How to Check Out E-books from Your Local Library

Access free e-books anywhere with your library card!

Checking out e-books from the library is quick, easy, and free.

E-books are an accessible way to provide readers with massive libraries of material without the physical space required to own hundreds of books. With many options available for reading books digitally, libraries are bound to have some digital titles in their collections—but how do you check them out?

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What Are E-books?

Before getting into checking out e-books, let’s get a firm grasp of what e-books are. Generally speaking, an e-book is any book you can read digitally on your computer, phone, tablet, or digital reading device. E-books are most commonly available through e-book apps, which carry a selection of digital versions of books. Some publishers work only with digital content and do not publish physical copies of their books. 

E-books are a great way to take a book with you somewhere without having to worry about making room for it, damaging it, or losing it—the whole thing’s on your phone! Many readers like to use e-books for travel since it helps them pack light, but students tend to use e-books for educational purposes. Generally, e-books are less expensive to purchase than physical books, especially textbooks. 

Why Access E-books from Your Library?

Recently, e-book prices have been climbing, and only some are available for rental. That’s where libraries come in. Local libraries allow patrons to check out e-books for free and return them, so readers don’t have to shell out $30 every time they want to rent a novel or get stuck with a book they don’t like but can’t return.

How to Check Out an E-book

Unfortunately, you can’t just go into a library to check out an e-book like any other physical item. Instead, you’ll have to do it online. On the bright side, that means checking out e-books is an excellent solution for people who can’t always access their local library or are immunocompromised!

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To check out an e-book from your local library, follow these steps:

  1. Find a library e-book provider. There are multiple library e-book providers, but most libraries use OverDrive or Libby.
  2. Register your library card. To find your library’s digital collection, you’ll need to input your library card number. You can find your library card number on the back of your library card, or you can call a librarian to help you find it in their database.
  3. Search for the book you want to read. Once your card is registered, search for the book you want using the app’s search bar.
  4. Select the book to hold it. If you find the book and it’s available for borrowing, click on the “borrow” button to check it out. If the book is currently checked out, you can instead place yourself on a digital hold list and get a notification when it’s your turn to check out the book. Some libraries offer multiple borrowing periods for readers to choose from.
  5. Read your book! Once you’ve checked out your book, read it before your time is up!
  6. Your book returns itself. When your book is due, you’ll lose access to it in your app.

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