MLS has decided not to proceed with the statewide NewsBank license for online newspapers. We asked members to commit to cover part of the cost of this online content and, unfortunately, we were unable to raise enough money to make the purchase. About 7% (120) of member libraries pledged to pay a portion of the cost. 21 libraries informed us that they were unable to pay a portion this year, but are willing to pay next year. With this announcement, we inform you that all member pledges for this project are released. MLS will not ask any library to pay on your pledge for the NewsBank project. We will, however, contact pledging libraries to consider transferring their pledge to a second newspaper project with ProQuest.
Our next project is to seek funding from the membership to purchase 22 titles from ProQuest with statewide access. Watch for an announcement soon about an opportunity to make a commitment to this effort. All funds raised will be used to purchase content that will be made available statewide to all libraries and library users (regardless of whether or not they are able to contribute funds this year).
Our member libraries have told MLS that the loss of these 22 titles has had an impact and that returning access is important. While the MLS budget cannot absorb the cost of statewide access for these titles, we accept responsibility for assisting with negotiating terms and transitioning libraries to accepting the financial responsibility of this content. To that end, MLS is pleased to provide a subsidy to launch this project. We will provide matching funds to support the transition for up to two years. During the third and subsequent years MLS will continue to broker the negotiations, however libraries will have full responsibility for funding the service.
The Online Content Advisory Committee and Executive Board have both endorsed MLS seeking alternatives to make online newspaper content available statewide. While this effort with NewsBank is drawing to a close, we will explore other alternatives to accomplish our goal. The MLS Online Content Advisory Committee will be meeting to discuss member priorities and options to expand access to online content. We will be seeking member input as we investigate opportunities to expand access to online content statewide. I urge you to participate in our surveys and other information-gathering meetings when it is appropriate for your library.