The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) is launching a new program, E-Read Texas, to bring electronic books to Texans served by small community libraries in all parts of the state. The E-Read Texas program will provide library e-books and an e-reader application that will make it possible for all Texans served by public libraries to access e-books.
“We are very happy to be able to offer Texans access to these high-demand materials through their public libraries,” said Mark Smith, Director and Texas State Librarian. “We recognize the great need in communities across the state for diverse reading materials and are excited to partner with local libraries to provide cost-effective and user-friendly access to those resources.”
TSLAC estimates that roughly a third of public libraries serving communities of fewer than 10,000 residents currently do not offer e-books to their patrons. TSLAC requested an exceptional item for the 2020-2021 biennium that would have provided $4.2 million in funding from the Legislature for affordable e-books. Although this request was not funded, TSLAC will use existing federal funds to begin the E-Read Texas program.
The E-Read Texas program will have multiple phases. In the first phase, beginning July 2019, TSLAC will partner with Amigos Library Services to implement SimplyE, an open source e-book app, for smaller public libraries. SimplyE was developed by the New York Public Library in partnership with other major libraries in the nation in response to challenges patrons face in accessing e-books. Amigos Library Services, headquartered in Dallas, has implemented SimplyE for the Brazoria County Library System and Houston Public Library, among others, and is one of four recognized SimplyE implementors in the nation.
The SimplyE app is available for mobile devices running iOS and Android. It offers a “three-click” approach to e-books: patrons browse the e-book bookshelf, click to select a title, click again to check it out, and click to open and read it. Existing library e-books from OverDrive, RBDigital, Baker & Taylor, Bibliotheca and other vendors can be made available within the SimplyE app. Amigos will work with libraries and their vendors to simplify the setup process.
Initially, TSLAC and Amigos will implement SimplyE only for libraries that use the Apollo integrated library system from Biblionix. Biblionix, based in Austin, designed the Apollo system specifically for smaller public libraries. Ultimately, the project will be expanded to small libraries that use other integrated library systems.
To assist libraries that have little or no e-book content, TSLAC also plans to purchase e-books that libraries can lend to their patrons. Beginning in September 2019, the E-Read Texas collection will offer adult leisure reading e-books that can be accessed using the SimplyE application. The Digital Public Library of America, a national nonprofit, will provide both free and licensed books through its DPLA Exchange marketplace. The collection will be chosen to include titles that will be popular with patrons, with enough copies to keep hold lists short.
“We are excited for the readers of the Lone Star State to be able to access quality e-books and audio books, said DPLA Executive Director John Bracken. “We look forward to working with our partners at The Texas State Library and Archives Commission to maximize Texans’ access to a diverse and broad collection of digital books.”
A working group of Texas public librarians will provide assistance in developing TSLAC’s collection development policy and selecting titles. Over time, the E-Read collection will grow based on patron usage and feedback from Texas libraries.
Participation in the TexShare Databases program is not required for participation in the E-Read Texas program, and there is no participation fee. Larger public libraries and academic and school libraries may choose to provide SimplyE to their patrons through Amigos or another implementor without TSLAC support. The E-Read Texas collection will be available for all TexShare and TexQuest member libraries regardless of size.