April 30, 2015


IMLS Press Contact
Giuliana Bullard, gbullard@imls.gov

President Obama Announces Open eBooks and ConnectED Library Challenge

IMLS facilitating initiatives to extend educational opportunities and digital content to nation’s students

President Obama at the Anacostia libraryWashington, DC—Today, at the Anacostia Branch of the District of Columbia Public Library, President Obama announced two new efforts to strengthen student learning by improving access to digital content and to public libraries. The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is supporting several library and non-profit partners to develop the Open eBooks initiative and the ConnectED Library Challenge. These efforts leverage the extensive resources of the nation’s 16,500 public libraries to help kids develop a love of reading and discovery by making e-books and library services broadly available, particularly to students from low-income families.

In his email message yesterday, President Obama said, “America's librarians, like our teachers, connect us to books and learning resources that help us dream big….I'll announce new efforts to provide popular books to millions of underprivileged children and young adults around the country and connect more students to their local libraries -- because we know that reading just 20 minutes a day can make a tremendous difference in a student's success.”

The Open eBooks initiative will make over $250 million in popular e-books from major publishers available, for free, to children from low-income families via an app. The Open eBooks app is being developed by the New York Public Library, which is partnering with the Digital Public Library of America and First Book to curate and deliver the e-books to students from low-income families.

IMLS is investing $5 million to support the development of the e-reader app, as well as tools and services to help the public more easily access e-books and other digital content.

Complementing that effort, the ConnectED Library Challenge is a commitment by more than 30 communities to work to put a library card into every student’s hand as soon as they enter school. Data analyzed by IMLS show that children who visited the library during kindergarten had higher achievement scores in reading and science in third grade, particularly for children in households with low income and low parental education. IMLS, in partnership with the American Library Association and the Urban Libraries Council, will host a national convening this year to identify and share best practices in reaching universal library card use among public school students.

"With this initiative President Obama acknowledges the powerful role libraries play in leveling the digital divide and empowering kids to dream big,” said Maura Marx, Acting Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. “We're thrilled to spotlight the work America's 16,500 public libraries do every day to inspire people of all ages to live better lives through learning and discovery.

This ground-breaking work came together through the dedicated efforts of our partners: the American Library Association, the Digital Public Library of America, First Book, the New York Public Library and the Urban Libraries Council. These organizations are passionate about providing learning opportunities for all kids, and IMLS is proud to help make these efforts a reality."

Click here more information about these initiatives.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.