The Massachusetts Library System and the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners are hard at work to End the Digital Lockout.  The MA eBook pilot project, envisioned by the Statewide Resource Sharing Committee, to provide thousands of eBooks to 51 pilot libraries in Massachusetts is underway!

We understand that OverDrive is advertising a consortium for small public libraries in Massachusetts.  To be clear—this is a commercial venture and MLS is not involved.  We do plan to roll out eBook services to all Massachusetts libraries over the next couple of years in collaboration with MBLC after the pilot project is successful.

Our primary goal is to create a single eBook platform and shared collection for all Massachusetts libraries and their patrons.  Massachusetts is a national leader in resource sharing.  The volume of lending for books and physical media has leveled off over the past three years.  There is strong interest and strong growth in the use of eBooks. We are striving to find a path toward wider statewide eBook access with the pilot project.

Confirmed ownership (or perpetual access) is a second goal of this project.  Many eBook vendors cannot guarantee ownership.  Many vendors require use of their own platform for ongoing access.  Libraries that choose to switch platforms could lose their collection.

A third priority for this project is a user-friendly patron experience.  The statewide committee’s efforts go beyond a statewide eBook platform and also include studies to create a statewide library card and a statewide discovery system to integrate and simplify searching.  This three-pronged approach will simplify login/authentication as well as patron discovery and checkout systems.

Local content provision is a fourth goal.  We plan to explore uploading content from local authors and publishers in partnership with libraries to develop connections with local content providers.

We have ambitious goals and many challenges ahead as we thread our way through the emerging eBook marketplace.  We will continue to work with the Statewide Committee, the MBLC, the automated networks, and our public, school, academic, and school library members to deploy the most effective system possible.

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Get involved!  The Online Content Advisory Committee will be soliciting new members soon, and we need your time and talent.  Let us know if you are interested.

Please let us know if you have any questions?