A blog from the Ontario Library Service

Enhancing Digital Collections during the Covid-19 Closure Period

André Lépine is a Skills Development Advisor, Cataloguing and Collections at Ontario Library Service–North.

As Ontario’s Declaration of Emergency remains in effect and libraries remain shuttered across the province, libraries are rapidly adapting their services, programs, and collections to the virtual environment in order to continue to meet community needs. Collections in particular are well-suited for the virtual realm, as most libraries began investing in streaming and downloadable content years ago. However, due to the increasing demand, many are now considering how to augment and supplement their digital offerings, as well as ensuring that accessing these services is as seamless as possible. Online library card registration, which allows for quick access to the library’s digital collection, is becoming increasingly common, and libraries’ websites and social media feeds are being updated and redesigned to prominently feature the digital collection. (Additional ideas regarding how to highlight these resources can be found on the Programming, Staffing and Well-being During COVID-19 resources page on LearnHQ.)

The following are services that merit consideration when exploring different products and services to enhance your library’s digital collection:

  • Joining the Overdrive provincial consortium is an easy, cost-effective way to provide digital content to your patrons. For libraries that already provide access to the provincial collection, consider becoming an Advantage member. This provides libraries with the ability to create a custom collection beyond the provincial shared collection, or add more copies of popular titles to reduce wait times. What is more, these features are accessible to patrons using the same download website or app. Libraries should contact Beth Harding (bharding@olservice.ca) for more information.
  • For libraries serving communities with a francophone population, Cantook Station (formerly MaBiblioNumérique) is available as a provincial consortium purchase. Libraries should contact Beth Harding (bharding@olservice.ca) for more information.
  • Promote Tumblebooks. The entire suite of Tumblebooks products (five separate services) are currently free. Promoting these resources is an excellent way to increase awareness and usage of these digital products.
  • Direct print-disabled patrons to the Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA) Library. All print-disabled patrons are eligible for CELA services. Patrons receive access by completing the registration form, in which they must self-identify their disability. Library staff can also register patrons on their behalf. The extensive digital library provides access to thousands of audiobooks available for download.
  • Consider providing access to a streaming service like Hoopla. This service provides access to audiobooks, movies, music, eBooks, and TV shows. Member libraries are charged per circulation, and have the ability to limit the types of materials as well as the price point of items available to patrons.

Other options include the following:

eBooks and eAudiobooks     Movies and Music Newspapers and Magazines Online Learning
cloudLibrary Kanopy RBDigital Khan Academy
Naxos Music Library Flipster Lynda.com
Freegal PressReader.com TechBoomers.com
IndieFlix Mango Languages

Note that the above list is not exhaustive. Libraries should contact skills@olsn.ca (if in Northern Ontario) or consulting@olservice.ca (if in Southern Ontario) to further discuss other possibilities.

As the COVID-19 closure period continues, libraries will benefit from enhancing their digital collection by purchasing new products and/or upgrading their current services, and promoting them appropriately on their websites, social media feeds, through email blasts, and other means.

One thought on “Enhancing Digital Collections during the Covid-19 Closure Period

  1. Further to that handy list of streaming services – I would like to mention that RBDigital offers streaming video including Acorn TV, The Great Courses, IndieFlix, Qello Concerts, Pongalo and LearnItLive. This is available through the SOLS supplemental e-resources too!
    On that note – I looked at several vendors and I much prefer the RBDigital billing model – where each patron checkout gives access to one product for 7 days at a single cost of US$2.99 to the library. Since the other streaming video providers generally charge ‘per view’ even if the user does not view the whole video, unlimited use for a week at $2.99 seems like a great deal for the library and public. The platform fee is also quite reasonable. I recommend it (obviously). You can see it on our website (Hanover). Also in use at Gravenhurst and Grey Highlands.

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