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Bringing FT.com to the world’s public libraries: How DCA got to represent one of the world’s best publishers

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DCA is a London-based library supply agency providing public libraries with digital services and content. We’ve been working with libraries in various formats and sectors for many years.

Experience has shown that the use of public libraries’ online resources is typically very low. There are three main reasons for this:

  • Most people are unaware that these resources exist
  • UK library websites are generally poorly designed and hard to use
  • Much of the content in libraries is of mixed quality or on a restricted usage models

We like libraries and want them to do better online so we’ve made it our mission to provide solutions to the challenges that they face; we want to help them improve discoverability and usage and we aim to offer libraries the kind of premium content that people like to look at so they can improve discoverability and usage. That’s why we approached the FT in early 2019 to ask them to consider working with us to create an offer to public libraries.  

Three years later, after some false starts, near misses, and the odd breakthrough, including a successful market research survey and focus group meetings, we signed an agreement to represent FT.com to public library systems worldwide. But why would a newsmedia heavyweight such as ft.com agree to work with such a small outfit as DCA? Because we asked, which was important, and they listened, which was even more so. Maybe because DCA has such a strong commitment to this Cinderella sector that we were able to persuade FT management that public libraries were worthy of the opportunity to subscribe. We also had the experience to help explore access and pricing models to get the right mix for all concerned.

Why is FT.com going to be in demand for public libraries? Because it offers so much authoritative, high quality content, from key financial data and business news to engaging comment and opinion. Offering access to FT.com’s huge trove of premium content in public libraries will support students, aid small businesses, and engage the general reader.  After all, FT.com’s performance as a digital player to date has been somewhat heroic: since 2009 it has gone from zero to over one million digital subscribers. Today FT.com is one of the world’s most successful and respected online business publishers, serving around 27 million unique readers every month across consumer, institutional, and professional sectors. FT.com has also won a new audience of general readers who appreciate unbiased reporting, outstanding writing and premium lifestyle, arts and culture coverage.

The FT wants to broaden its audience by attracting readers from more diverse groups and empowering students, small business owners and entrepreneurs with trusted opinion and data. In particular, the FT is keen to enable and encourage young people to learn more about the key events and trends in business and finance that shape our world. Meanwhile, public libraries are looking for content that supports a diverse range of users, drives usage and attracts new cardholders. 

Public libraries are worth supporting and the FT is a brilliant publisher. So public libraries and FT.com are a great fit.  So it’s a no brainer for us to put the two together, and we’re proud to be the only organisation bridging this gap.

We hope that DCA’s partnership with FT.com serves as inspiration to other publishers looking to diversify and expand their audience and to ensure that everyone can have access to great content.

To learn more about ft.com public library prices and access model, please get in touch: ft@digitalcontentassociates.com

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