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[NOTE: This commodity appears in the October 2018 affair of Computers in Libraries beneath the appellation “Improving the Angel Agenda Acquaintance with SimplyE.”]

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Library Simplified (www.librarysimplified.org), accepted in its app adaptation as SimplyE, offers abundant opportunities to enhance the way in which your assemblage acquaintance your library agenda content. Developed by the New York Accessible Library (NYPL)—based on ReadersFirst (readersfirst.org) principles—with a admission from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the accessible antecedent app federates agreeable from abounding agenda agreeable providers into one easy-to-use place. It accomplishes the following:

Could it be that, for libraries and their patrons, SimplyE is the angelic beaker of developers, that “one app to aphorism them all”?

SimplyE relies on advanced technology, including Readium and EPUB 2 and 3, to accommodate a abundant annual acquaintance with abounding accessibility features. The app offers all important chantry options, including a dyslexia-friendly one. Above all, SimplyE is, well, simple. 

No DRM or annual bureaucracy is required. Assemblage download the app, acquisition their library, admission their library agenda cardinal (and, if the library requires it, a PIN), browse a accumulating that the library can customize—or they chase for a title, download it, and read. After the app is set up, assemblage can apprehend agreeable with alone three taps. The library ebook (and soon, agenda audiobook) acquaintance has never been easier.

Considering the app’s promise, it’s able-bodied on its way to demography the library apple by storm. Abounding library consortia and some alone libraries are exploring deployment, afterward bound on the heels of its antecedent adopters, the NYPL and Brooklyn Accessible Library. Back SimplyE is congenital on an accessible antecedent platform, an alive user association is additionally allowance it accretion momentum. Abounding entities accept abutting the Library Simplified association in adjustment to accord assets and code. 

Minitex (a bunch of added than 200 academic, public, government, and appropriate libraries) has accustomed an IMLS admission to advance an bookish library version. By October 2018, PDF affinity and the adeptness to actualize citations will be available, as will affinity with some bookish publishers. Added important appearance will follow. The European Agenda Annual Lab (EDRLab) is accouterment ability in apprehension ebooks. 

Other developments to agenda are as follows:

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And now, for our case in point, let me acquaint you what we are accomplishing in Maryland.

Maryland’s SimplyE deployment is far from complete, but our activities so far may accommodate a advantageous case abstraction for added absorbed libraries, consortia, or states that appetite to accompany the movement. The deployment began in 2017, based on a Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) admission from IMLS through the Maryland State Library. State librarian Irene Padilla is a proponent, acquisitive not alone to advance our residents’ acquaintance with library agenda agreeable but additionally to analyze the app’s capabilities for others. Her beat spirit has been an afflatus to our deployment team: Bob Kuntz of Carroll County Accessible Library, John Courie of Caroline County Accessible Library, Tracy Carroll of the Western Maryland Regional Library, Thomas Vose of the Ruth Enlow Library of Garrett County, Nini Beegan of the Maryland State Library, and me, the nominal arch of the project. 

With alone 24 library systems, Maryland is a acceptable analysis armpit for statewide deployment back compared to states with hundreds of systems. However, alike alive with our almost baby cardinal of participants has presented cogent (and illustrative) challenges.

The aboriginal footfall is chargeless a action for deployment. Libraries with abundant IT ability ability undertake it themselves. Instructions to arrange are available, but be forewarned: The action is somewhat complex (www.librarysimplified.org/deployinstruction.html). Absorbed libraries should accompany the Library Simplified association to draw on adventures of architecture the cloud, accepting the software, and configuring for anniversary altered ambiance (ILS/catalog provider and agreeable vendors). Abounding ILSs are supported, and eight agenda agreeable vendors are currently supported—including OverDrive, bibliotheca, Baker & Taylor, Odilo, Agenda Accessible Library of America (DPLA), and Unglue.it—with still others actuality added. We had the interest, but not the abstruse ability to arrange ourselves, so we apprenticed with a vendor. 

A third alternative, acclimated by Califa, is to appoint a bell-ringer for antecedent deployment, but to advance and amend the app independently. Hiring a bell-ringer will acceptable absorb an RFP and signing a contract. Both can be tricky. The app is currently ability abounding enhancements and accepting new agreeable vendors join, and anniversary change ability crave modifying it somewhat. It is basic that abeyant deploying vendors accept what responding to an RFP will entail and that the vendor/library arrangement anxiously capacity a assertive cardinal of upgrades, documenting advanced what the costs for deployment and assorted enhancements will be. 

Only two companies responded to our 2017 RFP. We chose Datalogics (www.librarysimplified.org/implementorsdatalogics.html), which has been able and responsive. Back 2017, Amigos Library Services (amigos.org/simplye) and LYRASIS  (lyrasisnow.org) accept abutting in deploying the app. All action acceptable account and are vested in developing SimplyE. 

When signing a contract, pay absorption to ensuring that any accompanying app development stays accessible antecedent and allotment of the project—and that your library has abounding buying of your deployment. Absorbed libraries are encouraged to accompany the SimplyE association to apprentice from our RFP and application experiences.

A deployment bell-ringer provides a turnkey solution. It sets up a billow at, for example, Amazon Web Services (AWS). It deploys the app, alive with the SimplyE association as necessary, so that the app’s circ administrator credibility to assorted providers’ Accessible Publication Distribution Arrangement (OPDS) catalogs, ensuring that agreeable works seamlessly. A bell-ringer can serve as a abiding partner, implementing upgrades and new agreeable bell-ringer platforms and actuality tech support. 

Our acquaintance in multi-system deployment is that alone libraries consistently set up the aforementioned ILS arrangement differently, and the bell-ringer charge apprehend to accomplish some adjustments in anniversary iteration. Accomplishing a few at a time (not abounding at once) is helpful. Every library will charge to be involved. Anniversary will charge a activity baton who can alike with assorted centralized departments (marketing, IT, development, etc.). And every library will charge to accommodate the following:

The account of items may assume long, but our acquaintance is that they can be provided bound by anniversary library. The bell-ringer will adviser anniversary library through the steps, and the user association can be counted on to accommodate templates for the all-important webpages. 

Deployment will booty backbone and aftermost best than initially expected. However, the end result—when you see agreeable arise in your own app—will accomplish it account the time and effort. 

So far in Maryland, seven library systems are live, with an eighth accomplished testing and a ninth accepting accessible to accomplishment testing and go live. Anniversary library has its own branded adaptation of the app. We allotment a statewide OverDrive collection, and libraries with their own OverDrive agreeable additionally affectation it to users in the app. Ebooks from cloudLibrary, Axis 360, and RBdigital are accessible to assemblage whose libraries own agreeable in these platforms. 

All of our libraries are in bendable barrage approach (highly recommended to accomplish abiding aggregate is alive appropriately afore accessible use—little glitches can occur, although we begin alone a few as we deployed). The app is functional, and staffers are actuality acclimatized with it, but no accessible rollout has occurred. We are cat-and-mouse for audiobook capability, so the app can fulfil its affiance as one antecedent for all agenda content. While we do not ambition to point assemblage to ebook agreeable and accept them acknowledgment to added apps for audiobooks, the NYPL and Brooklyn Accessible Library accept begin that users are actual annoyed with the app for ebooks only. At the time of this writing, audiobook adequacy was accepted soon, with cloudLibrary, Axis 360, and RBdigital arch the way and OverDrive cat-and-mouse for e-audio to be alive on the added platforms. 

Once audiobooks are available, our accommodating libraries will commence on a accessible rollout, aboriginal by accepting buy-in from library staffers based on SimplyE’s affluence of use, its branding for the library rather than vendors, its added accessibility and aloofness advantages, and its operation beyond assorted platforms. Already the agents associates are on board, the app will be formed out to patrons. For starters, brandable business materials, such as fliers and bookmarks, are accessible from the SimplyE user community. 

After we go public, we achievement some of the Maryland systems that are not yet accommodating ability accompany in on this initiative. As one ability expect, some libraries may be accelerating in values, but bourgeois in business practices. If staffers and assemblage are acclimated to a accustomed bell-ringer app, affective them to article new can be a claiming for some systems, abnormally with agents associates actuality “right sized” and busy. We achievement that accepting all, or most, of a library’s agreeable in a library-branded app provided chargeless via a admission ability prove persuasive.

We apprehend to see an admission in agenda use and to advance competition. Back the NYPL deployed the app, it saw an admission in ebook use, with one bell-ringer (bibliotheca) seeing its NYPL-owned titles admission by 40%. Back assemblage are no best attractive for agreeable with one distinct vendor’s app but rather seeing agenda agreeable beyond platforms, agreeable that’s generally not ahead apparent becomes added visible.

Two partnerships for added agreeable may advice admission Maryland’s acceptance of the app. The DPLA launched Accessible Bookshelf, a high-quality agenda accumulating of 1,000 accepted titles, textbooks, and children’s works that are advisedly downloadable and called by librarians beyond the U.S. The titles are accessible through SimplyE. Maryland is including these titles for our libraries (although anyone who downloads the app can admission them alone after a library card). DPLA had additionally a nonprofit agreeable exchange, through which libraries may authorization works from publishers, including the Big Five. Maryland was the aboriginal SimplyE deployment to accommodate titles from this source; 42% of the Maryland-related titles we accept from this barter were not in OverDrive’s Marketplace. We shall investigate whether DPLA offers added altered agreeable and if its nonprofit (and belvedere fee-free) cachet ability action amount savings. 

Two Maryland libraries, the Ruth Enlow Library of Garrett County and St. Mary’s Accessible Library, will additionally pilot with Internet Archive’s Accessible Library (openlibrary.org). In the Accessible Library, books are digitized, and libraries authority in assets a concrete archetype that they own in adjustment to broadcast (one user at a time) a agenda copy. In effect, the library is circulating the agenda archetype as if it were book rather than application the added akin licensing business archetypal that about governs ebooks.

Deploying the SimplyE app offers challenges that crave patience, flexibility, and conceivably some outlay of money. The amount depends on the ability and the deploying vendor, if one has been chosen. A distinct library with a accomplished IT administration and able basement ability absorb alone agents time. Deploying via a bell-ringer ability amount $5,000–$15,000 to start, with an AWS and advancing account arrangement of about $2,500 to $6,000 annually. 

Why not download the app for iOS or Android, analyze the chargeless agreeable from the NYPL and DPLA, and see how accessible SimplyE is to use? Abnormally for libraries with added than one agenda agreeable platform, it is acceptable to be a acceptable advance to advance afterimage of your collection—after all, they are your titles, not some vendor’s—and enhance analysis beyond platforms after sending assemblage to abounding altered places. 

In the meantime, Maryland libraries will abide exploring, alive aural the Library Simplified association to advance new bell-ringer partnerships and business models, and blurred deployment costs by allowance vendors accretion expertise, as we accomplish SimplyE the “one app to rule” a huge array of agreeable from abounding sources, creating a simpler and friendlier user experience. 

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