An online library for all Minnesotans

Following two-year pilot, U’s Ebooks Minnesota collection taking off

By Mark Engebretson

Ebooks Minnesota LogoFollowing a two-year pilot, readership of Ebooks Minnesota, a free online book collection available to all Minnesotans, is taking off.

The Ebooks Minnesota collection — managed by Minitex at the University of Minnesota — saw an 86 percent increase in readership during its second year. Through April 2018, out of 4,000 available ebooks in the collection, Minnesotans of all ages have connected to an ebook a total of 158,868 times.

Now in year three, Ebooks Minnesota eyes continued growth on a wide variety of subjects. The platform requires no login (the only requirement for any user is to be within Minnesota borders) and is accessible at no cost through iTunes, Google Play, and Kindle apps.

We learned that many schools and some rural public libraries didn’t have access to ebooks, so by making this vibrant collection available statewide, we are leveling the playing field for all Minnesotans,” said Valerie Horton, director of Minitex, a joint program of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education and the University of Minnesota Libraries.

Ebooks Minnesota was created by Minitex in partnership with State Library Services, a division of the Minnesota Department of Education. The collection was made possible in part by funding from the Minnesota Department of Education through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and by Minitex.

Unlimited access benefits schools, book clubs

Readers can access any book at any time from the Ebooks Minnesota collection — regardless of how many other readers are using the book. This feature makes the collection particularly useful for community book clubs and schools.

“The best thing about Ebooks Minnesota for us is the cost — which is free,” says Bethany Kaufmann, a media specialist at Roger High School, part of the Elk River School District. She adds that the unlimited access is especially helpful for school libraries with limited resources.

That means schools don’t have to buy books for every student in the class. And it’s also convenient, says Kaufmann’s colleague, Annie Allen, a media specialist with Rogers Middle School.

“It’s really hard with a print book to be able to have all of the students researching out of that book — it’s nearly impossible,” says Allen. But with Ebooks Minnesota, she says, “you can have an entire class of students all accessing that same content at the same time.” She adds that students can access it on the Chromebook provided them by the school or on their home computer, tablet, or even their smartphone.

Ebooks Minnesota for Schools launched in December 2017

Ebooks Minnesota for SchoolsPart of the overall growth in use of Ebooks Minnesota can be attributed to the December 2017 launch of Ebooks Minnesota for Schools. In the first five months, a total of 35,695 ebooks were accessed via Ebooks Minnesota for Schools.

At Rogers High School, Kaufmann works with teachers in many different subject areas to connect them to quality resources that are also affordable. Ebooks Minnesota, she says, is a great fit.

“Over the course of the last two years, we’ve been able to use Ebooks Minnesota in several content areas,” says Kaufmann. “For example, in one of our foreign language classes, we recently studied Spanish speaking countries and sure enough there were ebooks available through Ebooks Minnesota that we were able to access for the class.

Another recent addition to Ebooks Minnesota is the World languages collection, which includes books in Ojibwe, Somali, Spanish and Karen languages.

Says Kaufmann: “We’re so grateful for the resources provided by the state of Minnesota and by Minitex through the University of Minnesota Libraries.”

For more information about Ebooks Minnesota, please contact Zachariah Miller, Minitex, University of Minnesota Libraries, at zmiller@umn.edu or 612-301-6658.

EbooksMN-Growth in readers
The chart documents the growth in readership for Ebooks Minnesota.

About Minitex

Minitex is a publicly supported network of academic, public, state government, and special libraries working cooperatively to improve library service for their users in Minnesota. Minitex is funded by the Minnesota Legislature through the Minnesota Office of Higher Education and is a joint program of the Office of Higher Education and the University of Minnesota Libraries. State Library Services, a unit of the Minnesota Department of Education, provides additional funding to support services for Minnesota libraries and library users.

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