Free Reading Zones: Transforming Access to Books through Technology

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Library Technology Reports, October 2017 (53:7)

How can we make e-books more readily available to our users, our communities, and society at large? In this issue of Library Technology Reports (vol. 53, no. 7), “Free Reading Zones: Transforming Access to Books through Technology,” Mirela Roncevic explores this question by taking a look at a unique e-book business model that turns geographic spaces into open virtual libraries to enable reading, promote literacy, and expose more books to more people.

This report discusses Free Reading Zones (FREZ), which are designated areas that provide people free and uninterrupted access to e-books through sponsorships. Roncevic shares how this initiative came about, who’s behind it, and the short-term and long-term goals of FREZ. Throughout the issue, Roncevic explores how FREZ can empower the e-book industry—consumers, aggregators, distributers, and publishers—by equalizing access to knowledge and education in areas beyond thriving city communities.

Describing her experience launching the first FREZ in a small European café and turning the entire country of Croatia into an open virtual library for one whole month, she shows how creating open virtual libraries can make reading more accessible and open. The goal of this report is to both inspire and motivate librarians to embrace the idea of open virtual libraries and attempt similar initiatives in their communities.


Chapter 1—Free Reading Zones: An Introduction

Chapter 2—Key Benefits of Free Reading Zones

Chapter 3—Setting the Stage for the First Free Reading Zone

Chapter 4—A Country as a Free Reading Zone

Mirela Roncevic

Mirela Roncevic is a professional editor, writer, content developer, and consultant to publishers, libraries, and library vendors. She has written, edited, and spearheaded the publication of a wide range of books, book series, articles, journals, portals, and digital resources. In 2016, Mirela founded the Free Reading Zones (FREZ) project, which brings developers, publishers, libraries, and sponsors together to turn public and private spaces into open virtual libraries, where people have access to books and other content in digital format. She also teaches classes on e-books through the American Library Association, hosts webinars and workshops on e-books and digital publishing, moderates panels at library conferences and book fairs, and speaks internationally on e-books and e-content. She currently serves as Director of No Shelf Required, a portal on e-books and digital content and an organization helping libraries implement FREZ. 

Library Technology Reports

Published by ALA TechSource, Library Technology Reports helps librarians make informed decisions about technology products and projects. Library Technology Reports publishes eight issues annually and provides thorough overviews of current technology. Reports are authored by experts in the field and may address the application of technology to library services, offer evaluative descriptions of specific products or product classes, or cover emerging technology. Find out more information on this publication and how you can subscribe here.