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Open eBooks
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Open eBooks is a partnership between the Digital Public Library of America, The New York Public Library, and First Book, with content support from digital books distributor Baker & Taylor and login support from Clever. This effort is made possible by generous commitments of publishers with funding support provided in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and is part of the White House ConnectED Initiative.

What is Open eBooks?

Open eBooks is an app containing thousands of popular and award-winning titles that are free for children from in-need households. These eBooks can be read without checkouts or holds. Children from in-need families can access these eBooks, which include some of the most popular works of the present and past, using the Open eBooks app and read as many as they like without incurring any costs. The goal of Open eBooks is to encourage a love of reading and serve as a gateway to children reading even more often, whether in school, at libraries, or through other eBook reading apps.

The New York Public Library created the app enabling children to read eBooks on a wide variety of devices, including tablets donated as part of the President’s ConnectED initiative and on smartphones increasingly used by Americans at all income levels.

First Book is a nonprofit social enterprise that provides access to millions of brand new, high quality print books and other educational resources to classrooms and programs serving children in need. First Book is providing full access to Open eBooks to every educator in its Network, and will distribute access codes for Open eBooks to educators serving children in need at

DPLA is engaging its network of librarians and cultural heritage institutions to provide outreach about the program and helping to coordinate books for inclusion. The DPLA Curation Corps apply their knowledge and professional skills to shape a compelling collection that is diverse, exciting, and age-appropriate so that every child has a book to read and enjoy.

Thanks to the generous contributions of the eBook platform delivery service, AXIS 360 from Baker & Taylor, Open eBooks is able to provide access to titles from the following publishers:

• Bloomsbury: Providing unlimited access to over 1,000 of its most popular titles.
• Candlewick: Providing unlimited access to all relevant children’s and young-adult eBook titles in their catalog.
• Cricket Media: Offering full digital access to all of its market-leading magazines for children and young adults, including Ladybug and Cricket.
• Hachette: Offering access to a robust catalog of their popular and award-winning titles.
• HarperCollins: Providing a vast selection of their award-winning and popular titles.
• Lee & Low: Providing unlimited access to over 700 titles from this leading independent publisher of multicultural books.
• Macmillan: Providing unlimited access to all of the K-12 age-appropriate titles in their catalog of approximately 2,500 books.
• National Geographic: Providing unlimited access to all of their age-appropriate content.
• Penguin Random House: Committing to provide an extensive offering of their popular and award-winning books.
• Simon & Schuster: Providing access to their entire e-catalog of books for children ages 4-14, comprised of 3,000 titles.

Clever is a secure educational login platform currently used in almost half of all U.S. K-12 schools. Their support allows Title I schoolwide programs to access Open eBooks through the suite of Clever apps."
ebooks  open  free  libraries  digitlpubliclibrary  digital  books  dpla  firstbook 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Digital Public Library of America » Blog Archive » New Primary Source Sets for Education
"Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) is very pleased to announce the release of its first group of Primary Source Sets about topics in US history, literature, and culture. These sets were developed and reviewed by a new Education Advisory Committee for use by students and teachers in grades 6-12 and higher education. Each set includes an overview, ten to fifteen primary sources, links to additional resources, and a teaching guide. This project was generously funded by the Whiting Foundation.

In the coming year, DPLA will be adding new sets and new features to the project. To learn more about DPLA’s education work, read about education projects, sign up for the education news list, or contact"
primarysources  dpla  history  literature  culture  education  classideas 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Aren’t libraries already doing that? — The Message — Medium
"My questions about the current big plan to “give” ebooks to low income kids

Yesterday’s announcement was exciting. The White House in collaboration with the Digital Public Library of America, The Institute for Museum and Library Services, and New York Public Library will work together with the rest of nation’s libraries to give low income kids better access to digital reading material and get them excited about reading. But are the project’s offered solutions really addressing the real problems and needs of the communities it is trying to reach?"

"What is missing from current e-reader book lending apps? Is the new app going to be available on all platforms? Will it work for people who are print-disabled? Who is offering tech support? Will people need to register to use the app? Will they need an email address to do that? Will their reading lists be tracked? Will the app’s privacy policy be in line with state patron privacy laws? Will the app also help people find print books since surveys are still indicating that print is what many Millennials prefer.

The Target Audience

Providing access to physical resources like print books is straightforward. Giving access to shared technologically-mediated resources is significantly more complex. How do we provide democratic access to content through libraries and schools but still reach the target demographic and provide digital equity?

How does providing digital content via apps serve the hardest to serve when, according to NPR’s All Things Considered “nearly 40 percent of households that earned less than $25,000 a year didn’t have a computer” and less than half had internet access? Even DPLA’s Executive Director Dan Cohen admits we’re still barely at majority smartphone adoption in low-income families. Will lending tablets — tangentially mentioned as part of this project — be enough to span this gap? Apple has said they’re donating $100 million worth of devices, but we don’t know if those are going to libraries as well as schools.

Will the app be for all children but just marketed towards low-income children? How do we get this program’s target audience to the library in the first place when transportation is often cited as a major impediment for low-income people to access their libraries? How will this program work with existing library ebook programs, or existing wifi hotspot lending programs (how are those going anyhow)? FirstBook has impressive statistics backing up its print book program. Is there any research that indicates that the lack of a good reading app and tablet computers is what is inhibiting the reading progress and literacy of low-income children? How will this program be assessed to ensure that it’s meeting its stated goals?

The Publishers

Publisher anxiety about offering up free digital content is understandable and yet the largest dollar amounts promoted in this program are for content supposedly being donated. What does it mean to “donate” ebooks?

Do publishers get tax writeoffs for the donations of thousands of digital copies of their titles to this non-profit project? What about overlap with titles libraries have already purchased? Will the project work with publishers to help make library patron access to ebooks in general a more pleasant and straightforward process? Does “unlimited access” really mean no Digital Rights Management or other technological limitations on accessing the donated content? Who will own these titles and what are the licensing terms? Will the content remain available to libraries and readers after the three year program period has ended?

Is anyone curating this collection to ensure that it’s balanced and appropriate for the target audience? We’re told that “Librarians will work with publishers to create recommendation and suggestion lists.” How is this different from what libraries are already doing?

The Libraries

We like to be part of these projects. Yet sometimes it seems that people are trading on the good name of libraries without actually providing material support to our infrastructure needs.

What do people feel isn’t working with libraries’ existing ebook lending programs? According to Paste Magazine, libraries in some communities are “promising to place library cards into the hands of young readers.” Aren’t they already doing this? Why, if this project “leverage(s) the extensive resources of the nation’s 16,500 public libraries to help kids develop a love of reading and discovery” is there no money in this wide-ranging project for the libraries themselves, besides money for broadband?

Who is going to teach digital literacy skills and help people use the app? Is it appropriate to have librarians volunteering for this via DPLA? Why are librarians being managed by DPLA instead of their existing professional organizations? Is there going to be an associated advocacy effort to ensure that school libraries continue to employ trained librarians, since this is one of the biggest threats to youth literacy?

The Ebooks

Ebooks are not as much of a monolithic entity as the name implies. Just saying “ebooks” does not give much information about what is being proposed.

Will these ebooks be in open formats or accessible at all outside of the program app? What about the free ebook/reading projects that have gone before, and still exist?"

"Many of the patrons who email us may have never interacted with an ebook or a library before. The library to them is not just the content but also the people they interact with and the interfaces they have to navigate. Setting your sights on low-income readers is an admirable goal; those people will need help, even with the best-designed apps and the simplest tablets. Plan for it, it’s a part of the project that won’t scale well.

The hardest to serve are often the hardest to serve specifically because they can’t be reached simply with apps and goodwill and a pure heart. If that was all it took, our work would be done already. Libraries have been working at easing the literacy divide, the digital divide, and the empowerment divide for decades if not centuries. No one wants to increase literacy and love of reading more than the public librarians of the world. So I’m excited, but also cautious. We’ve seen a lot of well-meaning projects come and go.

Kids have access to thousands of free books and ebooks from their public libraries right now in the United States. Think of what we could do if we worked together to invest in ebooks and our existing infrastructure instead of building yet another app and hoping that this time the things we promised would come true."
ebooks  dpla  libraries  accessibility  access  books  applications  smartphones  internet  privacy  equity  digitaldivide  reading  howweread  audience  infrastructue  ereaders  2015 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Digital Public Library of America » Blog Archive » GIF IT UP Winners Announced
"There’s no better way to wrap up a busy year than with a showcase of awesome GIFs made from open materials. Over the past couple of months we’ve had tons of fun running the GIF IT UP competition with our good friends at DigitalNZ. Thank you to everyone who entered!

All the entries have now been judged by our judges, Adam Green, Editor of the Public Domain Review, and Brian Wolly, Digital Editor of the Smithsonian Magazine."
gifs  dpla  gif 
december 2014 by robertogreco
The future of the library: How they’ll evolve for the digital age.
"Across the United States, librarians have been experimenting with ways of expanding on this newly elaborated mission—for instance, by opening so-called “maker spaces” in annexes and areas where bookshelves have been cleared out. A throwback to the mechanic’s library of the 19th century, maker spaces collect old and new technologies, from sewing machines to 3-D printers, and encourage patrons to develop and share skills that cannot be practiced over the Internet.

For those who might look askance at the prospect of their library morphing into a bookless social club for gearheads and gadget nerds, a group of young arts-oriented librarians have formed the Library as Incubator Project to promote a different, though by no means incompatible, vision of “third place.” On its website, the Library as Incubator Project highlights library programs from around the country that involve displaying, facilitating, or disseminating art, often by and for the local community. Favorite projects include the Local Music Project at the Iowa City Public Library, where librarians lease recordings from local artists and offer them online to cardholders for free, and the Brooklyn Art Library’s Sketchbook Project, a traveling bookmobile that accumulates donated 32-page sketchbooks from both professional and amateur artists and displays them around the country. It’s easy to imagine how a local institution built on these sorts of programs could continue to serve as hospital of the soul and theme park of the imagination long after all the paper books have been cleared away.

Both maker spaces and Library as Incubator–style art programs engage library patrons to produce their own content. Also in this vein, some wealthier libraries have begun hosting self-publishing and print-on-demand technologies like the Espresso Book Machine. If basic Internet access is no longer anything to write home about, it’s notable that the cutting-edge technologies that libraries can boast of providing on-site access to are used more for creating and less for passive, traditional library activities like reading and watching.

On a broader scale, the recently-launched Digital Public Library of America, operating out of the Boston Public Library, is building a nationwide digital collection of historical materials sourced everywhere from libraries and private collections to family photo albums and boxes of old letters in the attic. According to founder Dan Cohen, the DPLA’s ambition is to work with local libraries to collect materials and perhaps eventually to present them at touch-screens designed to help patrons explore the history of their specific communities. “We love the idea of making a connection between the digital and physical realm,” Cohen says.

Patching the gaps of the fraying social safety net with shelter, bathrooms, and other very basic services for people in crisis is not part of the original mission of public libraries. It can detract from other services, particularly those aimed at children. Perhaps for this reason, a library in Orange County, Calif., recently instituted a napping and odor ban.

However, public libraries have long served a progressive, interventionist agenda, putting knowledge directly into the hands of the poor, the immigrant, and those historically excluded from certain educational institutions. If no better resources can be cobbled together, isn’t it against the spirit of the library to turn away a person in need? It remains to be seen how this commitment will affect middle-class willingness to fund public libraries.

Outside of the publicly financed system, the library-as-intervention model thrives in fringy endeavors like books-to-prisons projects, the Occupy Wall Street library, or the Little Free Library’s outdoor book-sharing boxes. It’s a good time to operate one of these outsider libraries, which are particularly well positioned to make use of the vast detritus of unwanted paper books currently washing up every day at Goodwill stores and recycling centers.

It remains uncertain exactly what will happen to the New York Public Library’s Main Branch in the renovations already underway. Supposedly forthcoming is a plan that will preserve the Snead stacks as part of a new circulating library, allowing patrons to see and experience the historic stack design, which has been off-limits to visitors up until now. This plan should satisfy preservationists, if not scholars hoping to keep the research collection intact. If it carries the day, the stacks will have survived less as a functional element of city infrastructure and more as a museum curiosity for tablet-toting patrons of the future.

But perhaps it’s in the model of the museum that nostalgic and futurist visions of libraries converge. Just as families have begun to visit NC State’s campus to gawk at the book-fetching robots, so tourists of the coming decades might plan trips to 42nd Street to walk the venerable stacks that once served as intellectual aquifer to a great city in its era of cultural blossoming.

These days, of course, cathedrals aren’t in much better shape than libraries. To maintain a monumental institution in the middle of a community requires patronage, in both the financial and civic engagement senses. If the people want emerging technologies more than they want books, libraries have to respond to that, even if it means closing up shop and moving entirely online.

Matthew Battles, who since publishing his history of libraries has become a principal at Harvard’s forward-looking metaLAB, believes that the future of libraries must be decided not by nostalgic scholars or librarians hoping to save their jobs, but in conversation with communities. “Librarians, scholars, policy makers all have to be part of that dialogue, but it must embrace a civic context, not the institutional context,” he says. “If you do that, having spent a lot of time in libraries and meetings with library administration, you end up in this conversation of how do you save the library. People say, ‘We know we have to change, but we don’t know how.’ There’s a death spiral in that dialogue.”
michaelagresta  libraries  digital  matthewbattles  nypl  dpla  makerspaces  2014  future  history 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Serendip-o-matic: Let Your Sources Surprise You
"Serendip-o-matic connects your sources to digital materials located in libraries, museums, and archives around the world. By first examining your research interests, and then identifying related content in locations such as the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), Europeana, and Flickr Commons, our serendipity engine helps you discover photographs, documents, maps and other primary sources.

Whether you begin with text from an article, a Wikipedia page, or a full Zotero collection, Serendip-o-matic's special algorithm extracts key terms and returns a surprising reflection of your interests. Because the tool is designed mostly for inspiration, search results aren't meant to be exhaustive, but rather suggestive, pointing you to materials you might not have discovered. At the very least, the magical input-output process helps you step back and look at your work from a new perspective. Give it a whirl. Your sources may surprise you."
dpla  flickrcommons  flickr  serendipity  search  bibliography  europeana  zotero  wikipedia  onlinetoolkit  research 
august 2013 by robertogreco

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