How to Read Library Books on Your Device

OverDrive Feature

On your phone, your tablet, your Kindle, your Nook, your laptop or PC…it’s a beautiful thing.

Remember libraries—those venerable institutions stacked with books and reference information that began going out of style with the advent of the internet? Just a heads up, they are still in the business of lending you books and access to all sorts of juicy information for free. And now that libraries have extended their collections to include eBooks, you don’t even have to drive to the local library to enjoy a literary smorgasbord. If you are a student, they also give you access to academic journals and subscriptions that are very beneficial for all those research projects.

It took me a while before I made the happy discovery that libraries have kept up with the times, updating their collections to include digital content (not just eBooks, but audiobooks, music, and movies too). Digital is the way I roll, baby. Oh the wonderful books I’ve read for free, even though I haven’t visited a library since we lived in Houston, when I had to physically present myself to get a library card. That hasn’t changed by the way. They still require their patrons to use a library card in order to have borrowing privileges.

This is very happy news for you, your bank account, and especially your spouse—who is probably the one tasked with finding ways to support your book habit without compromising the savings account.

How do you download library books to your device?

The key is in the OverDrive media app. Don’t worry; it’s free. I’ve borrowed eBooks from libraries in several different states, and different counties within those states, and so far they’ve all used this same process. If for some reason you find that your library doesn’t use the OverDrive app, I’m sure it’s a similar process with whatever app they do use.

OverDrive Android App

Step 1: Download the Overdrive Media app to your device. Once again, it’s free, and available for iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows, Nook (HD/ HD+), and Kindle Fire (HD/ HDX).

Step 2: Add your local library to the app, the one you have a library card for. You do this in the menu options that appear on the left side of the screen.

OverDrive Browse

Step 3: Go to your library to start browsing the books available. To do this, just tap on the library you just added, or go to your bookshelf and tap Add Books from… insert library name here. Once on your library website, you can use the menu options at the top of the page to browse genres (top left), or you can do a search for a specific book, series, or author (magnifying glass).

OverDrive Library Sign In

Step 4: Log in to your account. Before checking out your chosen book(s), or putting a hold on one, you’ll have to log in. The library will require your library card barcode number, and some will require an additional pin number or password. You can recover that info the same way you would as if you had lost it, by clicking “forgot password”.

*If you don’t have a library card, many libraries will allow you to apply for one online, others require you to present yourself in person with a proof of address.

Step 5: Borrow the book. Once you’ve checked it out, it will appear on your library’s website on your bookshelf. It will not appear on your device bookshelf until you download it.

OverDrive Select Format

Step 6: Choose the preferred book format.

The three most common formats for eBooks are: EPub, PDF, and Kindle. For audiobooks, most libraries offer WMA and MP3. You will be presented with some of these options before downloading your eBook. If you are using the Overdrive App on the Nook, you’ll need to choose download in one of these formats: PDF, EPub, or MP3. Kindle users can download Kindle and MP3 formats. WMA audio format only works on Windows devices.

OverDrive Add BookOverDrive Bookshelf

Step 7: Download the title. You’ll need to go to your library bookshelf (seen in the above left photo), and from there choose from the books you have checked out.

For all formats besides Kindle, your borrowed book will appear on the Overdrive Media Bookshelf (above right photo). It might take a minute to download, and you can expect audiobooks to take a bit longer. It’s fastest to do this when WiFi is available. Once your book is on the bookshelf you can read it anytime, anywhere and you won’t need an internet connection to do so.

Kindle DownloadKindle Sync Library

If you’re reading with the Kindle app or device, when you click download it will send you through the additional step of logging on to your Amazon account and delivering the book to the device of your choosing, but it’s only a short detour. Once you’ve delivered the book, you only have to go to your Kindle library (not the OverDrive library), sync it (if you don’t have it set to automatically do so), and download the title. You should also see that book available in the Kindle app on your other devices when synced, so you won’t be limited to reading it on the first device you downloaded it on.

There it is, how you can read library books on pretty much any device. I get picture books for my preschooler, some Juni B. Jones for my first grader, plus anything else I can find that I want to read. I even created an OverDrive Media login which makes it possible for the app to record my reading progress and bookmarks, so that when I pick up my read on another device it places me wherever I left off. You can also download music and movies! So, go dust off your library card folks!

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About the author

Cecilia Harvey

I'm a technological enthusiast with a completely unrelated degree in English Literature. I've also been known to dabble in photography and DIY furniture refinishing, with occasional stints of fitness sprinkled among all of the above.

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