Wednesday, June 27, 2012

How to Download eBooks From Your Local Library...

According to a report by the American Library Association and the Information Policy & Access Center at the University of Maryland, three-quarters of all public libraries in the U.S. lend ebooks to anyone with a library card. These ebooks can be downloaded for free to anyone with an iPhone, iPad, Android device, or directly onto one's computer.

But according to a new report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, even though 75% of all public libraries are doing this, fully 62% of Americans have no awareness whatsoever about the service, and even among ebook readers, only 12% of people say they have actually borrowed an ebook from a library in the past year.

This is not only a shame; it's also quite surprising. In an era where libraries consistently rank among the most popular public services in opinion polls, and where people tend to seek out (and usually find) free ways to consume digital media, you'd think this service would be taking off.

My money says it's only a lack of awareness that's hindering it.

So, to that end, here's a brief guide for how to download ebooks from your local library, for free, onto your mobile device or computer. I'm running this experiment on my Android phone, but the process should work on iPhones and iPads as well.

  1. Take out your library card (yes, you actually need to have one).

  2. Go to, click on "Library Search", and make sure your local library is listed.

  3. Download the Overdrive app. Click to download the "Overdrive Media Console", then on the right choose your computing or mobile platform (Android, iPhone, etc.). Once you've done this, the page will refresh and display a button underneath those options either to download the app from the App Store, Google Play, etc. Click on it.

  4. Install the app through the App Store or Google Play the way you normally do. This usually means just clicking the "Install" button.

  5. Click on "Settings" -> "Get Books" -> "Add a Library" -> Enter your library's zip code -> click on your library on the resulting list -> click on "eBook" as your format.

  6. You're basically finished. But now comes the annoying part. Libraries still only have a limited number of each digital book available, so you need to not only shop around for what books you want, you may need to shop around for books you want THAT ARE AVAILABLE. Depending on your particular library, this could be very easy or pretty tough. When you do find some books for yourself, add them to your cart and proceed to checkout.

  7. This is the point at which you finally need to enter your library card number and (maybe) your PIN. "Confirm" and "Download". Each library is slightly different.

You're done. The books should be available to read on your device through the Overdrive app. Just keep in mind, even though this is all digital, this is still a library, which means each eBook has to be returned within 7-14 days unless you check it out again.

Happy hunting.



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