One library e-book platform to unite them all? That’s the vision behind the upstart Palace Project, the nonprofit library-centered digital content platform which this week announced a major step forward with the official launch of the patron-facing Palace App.
Now available for download in app stores (for iOS and Android) the Palace app allows patrons at participating libraries to potentially access all of their library’s digital content via a single interface—including content licensed through Palace's own marketplace as well as through most of the major library e-book vendors, including OverDrive, Baker and Taylor, Bibliotheca, and Bibliolabs.
Announced last June with $5 million in funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Palace Project is a joint venture between the Digital Public Library of America and LYRASIS. It builds on an existing collaboration between the two entities, using an open source code designed and developed by Library Simplified for its SimplyE app, a venture of the New York Public Library.
The Palace Project’s goal: a “library-centric” platform to deliver e-books, digital audio to patrons. It’s an ambitious mission in the still relatively young, and evolving digital library market where access to content is mostly licensed and has thus far been dominated by corporate actors.
“This community-driven initiative is informed by library values, and ensures an option focused on library needs for maximizing access to e-content offerings for patrons,” said Michele Kimpton, Senior Director of The Palace Project, in a statement. “Our main objective is to support the mission of public libraries by increasing equitable access to e-content, and carrying the relationship between library and patron into the virtual realm.”
In addition to offering patrons a single interface to access digital library content from various vendors, the Palace Project is also working directly with publishers to license content on more flexible terms through its own exchange, known as the Palace Marketplace, (formerly the DPLA exchange), which Palace officials say is currently the only nonprofit e-content marketplace. In a major breakthrough last year, Amazon Publishing agreed to make its digital content available to libraries for the first time through the Palace Marketplace.
Meanwhile, getting OverDrive—with its popular patron-facing e-lending apps Libby and Sora (for schools)—to participate in the Palace Project is being hailed as a major breakthrough.
“OverDrive is a crucial provider of digital content and adding them to The Palace Project is a major win for public libraries,” Kimpton said in a release announcing the company's participation. Kimpton said adding OverDrive, the market leader by far in the digital library space, will “get even more content in the hands of library patrons everywhere.”
Palace officials said libraries currently using The Palace Project should be able to access their OverDrive titles in the app in the coming weeks. OverDrive titles will also remain accessible to patrons via the Libby app.
Palace is currently serving more than 100 libraries, and working in some states to offer e-book collections via state libraries.
For more information on The Palace Project firstname.lastname@example.org.