WiLS September 2017 Vendor Partner Interview: Leslie Prusinski and Michael Evans, OverDrive
At WiLS, we want to bring valuable information to our library partners, including information about the missions and big ideas of the vendors they may already do business with. Each month, WiLS interviews a vendor partner in order to bridge the gap and open the door to valuable collaborations. This month, we are delighted to share insights from Leslie Prusinski, Library Partner Services Manager, and Michael Evans, Content Sales Specialist at OverDrive.
Tell us about your company’s background.
OverDrive has been dedicated to the digital industry since our founding in 1986. Steve Potash, founder and CEO, was an early pioneer in eBook conversion, digitization, distribution, and industry standards throughout the 1980s, 90s, and early 2000s. OverDrive first developed its digital reading platform for libraries in 2003 with eBooks and quickly added audiobooks. We now serve more than 38,000 libraries and schools in 70 countries and provide a catalog of digital content in 100 languages covering 3 million titles with the industry’s highest rated reading apps. Our vision is “a world enlightened by reading” and our teams are driven to achieve that vision every day. We’re also very excited to say that earlier this year, OverDrive became a Certified B Corporation for our commitment to social and environmental performance.
Why do you, personally, choose to work with libraries?
L.P. I love what libraries represent. The libraries and library staff I’ve met throughout my life have always helped nurture my interests in reading, learning, and technology. I was inspired to become a librarian when I realized that it was the perfect way for me to be involved in the industry I loved (i.e., books) while translating that into helping people develop their own interest and love of reading and learning. Working at OverDrive allows me to stay connected to and a part of that world and mission in my own way.
M.E. I grew up appreciating our local library. As a young child, my grandma frequently took us to our local library, let us pick out our books, and then we would take them home and read them together. During middle school and high school, I used our library for school projects and for recreational reading. As a young adult, I used our library to complete college research and for studying. As an adult, I continue to utilize my (new) local library for recreational reading and professional development. So, I love libraries and I love getting to work with libraries.
What do you like to know about the libraries you work with? What helps you better understand their needs?
L.P. I love hearing about the projects and initiatives libraries are working on so I can think about unexpected ways OverDrive and digital content can be a part of those projects. It seems like there are a zillion great ideas in flight and it’s so fun for me to hear about them! Also, because we work with libraries all over the state/country/world, hearing directly from libraries about the patrons they serve and what their towns, buildings, funding, and policies are like is always eye-opening and goes a long way in our understanding.
M.E. I like getting to know what’s important to the individuals that I work with because everyone is different. I also like getting to know what’s important to libraries in regards to their strategic plans. Knowing what’s important to the people I work with and knowing what’s important to their strategic plans allows me to better help them here at OverDrive. Regularly asking questions and creating relationships with the people I work with allows me to better understand their needs.
The feedback we get from you and the rest of our partners has honestly made us what we are today, so it’s incredibly important to us.
What big ideas are being worked on at your company? What problems are being solved?
In order to achieve our vision of “a world enlightened by reading,” we are constantly developing new and better ways to engage readers with the content they want. Most of our initiatives center around making the experience for the user as easy and enjoyable as possible. We have recently released our new app, Libby, to rave reviews and we’re currently working toward a new app specifically for school users. We also have a team dedicated to improving the efficiency and usefulness of Marketplace, so selectors can ensure their collections meet their community’s needs. And we’re now in a pilot program in which participating libraries can provide an instant library card to new readers. This will allow libraries to reach even more of the 50% of Americans that don’t hold a valid library card. While this pilot is not currently open for consortia participation, we hope to offer the full release in the coming year.
How can librarians become partners in product or training development?
L.P. WPLC participates as one of our official Partner Advisors, a group of library and school partners we bounce our ideas off of and get feedback on new things we’re working on. In general, we’re always wanting to hear from all our library and school partners about what we can do differently or better. Of course, our goal is to get it right the first time, but we know that sometimes we don’t. The feedback we get from you and the rest of our partners has honestly what has made us what we are today, so it’s incredibly important to us. We are absolutely always interested in hearing from our partners, at every level of the organization.
M.E. Much of OverDrive’s product enhancements and improvements over the past years have come directly from library partner feedback. Libraries can submit feedback via the Libby Feedback form (for those using Libby). Libraries can also submit their feedback directly to us and we then pass it along to our different Product Owners!
Much of OverDrive’s product enhancements and improvements over the past years have come directly from library partner feedback.
Do you have anything else you’d like to share here?
We are proud to have been your partner for over twelve years now, and so grateful for the time and resources you devote to making it a successful service for your patrons to enjoy. Thank you for inviting us to this interview! If you want to continue the conversation, contact either one of us anytime.
This interview is part of a series of interviews with both WiLS library and vendor partners. Your feedback is appreciated. If you have any to offer on this article or suggestions for upcoming interviews, contact Andrea Coffin at .