The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation this week announced that it is investing $5 million in the Palace Project, a new strategic partnership between LYRASIS and the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) chartered to "develop and scale a robust suite of content, services, and tools for the delivery of e-books, audiobooks, and other digital media to benefit public libraries and patrons."
The announcement was made at this week's Knight Foundation’s 2021 Convening on Libraries meeting, which brought together library, civic, and philanthropic leaders.
In a release, Palace Project officials said the Knight Foundation’s funding would accelerate the development of a library-centered platform to deliver digital content—from publishers and major content providers as well as from local authors and open sources—in a way that supports "equitable access to digital knowledge," bolsters "the direct relationship between libraries and patrons," and respects and protects patron privacy.
The Palace Project will be led by Michele Kimpton, who has now moved to LYRASIS where she will serve as global director of The Palace Project division. Kimpton previously served director of business development and senior strategist at DPLA, where she negotiated the DPLA's breakthrough deal to bring Amazon Publishing content to the DPLA's digital platform, the DPLA Exchange.
In a statement, DPLA executive director John Bracken said DPLA is "excited to take our work providing libraries greater control over digital assets to the next level,” and praised Kimpton’s leadership. "We are eager to advance our common goal of ensuring equitable access to knowledge for all.”
Officials say the Palace Project will build on the existing collaboration between DPLA and LYRASIS over the last several years, using the Library Simplified platform, an open source code originally designed and developed by the New York Public Library. A Palace Project app is slated to launch sometime in early fall.
“LYRASIS sees Palace as an unprecedented opportunity for libraries to be digital leaders within their communities and make all content accessible to all people,” said LYRASIS CEO Robert Miller in a statement. “LYRASIS deeply appreciates the Knight Foundation’s vote of confidence in our collective vision. LYRASIS has had a long-term relationship with public libraries and the Knight funding will accelerate efforts and impact for the communities we serve.”
Earlier this month, LYRASIS announced that it had acquired BiblioBoard, the innovative Charleston, S.C.-based library technology firm, and creator of the pioneering BiblioBoard e-book platform. That deal combined two leading players on the bleeding edge of library-centered technology.
“Libraries are essential because they provide individuals with knowledge and the tools to build more informed, engaged, and inclusive communities,” said George Martinez, chief technology officer for Knight Foundation. “The Palace Project will meet people where they are and significantly boost equitable access to knowledge in communities across the country at a time when it is needed most.”