Digipalooza Toronto 2019

Digipalooza Academy is a one-day event held by Overdrive. Traditionally, Digipalooza is a two-day event held at Overdrive's headquarters in Cleveland. The company decided to take a version of the conference on the road for 2019, stopping at the Toronto Reference Library on 9 August. There's a basic outline of the program at digipalooza.com, but the individual sessions are described below.

Digital Collection Development Strategies
Overdrive libraries have seen some impressive increases in use. In 2018, circulation went up by 19%, active users by 21%, Canada-wide holds by 29% and holds per user by 17%. We don't measure most of these numbers, but our eBook and eAudiobook circ was up 7.6 and 27 percent respectively.

The session discussed a variety of practices that we can use to maintain the collection. Some of these we do, others we do less formally. Some notes:

  • Reviewing our settings - They suggested looking at hold and checkout limits (the number of holds & checkouts patrons are allowed on their account) - we increased the number of holds allowed to 100 about a year ago, and I'm definitely interested in boosting the number of checkouts from the current twelve.
  • They suggested we consider filling holds based on price - we definitely do this. Cheaper titles are filled more at our regular 1:5 ratio, but expensive $80+ titles are more likely to be filled on a 1:10 or greater ratio. However, this is done kind of informally. They suggested set ratios built on unit price.
  • Purchasing based on promotions - we definitely do this as well. There are periodic themed sales months that we take advantage of.
  • They mentioned their resource page at resources.overdrive.com, which I wasn't readily aware of.
  • I learned that we can automate some expired title weeding. Worth looking at, although they often have holds attached and sometimes we can fulfill those holds with other versions of the book. That said, there's a no-holds option as well. Basically, there are ways to filter the weed titles list, and this is a practice we already use.
  • We can also automate purchasing for holds, but given the costs of many titles, we'd want to be sure that we had the correct criteria.
  • Use of the display feature was also discussed. This is something we haven't really done - patrons see content curated by Overdrive when they log on, but we could start creating lists. I believe CAF is looking at this.
  • One thing we're definitely considering is what they call the "lucky day" collection - essentially Rapid Reads. Lucky Day is Overdrive's name - we could brand it Rapid Reads or whatever. This is something Jaclyn and I will look at.
  • Like CloudLibrary, Overdrive is working on a solution whereby libraries can share collections. Markham, Richmond Hill and Vaughan are serving as a pilot project. We hope to discuss this possibility with Ajax and possibly other GTA systems in the coming weeks.
  • I asked about ARPs, which was a term new to them. It isn't so much an automated thing as it is having their staff create carts for review. I guess that's similar to our regular ARP.

Become a Libby Ambassador
This session discussed ways in which we can introduce new users to Libby, encourage existing Overdrive users to move and ways to increase awareness through marketing.

  • There are no plans to discontinue the Overdrive app as some accessibility tools are not yet available in Libby.
  • Overdrive has created Libby Academy, a help / instruction service on the app.
  • Patrons have pointed out that there's no wish list in Libby. They can tag items instead.
  • On the horizon…they plan to introduce push notifications to return / renew titles, return unopened titles, etc.

How To Reach And Engage All Of Your Community Segments
Market segments refer to different chunks of the population and the presenter discussed ways we could market to each. This could involve curated lists and other marketing trickery.

  • We could appeal to parents with a curated collection of read-along books. I'm not sure we have any of these in the collection.
  • With Generation Z, we could suggest TV/movie tie-ins, eBooks required for school reading and "true teen stories."
  • For Gen X and Millennials, we could push favourite podcasters, self-improvement, popular fiction and popular book club picks. One library did an "eBooks on tap" program with a local craft brewery.
  • Boomers / Silent Generation readers might be interested in features like changeable font size and eReader backlighting, as well as audio. We could reach them through local media, since they still use local newspapers and TV.

There's a local media outreach toolkit on the resource page. Arlington, Texas did an Espressos and eBooks program, so maybe we could partner with Presse Cafe.

Author Talk
We were joined for lunch by Waubgeshig Rice, author of Moon Of The Crusted Snow. Mr. Rice is an Anishinaabe writer from Wasauksing First Nation near Parry Sound and is also host of the CBC's Northern Ontario drive home show. He told us about his journey to published authorship.

The Highlight Reel: A Firsthand Look at Successful Libraries in Action
Successful Libraries in Action referred to practices in place at various Overdrive libraries that we could look at adopting.

Toronto Public has built up some impressive Overdrive circulation - it makes up 18% of their total circulation, compared with approximately 9.3% in Whitby. TPL puts a lot of effort in curating lists on their Overdrive site. Patrons see these lists first thing when they log in, so they keep them fresh.

Suggested lists include Hot Releases, What's Popular (new and old favourites), prizewinners and nominees, seasonal subjects and local interest titles. That final suggestion is easier in a place like Toronto, but we could use the same titles, really. Right now, TPL starts with Staff Picks, followed by TTCReads (they're embarking on a partnership with the TTC), the Globe & Mail's best books of 2018, New York Times Notable Books of 2018, Just Added and others.

The "Lucky Day" collection came up again (lucky could be luck-ebooks, arf arf). Other names for this include Boomerang Books, Express Titles and Cut To The Front Of The Line. We'd likely brand it Rapid Reads, assuming we're planning to continue that name for our physical collection. We'd have to have at least one "regular" copy of an eBook available for holds before adding an RR title. Markham has apparently had some success with their version of this collection.

A CPC (Cost Per Circ) model is also available, à la Hoopla. This could be used for high hold titles. It was also suggested as a foray into non-English materials, which is something we have discussed on occasion over the last few years. The trouble with a new collection like this is that you need a critical mass of material to build a collection, but that means spending a considerable amount money before we're sure that there's demand. CPC collections need lots of curation, but may be an option.

Also like Hoopla, simultaneous use packages are available as well. One library offered Lonely Planet travel guides so they were basically available for unlimited use. Similarly, there are various book club options including simultaneous use, bulk sales and promotion campaigns.

Better Together: Library and School Partnerships
Overdrive also offers its services to school libraries and has a student reading app called Sora that is made available to students of subscribing schools. Sora is designed for classroom integration, but Sora-using students can also link their public library. It was also suggested that we offer Overdrive access to students by allowing them to sign in with student numbers, which is generally how they would access it in their school. Charlotte Mecklenburg Library did this.

It turns out the the DDSB offers Overdrive. I don't know whether it's universally available or only to certain schools, although it does appear to be limited to students who are 13+. Younger students are advised to use their local public library.

Update on Important Industry Matters
There have been some recent…unpleasant…announcements from publishers regarding eBook access and costs for libraries. Overdrive funded the launch of a research and advocacy effort called the Panorama Project. After gathering data, they've since moved into the advocacy side with the idea of educating publishers of the value of libraries. We'll see how that goes.

The recent Series of Unfortunate Events includes the following announcements:

  • Hachette is introducing a two-year term for eBooks and eAudio. At the moment, eAudio is insanely expensive, but at least the licence is good for the life of our subscription.
  • Simon & Schuster is doing the same thing.
  • MacMillan will allow us to buy an "archive copy" (in an eight-week window) that we'll own for the lifetime of our Overdrive subscription, but any subsequent copies we buy will have a two year term.
  • Finally, Blackstone eAudiobooks will not be available for 90 days after release. After that time has elapsed, we can add them to the collection.

All of this will make eBook / eAudiobook purchasing more expensive and more complicated. Overdrive is introducing changes to Marketplace, including better search, better lending model visibility and better automated carts.

The Download: Must-Know Tid Bits for Ultimate Impact
This was mostly a wrap-up, but there were also a few additional points not covered:

  • Self-published materials are available in a separate section of Marketplace.
  • Overdrive has a podcast
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 License.