Douglas County Libraries and Gale/Cengage Learning  have entered into an agreement allowing for library purchase of Gale  eBooks, effectively replicating the model by which libraries purchase print materials and applying it to electronic content. Prior to such innovative partnerships, libraries could only license eBooks, not purchase them outright.
“These are times of great change in publishing,” said Jamie LaRue, director of Douglas County Libraries. “With library ownership of eBooks, we can integrate them more seamlessly into our collections, and customize those collections to our communities and to our patrons’ needs.”
The public-private business partnership embodies the library’s bold approach to improving access for library patrons while growing a new market for publishers through cooperative purchasing and joint promotion. While the library is committed to purchasing one additional copy for every four holds (individuals waiting for content to become available for borrowing), it will also provide users links to make immediate purchases of their own, benefitting both users and publishers.
“We’re one of the first public libraries in the country to manage its own e-content,” said LaRue. “Working directly with publishers, we’re leading both publishing and libraries into a sustainable business model for the future.”
Douglas County Libraries’ industry-standard platform (Adobe Content Server) enables it to integrate e-content with its catalog, providing a seamless experience for patrons that replicates the print check-out model. Library users may read eBooks through a browser on a private library-hosted cloud, or through any device capable of reading Digital Rights Management (DRM)-protected files.
“Libraries are the original ‘green’ business,” said Rochelle Logan, associate director of support services at Douglas County Libraries. “We purchase in bulk and circulate the same item as long as there is interest in it.”
Logan added, “We have redirected 10% of our collection purchasing budget to e-content, and expect that percentage to continue to grow, enabling us to offer our patrons a larger and more interesting collection, much of which is available 24/7 to anyone with an internet connection.”
The Gale/Cengage Learning agreement, which includes numerous business titles, the DK Eyewitness and Rough Guides travel series, and children’s nonfiction, follows a similar partnership between Douglas County Libraries and the Colorado Independent Publishers Association .