LYRASIS and the Digital Public Library of America announced a new turnkey commercial digital lending application called the Palace Project (https://thepalaceproject.org). The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has provided a $5 million grant in support of this new initiative.
The Palace Project will offer a comprehensive and seamless digital lending service for libraries. This service will bring together components gleaned from the earlier collaborations with NYPL, with comprehensive support and seamless integration. The open source components developed by NYPL will be refactored and rebranded, with new development performed by LYRASIS. The Palace Project software repositories will be developed independently, according to the needs of the Palace clientele.
The Palace environment includes:
- The Palace App, a patron-facing ebook and audiobook lending and reading app, with its initial version based on the SimplyE app developed by NYPL. The Palace App will be able to access content from all the major library suppliers, including OverDrive, Bibliotheca cloudLibrary, Baker & Taylor, and the Palace Marketplace.
- The Palace Circulation Manager, with its initial version based on the Library Simplified Circulation Manager.
- The DPLA Exchange will be rebranded as the Palace Marketplace. The current technology infrastructure and business arrangements with De Marque will remain in place under the Palace brand. The Marketplace will feature new license models negotiated by DPLA with publishers. To date, 25 publishers have agreed to some form of these new license bundles. The Palace Marketplace currently offers over 800,000 titles. Libraries can begin using the Marketplace without the need to pay a registration fee.
- The Open Bookshelf collection will be available to libraries implementing the Palace.
- Digital resources deployed though BiblioBoard can also be seamlessly integrated.
- Implementation, hosting, training, and support services will be provided by LYRASIS.
The Palace Project positions itself as a library-centered nonprofit alternative to the vendors that currently dominate library digital lending. It aims to give libraries more control over the acquisition and delivery of ebooks, to make digital lending service accessible even to smaller libraries with limited funding and technical capacity, and to increase access to digital content in underserved communities. LYRASIS will market the Palace to all libraries in the United States. A portion of the proceeds will fund future development. Much of the initial funding for the Palace Project has come through grant awards.
The Palace Project will be organized as a new business division of LYRASIS, led by Michele Kimpton, who will serve as global director of the Palace Project Division. Kimpton will shift to LYRASIS from DPLA, where she held the title of director of business development and senior strategist. She served as the chief strategist of LYRASIS (2015-2017) prior to her work with DPLA.
The leadership of the Palace Project also includes James English, product development strategist for the Palace Project, and Micah May, the director for ebook services for DPLA. May and English both worked for NYPL during the initial development of SimplyE and Library Simplified starting in 2012. The Oversight Committee for the project includes John Bracken, executive director for DPLA; Robert Miller, LYRASIS CEO, and Jorge A. Martinez, vice president and chief technology officer for the Knight Foundation.
The name of the project is inspired by the Eric Klinenberg's book Palaces for the People. Klinenberg sees libraries as one of the palaces that “bestows nobility on people who otherwise couldn't afford a shred of it. People need to have nobility and dignity in their lives.” LYRASIS stated that this name came following a four-month process in branding research.
Crosby Kemper, director of IMLS, which has provided funding for the project, stated in a recent webinar that the Palace Project is consistent with its interest in making content available to the widest possible audience. The Palace Project will prioritize delivering content to people who otherwise may not easily have access, such as those who are socioeconomically under resourced. This grant falls within the equity focus of the Biden Administration.
At the time of the June announcement, work was underway to complete the refactoring of the technology components of the Palace service. LYRASIS expects the new service to launch in September 2021. The initial customers of the Palace will include about 100 libraries that LYRASIS was previously supporting using SimplyE, with others already in the pipeline for deployment.
LYRASIS is a nonprofit library services organization, formed through the consolidation of multiple antecedents, including SOLINET, NELINET, and PALINET. In June 2019, DuraSpace, which manages open source projects including Fedora and DSpace, became part of LYRASIS. The organization also serves as the organizational home for ArchivesSpace and CollectionSpace. According to tax filings, LYRASIS took in $79.5 million in revenue in its 2018-19 fiscal year. In that same period, DPLA reported revenue of $2.5 million.