Vendor News Roundup | PLA 2024

The Greater Columbus Convention Center’s exhibit halls were full of activity during this month’s Public Library Association (PLA) 2024 conference in Ohio. Here are a few of the topics LJ had the opportunity to discuss in person at the show, as well as other vendor announcements within recent weeks.

PLA 2024 Conference logoThe Greater Columbus Convention Center’s exhibit halls were full of activity during this month’s Public Library Association (PLA) 2024 conference in Ohio. Here are a few of the topics LJ had the opportunity to discuss in person at the show, as well as other announcements within recent weeks.

OCLC announced the acquisition of cloudLibrary from Bibliotheca. The cloudLibrary platform offers a wide variety of digital content including ebooks, eAudiobooks, and streaming video through a patron-facing app, and is currently offered by nearly 500 libraries in 20 countries. Libraries can subscribe to their own collection of digital content through cloudLibrary or become part of a “cloudLink” group within a consortium or state library system. “OCLC is in a unique position to provide cloudLibrary with a world-class technology infrastructure and a network of public libraries that serve more than 50 million people worldwide. This acquisition expands our service to public libraries and reinforces our commitment to increasing access to information,” Skip Prichard, OCLC President and CEO, said in an announcement. The acquisition was effective April 2. Staff members of Bibliotheca’s St. Paul, Minnesota–based Digital Solutions Group are now part of OCLC’s staff.

Baker & Taylor and Library Ideas, the media publisher behind the Freading ebook and Freegal Music streaming and download services for libraries, and more, have announced an exclusive partnership that will see Baker & Taylor distributing Library Ideas’ VOX and IR [Immersive Reality] Books to libraries and schools. VOX Books are hardcover print fiction, nonfiction, and picture books with permanently attached VOX Readers that transform the titles into all-in-one read-along audiobooks. IR Books are hardcover nonfiction print books featuring virtual reality and augmented reality elements. According to an announcement, Baker & Taylor “will offer full library processing services and provide sales and marketing support to Library Ideas’ sales and customer service team. Baker & Taylor will be the sole source for VOX Books, handling all order fulfillment, enabling customers to use their state-of-the-art ordering system, Title Source 360 [beginning this spring], and leading processing and library workflow solutions.” The books will ship from Baker & Taylor facilities, while Library Ideas continues managing licensing, publisher relations, and sales and customer support.

OrangeBoy, developer of the Savannah customer intelligence and data analytics platform, launched SmartyCat for Libby, a new automated messaging solution. SmartyCat for Libby uses OverDrive’s Curated List API to interface with a library’s ebook and e-audiobook collections and auto-populate a messaging template in Savannah, enabling libraries to easily create and send targeted, genre-specific emails to patrons, among other functions. OrangeBoy worked with several beta clients to test the new solution, including the Columbus Metropolitan Library (CML). “As a current Savannah user, we are excited about this new functionality that allows the library to increase patron communication in thoughtful and meaningful ways without adding additional staff time,” CML Director of Marketing and Communications Gregg Dodd said in an announcement.

Separately, in a continuing effort to help libraries maximize the impact of digital content budgets, OverDrive announced multiple sales, including a $1 per ebook circ and $2 per e-audiobook circ on Simon & Schuster titles through April 30, in honor of the publisher’s 100th anniversary; 50 percent off on select children’s book titles in April; a monthly sale with Chronicle Books (35 percent off a selection of 100 ebooks in April); 25 percent off audiobooks from Dreamscape this month; and sales of up to 50 percent off more than 1,000 indie author genre fiction titles from OverDrive and Kobo Writing Life.

Online learning and job search resource provider Brainfuse showcased CollegeNow, a recently launched service designed to help patrons with the college application process. CollegeNow features online guidance counselors and resources to assist with applications, admissions interviews, financial aid, and more, including SAT/ACT prep materials, essay writing guides, essay assistance, recommendation letter tips, resources to sharpen interview skills, scholarship and loan information, expert guidance on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and live admission coaches. “Most students cannot afford private admissions coaching, and this places them at a significant disadvantage,” Brainfuse CEO Francesco Lecciso said in an announcement. “CollegeNow seeks to equalize opportunities by providing students from all backgrounds with access to premier admissions resources and live coaching.”

Communico, developer of an integrated suite of cloud-based applications for libraries, showcased its Explore discovery layer. Explore is designed to surface everything a library has to offer on any given search, including books, ebooks, audiobooks, and video, but also relevant upcoming events, story times, online learning opportunities, items in a library of things, and more.

hoopla Digital highlighted its new partnership with the classical music streaming service to launch a new BingePass. The BingePass offers library patrons access to the extensive video-on-demand catalog of, which includes 1,500 concerts, 350 operas, 150 ballets, 1,300 documentaries, 250 master classes, 550 jazz performances, and livestreams of events worldwide from prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall, La Scala, the Royal Opera House, the Paris Opera, and more. Through the partnership, the BingePass will offer patrons unlimited access for a week to all of this content using a single checkout.

Thorndike Press from Gale, part of Cengage Group, has introduced Spanish-language youth large print titles to support English language learners (ELL). “Large print books can have a significant impact on ELL student language development,” the publisher explained in an announcement. “According to a recent study conducted by Project Tomorrow, almost two-thirds of teachers reported that using large print text led to faster English acquisition by their students. Additionally, 42 percent of teachers noticed improved decoding skills in ELL students who read large print.” Through Thorndike’s existing partnership with Playaway, many of the new Spanish-language large print titles will also be added to the company’s selection of Wonderbooks—print books with a permanently attached audiobook device enabling users to read along.

Hiveclass, a streaming platform offering how-to lessons on sports, dance, fitness, and more, has partnered with Green Beetz, an organization that creates nutrition curriculum for kids in the fourth to seventh grades, to launch new Hiveclass courses on nutrition. Separately, representatives from Hiveclass told LJ that the company has expanded its onboarding process for new library customers, offering training and programming suggestions to anyone interested in working with the platform, including library volunteers.

RFID solutions provider Nexbib announced a partnership with Occuspace, a provider of real-time, privacy-focused occupancy monitoring technology, to create a new solution that will offer valuable insights into visitor traffic and flow, enabling libraries to optimize interior space and resource utilization within branches. “Partnering with Occuspace is a pivotal step towards gaining valuable insights into the public library experience…. By integrating their traffic monitoring solutions, we aim to empower public libraries to offer a more dynamic, efficient, and user-friendly environment,” Scott Hackstadt, president of Nexbib North America, said in an announcement.

The Evolve Project—an organization that specializes in building makerspaces and Fab Labs, and also works with startups that offer interactive and engaging technologies—has partnered with behavioral health services provider MindCare to help libraries offer support for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients in their communities.

Library software development company SOLUS has expanded its events, equipment, and room booking solution to include PC bookings. At libraries that enable the feature, patrons can book a PC via the SOLUS Library App, any web browser, asking a staff member to book the PC using the SOLUS staff portal, or via a spare PC in the library. By default, users will receive progressive alerts every 10 minutes displaying their time remaining, and the software leaves three minutes between bookings and locks PCs five minutes before branch closure (alert timings, lock schedules, and time between bookings are all customizable). The software also features multilingual support, and enables library staff to lock PCs mid-session or extend bookings manually.

Project MUSE announced five new additions to its hosted journals program—American Benedictine Review, a quarterly peer-reviewed journal featuring the latest scholarship on Benedictine monasticism and monastic history; Freedom Schools: A Journal of Democracy and Community, a new peer-reviewed journal created to elevate the distinctive voices of historically Black colleges and universities; the Getty Research Journal, a peer-reviewed journal on visual arts spanning all cultures, regions, and time periods; the Korean Journal of Communication, a new peer-reviewed publication featuring research, book reviews, commentaries, field notes, and data analysis in Korean communication studies; and Montana: The Magazine of Western History, a quarterly peer-reviewed journal focusing on the people, places, and events that shaped the state and region. According to an announcement, “current issues are available for Montana: The Magazine of Western History, Freedom Schools, Korean Journal of Communication, and American Benedictine Review. All 18 back volumes of Getty Research Journal are available, and beginning with the forthcoming spring 2024 issue, the journal will be open access.”

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Matt Enis


Matt Enis ( is Senior Editor, Technology for Library Journal.

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