The Washington County Library System in the United States have been growing their ebook collection to a respectable number in the last few years. To stimulate further growth, the entire system is employing an innovative method to develop their ebook portfolio. Local authors are encouraged to submit their own novels in electronic format to add to the existing library system using “Library Local Connect.”
Joe Manion, public services director for Washington County Libraries, developed the idea for Library Local Content after hearing of a similar initiative that is currently in place in Douglas County, Colo. “We’ve always been very concerned about making everybody’s works accessible,” he said. “What’s a little bit more difficult is to find the small author, the author who is getting started, the author who is local – but now we have the eBook revolution.”
The Washington County system hopes that this new initiative will help put the spotlight on local authors and help them get a wider exposure. There are a few criteria the system has developed in order to have quality ebooks in their system, such as any book that has been recognized for excellence in any Midwest Book Awards category, any book written or published by a member of the Midwest Independent Publishers Association, any independently or self-published book written by a Minnesota author, and any independently or self-published book about Minnesota.
Chad Lubbers, manager of R.H. Stafford Library, said Washington County Libraries hope to one day make Library Local Content a statewide initiative. He said in a recent interview that, “This initiative is a matter of discovery,” he said. “People will be able to discover new authors and authors will be discovered – maybe we’ll find the next Amanda Hocking.”
Library Connect is a fabulous concept that is sure to catch on, once the entire system becomes a little more streamlined. The application process to have the ebooks included is ambiguous at best and convoluted at the worst. It is not as cut and dry as submitting your ebook via an online system, but is a mix of a traditional application form and emailing the digital book over. If they were to develop an automatic toolset that would do this all simply, the concept could catch on. It helps libraries bolster their online ebook portfolio AND give exposure to local authors.