May 25, 2022

eBooks: Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners Endorses Statewide Resource Sharing Plan, Pilot Project Coming

From the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners:

In a single year eBook borrowing at Massachusetts public libraries has more than tripled. Yet some major publishers refuse to do business with libraries, set strict lending limitations, or sell eBooks to libraries at a price two to six times more than the eBooks offered for sale to consumers. These practices and the Massachusetts library community’s ongoing commitment to keep eContent free and accessible to all have led to the development of a Statewide Resource Sharing Plan, endorsed by  Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) at its’ October 4, 2012 monthly Board meeting.

In Massachusetts, eBook titles that publishers do permit libraries to share are currently available through individual network contracts with OverDrive, the primary vendor of eBook solutions to libraries in the U.S.  These collections may be shared within each of the nine the automated library networks, but not beyond. For example a patron whose library belongs to the Minuteman Network can borrow eBooks from Minuteman but not from any other network. Patrons who are accustomed to borrowing from library collections across the state, nearly 40 million items, now find that type of access does not apply to eBooks.

In May, 2012 the library community came together to discuss a path forward and as a result the Statewide Resource Sharing Committee was formed with members from across the state representing all types of libraries. The committee developed a Statewide Resource Sharing plan which will broaden eBook and new media access, making it affordable for libraries and easy to use for residents. The committee is currently implementing a pilot program based on the Douglas County eBook model. The Douglas County Library System in Colorado is a national leader in making e-books available to its users. The E*voke site provides an overview of their project.

Statewide Resource Sharing Committee members have been meeting with potential vendors and are identifying fifty libraries (school, public, academic and special) that will serve as test libraries for the pilot. During the initial phase, the MBLC and the Massachusetts Library System will fund the platform and eBook content for the new system.  The timeline of the pilot is ambitious with the system scheduled to be operating by May, 2013. The library community will be able to ask questions and keep up to date on the process through a Resource Sharing Blog that the MBLC will launch in November.

Read the Complete Statewide Resource Sharing Plan and Member List for the Statewide Resource Sharing Committee.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.