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Bright Ideas · Saving Money · How To Borrow E-books From Your Library In 5 Easy Steps
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How To Borrow E-books From Your Library In 5 Easy Steps

Learn how to borrow e-books from your local library from the comfort of your own home (or from anywhere else!)

Did you know you can check out e-books through your public library, and even read them on your Kindle? Most libraries have tons of free books to borrow, and you can peruse them and even check them out from the comfort of your own home.

Here is a step-by-step guide to how to borrow e-books and other form of digital media from your public library. Once you get comfortable with the process, you’ll love how quick and easy it is to access and read books for free through your library!

How To Borrow E-books From Your Library

Step 1 – Get A Library Card

In order to borrow e-books or anything else from your local library, you’ll need a library card. Some libraries will let you sign up for one online, but a lot of them still require you to apply for a library card in person so they can verify your address and other personal information.

Step 2 – Go To Your Library’s Website

Now that you’ve got a library card, go to your library’s website and find out which service your library uses to lend its e-books and other forms of digital media. Most libraries, mine included, use a service called OverDrive.

If your library uses OverDrive, I highly recommend downloading Libby, which is OverDrive’s easy-to-use mobile reading app. You can use Libby to search for, borrow, and even read e-books, audiobooks, and other digital media available through your library.

Log in to Libby using your library card number, and then you’ll be able to search by title, genre, format, and even availability if you’re looking for something to read right now.

Step 4 – Borrow A Book

Once you find something you want to read or listen to, tap “Borrow” to check it out. If the item isn’t available right away, the button will say “Place Hold” instead, and you’ll be able to see how many digital copies your library has, how many people have placed holds on those copies, and a rough estimate of when you can expect to be able to check one out.

If you do decide to place a hold on something, make sure to enable notifications from the Libby app so that it can tell you when your hold items become available to check out.

Step 5 – Read

You can read the e-books you’ve borrowed inside the Libby app, or you can send them to your Kindle by linking your Amazon account. Once you do that, you can choose to have your borrowed books sent automatically to your Kindle. (And don’t worry, the Libby app displays clear step-by-step instructions that make it super easy to get everything set up.)

When you’re done reading, use the Libby app to “return” the book to your library. If you don’t return it manually, the book will get returned automatically on the due date (unless you have the option to extend the loan period, which will depend on your library’s policies.)

What Else Can I Check Out?

As I mentioned earlier, e-books aren’t the only type of digital media you can check out from your local library. Most libraries also offer audiobooks and magazines, and you can check those out through Libby as well.

Keep in mind that while Kindle e-readers are excellent for reading e-books, they aren’t ideal for things like comics and graphic novels. For the best reading experience, you’ll want to read comics or graphic novels on your phone or tablet, which you can do within the Libby app.

Your library may even offer digital loans of movies and TV episodes too. The best place to start your search is Kanopy, where you can use your library card to access streamable movies. The Kanopy catalog is heavy on documentaries, indie films, and educational programming, but there’s some “just for fun” stuff too.

The Takeaway

Thanks to services like OverDrive, your library’s digital collection is more accessible to you than ever before. If you have any questions about your library’s digital collection and how to borrow e-books, audiobooks, and more from home, don’t be afraid to stop by your library and ask a librarian! They’ll be happy to point you in the right direction or help you get started.

Do you borrow e-books or other types of digital media from your library?


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    Hi, I’m Jillee!

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