The city is moving forward with agreements with three eContent vendors, which store and enable access to library materials such as books and audiobooks in digital formats. The vendors will allow the library to add access to an additional 107,000 unique digital titles over five years, according to city documents.
Cedar Park City Council voted 4-1 to authorize agreements with the three vendors—Bibliotheca, Midwest Tape and OverDrive—during a July 25 meeting. Council Member Rodney T. Robinson was opposed, and Council Member Dorian Chavez was absent from the vote.
The agreements are for one year, with options to renew each year for the following four years. Each agreement costs about $40,000 per year, according to Cedar Park Public Library Director Julia Mitschke.
The purchase comes as the library has seen an increased demand for digital library materials, which the library began offering in 2011. Over the last five years, the library has seen a 600% increase in eContent usage by library card holders, according to city documents.
“It’s been a highly needed resource,” Mitschke said.
The city will also be executing an interlocal agreement with several public libraries throughout Texas to enable mutual access to the libraries’ digital resources. Bibliotheca offers a cloudLink program, through which libraries share access to their purchased digital materials. Participating cities and towns include Allen, Boerne, Burleson, Lewisville, Laredo, New Braunfels, Flower Mound, Waco and more.
Entering this agreement will increase the number of digital resources library users in Cedar Park can access at no additional cost to the city, according to city documents.
“[Each library] purchases content that is primarily first and foremost available to their citizens, their library users,” Mitschke said. “But if nobody is using [a title], it shows up into this group pool. So if it’s in high demand, your community gets preference, but if it’s not being used at the moment and would be useful to someone in another community, it’s available to them.”
Council Member Mel Kirkland said he thinks adding additional digital titles to the library is a great way to add content without putting strains on the library’s physical capacity.
“There are times when you have to call books that are less used out to make room for new material because you’re just over capacity on physical material at the library,” Kirkland said. “I think this is a great way to add content without [creating] the need for space at this time.”
Robinson, who voted against approving the contracts, said he is not against adding more digital content but has concerns about library spending. He cited a National Citizen Survey recently completed on the city of Cedar Park that found 37% or respondents believe the city should spend more on library and cultural arts.
“If the [survey] says they don’t want to increase the spending, even though it’s allowable, just because you have the money doesn’t mean you necessarily need to spend the money, versus reallocating the money in areas that maybe there is not as great of demand,” Robinson said. “I’m all about trying to save the city money if I can.”
Mitschke said there is plenty of funding in the library’s budget to cover the agreements, and there would not be an increase to funding needed in order to approve them.