By Nicole Utter
East Lansing—A cooperative effort between the Library of Michigan and the presses of Michigan State University, University of Michigan and Wayne State University has launched Read Michigan, a statewide eBook project to simplify information access and increase equity for Michigan residents.
The program consists of opening access to a unique collection of regional eBooks to be freely available to all residents of Michigan. The ReadMichigan.org statewide eBook collection launches this month with an initial offering of 300 eBooks published by university presses about Michigan and the Great Lakes region.
MSU Dean of Libraries Joseph A. Salem praises the program for the way it expands distribution of and access to books that are central to Michigan. “This initiative is a great example of how libraries and university presses can invest in collaborative relationships that benefit people both within and beyond our campuses,” Salem said. “It’s also a great example of how we can continue to think about access in new and innovative ways. This partnership unlocks 300 books for readers who can browse and read from wherever they are working and learning. There are several ways to think about access, and this program checks off more than one box. I’m delighted to see this kind of collaboration between and among our partners.”
MSU Press Director Gabriel Dotto is excited to be part of this important initiative.
“Many of our publications focus on the history and the people of Michigan, as well as contemporary issues that affect all its citizens,” Dotto said. “Since a fundamental aspect of our land-grant mission is to make this work broadly accessible, we are thrilled to partner with the Library of Michigan and the Michigan Humanities Council to share these educational, entertaining and informative books with our neighbors.”
The homegrown collection includes winners of the prestigious Michigan Notable Books award as well as other important books published by Michigan presses and authors. Residents and visitors to the state of Michigan can access these eBooks (with no wait lists or holds) via geolocation at any time. Michigan Humanities has provided important financial support for this effort and is also a founding partner of the project.
The Michigan Notable Books program, created by the Library of Michigan, began as part of the 1991 Michigan Week celebration, designed to pay tribute and draw attention to the many people, places and things that identify Michigan life as unique and vibrant. This new eBook collection plays into that original spirit and features titles that speak to Michigan’s rich cultural, historical, and literary heritage. State Librarian at the Library of Michigan Randy Riley discussed the importance of this initiative for the anniversary of the program.
“As we approach our 30th anniversary of the Michigan Notable Book Award there is no better way to celebrate than to work in collaboration with our strongest publishing and community partners to increase access to these important books,” said Riley. “We look forward to seeing how the library and educational community across Michigan integrates ReadMichigan.org eBooks into their own local eBook programs and we stand ready to support that effort in any way we are able.”
The project is also a compelling one for the university presses who are constantly experimenting with new ways to reach more readers, students and researchers. University press directors Stephanie Williams (Wayne State), and Charles Watkinson (Michigan) joined Dotto to add a joint statement on behalf of their publishing houses.
“University presses are mission-driven to advance knowledge about our communities. Our State is unique in having three leading university presses that are all supported and advanced by flagship public universities.”
Among the books Michigan State University Press contributed are twelve Michigan Notable Book Winners and several compelling local stories such as 29 Missing: The True and Tragic Story of the Disappearance of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald and Deadly Voyage: The S.S. Daniel J. Morrell Tragedy. The collection also includes groundbreaking, award-winning studies of social history like Detroit: Race Riots, Racial Conflicts, and Efforts to Bridge the Racial Divide and Everyday Klansfolk: White Protestant Life and the KKK in 1920s Michigan. The highly-praised, engagingly written histories in the “Discovering the Peoples of Michigan” series were also included.
To learn more visit readmichigan.org.