Commonwealth eBook Collections moves past Beta Phase


March 09, 2017
Celeste Bruno
Communications Director
1-800-952-7403 x208

The Commonwealth eBook Collection (CEC)  has dropped its beta status after the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) voted unanimously for the CEC to go live.
“The CEC has made significant progress in making eBooks easier to access,” said MBLC Chair Mary Ann Cluggish. “Perhaps just as important is the impact that the project, along with its partners in other states, has had in negotiating fairer eBook pricing for libraries and in advocating for vendors to produce eBooks that are accessible to everyone, including people who are blind or visually impaired.”

This was the final step for the project to go live as the Massachusetts Library System (MLS), which runs the CEC in partnership with the MBLC, and the CEC Steering Committee had previously voted to drop the beta status.

MLS Resource Sharing Director Steve Spohn highlighted some of the progress that has been made including improvements to user interfaces made by the eBook vendors, a significant rise in program participation, stable funding and the new self-publishing component that is not available elsewhere in the state. “We’ve made remarkable progress and are committed to advocating for continued improvements, “said Mr. Spohn. “The CEC has allowed us to participate in national initiatives that will produce the kind of eBook discovery that the library community wants and our residents deserve.”

 The CEC started as a pilot project with 50 libraries in October 2014 and has grown to include more than 500 libraries throughout Massachusetts.  The collection contains over 100,000 eBooks available to participating libraries, and nearly 70,000 available to all Massachusetts residents through the BiblioBoard library. Since October 2014, there has been a 761% increase in circulation.

The CEC gives libraries the ability to share eBooks in the same way they do with print materials. Prior its creation, vendor restrictions meant that patrons could only borrow eBooks found in their libraries and local consortia, and library eBook products were cumbersome for patrons. Since the start of the program, major publishers have begun selling to libraries with the understanding that their content will be available statewide, and eBooks have been made available with more reasonable terms. The CEC is also unique in that includes not only public libraries, but also school and academic.

The CEC is made possible through the Massachusetts Library System in partnership with the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and local participating libraries. The project is funded in part by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services. More information is available:

For Library Users: CommonwealtheBook
For Authors:
For Librarians:

About MBLC

The Board of Library Commissioners ( is the agency of state government with the statutory authority and responsibility to organize, develop, coordinate and improve library services throughout the Commonwealth. The Board advises municipalities and library trustees on the operation and maintenance of public libraries, including construction and renovation. It administers state and federal grant programs for libraries and promotes cooperation among all types of libraries through regional library systems and automated resource sharing. It also works to ensure that all residents of the Commonwealth, regardless of their geographic location, social or economic status, age, level of physical or intellectual ability or cultural background, have access to essential new electronic information technologies and significant electronic databases.