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Washington County Libraries seeks e-books from local writers

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Over the last two years, Washington County Libraries has grown its eBook collection to more than 2,500 titles.

Now, it is hoping to expand that collection further and create opportunities for local authors.

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Washington County Libraries recently launched "Library Local Content," which allows local and independent authors to submit eBooks to be included in the library's catalogue.

Joe Manion, public services director for Washington County Libraries, developed the idea for Library Local Content after hearing of a similar initiative in place in Douglas County, Colorado.

"We've always been very concerned about making everybody's work's accessible," he said. "What's a little bit more difficult is to find the small author, the author who is getting started, the author who is local - but now we have the eBook revolution."

With Library Local Content, independent authors and publishers are asked to submit their eBooks to Washington County Libraries for inclusion in the catalogue. Works that will be considered for addition to the Washington County Libraries eBook are:

-- Any book that has been recognized for excellence in any Midwest Book Awards category

-- Any book written or published by a member of the Midwest Independent Publishers Association

-- Any independently or self-published book written by a Minnesota author

-- Any independently or self-published book about Minnesota

If an author qualifies, they are asked to submit an application, which includes a brief summary of the book, a PDF of the eBook, the book cover image and a worksheet describing the works.

Once an application is submitted, professional book selectors with Washington County Libraries will review the submission for content and quality.

"We anticipate that most things will be accepted," Manion said, "but, we are looking for that local stuff."

If a submission is chosen to be included in the catalogue, Washington County Libraries will purchase the rights for the book and will pay the author, or publisher, the purchase price of the book.

The eBook will then be uploaded to OverDrive, Washington County Libraries' eBook download software, and be available for library patrons to download.

"The best ones we'll keep indefinitely," Manion said, "but, if somebody's book hasn't been read, we may pull it out of the collection."

On average, Washington Libraries County reaches about 6,000 downloads per month, which is about 3 percent of the library's monthly checkouts.

Manion said Washington County Libraries received its first Library Local Content submission shortly after the program went live Aug. 8.

"This is the first time we've tried it," he said. "We have no idea what the response is going to be."

Manion said the goal of Library Local Content is to help give exposure to local authors who may be just starting out and who may even be self-published. He is excited to see where Library Local Content goes.

"This initiative is a matter of discovery," he said. "People will be able to discover new authors and authors will be discovered - maybe we'll find the next Amanda Hocking."

For more information on Library Local Content, or to submit an application, visit the Washington County Libraries website, www.co.washington.mn.us/info_for_residents/library, click on the eBooks tab and then click on the Library Local Content link.

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Amber Kispert-Smith
Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.
(651) 702-0976
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