No More Overdue Books: Getting Digital with your Local Library

August 8, 2014 E-Readers 41

Greetings, Bookworms!

I’ve told y’all a time or twelve how much I adore reading on my kindle. (Sorry physical book purists, this post will be of no interest to you. You have my full permission to daydream about unicorns and puppies and singing penguins.) One of the biggest drawbacks for me when I first got the kindle was that I had to pay for all my books. Sure, there were free classics, which is great, but a girl cannot live on classics alone. There are always free titles available too, but the only stuff I wanted to read I had to pay for.

Now that Oyster, Kindle Unlimited, and all sorts of other services claiming to be Netflix for books are floating around out there, it seemed a good time to remind the internet of an older, awesome service for free e-books. It’s your LIBRARY! Holla! My local library now carries an entire digital book list on their website that I can download straight to my kindle (and they have since like 2011.) The service is powered by OverDrive, which is compatible with most e-readers and tablet devices. The best part? You can NEVER forget to return your book. They’ll just take it back if you forget to renew or return it.

digital library

My friend Joules (of Pocketful of Joules, you should be reading her blog) asked me to put together something approaching a tutorial on the subject because she got confused and frustrated when trying to figure out how to get library books on her kindle. I am NOT an expert on the subject, and I can only speak for my experience with my library, but a little googling has revealed that OverDrive powers the majority of the e-book library programs, so I think the process is fairly uniform.

First things first, check out your library website. They may or may not have access to this service. My town, which, despite my claiming I live in a cornfield, has access to this. If you live in a super small town, you might be out of luck, for which I apologize on behalf of library kind. You will probably need a pin number in addition to your library card number, which you should be able to request pretty painlessly from your library. That’s it. I was going to put together a tutorial, but then I realized the folks at OverDrive have already done it and they did it better than I would have. CLICK THIS LINK! 

As much as I love this service, it’s not ALL sunshine and rainbows. My library doesn’t always have EVERYTHING I want to read. And, because they have to legally treat their digital copies like physical copies, there are often long wait lists for new releases. BUT.  Oyster and Kindle Unlimited have some serious limitations too (like the fact that some of the big fancy publishers won’t play nicely with them) so it’s all relative. At least the library option is free!

Tell me Bookworms- do any of you utilize your library’s digital offerings? 

41 Responses to “No More Overdue Books: Getting Digital with your Local Library”

  1. Monika @ Lovely Bookshelf

    Why am I mind-singing “let’s get digital” to a Olivia Newton-John tune?? You do that to people, really.

    I’ve used my local library to check out ebooks (and e-audiobooks too!). I also looooove 🙂 Great post!

  2. Tanya

    This is the reason I got an e-reader about 5 years ago. I would save in library fines. Back then I was living in Toronto and they have always had a great digital collection through Overdrive. But from what I understand, some libraries aren’t compatible with Kindles. This may not be true in the US, but in other countries we are not so Amazon friendly.

    • Words For Worms

      For a while nobody was compatible with Kindle. That might still be the case some places, though I haven’t heard about it. That might factor into one’s choice of e-reader purchase.

  3. Shannon @ River City Reading

    I’ve gotten better at returning physical books, but it’s still easier for me to do digital. I always hear of people who are surprised that this service is offered, so I think you’ll be helping out at least a few people here!

    • Words For Worms

      I hope so! All the commenters so far are well schooled in the subject, but maybe I’ve got a quiet reader out there somewhere who finds this useful!

  4. Melanie Simmons (@mlsimmons)

    I do use my library a lot, mostly for physical book. Recently, I started getting some digital. The issue that I have is that their selection isn’t great. They may not even have a complete series on digital. I usually look and see what I can get via physical or digital (I prefer digital) and if I still can’t find it, I will purchase it.

    • Words For Worms

      Yes, I’ll admit there’s a definite selection issue. I still buy a lot of books digitally, but it’s nice to know there’s another option for obtaining reading material if you find yourself on a tight budget.

    • Words For Worms

      Andi, I JUST figured this out last week! The only way I’ve been able to get it to work is by downloading the OverDrive app! I kept trying to play them on iTunes and cursing the heavens. I’ve found there’s not as much demand on the audio books, so I have a wider choice of titles available right now.

  5. Charleen

    As much as I do like my e-reader for the convenience, I’m like a 90-year-old woman when it comes to buying ebooks. I don’t trust something I don’t physically own, I’m always afraid it’s going to just disappear on me someday. (I don’t like buying my music digitally either.) So, with few exceptions, I only use my e-reader for library books, NetGalley ARCs, or books I’ve won through giveaways.

    Though I will add that, even though you don’t HAVE to think about returning them manually, the rest of the people on the waiting list will really appreciate it if you do.

    • Words For Worms

      LOL, Charleen, I am so in the old lady club on many things. So many, in fact, that I’ve adopted an old lady moniker. Call me Mildred. I agree with you about the returns! That certainly helps with the wait list issue. Still though, easier to return a book with a few clicks than to hop in the car and schlep across town to the library book drop.

  6. Emily

    I got overdrive and calibre pretty soon after I got my first Nook and I have to tell you, as tech savvy as I consider myself, it was still quite the undertaking. Things that shouldn’t have gone wrong, did. No one at the library knew how to fix it. B&N didn’t know how to fix it. It was a mess! Then magically (had to be magic, no one else knew what to do to fix it) it worked and I haven’t had a problem since. Granted, this was years ago and I think a lot of the kinks have been worked out but I think it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the technology aspect of ebooks and may cause people to shy away from the most convenient way to access new books instantly. Way to use your power for good to informing the masses of overdrive!

    • Words For Worms

      Ha! Thanks Emily! I found the OverDrive tutorials pretty easy to walk through when I was scoping them out, so hopefully your initial problems were a case of new technology gremlins. I do like to use my powers for good on occasion. It makes for a nice change from my typical dastardly doings.

  7. Darlene @ Lost in Literature

    I’ve only borrowed one ebook from my local library. The selection was small but they just happened to have Carrie by Stephen King when I needed it for my challenge. And it stayed on my kindle a good little while past the due date. Actually, the title still remains even though the “book” is returned. Does it do that for you too?

    • Words For Worms

      Yeah, there’s a notification that says like “Loan Expired: Book X” that stays on the kindle. But the book goes right on back into circulation. Maybe it’s just a reminder for you that you read it?

    • TJ @ MyBookStrings

      Sometimes, the books I borrow stay on my Kindle, too, even though they’ve been pulled from my account. If it bothers you, you can remove it from the device, and then it’s just hanging around somewhere in cyberspace. 🙂

  8. Jennine G.

    I have been LOVING my Overdrive app. I finally hit a point where I don’t feel the need to buy every book I want to read and Overdrive has allowed me to get books instantly without even leaving my bed! That’s a deal. My friend lives across the border in PA, me in OH. So we gave each other our library card numbers so we doubled our book availability! And it’s worked…I’ve gotten books from her PA library that weren’t at my libraries on Overdrive.

    And, even if you don’t have a Kindle, you can still use overdrive. There’s an in app/browser reading option that doesn’t need wifi or use your data to read.

  9. AMB

    As a person who has generated an enormous number of library fines in my time here on Earth, I appreciate your message! Libraries are so important. It’s sad to see so many of them closing in the communities that need them the most.

  10. TJ @ MyBookStrings

    I don’t use Overdrive, because I am lucky enough to live in a state where all the library systems pool their resources for one online library that offers both Kindle and ePub books. I love it! Yes, there are still wait lines and not all books are available, but the more we use the service, the more resources are allocated to it.

    • Words For Worms

      My library does something similar- it’s called the Alliance Digital Media Library and pools the resources of a bunch of Illinois libraries, though it is powered by OverDrive. Yours might be too, you just don’t realize it :).

  11. Sarah Says Read

    Yay! I really am loving Overdrive. It’s super useful. Buuuuut my library’s selection isn’t the best. And they don’t always have a Kindle e-version available, and I don’t want to have to deal with figuring out how to download the non-Kindle version. Once I get a Kindle Fire, I would probably use Oyster more – it has a much wider selection. My only problem with it now is that I hate reading on my phone :-/

  12. Allison @ The Book Wheel

    I love my library’s Kindle selection! Now that I’ve slowed down on publisher commitents, I’ve been using it a lot more. I regularly put 10 books on hold (with auto-checkout) and read them as they become available. I have two local libraries that I use, which is great because sometimes they carry different titles and it doubles up my options.

  13. Amy @ Read a Latte

    I love Overdrive for audio books, but only recently started putting my name on the waiting list for some e-books too! It works perfectly with my habit of forgetting to return them since it does the work for me!

  14. Jolyse Barnett

    My Honey loans digital books from our local library. I’ve been so busy writing books that I have yet to learn how to do this. Thanks for the reminder of another item on my summer to-do list. 🙂

  15. Jenny @ Reading the End

    I absolutely cherish my library’s digital offerings. It is also how I read all my guilty pleasure romance novel-type books — no romance novel covers to embarrass me on the bus ride! :p And I love being able to place digital holds, and keep a digital wish-list. It’s just the best.

    • Words For Worms

      LOL, my Kindle is my favorite avenue for smut reading as well :). It’s much easier to seem dignified when there isn’t a beefcake on the cover of your reading material.

  16. Annabel Smith

    I know my library has this service but I only read on my Kindle when I travel. I should probably get with the program though because I recently had a whopping $62 library fine!

  17. C.J.

    I use two libraries and am completely hopeless at getting things back on time even if I receive email notices, so I’ve kind of resigned myself to paying fines. However, I’m also using Overdrive and as much as I like it, I’m always surprised by how limited the selection is of books available.

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