The New South Wales Government in Australia is gearing up to push ebooks into schools and libraries. They are initiating a new statewide collection of ebook resources accessible to all 2243 public schools, beginning in 2013. The new program will be run by the State Education Department’s School Library and Information Literacy team, which is based in Sydney.
The first phase of this new ebook program will take place in June beginning with 230 schools participating in the Commonwealth’s ‘Empowering Local Schools’ initiative. The rest of the schools will see a staggered release in 2014 and 2015, in which all public schools will have access to thousands of ebooks. NSW plans to standardize all public school libraries and associated facilities statewide on a single, hosted school library system.
Overdrive, the leading facilitator of digital content to libraries, will be providing the audiobooks and ebooks for the schools. Overdrive’s main Australian partner, Softlink, will spearhead the IT and local customer service. A whopping 5,000 titles will be available early June to the first batch of schools participating in program. They will be able to read the titles on State issued e-readers and tablets, or devices students own. The School Literacy Team is currently working out the kinks on lost or stolen devices, or tablets kids bring from home.
There is no word yet on what titles will be made available to schools or the pricing structure that the Government will have to pay. Likely, it will be a combination of royalty free open source books, that are in the public domain and paid content. We have reached out to Softlink and Overdrive for comment on this breaking story.