Contra Costa County Library launches enki Library!

An eBook platform developed by libraries, for libraries.          

 

Contra Costa County Library and the Califa Library Group are pleased to announce the beta launch of enki Library (enkilbrary.org), a library-driven and library-developed open source eBook platform which expands the Douglas County (CO) model to serve multiple libraries in California.  Frustrated by the lack of ownership of eBook titles and platforms for libraries, Contra Costa County Library and Califa, a nonprofit cooperative serving libraries in California, teamed up in 2012 to build an eBook service that would be owned by the consortium, populated with titles purchased directly from publishers that would be owned by the purchasing library. enki Library (named after a Sumerian deity of creativity, mischief, and intelligence) went live at Contra Costa County Library and San Francisco Public Library on May 6. The platform will open up to more California libraries and the Kansas State Library, another library leader in the eBook field, in the coming months.

While libraries are striving to serve a public who want access to both print and digital materials, many major publishers are either refusing to sell eBook titles to libraries or charging a premium -- sometimes $100 for a single title. At the same time, the question of ownership of eBook titles purchased by libraries – and the ability to walk away from a third-party platform with your purchased content -- remains in legal limbo.

Through enki Library, member libraries have the opportunity to gain more control over their current and future eBook services by developing desired functionality from a library and patron point of view. The platform was developed by Contra Costa County Library in partnership with Denver-based Quipu Group; a library-specific software development company who are also behind the development of the Contra Costa’s fantastically successful online museum pass reservation system, Discover & Go.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Contra Costa County, a library that has a proven track record of innovation, to bring a much-needed service to our members,” said Linda Crowe, the Executive Director of Califa. “While enki is not meant to replace the traditional eBook vendors, the advantages of having ownership of the platform and the titles are enormous for the sustainability of a service.  The independent publishers have shown a great eagerness to work with Califa, and libraries in general, and we are happy to be able to be working with them to provide this service.”

“Coincidentally, Contra Costa County was working on its own eBook platform when we heard last year that Califa was planning a similar project; it seemed a natural fit for us to work with them,” explained Cathy Sanford, Deputy County Librarian of Contra Costa County Library.  “We had the technical expertise to be able to create the infrastructure along with project management experience, and they had the ability to provide administration for a statewide project, and negotiate with the publishers.”

enki currently offers access to eBooks in PDF and EPUB formats from publishers including Workman, Dzanc, Smashwords, Akashic, Crossroads Press, National Highlights, Infobase, and others. Funding for enki Library is through a Bay Area Library Information Systems (BALIS) Innovation Grant, Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) monies from California State Library, the State Library of Kansas, and Califa.

Contra Costa County Library serves over 902,000 residents of urban, suburban, and rural communities through 26 community libraries, 3 Library-a-Go-Go book dispensers, and online library services available 24/7 at ccclib.org.  As the winner of numerous awards, including the 2012 National Medal for Museum and Library Service from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the John Cotton Dana Library Public Relations Award and two from the American Library Association Office for Information Technology Policy for Cutting-Edge Technology in Library Service, Contra Costa County Library is recognized as a leader among libraries implementing technology to improve service, reduce costs, and deliver on the Library's mission of bringing people and ideas together.

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