By Nicole Merriman, Library Consultant
The Ohio eBook Project (OEP) is a growing consortium of 40 libraries that pool their resources to collectively purchase downloadable content for use by library patrons from their home computers and portable devices. Most of the books and other materials purchased for the OEP collection are shared with all member libraries. For example, a member library in northeast Ohio can purchase a copy of a book that is available not only to their patrons, but to the patrons at an OEP member library in southwest Ohio. The OEP does mimic the paper book world in one important way – most copies of titles are available to one patron at a time. Patrons can place holds on popular materials, just like with paper books in the physical library. The vendor for this service is OverDrive, Inc., located in Cleveland, Ohio. OverDrive, Inc. is a company known for helping libraries bring downloadable materials directly to their patrons.
Currently, the OEP has almost 15,000 copies of nearly 10,000 titles. Most downloadable audio books are available in Windows Media Audio (WMA) format, with a growing number available in MP3 format. eBooks are available in the following formats: EPUB, Adobe PDF eBook and Mobipocket. During 2010, OverDrive made available 15,000 free eBooks via the Project Gutenberg collection. Project Gutenberg has a large collection of eBooks that are copyright-free. These titles are available to any patron at any time. Library patrons do not need to sign in to gain access to these titles, so they do not count against the patron checkout limit of 10 titles.
During 2010, several libraries joined the OEP, including Community Library in Sunbury, Lebanon Public Library, Marion Public Library, the Mary L. Cook Public Library and Muskingum County Library System.
Also this year, a mobile version of the OEP website was launched so that patrons with certain mobile devices can view and, in some cases, download content right from the mobile devices.
Currently, patrons using the OEP can check out up to 10 items at a time and also have holds on 10 additional items. Since the OEP has a reciprocal borrowing agreement with the SEO Consortium’s Digital Catalog and Download Center, patrons can check out 10 additional titles and have another 10 on hold from there. Both collections also allow patrons to place items on wish lists for future check out. The SEO digital collection includes over 11,000 copies of over 10,000 titles.
OEP is not the only library or consortium in Ohio to use the services of OverDrive, Inc. To see if a library near you subscribes to OverDrive, Inc., go to http://search.overdrive.com/, click on “Search for a Library” and input your zip code.
The State Library of Ohio invites Ohio public libraries to inquire about joining the OEP. Please contact Nicole Merriman at 614-995-4117 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in joining the OEP or have questions about downloadable books.
To see the collection and a list of OEP member libraries, go to http://ohdbks.lib.overdrive.com.