By Tracey Dowdy
One of your library’s best kept-secrets – though I doubt it’s on purpose – is that most local public libraries have a partnership with one or more digital-lending services. That means with nothing more than a library card, and a compatible eReader, phone, or tablet, thousands of books are available for you to download.
You can easily download ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, or even music, comics, movies and TV shows depending on which third-party service your library has partnered with.
To get started, go to your library’s web site and log in with your library card. Next, search for a menu titled “eLibrary” or “Downloads,” or something similar. It will connect you with either Hoopla Digital or OverDrive, again, depending on which resource they’ve partnered with.
OverDrive allows you to borrow ebooks, audiobooks, and magazines from your library using your phone or tablet. Choose from New York Times Bestsellers or Marvel Comics and everything in between. There’s also a section of Rachel Kray’s recommendations. Kray, a Librarian and Collection Development Analyst with OverDrive, has suggestions in fun categories like “Desert Island Reads,” and “Books the Cats of Overdrive Recommend.” If there’s a wait list at your library for a specific title, you can add your name to the waiting list and OverDrive will alert you when the title becomes available. You can even set up an automatic checkout once it becomes available.
OverDrive also has Sora – a student reading app. Students can download the app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, or go to soraapp.com. Once you’ve created your account, search for your school (or enter your school’s setup code), and sign in. From here, students can browse the Explore tab and choose a book to borrow. It downloads immediately and is added to the user’s “Shelf” that lists all downloaded books and assignments, making it easy to browse titles.
Hoopla Digital allows you to borrow movies, music, audiobooks, ebooks, comics, and TV shows to enjoy on your computer, tablet, phone, or smart TV. There are thousands of titles available with no waiting list, and you’re never charged a late fee for the items that you borrow from Hoopla as items are automatically checked back in at the end of the lending period (72 hours for TV and movies, and seven days for music). Users are allowed up to five Hoopla checkouts per month. And best of all for parents, anyone with a Juvenile library card is barred from checking out R-rated content.
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.