Tuesday, June 25, 2013

BEA, Part II: “How the Douglas County Libraries Model Bypasses the Vendor System & Benefits Everyone”

At Book Expo America 2013, the presenters from Douglas County CO and their partner Califa, did an exceptional presentation which was eye opening, to say the least.
The Douglas County Library System has bought and installed their own server to disseminate ebooks which they buy (yes, buy) from the publishers directly. The publishers they are dealing with are cooperating fully, allowing both the purchase and dissemination of their backlists and current publications through the DCL system. Douglas County continues to work with aggregators such as Overdrive for popular and brand name authors, but also maintains an in-house set of e-files that are not subject to the whims of an outside entity, thereby creating a base of e-books which are considered to be the property of the library---an archive of useable files either direct from publishers, along with access to the Gutenberg project and any of the other accessible e-book collections springing up around the internet.
They have partnered with Workman to buy their entire e-book backlist, as well as buying selectively from other publishers, and at present have over 27,000 titles in their ebook collection. They do work with the publishers by including a “buy now” button on all their ebooks, and still allow only one checkout per patron at a time. Their publishing partners include Akashic , Crabtree, Poisoned Pen, Rose, Smashwords, Dzanc, Sourcebook and Tyndale, among many others. They receive an average of 40% discount on their print purchases and ask for similar discounts on their electronic purchases. They don’t always get it, but they do get it often enough to make it workable.  They have integrated their catalog to include all titles in one listing, so that a single search could produce titles from their “publishing partners”, Overdrive, or physical books. Have a look at their downloadables page on their catalog :  http://douglascountylibraries.org/downloadables
To put it simply, Douglas County has radically changed “the rules of the game”. And Califa, a consortium  which was launched with a Library Services and Technology Act grant from the California State Library in July, 2003, (as many California libraries were being denied funding due to the state of California’s budget at the time) has extended the playing field even more.  They have just launched their own answer to the e-book question, and e-book project called Enki, (named after the Sumerian deity of mischief, creativity and intelligence) which uses Open Source software to extend and amplify the work that Douglas County has begun. With Enki, the process becomes useable for ILL, among other benefits, but more importantly allows access to the software that would otherwise be prohibitive, even for those libraries which might be able to afford their own server.  Here’s a link to their explanation of the E-book project: http://califa.org/ebooks.php  which explains it far better than I can here.
Now, I’m in no way an IT person, nor did I understand much of the computer jargon that peppered the questions and answers that followed the presentation. But I do know enough to believe that this is the first experiment since the inception of e-books in libraries that is showing another path for libraries to take which will effectively return control of our collections to our own hands.  And it couldn’t come soon enough, in my opinion. Bravo to both Douglas County and Califa…and stay tuned. They have only just begun, and the future for libraries looks very different from the way it looked even six months ago!
For more information, here are some contacts that are happy to discuss this with all comers:
For purchasing logistics, discounts, and acquisition information:    Sharon Nemechek: snemechek@dclibraries.org   or Rochelle Logan:   rlogan@dclibraries.org
For technical questions, including DRM, filei formats and processes:   Monique Sendz: msendze@dclibraries.org
Any of the above can also be reached by phone: (303) 791-7323.

- Doris @Central 

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