The State Library of New South Wales is embarking on an innovative project which will provide the NSW public library Network (NSWPLN) with the technological infrastructure and legal framework to enable libraries to become local aggregators of important community content. The initiative is referred to as indyreads™ and reflects an emphasis on supporting local independent publishing and the best examples self-published content.
Public library members will benefit from access to a statewide collection of independent Australian and international titles, classic literature and modern award-winning titles. With the Australian small press sector playing an increasingly vital role in publishing new literary fiction and some genre authors moving to non-traditional publishing options there is a risk that this content may not be readily available via traditional library distribution channels. indyreads™ aims to ensure that public libraries can continue to offer their communities a quality and representative collection of local content regardless of a title’s pathway to publication.
The platform will also contain a collection of material in languages other than English (LOTE) to help support migrant communities across NSW. The SLNSW will be working with multi-cultural staff from across the NSWPLN to build the LOTE collection.
The indyreads™ platform is currently being configured with the various library management systems in use across the state. The platform can host EPUB, PDF, MP3 and MP4 files and digital rights management (DRM) can be applied in accordance to the terms and conditions of the NSW Public Library Agreement for the Purchase of Electronic content. This agreement was developed by the State Library of NSW to assist libraries to license content directly from local authors and community publishers. Once the content is acquired by the library, staff can easily upload the files onto the platform, apply DRM and make it readily accessible to readers via the dedicated indyreads™ Apple and Android APPS or via a browser portal.
It is anticipated that libraries will also take advantage of the platform to upload digitised local studies content specifically, manuscripts, books, journals, ephemera as well as oral histories and transcripts. During the indyreads™ pilot the participating libraries were thrilled to have a platform which could host and distribute local studies digitised content, particularly the oral history files. The high usage statistics for the oral history content demonstrated the community appetite for this important cultural material.
The indyreads™ platform will also provide public libraries with a new way to engage with and support local publishers and community authors. As it is, many NSW public libraries are already involved with local writers’ festivals in which case the indyreads™ platform will provide additional scope for collaboration. Successful initiatives in North America such as SELF-e, Illinois Soon to be Famous along with the Vancouver’s Indie Authors project demonstrate the opportunities for public libraries to support their local author community.