Online Money Tips: Download Free E-Books from Your Local Library

Lesson 10: Download Free E-Books from Your Local Library


Download free e-books from your local library

Over the last several years, tablets and e-readers have become an increasingly popular way to read and enjoy a variety of content. According to a Pew Survey from 2019, 25% of Americans have read an e-book (1 in 4 people) in the past year. While e-books have also seen a dramatic increase in sales over traditional paper books, many people don't realize that they can also borrow e-books from their local library for free.

To help you find free e-books and audiobooks, here are some options:

  • Overdrive is a website that lets you search multiple libraries for free e-books. All you need is a library card or a student ID.
  • Libby is an app that helps you read free e-books or listen to audiobooks using a mobile device from public libraries all with your library card. 
  • You can also search for your local public library and see their digital collection with the help of our step-by-step guide below.

Step 1. Ask your librarian

While many libraries now offer e-books, there's no universal catalog for browsing available titles. You'll need to talk with someone at your local library about their e-book catalog and how to get started. You'll likely need your library card and Internet access to view the e-books available at your library.

Step 2. Find what you want

Now that you know how to use your library's e-book catalog, you're ready to start browsing! Exploring titles on an e-book catalog can feel a little confusing at first, especially since you may see books that you can't download yet. Just like the physical books at your library, there are a limited number of copies that can be loaned out at the same time for each book. Whenever you see a book you'd like to download later, sign up for the waiting list (also known as a hold) for that title and you'll be notified as soon as it's available.

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If you're looking for something right away, we recommend browsing through books that have been recently returned, which makes it easy to find some of the most circulated and popular titles at your library.

Step 3. Download and enjoy

Once you've found an e-book you want to read, you're just a few clicks away from downloading the title to your device. Depending on the type of e-reader or tablet you have, you'll need to download an application (like Kindle for PC or Adobe Digital Editions) to transfer the e-book. Again, ask your librarian what you'll need for your specific device.

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Most e-books can be checked out just as long as a regular library book (between one and two weeks), usually with an option to extend the loan period, as well. But here's our favorite part about borrowing e-books: you never have to remember to return the book to the library. Once your lending period has expired, the e-book will simply disappear from your e-reader.

E-books aren't without their limitations. It's important to realize many of the major publishing companies don't currently license libraries to lend their titles, so you won't find the same kind of variety as you would on your library's shelves or a local bookstore. Still, it's an easy way to check out cool and interesting books, and it's completely free.