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Palace Project - Downloadable Books for all Vermonters

The Department of Libraries has launched eBook and eAudiobook service which is available to all public libraries in the state at no cost. The service uses LYRASIS’s Palace Project App, which is an evolution of the SimplyE app created by the New York Public Library. The Palace App allows patrons to checkout items like other similar services, but its most significant feature is the ability to combine content from multiple e-content vendors (Overdrive, Baker & Taylor, LYRASIS) into one app, rather than having to switch between multiple apps. The statewide collection includes eBooks and eAudiobooks for all ages and in multiple languages. The items are hosted by LYRASIS (through the Palace Marketplace), as well as through Baker & Taylor, though they are all available in the Palace App.

Useful Links

Promo Language

This is some possible language for social media or website; feel free to make any changes you would like. Check with Joshua Muse if you're not sure if you have Overdrive Integration:

  • (For Libraries With Overdrive Integration) Introducing the Palace Project! This easy app allows you to download eBooks and eAudiobooks for free, with thousands of titles for all ages and interests in the state collection. You can also access even more items from the GMLC-Overdrive collection right from the same app. The app is available for Apple and Android devices. Ask at the library for more information!
  • (For Libraries Without Overdrive Integration) Introducing the Palace Project! This easy app allows you to download eBooks and eAudiobooks for free, with thousands of titles for all ages and interests in the state collection. The app is available for Apple and Android devices. Ask at the library for more information!

VTLIB Handouts

We have put together some introductory 2-page handouts for patrons. Check with Joshua Muse if you're not sure if have SIP2 access. They're available as PDF's, and in Microsoft Publisher format to make changes or add a logo.

We've also created a basic document for librarians explaining options for positioning Palace if you also offer Libby. All three documents are a works in progress, so let us know if you have suggestions/corrections.

FAQ - Basics

What is the Cost?
Access to the Palace Project App and the state collection is free to all public libraries in the state. Libraries can decide to buy additional items for their specific patrons if they choose (similar to Overdrive Advantage).

What’s in the State Collection in Palace?
The collection serves as a core collection for the state, providing something for everyone, but not trying to carry everything for everyone, all at no cost to libraries or readers. It has eBooks and eAudiobooks for every age and taste – adult mysteries, kids’ picture books, YA dystopian tales, cookbooks, histories, and more. Where possible, we have focused on diverse authors and topics, Vermont award winners, and Vermont-related books. As of May 2024, it includes 4,264 eBooks and  3,768 eAudiobooks, not including the 15,000 high-quality public domain titles in the Palace Open Bookshelf. Additionally, it includes a range of non-English language eBooks, including Arabic (217 titles), Farsi (61 titles), French (325 titles), Spanish (161 titles), Ukrainian (62 titles), Urdu (104 titles), and Vietnamese (83 titles), totaling over 1,000 items. These titles support libraries serving their migrant worker communities, existing refugees, and new Americans in the state, at no cost to libraries.

VTLIB’s goal is to create a collection that can be maintained. Our focus is on items with perpetual licenses because much of our current funding comes from one-time money, and the publishers’ preferred licensing model force the repurchase of the entire collection again every two years. Paying for the same books over and over is exploitative and is not sustainable. While this means that our list of best sellers is limited, there will always be great titles available for readers of every kind.

You and your patrons have a wide range of options and will always be able to find something you would enjoy. However, finding a specific title may not always be possible. Restrictive publisher licenses and prohibitive costs means that a collection that is everything to everyone—while also avoiding long hold lists—requires exponentially more funding than is available and may not be the best use of taxpayer dollars. Publishers charge libraries much more for these titles than they do for individuals. This is true nationwide, and not just in Vermont. Content comes from LYRASIS’s Palace Marketplace and Baker & Taylor and is continuing to expand.

How do patrons get the app?
The app is available in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. Search for “The Palace Project.”

FAQ - Overdrive

Does this make Green Mountain Library Consortium’s (GMLC) Overdrive service redundant?
No! A big reason behind selecting the Palace Project is to improve the synergy between GMLC’s collection and a VTLIB collection. GMLC has been doing amazing work for over fourteen years, and having access to their large and well-curated collection dramatically expands the options for patrons. Additionally, Overdrive/Libby has some features that aren’t currently available in the Palace Project App.

I already have Libby so why would I want to use the Palace Project app?
Libby offers access to content from Overdrive through GMLC. Palace offers content through multiple vendors, including Overdrive, all in one place. Libraries and their patrons have total control over whether they stay with Libby, move to the Palace Project app, or use both. Patrons can try out Palace and switch over entirely if it does everything they need. If there’s functionality they miss, or if they just really like Libby, they can just use Palace on those occasions when they want to access the VTLIB collection. Or if they’re on a device that doesn’t work with Palace (like a Kindle) or need web-based access, they can continue to use Libby as they have (though unfortunately they won’t have access to VTLIB content). Both options will continue to work, there are no cutoffs or deadlines.

FAQ – Technical Info

What content will my patrons see?
Users only see eBooks and eAudiobooks available through their library, whether from the state collection (Palace and Baker & Taylor), GMLC’s Overdrive Collection and Overdrive Advantage items (for libraries who subscribe), or services specific to your library (such as Axis 360, Cloud Library, or the like).

What content can the Palace Project App access?

  • Content from Overdrive, Baker & Taylor, Palace Marketplace, Bibliotecha, Biblioboard
  • Ebooks and eAudiobooks from multiple formats and licensing models

What content can’t the Palace Project App access?
As a relatively new product, Palace is still evolving. At present, it is not able to access:

  • Items purchased on some Pay-Per-Circ models, including through Overdrive
  • Content from Hoopla, Kanopy, Comics Plus, Freegal, etc…
  • Non-eBook/eAudiobook products available through a provider, such as magazines, The Great Courses, Craftsy, etc.

What capabilities does the Palace Project App offer?

  • The App can be installed on Android and iOS devices, including smartphones and tablets.
  • Read eBooks within the app; changing font and size; saving your place and adding bookmarks; advancing through the table of contents.
  • Play eAudiobooks within the app; play at slower or faster speed; rewind or fast forward by 15 seconds; advance through the table of contents; set the app to stop playing after a set amount of time.
  • Place items on hold if they aren’t currently available, and return items early if you are done with them.
  • Search all items in a library’s shared collection simultaneously by title, author, or other keywords, or limit your search to eBooks or eAudiobooks.
  • Browse your collection based on categories (Fiction, Non-Fiction, Young Adult, Juvenile, etc.)
  • Sync bookmarks between the Palace Project App on multiple devices.
  • Read/Play content that has been downloaded while out of network connectivity.

What capabilities are not in the Palace Project App currently?
As a relatively new product, Palace is still evolving. At present, it is not able to:

  • Support a web-version, and so is not accessible on desktops or laptops. This is on LYRASIS’s list of frequent requests.
  • Be used by Amazon Kindle eReaders (or other black & white eReaders). It is also not accessible with a Kindle Fire tablet without significant work, because they don’t have access to the Google Play Store.
  • Allow users to renew items within the app, this is on the LYRASIS development timeline. Update - We had mistakenly said that patrons were not able to place items on hold in the app, but that was incorrect; patrons can place holds on items in the state collection, as well as other collections (such as Overdrive).

How will patrons get authenticated?
Like many other online products, the Palace App uses SIP2 for logins. SIP2 is short for Standard Interchange Protocol, and is basically a way for patrons to login to other products using information directly from the Integrated Library System (aka ILS, or catalog software). For example, with SIP2, a patron can login to Palace/Overdrive/Hoopla/etc using their ILS username (usually their card number) and password. The system can also check to make sure they aren’t expired, restricted, or otherwise ineligible. Once you get it setup, the best thing about SIP2 is that it uses the info that it’s already in your ILS – you don’t have to duplicate that data somewhere else, and you still have control over who has access to the product.

What happens if our ILS (Catalog) doesn’t offer SIP2?
Whether SIP2 is available depends very much on your ILS (catalog). In many cases it’s available for free (VOKAL and Catamount); in some cases, there is an extra fee; and for some products, SIP2 is not available at all. LYRASIS is working on a feature they call a Virtual Library Card, which will give an alternative to libraries who don’t have an option to use SIP2. The product is currently in testing, but will be live for our second phase of libraries (currently in process).

What content is in the statewide collection?
The statewide collection is an ever-growing collection of items acquired from the Palace Marketplace and Baker & Taylor sites. At present, there is over 8,000 items.

The Palace Open Bookshelf is a curated list of over 18,000 high-quality eBooks from the public domain, including all types and ages. These items can be checked out by unlimited patrons at once.

What are the checkout periods and holds limits?
For consistency’s sake, Palace will use the same checkout details as GMLC; 14-day checkouts, with up to 3 items at a time.

What patron information does LYRASIS have access to?
The Palace App doesn’t collection any identifiable patron data, and would only collect an email address if the patron used it for the Virtual Library Card option.

How long will the state be financially supporting this project through hosting fees and content purchases?
The State Library’s intention is to support this solution indefinitely. Content purchases may vary from year to year depending on budgetary realities, but the underlying product will be provided going forward.

Is there a way to include content that is created locally?
The Palace Project is able to offer locally developed content (PDF and EPUB format), for example through the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) or local hosting. LYRASIS can work with libraries to explore this option.

Are there Resources for Marketing?
LYRASIS has promotional material for the Palace Project, as well as Spanish language materials.

What statistics are available?
Using the Palace Manager, library staff will be able to see circulation statistics by provider (Overdrive, Baker & Taylor, Palace Marketplace).

What Can I Configure in Palace Manager?
Library Staff are able to change the “lanes” (categories) that appear on the app, hiding current ones or creating new ones. They can choose to hide individual titles from their collection. They can also create individualized lists for the app.

FAQ – General Patron Reminders for Library Lending of eBooks and eAudiobooks

Why are all of the copies of a book checked out if everything is digital?
Because of the way that publishers treat library eBooks/eAudiobooks, each copy can only be used by a single patron at a time. So, if 10 patrons wanted to check out the same title, and the library only owns 2 copies, 8 of them are going to have to need to get on the hold list.

Why isn’t the book I want available?
Purchasing models for libraries are much different than for community members, and make it hard to provide even the same level of service as with physical books in the library. When a community member buys an eBook or eAudiobook, they probably pay a relatively low price, and have the book indefinitely. When a library buys one, it tends to be significantly more expensive, and in many cases is only good for a certain amount of time or number of uses. This makes it very expensive to buy (and re-buy) all of the books that patrons might want, while also having enough copies of the bestsellers to minimize wait times. To summarize, libraries are all doing the best that they can based on what the publishers currently offer. In short, you may not be able to get the exact book you want right now, but if you’re open to a variety of options you will always be able to find something that you’ll like.