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What is eRead Illinois?

The Secretary of State and Illinois State Library awarded an e-book grant to the Reaching Across Illinois Library System (R.A.I.L.S.) and the Illinois Heartland Library System (I.H.L.S.). The total grant amount is $985,219 for the two-year project, which runs through May 31, 2015. The two-year project, named eRead Illinois, is intended to expand, not replace, existing e-book services in Illinois libraries.

The goals of eRead Illinois are expanding access to e-books for Illinois residents; training on e-books for libraries to better serve their communities; exploring a self-hosted model for e-books (which will occur in fiscal year 2015). Other goals are to provide e-book training to Illinois libraries and to explore a self-hosted model; an e-book collection and Axis 360 software platform from Baker & Taylor for R.A.I.L.S. members and I.H.L.S. members that do not participate in SHARE; an e-book collection and 3M Cloud Library platform for I.H.L.S. libraries that belong to SHARE; research into a self-hosted model (second year of grant); funds for hiring two e-book trainers/coordinators (one for R.A.I.L.S. and one for I.H.L.S.); training on e-books for participating libraries; a Web site to include promotional and support materials, and a list of free e-book resources; and assistance to participating libraries in promoting the project to their patrons.

The two-year grant program will increase access to e-books for Illinois residents and grow e-book expertise among library staff, Illinois Regional Library System staff, and Illinois residents. eRead Illinois includes an e-book collection and Axis 360 software platform from Baker & Taylor for R.A.I.L.S. members and I.H.L.S. members not participating in SHARE. Participating IHLS libraries that are members of the SHARE catalog instead use the 3M Cloud Library.

More than 150 R.A.I.L.S. and I.H.L.S. libraries currently participate in eRead Illinois on the Axis 360 platform, and approximately 120 I.H.L.S. SHARE libraries have joined the 3M Cloud cohort. The eRead Illinois project also includes research into a self-hosted model, training, a list of free e-book resources, and assistance to libraries in promoting the program.

A complete list of participating libraries can be found online here. Note that the Chicago Public Library has its own e-books program and is not included in the eRead Illinois project.

As of Thursday July 17, 2014, the eRead Illinois Axis 360 collection has now surpassed 10,000 unique titles. The Axis 360 shared collection is open to R.A.I.L.S. and I.H.L.S. non-SHARE public libraries, (primary and secondary) school libraries, academic (college and university) libraries, and non-profit special libraries. Baker & Taylor has special considerations for public libraries with annual circulation over 1,000,000 and for academic and school libraries with FTEs over 25,000 (where FTEs include faculty and students, but not support staff); these libraries may participate in the shared collection if they also purchase their own Axis 360 collection.

Special libraries providing services to non-profit, state governmental, or local governmental agencies can participate as long as they are only providing e-book access to employees or other qualified members. Baker & Taylor will not permit participation by corporate libraries and other for-profit entities.

Only I.H.L.S. SHARE members are eligible to participate in the 3M Cloud Library. I.H.L.S. SHARE is a group of IHLS libraries that have joined together to form one automation consortia using the Polaris system. The 3M Cloud e-book platform provides seamless authentication and access functionality with the Polaris system and was therefore selected by the I.H.L.S. SHARE group as their eRead Illinois platform.

Baker & Taylor is offering discounted pricing for libraries that purchase their own Axis 360 collection in addition to participating in the shared Axis 360 collection. Baker & Taylor calls this their Unbound program.

If a library has its own Axis 360 collection and also participates in the shared collection, it will appear to logged-in patrons as a single collection. The Unbound program allows libraries to purchase materials to meet local needs, such as additional copies, titles that may not be available in the shared collection due to publisher restrictions, and titles of local interest.

Some libraries will be required to participate in the Unbound program to participate in eRead Illinois. Starting in February, the Unbound program became available on an optional basis to public libraries with annual circulation under 1,000,000, academic and school libraries with FTEs under 25,000, and eligible special libraries.

There is a more diverse automation landscape for R.A.I.L.S. and non-SHARE libraries, including four R.A.I.L.S. L.L.S.A.P.s (Local Library System Automation Programs, i.e., union catalogs), independent consortia, standalone catalogs, and libraries that are not automated at all. There was a need to find an e-book platform that would work with this wide range of automation systems, and Baker & Taylor Axis 360 was selected.

The initial sign-up period for the Axis 360 shared collection ran through November 1, 2013, for the launch date of December 2, 2013. Libraries that committed to participating by November 1, 2013, received free access during December of 2013. Libraries that were unable to commit by November 1, 2013, must take advantage of later opportunities to join, with prorated membership fees.

There is $400,000 in the eRead Illinois budget available for collections. Initially, a portion of these funds will be used for an opening day collection for the Baker & Taylor Axis 360 shared collection platform and the 3M Cloud platform.

Subsequent collection development funds will be divided between Axis 360 and 3M Cloud Library collections based on the service populations of participating libraries. Further collection development will be funded by membership fees from participating libraries.
ERead Illinois is a two-year grant project. In order to ensure the sustainability of eRead Illinois beyond the two-year grant period, participating libraries will need to pay a membership fee.

The eRead Illinois Advisory Committee worked diligently to create a fee structure that was fair, affordable, and sustainable. The membership fee has three elements: (1) a base membership fee of $250 per year, (2) a fee representing 0.5% of the library’s collection budget, and (3) a fee based on population.

Libraries serving populations less than 1,000 will pay only the $250/year membership fee, and that fee will be waived for six months for libraries that committed by November 1, 2013. The initial commitment will be for twelve months (through December 2014).

The eRead Illinois Advisory Committee includes four member library representatives from R.A.I.L.S. and four from I.H.L.S. The eRead Illinois project director, Veronda Pitchford, and the two e-book trainer/coordinator positions (one for R.A.I.L.S. and one for I.H.L.S.) serve as ex-officio members of the committee.

The role of the advisory committee is to provide administration and policy level decisions about the eRead Illinois grant project. To date, the committee has selected a logo for the project, identified the membership fee structure, made technical decisions related to platform access, and agreed on circulation parameters. The advisory committee will also develop collection guidelines

The Committee Chair, George Kalinka, is Head of the Adult & Young Adult Department of the Woodridge Public Library. He is a R.A.I.L.S. representative.

The Committee Vice-Chair, Jill Pifer, is Director of the Fairview Heights Public Library. She is an I.H.L.S. representative.

The other eRead Illinois Advisory Committee members are Marian Albers, Director, Mascoutah Public Library, I.H.L.S. representative; Anne Craig, Director, Illinois State Library, Illinois State Library representative; Nalini Mahajan, Director, Medical Library & Web Master, MarianJoy Rehabilitation Hospital, R.A.I.L.S. representative; Melanie Armstrong, Director, Sauk Valley Community College, R.A.I.L.S. representative; Veronda J. Pitchford, Director of Membership Development & Resource Sharing at R.A.I.L.S. and eRead Illinois Project Director (ex-officio member of the committee); Lynn Schmit, Director of the Mahomet Public Library, I.H.L.S. representative; Rebecca Scott, Library Director of Downers Grove North High School, R.A.I.L.S. representative; and Diane Yeoman, Director of the Mason City Public Library District, I.H.L.S. representative.

The eRead Illinois Project Staff members are Deirdre (“Dee”)Brennan, Executive Director of the R.A.I.L.S.; Veronda J. Pitchford, Director of Membership Development & Resource Sharing at R.A.I.L.S. and eRead Illinois Project Director (ex-officio member of the committee); Dr. Jane Plass, Associate Executive Director of R.A.I.L.S.; Natalie DeJonghe, E-book Trainer/Coordinator of R.A.I.L.S.; Leslie M. Bednar, Executive Director of I.H.L.S.; Lesley Zavediuk, E-book Trainer/Coordinator of I.H.L.S.; and Chris Dawdy, SHARE Manager for Staff Services of I.H.L.S.

Collection development guidelines will be developed by the advisory committee. Selection procedures that draw on the expertise of member library staff are being developed. Final e-book purchases are made by members of the eRead Illinois project staff.
A major reason why participating libraries are asked to contribute a membership fee for eRead Illinois is to help guarantee the sustainability of the project after the grant period is over. In addition, recognizing that eRead Illinois is directly related to the core mission of R.A.I.L.S. of resource sharing, the R.A.I.L.S. Board approved a R.A.I.L.S. contribution of $50,000 in FY2014 (July 2013 – June 2014) to purchase e-books for the Axis 360 shared collection. R.A.I.L.S. has the goal of continuing to provide support for content in future years as well.

On Friday, July 11, 2014, R.A.I.L.S. announced it “recently received a payment of $142,508.37. This is an additional FY2014 Area and Per Capita award.”

The R.A.I.L.S. Board has asked R.A.I.L.S. to use the additional funds for the eRead Illinois program. RAILS thanked “Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White, Illinois State Library Director Anne Craig, and colleagues at the Illinois State Library for their continued support.”

Regarding eRead Illinois, R.A.I.L.S. Executive Director Dee Brennan stated, "ERead Illinois is a major success story - not just for RAILS but for the entire State of Illinois. We are so appreciative of the Illinois State Library's awarding of this grant to RAILS and IHLS so that we could improve access to e-books in Illinois libraries."

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