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Love to Read? 9 Free eBook Library Resources for Your Family

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I recently rediscovered my love for reading.  After reading many of the how-to books on raising babies and parenting, I put my passion aside for reading.  

Perhaps I  also got discouraged when I would take my kids to the library every week during the Summer to get lots of books and then all the books didn’t make it back to the library.  My kids were trying to earn incentives through the Summer reading program.  Before long, we began accumulating quite a bill of late fees.  Ugh.

Fast forward 5 years when I discovered one of my new favorite apps, Overdrive.  Overdrive allows you to check out an ebook from your local library electronically and have it digitally delivered to your tablet, computer, or Kindle reader.   You can check out one ebook or a number of ebooks at once, the total number depends on your library.  I’ve been reading an ebook here and there on Overdrive for 1 1/2 years now and love it.  Since then I have found other resources that libraries offer online that are truly amazing.  

 

Library eBook & Other Resources

Check out these great library ebook resources for the digitally inclined!

 

Overdrive

 

 

The OverDrive app saves you late night visits to the library!  Save time driving so you can spend more time reading!

Overdrive is the most popular digital platform used by US libraries for ebook distribution.  OverDrive serves over 90% of the 16,400 US public libraries.  Although they are only in 6,000 schools in the US now, they hope to dramatically grow that number.

Libraries pay OverDrive for licensing of ebooks, audiobooks, educational materials, and even streaming video in some cases. A digital ebook can be read on Kindles, iPads, tablets, e-readers, phones, even your PC or laptop.

In fact, I really like Overdrive’s direct integration with Amazon, so I can have an ebook delivered to the Kindle app my tablet, my son’s Kindle, and my daughter’s Kindle Paperweight.  My kids and I will have 2-3 ebooks on our Kindles at one time.

When an ebook is about to expire within 3 days, OverDrive sends me an email to remind me.  Life gets busy sometimes, so I don’t always finish the ebook by the due date.  But the next time I borrow it, all of my highlights and bookmarks are still there in the ebook!  It’s awesome!

 

 

Libby by OverDrive

 

 

Libby is a new app released by OverDrive.  The Libby app houses the same digital ebooks as Overdrive, it just serves up the ebook in a prettier looking app.  It’s a more user-friendly and faster digital browsing experience.  You can read your borrowed ebook directly in the Libby app, have it sent to your Kindle, or read it in both.  

The Libby app is not as compatible with as many devices as Overdrive. In fact, it’s not as robust as OverDrive, but it’s new and new features will be added.  Libby does have a Kids Mode where you can make the discoverability of kids’ content easier for both parents and kids.  An ebook will only be served up for kids up to 12 years of age.

Due to the app’s simplicity and the Kids mode, the Libby app is a good bet to load on your children’s tablets so they can borrow ebooks as they’d like.

 

Hoopla

 

Hoopla is another online service used by many libraries and in fact, I can check out an ebook through Overdrive, Libby, and Hoopla.  Hoopla offers more than just ebooks and audiobooks.  They also offer movies, TV shows, music, comics, and documentaries.

One of the key benefits of Hoopla is that your ebook, movie, TV show, music album, or documentary is ALWAYS available.  So if 200 people are borrowing the same Disney Moana music album at the same time, all of them can stream the music at the same time.  This is not the case with OverDrive.  The library only secures so many copies of an ebook and if it’s popular, you need to wait your turn on the Hold list.

Although I’m a Netflix subscriber, I found a number of movies on Hoopla I’d like to share with the family.  Namely, the Shaggy Dog, God’s Not Dead, and Herbie Goes Bananas!  Some fun oldies.  They also have Benji, Swiss Family Robinson, Mask, Patch Adams, Into The Woods, Annie, and more.

You can watch the movies on your computer, tablet, movie, or there’s even the ability to screencast Hoopla to your smart TV using Chromecast.  I was able to get this to work on one of my TV’s but not the other one yet.

Hoopla has a wide variety of ebooks too, though not as comprehensive as Overdrive.  But you can borrow an ebook for as long as 21 days, whereas OverDrive is usually only 14 days.

 

Cloud Library 

 

 

Just like OverDrive, the Cloud Library allows you to read ebooks and audiobooks free from your library.  Yes, if you wanted to, you most likely could use Cloud Library, Libby, Hoopla, and OverDrive…I know because I’ve tried it, all with the same library card.

You can read an ebook directly from the Cloud Library or send your ebook to your Amazon Fire tablet.  Unfortunately, at this time, you cannot send an ebook to your Kindle or Kindle Paperweight.

There appears to be a wide variety of books available and Cloud Library is associated with your library website so you can browse for a book at your library if you can’t find it in Cloud Library.

Treat Cloud Library as just another immense library you can go to to find your ebook.

 

Google Books

 

 

Google Books is not necessarily associated directly with library services but is a great resource to know about.  Google Books is a service from Google in which they have scanned millions of books and converted text to OCR (optical character recognition), which means the text is now searchable.  Google worked with numerous libraries, publishers, and even magazine publishers to create their gigantic book database.

Google currently has over 25 million books scanned but was slowed down by potential copyright violations and criticisms that the OCR process has created a number of errors.  Google’s overall goal is to attempt to scan the 130 million distinct titles they have identified.  Time will tell if they are successful.

So what kind of books can you read from Google Books?  Any kind.  Almost all of the classics like The Odyssey, Alice in Wonderland, Romeo and Juliet are in there – and you can actually read the entire book from your browser or app.  

Although the books are completely scanned in, some books you are not permitted to read all the pages due to copyrighting or agreements with certain publishers.  You can save your favorite books in your own Google Books library and read them on your Google Books app.

 

 

Other Resources

 

Gale Virtual Reference Library

The Gale Virtual Reference Library includes over 12,000 eBooks from over 100 industry-leading publishers for every discipline for the purposes of research.  Partners such as Encyclopedia Britannica and DK help supports students of all ages.  All it takes is a library card to get in if your library has contracted this service.

 

Ancestry.com 

Curious about your heritage but don’t want to pay a monthly fee to access Ancestry’s massive genealogy databases?  Many libraries across the country offer Ancestry.com for free in their libraries for purposes of research.  The downside is that you need to be in the library to access it and you cannot save data to your own account.  But you can print out info as well as copy and paste your learnings into a Word document.

 

Zinio Magazines

 

 

Zinio Magazines, otherwise known as RB Digital, have partnerships with libraries so you can check out the latest (or last year’s) favorite monthly magazine edition.  There are lots of choices.  Check out one or check out 10.  And services like RB Digital let you check out your magazines for as long as you want them!

 

Freegal Music

Freegal Music is another service many libraries offer.  It allows you to stream music of your choice to your PC or app for free.  Search their massive collection of music and music videos.  Do they have all the latest music?  Well, sometimes.  But they do have a massive amount of songs.  You’ll often find many of the albums of your favorite singers or group.

But here’s the part I like best.  Each week, Freegal allows you to download music locally on your computer …and keep them!  Yes, it’s legal and free, hence the name, Freegal!  Your library determines how many songs you can download each week.  My library allows 5 song downloads a week.

I receive an email every week to remind me to download songs.  I keep a wishlist in my Freegal account and download songs quickly every Monday from this list to take full advantage of this great free service.

 

 

Each library offers different services, so you’ll need to check with your local library.  I found that I could get a library card in the next county over, Los Angeles County, so I could have access to even more books and online resources.  And since I don’t need to drive over there to check out an ebook, it’s a perfect solution to “expand” my library.

 

Digital Library Advantages

  • No driving needed
  • No late fees
  • No needing to remember to return the ebook/media, they are returned automatically
  • The library is always open, 24 hours a day
  • More ebooks to choose from as you can tap into the whole county rather than your local library
  • You can borrow many ebooks so everyone in the family can read several ebooks at the same time
  • It’s easy to peruse the ebooks your children are reading to ensure they are age appropriate
  • With some libraries, you can even download and keep free music mp3’s
  • Through Hoopla, you can check out movies without a fee
  • Read through your favorite magazines without a subscription and in the comfort of your own home
  • Kindle’s make it easy to bookmark and highlight things in your ebook.  You can also search the entire ebook and look up definitions in an instant
  • Carry 20 books and 15 magazines on your Kindle without the weight of books
  • You can download the books on your Kindle so you can read them on the plane — no Internet connection needed
  • Expand your ebook selection by getting library cards in other counties
  • Even when you need to put a popular ebook on hold, it automatically checks out the book to you when it’s ready
  • A Kindle keeps track of all the ebooks you’ve read – a great way to visibly see all the ebooks you’ve read for the year…or your child!
  • The Kindle Paperwhite has a built-in light so you can read it in any lighting conditions
  • I prefer the classic types of Kindles like the Kindle, Paperwhite, or Kindle Voyage so my kids don’t get distracted with other apps found on tablets with the Kindle app

 

Take the time to check out the digital resources available from your local library.  The Los Angeles County library even offers online courses for free!  It’s opened a whole new world for my family and I.  We are all reading more than we ever did before because it’s convenient and flexible to accommodate our busy schedule.

Know of more great resources?  Leave a comment below.  Happy reading!

 

 



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