URC Institutions launch eBook Project to increase equity, information access for Michiganders
Adapted from the ReadMichigan.org news release, posted November 1, 2021:
A cooperative effort between Library of Michigan and the presses of University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University, have launched a unique collection of regional eBooks available to all residents of Michigan. The ReadMichigan.org statewide eBook collection initially consists of 300 eBooks published by local university presses about Michigan and the Great Lakes region.
The homegrown collection includes winners of the prestigious Michigan Notable Books award as well as other important books published by Michigan presses and authors. Residents and visitors to the state of Michigan can access these eBooks (with no wait lists or holds) via geolocation at any time at www.readmichigan.org. The Michigan Humanities provided important financial support and is also a founding partner of the project.
The Michigan Notable Books program, created by the Library of Michigan, began as part of the 1991 Michigan Week celebration, designed to pay tribute and draw attention to the many people, places, and things that identify Michigan life as unique and vibrant. This new eBook collection plays into that original spirit and features titles that speak to Michigan’s rich cultural, historical, and literary heritage.
“As we approach our 30th anniversary of the Michigan Notable Book Award there is no better way to celebrate than to work in collaboration with our strongest publishing and community partners to increase access to these important books. We look forward to seeing how the library and educational community across Michigan integrates ReadMichigan.org eBooks into their own local eBook programs and we stand ready to support that effort in any way we are able,” said Randy Riley, the State Librarian of Michigan.
The project is also a compelling one for the university presses who are constantly experimenting with new ways to reach more readers, students, and researchers. University press directors Stephanie Williams (Wayne State), Gabriel Dotto (Michigan State), and Charles Watkinson (Michigan) added a joint statement on behalf of their publishing houses.
“University presses are mission-driven to advance knowledge about our communities. Our State is unique in having three leading university presses that are all supported and advanced by flagship public universities. This ebook collection allows the inspirational work that our authors and staff do to be accessed in every finger of the Mitten. We are so excited to partner with the Library of Michigan and the Michigan Humanities Council to share these educational, entertaining, and informational books with our neighbors. Now winter won’t seem so long!”
As consumer media platforms like Amazon, Netflix, and Apple have changed the modern digital user expectations, progressive publishing and library organizations have begun to experiment with more competitive content access models. “Ebooks in general increase the efficiency of delivering books to readers, but most library distribution models apply artificial constraints on availability, forcing users onto waiting lists for popular books,” said Mitchell Davis, Senior Director at BiblioLabs, the platform hosting the eBook collection. “This project has a spirit of cooperation but also a spirit of sustainability that is unique.”