In my April 26 column, I expressed disappointment that more than a decade into the consumer e-book era, the government opted to make The Mueller Report available only as a virtually unreadable, poor quality PDF. And I reached out to officials at the Digital Public Library of America to ask: is there a role for libraries here?
Turns out, there is. This week, the Digital Public Library of America published a free e-book edition—a real e-book—which readers can download, even without a library card. As of last week, the DPLA’s version of The Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election is now freely available in e-book format for anyone to read on their phone or tablet.
“By making the report available as an e-book in our Open Bookshelf collection, anyone can download and read it for free,” reads a statement on the DPLA site. “For libraries offering New York Public Library’s SimplyE app, the Mueller Report can be easily integrated into the e-book offerings made available to their patrons.”
The SimplyE app and Open Bookshelf are freely available to anyone with an iOS or Android device.
A coalition of America’s libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural heritage institutions, DPLA is committed to making the wealth of materials and information contained in our libraries and cultural heritage institutions readily accessible online, including photographs, books, maps, news footage, oral histories, personal letters, and government documents. And in recent years, the organization has become deeply invested in providing greater access to e-books, recently announcing "a new collaboration to help provide all public libraries with a free, open, library-controlled platform for managing their e-book and audiobook services."
Maybe I’m wrong, but I have a feeling that we’re just beginning to scratch the surface of how important The Mueller Report will turn out to be. And citizens can now turn to the place they’ve traditionally turned when they need information—the library.