Software and media company BiblioBoard and Publishers Weekly this week announced the launch of a joint effort to develop a new wave of "community reading" platforms for public libraries. The partnership will support a host of library-based reading programs through the Popup Picks initiative, a mobile e-book service, built by Biblioboard and offered through public libraries around the country, that features unmetered access to a curated collection of e-books.
The program will officially kick off on November 7, with a collection of geolocated, unlimited-use e-books selected by librarians and editorial partners, including Publishers Weekly, YALLFest, and the Chicago Children’s Museum, among others. Titles will include a selection from Independent Publishers Group and Shout Mouse Press, a writing and publishing program designed to amplify diverse, often marginalized voices. The selected e-books in the program will be available for 90 days at a time.
Readers can access Popup Picks by visiting PopupPicks.com, then simply hitting the “Start Reading” button.
BiblioBoard CEO Mitchell Davis called community reading programs a “powerful force,” and said the latest initiative can help bring communities closer together, and benefit authors and publishers.
“This is the first program designed to meet the needs of libraries, publishers, and patrons in a sustainable and comprehensive way,” Davis said. “By using geolocation to authenticate, and having all the books available all the time, the program creates a simple and frictionless way for libraries to enhance relationships with current patrons, and to reach new digital patrons in their communities.”
The program builds on an initiative launched in Illinois earlier this year, in collaboration with the Reaching Across Illinois Library Systems (RAILS) consortium, now expanding to more than a dozen beta libraries nationwide, with more to come.
Veronda Pitchford, director of membership development and resource sharing at RAILS and a progressive voice in the library e-book space, helped incubate the project. She says the program is yet another a step toward the development of a “reading ecosystem” that works for everyone.
“Our goal is to make Popup Picks the Netflix for libraries,” Pitchford says. “By leveraging the librarian’s expertise of knowing what communities need and read, libraries can use Popup Picks to easily introduce the public to new titles and genres from independent publishers and authors.”
Bill Campbell, author and founder of Rosarium Publishing, distributed by IPG, said the program will help libraries connect patrons to an array of diverse books. “The program is great for promoting reading,” he added, “and we are very excited to be part of the project.
Among the libraries joining the expanded program, are the Los Angeles Public Library, Los Angeles County Library, the BiblioTech library in San Antonio, the Louisville Free Public Library, Metropolitan Library in Oklahoma City, and Mid-Continent Public Library in Kansas City. In addition, Charleston, SC, will launch its Popup Picks program citywide in conjunction with the upcoming 2017 BiblioSummit and YALLFest, set for the weekend of November 11.
Librarians interested in adding a year-round Community Reading Platform can visit biblioboard.com/communityreading/ to set up a trial for their geographic service area. Program organizers say they “hundreds” of public libraries to offer Popup Picks to their communities by early 2018.