May 24, 2022

Q&A: Tom Mercer, 3M Library Systems Digital Business Development Leader On Penguin Pilot and Ebook Integration


On Wednesday, October 17, Library Journal and School Library Journal will host “The Digital Shift: Libraries, Ebooks and Beyond,” our 3rd annual ebook summit. This online, all-day program will explore how libraries are navigating the transition from print to digital and integrating “e” into collections, catalogs and classrooms.

3M Library Systems is a gold sponsor of the event, and LJ asked the company’s Digital Business Development Leader Tom Mercer to discuss the the company’s recent integration efforts with ILS provider Polaris, the new pilot program lending Penguin ebooks at the New York Public Library, and more.

LJ: What kind of reception has your integration with Polaris been getting?

Mercer: Our integration with Polaris has been getting a great reception. When we demo how smoothly the checkout process from the catalog can be, people are truly amazed. What the partnership has also enabled is for us to develop a great suite of APIs for other vendors to follow suit or even libraries to use that want to develop independently from their vendor. Our APIs combined with our Cloud Based System really open up catalog discovery and checkout in a new way. Since there is never a need to download the checkout can be really tightly integrated into the OPAC experience or with other vendors that want to create new ways for content to be discovered and checked out.

Why did you decide to go that route?

We decided to go with Polaris because we jointly had the same vision about how librarians want ebooks integrated into their catalog. The vision was so tightly aligned because we had both listened to our customers and come to the same conclusion; integrating ebooks more deeply into a catalog will create a lot of value to our libraries. Polaris has been absolutely great to partner with and they helped us craft APIs that we can now bring to the entire market. However, we’ll continue to work closely with Polaris on ground breaking next generation integration features.

How has the pilot project with Penguin and NYPL been progressing?

We just launched Penguin content at NYPL and I want to thank the staff at NYPL, A lot of work by a lot of people had to happen to get the Cloud Library launched with Penguin content quickly. I want to thank NYPL for working through many of the issues of starting with a new vendor and they have been great to work with. We are excited about continuing to work with Penguin and we want to see where the pilot takes us.

What is your outlook on greater participation of the Big Six in library lending?

We’re off to Frankfurt Book Fair…and we routinely have discussion with all of the Big Six Publishers. I think the models have matured and the digital market is better understood, so it’s a good time to get into libraries. We’ve built solid relationships with all of the publishers so 3M Cloud Library customers always get access as soon as possible when a publisher decides to do a trial or re-enter the market. Besides Penguin we have a limited test with another publisher and ultimately we hope to replicate the success we’ve had reintroducing Penguin to the market with all publishers not currently in the library market.


With a full day of programming, including tracks designed specifically for public, academic and school libraries, professionals from administrative to administrators will find a wealth of new information, innovative ideas and best practices to put to use in their own libraries at The Digital Shift: Libraries, Ebooks and Beyond. Register at