January 16, 2022

President Obama Announces New Digital Content Program (Ebooks) & ConnectED Library Challenge

UPDATE: The White House has posted a “fact sheet” about the two programs/initiatives announced today

1. Access to eBooks

2. “ConnectED Library Challenge”

We will update this post with more info as it becomes available.

From an Email by Roberto J. Rodríguez: Deputy Assistant to the President for Education (via DPLA):

Through greater access to America’s libraries and information resources, you make a difference each day in the education and lifelong learning of youth and adults in your community.

This Thursday, April 30, President Obama will visit the Anacostia Neighborhood Library in Washington, D.C., where he will highlight the importance of books and lifelong reading, and the value and impact of America’s public libraries.

As part of his ConnectED Initiative, President Obama will also announce a new partnership with America’s libraries, publishers and non-profit organizations to expand access to digital books and library resources for America’s children.

We invite you to bring members of your community together to view this event and to celebrate and support the role of America’s libraries in the learning of our children and youth.

To view this event broadcast live at 10:50 a.m. on Thursday, please visit WhiteHouse.gov/live.

And be sure to learn more tomorrow about the ConnectED Library Challenge by visiting WhiteHouse.gov.

What is the ConnectedED Library Challenge?

From the White House:

Today, the President will call upon library directors to work with their mayors, school leaders, and school librarians, to create or strengthen partnerships so that every child enrolled in school can receive a library card.

These libraries also commit to support student learning through programming that develops their language, reading, and critical thinking; provide digital resources, such as eBooks and online collections of traditional media; and provide broadband connectivity and wireless access within library facilities. Over 30 major cities and counties have announced they are taking the challenge and will work to provide cards to all students.

Communities adopting the ConnectED Library Challenge include: Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Clinton Macomb, Columbus, Cuyahoga, D.C., Denver, Hartford, Hennepin County, Howard County, Indianapolis, Madison, Milwaukee, New Haven, Oakland, Pierce County, Pima, Pocatello, Pueblo City, Ramsey County, Columbia, Rochester Hills, Rochester, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Seattle, Skokie, and St. Louis.

Commitments in support of the ConnnectED Library Challenge: To support the implementation of the ConnectED Library Challenge, the Administration announced new commitments to action:

  • The Institute of Museum and Library Services: Host a national convening this summer to identify and share best practices in reaching universal library card use among public school students.
  • Urban Libraries Council: Lead an initiative that provides a forum for community, library and school leaders to work together to meet city and county education goals by leveraging resources and measuring outcomes.
  • American Library Association:  Drive adoption of the ConnectED Library Challenge through their 55,000 members and align the challenge with existing support and technical assistance provided through their Every Child Ready to Read initiative.

What Will the President Announce? (via Reuters):

President Barack Obama will go to a public library in one of Washington’s poorest neighborhoods on Thursday to talk about a plan to give low-income children access to 10,000 e-books.


The plan includes $250 million in e-book commitments from publishers, including from the five major publishing houses: Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH’s Macmillan, CBS Corp’s Simon & Schuster Inc, Penguin Random House, Lagardere SCA’s Hachette Book Group Inc, and News Corp’s HarperCollins Publishers LLC.

The New York Public Library is developing an app to connect low-income kids with the books, and Obama will urge more communities to find ways to get kids into libraries.

Read the Complete Article

Btw, it’s worth noting recent reports by the Washington Post about the lack of school library materials in many DC Public Schools (including in the Anacostia neighborhood where Obama will appear).

See: District of Columbia: “Unequal Shelves in D.C. School Libraries Benefit Wealthier Students (March 9,2015)

Both programs are part of the ConnectedED initiative.

UPDATE 1:  White House Unveils New ConnectED Effort Focused on Library Access, Content (via edWeek)

At an appearance at the Anacostia Library in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, the president is expected to put forward a plan, supported by commercial publishers, to provide more than $250 million worth of free e-book content to students from low-income families, along with a second effort meant to give all students in 30 different communities, and eventually nationwide, a library card.

UPDATE 2: The library card for every student idea is an excellent one. With that in mind, here’s a post from one year ago about a partnership involving the Free Library of Philadelphia. The project merged the library’s cardholder database with a database of enrolled students in Philadelphia public schools. 98,000 of the districts 136,000 students did not have cards. Now they do. Of course, it’s one thing to have a card and another thing to use it.

UPDATE 3:  DPLA Announcement
DPLA will work with FirstBook and NYPL Labs to Build the Digital Public Library of America Youth Collection (DPLAY)

UPDATE 4: ALA Announcement

UPDATE 5: FirstBook Announcement

FACT SHEET: Spreading the Joy of Reading to More Children and Young Adults _ the White House


About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) 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 Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.