Whether you enjoy lounging on the beach with bestselling fiction novels or want to fill hours of boring airline travel with engrossing nonfiction tales, buying reading materials can take a bite out of your entertainment budget. Why not save those hard-earned dollars for another daiquiri and borrow your next read instead? Thanks to OverDrive’s partnership with local libraries across North America and worldwide, checking out eBooks and audiobooks is simple, easy and—best of all—free.
More Than 90 Percent of Public Libraries Use OverDrive
Founded in 1986 as Turbo Law Laboratories, the company that later became OverDrive originally developed interactive diskette and CD-ROM products.
“Our founder, Steve Potash, started with an eye towards digital content,” said David Burleigh, OverDrive’s director of brand and marketing communication. “That was way before eBooks became mainstream. But over the years, we’ve been at the forefront of the digitization of content, the conversion of print materials into digital, and the industry’s best digital reading platform, which is where our focus is now.”
Today, OverDrive works with more than 36,000 libraries and schools to provide eBooks and audiobooks to readers.
“We supply more than 90 percent of the public libraries in the U.S. and Canada,” Burleigh continued. “We offer a catalog of close to 4 million digital titles from about 5,000 publishers in 100 languages. Libraries can select what titles they want to make available to their communities, and readers will find everything from bestselling fiction to nonfiction works on every subject.”
There were approximately 200 million checkouts of OverDrive eBooks and audiobooks in 2016.
Read eBooks on Almost Any Digital Device
OverDrive began providing their services to public libraries in 2003, before the advent of the smartphone and other digital devices.
“Back then, you could only read eBooks on a desktop computer,” Burleigh recounted. “The technology has really evolved over the years. We now have apps for Android, Apple and Windows, and we added Kindle compatibility in 2011. You can now borrow an eBook from your local library and read it on your Kindle, or iPhone, iPad, e-reading devices like Kobo or NOOK, or an Android phone, tablet or Chromebook.”
“Over the past 15 years with the increasing popularity of digital content, many libraries have started to call their digital collection a ‘virtual branch,’” Burleigh explained. “These virtual branches have evolved to the point that they actually out circulate many of the physical branches. The libraries stock the virtual branches with the digital materials they want to make available to lend to their communities. Every library will be different in what they choose.”
Libraries that choose to do so can activate OverDrive’s “Recommend to Library” feature.
“This allows a patron to see everything that exists in the overall OverDrive catalog when they browse the library’s collection,” Burleigh said. “Then they can make a request to the library to acquire it for lending.”
Many publishers offer a “Simultaneous Use” access model, which allows multiple people to check out the same title at the same time, eliminating wait lists. The majority of publishers offer “one copy per user” which allows one borrower at a time to check out a particular digital title—just like with a hardcopy book. Most libraries have wait lists for popular books and notify borrowers on the list when the title becomes available.
“Long story short, when you go to a library’s collection, it’s always a good idea to keep going back to see what’s new and what has become available,” Burleigh said.
As Simple as Signing Up for a Library Card
If you’d like to borrow books using OverDrive’s Libby app, you’ll need to obtain a library card first. Burleigh said a good place to start is the search feature within the Libby app or on OverDrive’s website. Enter your zip code to find public libraries near you that offer titles from the OverDrive catalog from their virtual branches.
Library card procedures and requirements vary greatly.
“Some libraries enable you to get a card online,” Burleigh said. “Some have you come into the physical library and show proof of residency. There may be other types of rules as well.”
Many libraries’ online card registration sites are linked from within the Libby app or the library’s digital collection website. Or you can visit the website of the library you intend to use to learn more. You can browse available eBook and audiobook titles while you’re at it.
“Most libraries offer a lot of fiction, stuff for kids, career development and everything in between,” he added. “You’ll find books in different languages, learning materials, and all kinds of things in all kinds of subjects.”
“A great reason to go to the library is to borrow travel books,” he concluded. “From Lonely Planet to DK Eyewitness Travel, we have thousands of titles in the OverDrive catalog. Most libraries offer a great collection, but remember, if your local library doesn’t have the one you want, you can always ask them to acquire any book from the OverDrive catalog.”