Making ebooks work in libraries had been a part of Unglue.it mission from the very beginning.
But once we’d unglued our first few ebooks, we discovered (the hard way!) that it wasn’t enough to make the ebooks free under Creative Commons licenses. Libraries needed good metadata feeds, in library- specific formats, and small numbers of books weren’t worth the trouble to load.
So we started the real work.
- We set out to build a comprehensive database of Creative Commons ebooks. To date, we have added 1,897 different free ebooks, 1,076 of them Creative Commons.
We recruited a part-time freelance cataloguer to advice us and help us fill in the cataloging gaps. Say hello to Emily Nimsakont, the newest member of the Unglue.it team. Her day job is at the Nebraska Library Commission.
- We added “librarian tools” to unglue.it. Unglue.it users who enable librarian tools will see buttons that allow them to download and upload customizable collections MARC records.
- We imported MARC records from the wonderful OAPEN.org.
So now we have 781 MARC records for free, downloadable ebooks (the data itself is CC0) that libraries can download, modify and put into their own catalogs. There are “stub” records for the other 1116 ebooks. We’d love to get publicity from libraries that use our records, but it’s not required. We’d also love to get more records added, especially for our Creative Commons collections.
We use a “single-record” approach for items that are available in multiple formats. Two styles of record are offered. The “to each file type” records have links that lead directly to the ebook files (although Google and Project Gutenberg are known to intercept these links to show the user an intermediate page.) To use these links, a library should have support documentation to help users deal with reader software and devices. We also offer “to download page” records that link to unglue.it download pages, which include context-sensitive support documentation.
This is just a start, and we have a lot of work left to do. We hope lots of libraries start using these records, because that will help improve their quality, which will embolden more libraries to use them, and so on. If you have suggestions for how to make these more useful, please let us know!