OverDrive Offers Easy Access To Local Libraries And The World’s Biggest Book Club

Got OverDrive? If you have a current library card, it’s a good bet you have access to one of the biggest and most up-to-date electronic libraries and you might not even know it. According to the corporate website at OverDrive, Inc., their app has quite a following.

“OverDrive currently hosts more than 2 million premium digital titles from more than 5,000 publishers, including Random House, HarperCollins, AudioGO, Harlequin, and Bloomsbury. Our digital distribution services are utilized by more than 30,000 libraries, schools, and colleges worldwide.”

Libraries have been using OverDrive’s Digital Library Reserve since 2002. The platform was originally developed as a dedicated application for ebooks, and it now boasts an impressive array of media available to library patrons. Along with the latest best-sellers, library cardholders can check out music, audiobooks, and even stream videos on OverDrive’s platform.

For smaller suburban and rural county library systems who are faced with shrinking budgets and are often at the mercy of grants and contributions to keep the content of their stacks current, OverDrive’s app is a boon. Monica Pierce, a masters candidate in information sciences, sees the benefit of digital editions.

“Bestsellers are great because they can be a gateway back to regular reading for adults. For libraries, this can be problematic, because we can only buy so many copies, which can sometimes mean waiting lists for a popular book that stretch out into weeks or months. No one likes to see people leaving disappointed or, even worse, empty-handed. You have to consider whether you can expend funds and shelf space on multiple copies of books that will get little circulation in a year or sooner. Digital editions cost less and libraries are not faced with ten copies of the latest legal thriller collecting dust a year later.”

It should be noted that demand for digital editions can be just as high. It’s possible that getting the current tell-all or the latest cookbook on your screen might take a little patience. The difference between the agonizing wait for the local library’s paper copy of “Me Before You” and the happy email notice that Moyes’ latest romance is waiting on your virtual bookshelf is that you are not dependent on the person ahead of you turning in the book on time.

With the OverDrive system, there is no such thing as an overdue book. App users can select a lending period of seven, fourteen, or twenty-one days, and if they finish a book before their time is up, they have the option of returning it immediately. When the book is due back, it will simply disappear from the bookshelf when the checkout period expires. Readers who may not have had a chance to finish a title have the option of placing a hold on the book if someone else has requested it or they can check it out again before it goes back into the virtual stacks. That means no frantic searches under car seats or through backpacks for overdue copies of Percy Jackson or Harry Potter when the letters from the circulation desk start coming in.

Books on OverDrive are accessible anywhere internet access is available, which means Spring Break and Summer vacation reading doesn’t require stocking up before hitting the road. All it takes is a quick click to your local library’s website to put fresh new content in big and little hands. Once a title is checked out, users have multiple viewing options, including reading the book on OverDrive’s application or downloading it to enjoy offline.

For anyone wanting to take part in a large scale communal read, OverDrive announced their latest initiative on March 17, The Big Library Read. Touted as “the world’s largest library book club,” The Big Library Read offers OverDrive users unlimited free access to Chris Kyle’s Memoir, American Sniper, through March 31. This edition has an interesting extra, podcast with reflections on the memoir from the author’s wife, Tara Kyle. The official Big Library Read website is there to enhance the experience with more information about the featured ebook as well as a discussion board and suggested titles.

Want to know more? Libraries everywhere are waiting to help you pick up the book that will keep you turning pages. Check out your library’s website to see if they offer OverDrive. MobileRead’s wiki is another great resource for finding participating online ereader libraries. Check out their state-by-state listing to find an e-library near you.

[Photo by Hannelore Foerster/Getty Images]