Your Library Online

By now, most know that most libraries have ebooks, movies, and audiobooks available for check out. (And if you didn’t know that…well, now you do.)

But did you know that there are multiple ebook lending platforms that libraries can subscribe to?

Here are some of the platforms you’re most likely to find at your local library, so grab your library card and check out the library’s website to see what’s what!

Overdrive

What’s available?: Books and audiobooks.*

What devices are supported?: Android, iOS, Mac, Windows, Google Chromebook, Kindle, e-Ink eReaders, Nook Color, MP3 players.

How is the ebook collection curated?: Each library purchases individual ebook titles to add to the collection.

Checkout limit: Depends on the library.

Loan period: 1–3 weeks, depending on the library.

Do you have to place a hold on an ebook that’s already checked out? Yep.

How do you get set up?

  • If you’re using a smartphone or tablet, you can just download the OverDrive app, create a free account, and link your account to your home library. Then you can browse for books, check them out, and download them directly in the app.
  • If you’re using a Kindle or a computer, you can access the OverDrive collection via the Internet, log in with your library card, and download books from there. If you’re on a computer, you can start reading right away in your Internet browser, or you can download Adobe Digital Editions to read books offline or transfer them to another device.

Accessibility Features: Dyslexic font, adjustable font size, adjustable audio speed

Pros: It’s easy to get started, especially with a mobile device, it has an easy checkout process, and I’m personally a big fan of the “wish list” function, which allows you to save titles that you want to read for the future.

Cons: Larger library systems tend to have long waiting lists, and if you’re reading ebooks on your computer, it can be a little bit of a hassle to get Adobe Digital Editions set up and authorized. Also, browsing for ebooks isn’t as comprehensive as I’d like it to be, but I’m also a stickler for these types of things.

*Not every library that uses OverDrive offers access to audiobooks.

Hoopla

What’s available?: Books, audiobooks, comics, TV shows, movies, and music.

What devices are supported?: iOS, Android, Mac, Kindle, Windows (excluding Windows mobile devices), Chromebooks, Apple TV, Fire TV, Roku, Android TV, Alexa.

How is the ebook collection curated?: Hoopla offers access to over 500,000 titles, including lots of popular titles across genres & formats, and regularly updates its collection.

Checkout limit: Depends on the library, but the limit is monthly, rather than a limit on the number of titles you can have checked out at any given point.

Loan period:  72 hours for movies and TV shows, 1 week for music, 3 weeks for ebooks, audiobooks, & comics.

Do you have to place a hold on an ebook that’s already checked out? Nope!

How do you get set up?: Create a free Hoopla account, then download titles through the mobile app or through the website.

Accessibility Features: Dyslexic font, adjustable font size, adjustable audio speed, closed captioning.

Pros: Overall, this is my favorite app in terms of access and content. Tons of fantastic titles to check out, it’s easy to use, you don’t have to wait to check out a title, and it has an easy-to-use wish list function that I make heavy use of.

Cons: Browsing capabilities aren’t quite up to the level that I’d prefer. Also, if you’re a power digital user and/or a fast reader, you may find yourself constrained by the monthly download limit.

3M (AKA CLOUD LIBRARY)

What’s available?: Books, audiobooks.

What devices are supported?: iOS, Mac, Windows, Android, Kindle, Google Chromebook.

How is the ebook collection curated?: Each library purchases individual eBook titles to add to the collection.

Checkout limit: Depends on the library.

Loan period:  Depends on the library.

Do you have to place a hold on an ebook that’s already checked out? Yep.

How do you get set up?: Download the app (required for both mobile devices and computers) and log in with your library card number. Browse, check out and download directly in the app.

Accessibility Features: Adjustable font size, adjustable audio speed, text-to-speech capabilities (iOS app only).

Pros: Fairly easy to register and download, title selection is pretty broad. You can create a wish list of titles, and you can also save favorite genres and categories to make browsing easier.

Cons: As an app, it works fine, but to me, the interface isn’t as appealing as the other ebook services. This is my least-frequently used ebook platform.

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