Staff Profile Series: Beth Harding

Meet the team! Check back each month to learn more about the people who help the Ontario Library Service provide seamless access to programs and services that strengthen all public libraries in Ontario.

Beth Harding

Name: Beth Harding             

Position: Digital Licensing Coordinator

After saying that I would never live in Toronto, I moved here to take a position with the OLS (at that time SOLS) in 2010 and it was a very good decision! As the Digital Licensing Coordinator, I work with libraries and vendors to secure licensing for digital content through discounted purchasing programs and shared collections.

If you could become a character from any book who would you pick and why?

It’s hard to pick just one! When I read Less by Andrew Sean Greer I was very envious of Arthur Less’s worldwide travels, even though he had the worst luck (at first anyway… you’ll have to read it to see what I mean!).

My desert island record is…

Fleet Foxes’ self-titled album. It’s also my go-to cottage album.

A random and seldom known fact about me is…

I grew up Lewisporte, a small town in central Newfoundland not far from Gander. Last month I went back for the first time in over two years and had the best time!

Do you have a favourite task or project in your OLS work role? Tell us a bit about it…

I LOVE selecting and curating titles for the OLS Download Centre site (an OverDrive collection shared by over 190 Ontario public libraries… learn more here). It’s fascinating to see which titles become the most popular over time – Booktok has really changed the game and renewed the popularity of some less recent titles.

What do diversity, inclusivity, and connection mean to you?

I believe that reading is a great way to explore the experiences of people from cultures and backgrounds that may be different from our own. Research has found that fiction reading can foster empathy for others and help us to understand their feelings and reactions. I keep this in mind when I’m selecting titles and building curated lists. I also think that we’re lucky to live in a country where authors have the right to express their thoughts publicly and are protected by free expression legislation. It’s important to protect works from censorship by supporting the universal principles of intellectual freedom.

Growing Digital Collections During COVID-19

I hope that this posting finds you all well as you continue to adjust to the current situation! With branches closed, many patrons have turned their focus to digital collections. For some this is nothing new, but the stats certainly show that usage has increased significantly.

For some patrons, this time has allowed them to discover your library’s digital collection and become first-time users. When physical branches do re-open, many will continue to use both print and digital resources, and I do not expect usage levels to drop back to pre-closure levels.

I’ve heard from several libraries that are re-directing funds previously used for print collections and spending them on digital collections instead. The catch: trying to avoid long-term costs that may not be sustainable when the need for print spending returns.

Here are some suggestions for short-term, flexible spending:

  • Current OverDrive members can join the Advantage Program and purchase additional titles that only their patrons can access. The initial cost is $250 USD which acts a content credit to get you started, and afterwards libraries only pay for what they purchase. There are no additional platform or membership fees, and nothing to cancel if you pause or stop buying titles.


  • If you have been considering French digital content, the annual membership fee to access Cantook Station through SOLS is reasonable, and libraries can join at any point during the year.


  • If you had your eye on a product from last year’s Provincial Licensing offerings, vendors are obligated to pro-rate latecomers for a partial license that covers the remainder of 2020. Please contact vendors directly for quotes.


  • Some of the vendors that participated in last year’s Supplemental Licensing program are offering pro-rated licenses as well. This varies, and it’s best to contact each vendor directly for details. Contact details for each vendor can be found in the product descriptions on the SOLS website.

I also send out updates to the following contact lists that we maintain: E-Resources, OverDrive Shared Collection Members, and the French Digital Content Group. If you wish to be added to a contact list please let me know, and as always I’m happy to answer any questions that you have:

Take care!

MaBiblioNumerique is Now Cantook Station!

After the recent sale of Archambaut’s MaBiblioNumérique French Ebook platform to DeMarque,  all data from the SOLS shared French ebook collection has been successfully migrated to DeMarque’s platform, Cantook Station.

An overview of the new platform is available here: My new library on Cantook Station

Set-up information has been sent to all member libraries of the collection, and we’ll be adding new titles to the platform soon. DeMarque is Canada’s largest French eBook provider so we’ll now have much more content to choose from.

Feel free to send along any title requests!

Together We Read Ontario – Now Live!

Together We Read Ontario is now live ! From Oct. 15-29, our shared OverDrive site will have unlimited access to The Lightkeeper’s Daughters by Jean E. Pendziwol at no extra cost.  We’re joined by a number of other Ontario OverDrive libraries and systems,making this a truly province-wide event:

  • Sudbury
  • LOTG consortium
  • Ottawa
  • Burlington
  • Mississauga
  • Ajax
  • Toronto
  • Markham
  • Hamilton
  • Richmond Hill
  • Brampton
  • Simcoe County Library Cooperative
  • Kingston
  • Stormont Dundas & Glengarry
  • London

We are also pleased to announce that this title is the English Fiction winner for this year’s Northern Lit Awards as chosen by Ontario Library Service-North in partnership with Northern Ontario Public Libraries.


The promotional site can be found here:


and for social media posts, feel free to use:





@OverDriveLibs ‏

And the “Together We Read Ontario” title is….

ldbook.pngSOLS is pleased to announce that we have selected a title for Together We Read Ontario! The selected title is a finalist for the Northern Lit Awards as chosen by Ontario Library Service-North in partnership with Northern Ontario Public Libraries.

From Oct. 15-29, the SOLS shared OverDrive collection and all participating Ontario public libraries will have unlimited access to The Lightkeeper’s Daughters by Jean E. Pendziwol at no extra cost.

A promotional site is now available for use:

and for social media posts, feel free to use:

@JeanPendziwol ‏

Thanks for participating, and please get in touch if you have questions.

Audiobook Access for All?

According to Booknet Canada’s recent report on the State of Digital Publishing in Canada:


Audiobook production has seen continuous growth for the past three years, with the percentage of firms reporting that they produce digital audiobooks increasing by 24% since 2016, up to 61%


However, libraries are finding that not all digital audiobooks are being made available to the Canadian library market, which is especially troubling when many of these titles are by Canadian authors.

Toronto Public Library’s @eBookGoddess (a.k.a. Maria Cipriano) brought this issue to the forefront at Book Summit 2018 during a publisher’s panel on audiobook production in Canada. She pointed out that:

  • While it’s great that so many Canadian books are now being produced in audio format, the vast majority are being withheld from Canadian libraries
  • In many cases it’s easier to buy American audiobook titles vs. Canadian
  • Many Canada Reads titles and Giller Prize nominees are not available to the Canadian library market
  • Libraries serve many marginalized communities that cannot afford to purchase all their reading material or subscribe to audio services.  These include: the disabled, Indigenous communities, and the economically disadvantaged


How can the library community get on board with improving access?  Keep an eye out for an upcoming campaign from CULC (who organized the #FairEbookPrices campaign) that will push for Canadian library access to audio content. Stay tuned for details!

OverDrive by the numbers

2017 was a record year for the SOLS shared collection: the consortium was one of only 5 systems to reach over 2 million checkouts. This puts us in the top 14 for all OverDrive libraries and systems worldwide!

Here’s a quick rundown of 2017 by the numbers:

  • We had 2,337,854 checkouts in 2017
  • 76% of checkouts were ebooks
  • 24% percent were audiobooks
  • Since inception, we’ve had 10,842,372 checkouts
  • Per-circulation costs are now less than 40 cents (anything under $1 is great!)
  • The shared collection is worth $2.7 million USD
  • The collection has 196 member libraries, about half have Advantage accounts
  • Holdings are at 78,657 unique titles and 127,641 copies
  • 6 member libraries now share their own titles via the Advantage Plus plan

Patrons can now see live checkouts from the Dashboard that has been posted on the Download Centre site. In 2018, SOLS staff will work to further promote Ontario authors and literature by curating several collections that highlight these works.

3 Reading Apps to Explore

At BookNet Canada’s recent Tech Forum conference here in Toronto, several developers presented on apps created to enrich the online reading experience. Here are three to watch:

  1. We Read Too: Developed by the amazing Kaya Thomas, We Read Too features over 500 children’s and YA books written by authors of colour that feature characters of colour.  This app is free and is currently for iOS only, but an Android version is expected later this year. Follow @WeReadTooApp on Twitter for updates.
    We read too app logo
  2. Litsy: Described as “a place to share and discover your favorite books with your favorite people”, Litsy is a social media platform just for readers. Users can create entries (all must be 300 characters or less) in the form of a blurb, a quote, or a review. All are linked back to a book’s title, allowing users to read what everyone has said about a specific book and add it to their to-read list if it appeals to them. Like We Read Too, this app is free, currently iOS only with an Android version in development.
    Listy Logo
  3. Shelfie: Free for iOS and Android (yay!) Shelfie from BitLit Media provides readers with e-versions of the print books they already own. To get started, use your smartphone or tablet to snap a Shelfie: a pic of your personal bookshelf. Shelfie will then analyze your pic, and compare your titles with its database of over 45 million titles for ones that match. For titles that are a match, Shelfie will offer them to you for purchase (often at a discount) or in some cases for free (depending on the arrangement that BitLit has with the publisher). Once you’re built your library, you also have the option to connect with other users that own the same titles.
    Shelfie Logo

E-Resources Access in 2016

Funding and access to all provincially funded (Tier 1) e-resources ended on December 31, 2015. How does this affect access at your library?  Read on to find out!

What stays the same?

  • If your library is currently licensing a product that it had access to last year, the website link for that product will not change. You do not require a new link for access in 2016.
  • The usage statistics and Annual Survey data covering activity in 2015 will be posted on the E-Resources section of the SOLS site. An announcement will be sent when the 2015 numbers are available. 

What’s different for 2016?

  • SOLS no longer coordinates access to e-resources. Links for new products must be obtained directly from the vendors.
  • If you did not renew access to any of these products, you’ll need to remove all e-resources links from your website. 
  • Libraries are responsible for collecting their own usage stats and Annual Survey e-resources data for 2016 and beyond. The vendors can assist with this, don’t hesitate to contact them for assistance.
  • The Compass website has been removed, and vendors can provide libraries with marketing and training materials on request. Don’t be shy about asking, it’s included in your license agreement!
  • Compass 101 and 201 are no longer being offered, however, SOLS will continue to provide training in areas such as e-resources evaluation and promotion, and training opportunities will be posted in the SOLS Training Bulletin.

As always, please contact me if you have questions. 

Free Health & Safety Support for Ontario Libraries

At Public Services Health & Safety Association, we provide employers with training, consulting and resources to address workplace health and safety concerns and promote legislative compliance. We all play an important role in preventing injuries and illnesses at work. That’s why we’ve partnered with SOLS to better support public libraries in increasing awareness and understanding your rights, roles and responsibilities when it comes to occupational health and safety.

We’re pleased to announce that the online health and safety resources portal for Ontario libraries is now live! This new addition to LearnHQ is home to a variety of free health and safety resources, including fact sheets, checklists, web tutorials and posters, all tailored specifically to the unique occupational hazards faced by Ontario library workers. PSHSA webinars and e-learning courses have also been added to the LearnHQ catalogue. Topics include: ergonomics, workplace violence, supervisor health and safety awareness and more. We encourage you to check it out! The resources change often, so be sure to check back regularly for new and interesting tools and information.

Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or feedback, and visit to learn more about how you can create a safer workplace.