1. It started as a pilot project
The Minnesota Libraries Publishing Project was launched in 2017 as a pilot project to make the Pressbooks Public authoring tool available to everyone in Minnesota. Our initial charter called for one year during which we would support library publishing and provide a venue for conversation and experimentation around open publishing practices.
2. Partnerships make pilots work better
Funding for Pressbooks hosting fees have been contributed by academic libraries from across the state. Program staffing has been contributed by Minitex, MELSA and the Council of Regional Public Library System Administrators (CRPLSA), and the University of Minnesota Libraries. Through MLPP, Pressbooks is integrated into CRPLSA’s MN Writes MN Reads program, which provides a suite of tools to “create, share, and read.” Minnesota’s Multitype Library Systems and regional education networks have provided outreach and education for content creators.
3. There’s value in conversation
In the early years of MLPP, we hosted a Community of Interest to bring together folks who were interested in library publishing. Those conversations provided a venue to share expertise, spread best practices, and spark new ideas.
4. MLPP enables experimentation
Many of MLPP’s 990 books include the word “test” in their titles, many are marked as private, and many are incomplete. But these nascent projects represent potential success. How many were the precursor to more fully fledged projects? How many provided an essential training ground in the use of an online publishing tool?
5. A lot of people have read MLPP-hosted books
Many of the titles published and hosted via MLPP are impressive and frequently read complete works. (Many more such works are likely to have been exported from the platform for printing or distribution through other networks.) A small sample includes:
- Writing for Success (650,000 opens)
- Words of Wisdom: Intro to Philosophy (240,000 opens)
- American Environmental History (110,000 opens)
- Modern World History (105,000 opens)
- The Public Speaking Resource Project (40,000 opens)
6. Libraries use MLPP to gather community voices
Some of MLPP’s most inspiring works are the result of community voices coming together.
- This Was 2020: Minnesotans Write About Pandemics and Social Justice in a Historic Year
- Feelin’ Thielen Poetry Contest: Poems Submitted by Youth in Grades 4-12
- Stuck at Home: Entries from the 2021 North Branch Area Library Poetry Contest
7. writers use MLPP to tell Minnesota stories
Several independent authors, including at least one Minitiex staff member, have published beautiful memoirs about life in Minnesota.
- Two Prairies, One Place: A Historical Geography of the Kasota Prairie
- Atwater, Minnesota: 1934-1935
- Growing Up Foodie
8. MLPP enables independent authors to find an audience
Our state is full of voices that deserve to be heard, and MLPP has helped many of them find audiences in Minnesota and beyond.
- 298,000 readers across the United States
- 179,000 in India
- 132,000 in the Philippines
- 35,000 readers in California
- 28,000 readers in Texas
- 23,000 readers in Minnesota
In fact, according to Google Analytics, MLPP titles have been read in every country in the world except for North Korea and the Central African Republic.
9. MLPP saves college students money
A 2020 review by the authors of MLPP’s most-used course materials indicated that just four MLPP projects had saved Minnesota students $26,694 per semester in textbook costs.
10. MLPP has been a success for Minnesota
These examples are just a small illustration of the positive impact MLPP has made. Whether it’s through saving students’ money, supporting independent authors, amplifying local voices, or telling our stories to the world, MLPP has made a difference for Minnesota. Explore many of the titles mentioned in this article, and more, by visiting the MLPP Book Showcase.
What started as a collaborative pilot project with uncertain value enters 2022 as an official service of Minitex. Who can say what the next 1,000 book projects will bring?