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OverDrive Local Content Lets Libraries Upload, Grow Their Local eBook Catalog

9340655085_9bbe5e97d7_hLibrarians have frequently said over the past few years that logistics (and not quality issues) were the real reason they tended to avoid adding self-published works to their catalog. A few library systems have launched special projects to add local and indie titles to their catalogs, and OverDrive wants to make that easier.

OverDrive has a  tool called Local Content which lets libraries upload ebooks, video, audio files, or other content which has been donated or acquired from outside the OverDrive platform.

This tool has been around for several years, but only crossed my desk this week when OverDrive mentioned it on their blog:

OverDrive’s Local Content tool is a great way to enhance the value of your digital collection by offering unique historical documents, titles written by local authors and community videos you want to share. Schools can even upload student-created short stories to share with the school community. You can set the number of copies available with each Local Content title and you can even make a curated collection of locally created content to feature.

Local Content is the perfect way to make your digital library a unique part of your community and let your users be a part of not only your collection development but the collection itself! Here is a simple guide to getting started with OverDrive Local Content:

OverDrive pitches the Local Content tool in terms of adding created by the local community, but what I found most interesting is that libraries can also upload DRMed Epub and PDF files.

All of OverDrive’s reference PDFs and FAQs say that this tool supports both "Open Epub" and "Adobe Epub". The latter refers to the Adobe DRM wrapped around the ebooks, and it caught my eye because it means that libraries could buy an ebook from, say, Kobo and upload it.

This would sidestep the high prices and restrictions imposed by the major publishers, wouldn’t it?

Edit: Apparently not. A reader has explained in the comments that OD already thought of this, and requires that libraries own the copyright or have permission to upload a work. This would tend to exclude many commercial Epubs, which are licensed under terms that ban the loan or resale. Thanks, Beth!

image by mattcornock

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Gary January 27, 2016 um 10:39 am

You can’t "buy" an eBook from a major publisher. What they let you do is "license" a copy of an eBook.

I’ve never bothered to read the exact legal license terms, but I’m willing to bet that those terms prohibit "lending" or "circulating" the eBook to other people. So I really doubt that any library could use "Local Content" to "sidestep the high prices and restrictions imposed by the major publishers".

Beth January 27, 2016 um 11:02 am

The local content option in Overdrive explicitly requires that the library either holds the copyright for the material, or has a license to publish whatever they are uploading, so they could work with the author to publish their book, but they are prohibited from purchasing a license for an already published book and uploading it to Overdrive. It’s a nice idea, but Overdrive couldn’t allow it because it would be a copyright violation.

Nate Hoffelder January 27, 2016 um 11:23 am

Well, drat. I should have known it was too good to be true.

Thanks for the correction, Beth!

Beth January 27, 2016 um 11:27 am

No problem. I had the same thought the first time I heard about it, and I’m sure we’re not the only ones. It’s still a great program, though, and a lot of libraries use it for things like community history projects or work with local students to give them a platform to share their work.

fjtorres January 27, 2016 um 12:07 pm

On the other hand, it might work with Konrath’s Library ebook business:

Nate Hoffelder January 27, 2016 um 12:12 pm

Indeed. I would bet that eBooksAreForever mentions OD LC in its FAQ.

Library Corner 2-5-2016 | The eBook Evangelist February 5, 2016 um 9:11 pm

[…] OverDrive Local Content Lets Libraries Upload, Grow Their Local eBook Catalog (The Digital Reader) – As more and more people are publishing, the ability to add local authors to a library’s catalog is a necessary function. […]

JSWolf February 9, 2016 um 6:31 am

I was browsing some libraries Overdrive catalog today to find a lot of newly added eBooks show 0 copies available. Does anyone know what’s going on?

Nate Hoffelder February 9, 2016 um 9:30 am

Which ebooks, exactly?

Some publishers use expiring licenses. DO you think that could be it?

Beth February 9, 2016 um 9:35 am

I’m glad I’m still subscribed to this post 🙂

There are two likely options for why that could happen. Either they were just added and already checked out, in which case you would have the option to place a hold on the button where you could usually check it out. The other option is that while you were browsing you selected the option on the left of the page called "additional titles to recommend", which means you are looking at books your library doesn’t have but are in the OverDrive catalog. In that case, the button you usually use to check out the book should say "recommend". If you want to recommend your library get the book you can choose that and it will automatically notify your library and you can choose to be notified by email if they get it.

I hope that helps. If it’s not one of those situations, your library’s reference desk might have a chat feature or an email on their website where you can ask them directly, and they could give you help more specific to your library.

Beth February 9, 2016 um 9:42 am

I just thought of something else. I’m not certain, but I think when a library preorders an ebook from OverDrive, it shows up in the catalog for people to place holds on it, and then it becomes available to the first person on the hold list on the release date.

Nate Hoffelder February 9, 2016 um 9:53 am

Thank you, Beth.

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