Friday, June 3, 2011

The Library as a Publishing House?

SSJCPL is going to subscribe to OverDrive beginning in July. If you are reading my blog, I probably don't have to explain to you what OverDrive is, right? Public services staff at SSJCPL have been telling me about our customers' desire for eBooks since I arrived here and it's exciting to be on the cusp of launching a service that I know is popular with library customers elsewhere.

The obvious need to provide eBooks and downloadable audio is not all that an OverDrive subscription offers, though. One of the features of the OverDrive subscription about which I'm quite excited is the "storage space" OverDrive provides the Library for providing whatever content we'd like to upload.

I think one exciting and unexpected use of this would be to solicit local writers to "publish" their works here. Whether we're making available eBook versions of the contest entries we get from teens at our poetry contests, the work of a local aspiring author, or even the writings from amateur historians about our region of the state, all of these would be of interest to others. It's super easy to convert word processor documents to PDFs and it's almost as easy to convert PDFs to the ePub format. Since ePub works on all major eReaders, this would be an easy way for local writers to get their work to potentially a good sized local audience!

Another thought I've had for making good use of the storage space we'll have available is to let local bands use our site as a method for allowing their fans to download their recordings. Sure, libraries aren't traditionally in the music distribution business but we do lend music on CD and connecting with local musicians in this way is another good step toward the evolution of public libraries not just as book depositories but as centers of creative community interaction. Can you think of any other innovative uses?

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