even though Connecticut’s situation is unique compared to most of the country, the concept of state e-book collections is not unusual. Reading Arizona is a program being developed that allow state residents, based on IP address, access to a standalone website to check out e-books. Somewhere down the line the program hopes to provide MARC records to local libraries to allow integration of titles to individual library systems. “What makes Reading Arizona unique is that all content will be specifically focused on Arizona topics and themes,” states Digital Content Coordinator Michelle Bickert of Arizona State Library. This could include popular fiction set in the state as well as academic material.

Evoke Colorado is in the early stages of a similar program for its state’s libraries. The goal is to have content for all types of libraries in the state. “Down the road, the platform is envisioned to simply be…a place where thousands of publishers can directly sell their content to libraries, where collection development librarians can select and manage e-books and other e-content, and where end users can discover e-content,” states Jim Duncan, executive director of the Colorado Library Consortium.  At some point, there might even be a variety of content that includes e-books, e-audiobooks, movies, videos, and more.

Such an undertaking does take time, funds, and patience to cover new technological ground. Challenges have included convincing stakeholders at all levels that these projects are good for their patrons. Finding the right collaborators to not only create a central location for the e-material to be stored but also to maintain that location over a period of time can be a daunting task. But leaders within both programs seem focused on the outcome of providing rich and diverse e-content for their state’s patrons. “We want to carefully manage development so that it meets the needs of Colorado libraries first,” says Duncan.

Both programs are still working on preliminary steps and may have some testing available this fall. Check both websites for the latest info.

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