Libby: Borrow Free Ebooks From Your Local Library

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As a long-time fan of local libraries, it was disappointing when the pandemic forced mine to close their doors. Thankfully, most libraries have digital catalogues full of ebooks, audiobooks, and magazines. To check them out, all you need is a library card and Libby!

Library Collections

NYPL Ebooks Collection in Libby

Libby is divided into three sections: your Library, Shelf and current ebook. The Libary section is the quickest way to browse the breadth of content from your library, especially if you don’t have a specific read in mind. In short, it’s filled with curated reading lists, book club titles, and reading challenges to find your next read. You can also explore by what’s new and popular or by subject. If you already have a book or author in mind, hitting the search icon will help you find it in no time.

Selecting a book brings up its availability, a sample read, and the option to add a tag. You can also see hold times (if unavailable), audiobook versions (if available), and related subjects. Hitting the borrow button instantly adds the book to your Shelf, which we’ll dig into next.

Managing Ebooks On Your Shelf

Libby Shelf of Ebooks

The Shelf section is where you manage your loans, holds and tags. The main panel shows your recently read books, loans and account activity. You can see what ebooks you have on loan and track the status of your holds under their respective areas. Your holds show the estimated time remaining, your place in line, and more at glance.

Additionally, loans and holds can be sorted by various timing options or alphabetically. I sort my loans by due date and my holds by shortest wait time. This way, I can read a loan before it expires and know what’s coming next.

Ebooks Holds Management in Libby

Loans are returned automatically when the loan period is up. This helps you avoid late fees and also forces you to checkout books when you actually plan to read. On the other hand, all holds must be manually checked out when they become available. Libby gives you 3 days to borrow it, cancel the hold or deliver it later if you can’t read it when it’s available. After 3 days of indecision, Libby will redeliver your hold at a later date. If you wait too long a second time, the app will cancel your hold.

Reading Ebooks

Libby Ebook Reader

Ebooks can be read directly in Libby or via Amazon’s Kindle platform. If you’re unfamiliar with Libby’s reading experience, it’s easy on the eyes and has plenty of features to love. The app uses a mix of taps and swipes to navigate books, define words, and highlight sentences. You can customize the text, search within an ebook, and bookmark pages.

Additionally, the reading progress area has a few tricks up its sleeve. To start, tapping the page number toggles between your reading progress percentage. Tapping the current chapter will bring up the table of contents to quickly jump to another chapter. Similarly, tapping the sides of the chapter bar takes you right to the beginning of the previous or next chapter.

At the very bottom, a timeline bar plots your highlights and bookmarks. You can also “scrub” the bar to quickly jump between pages. When scrubbing, Libby also lets you quickly jump back to your previous spot. In fact, you can access an entire menu of “recent places” you’ve visited.

Audiobooks have similar features with the addition of adjusting the playback speed, setting a sleep timer, and more audio related options.

Reading Journey

Libby Ebook Reading Journey

Buried under “more details” of your loans, you’ll find your reading journey. It’s a little known, but standout feature in Libby that deserves more attention. Reading journey tracks your reading progress, highlights, notes and how many times you’ve checked out an ebook.

I love this section for the synopsis of my reading progress, which reveals how long I’ve been reading an ebook and when I might finish. It’s also a convenient place to revisit your notes, highlights and bookmarks after an ebook has been returned.

Audiobooks also have a reading journey, but it isn’t nearly as helpful. It shows all of the same information listed above, but can’t playback any of your highlights. Because of this, it’s pointless to visit the reading journey of audiobooks beyond learning your listening times.

I hope Overdrive, the makers of Libby, greatly improve this feature with audiobooks in a future update.

Read More With Libby

Overall, Libby is hands down the best library app ever made. It puts your local library’s digital catalogue in your pocket, letting you access and manage ebooks, audiobooks and more at anytime. It plays nice with Amazon’s Kindle platform (if you prefer it) and you can add multiple library cards (if you have them). Libby is available right now on Android, iOS and the web. Grab your library card and get a few more reads in before the year-end. Also, consider giving to your local library this upcoming Giving Tuesday (December 1st, 2020)!

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Corvida Raven

A natural pioneer at grasping the rapidly changing landscape of technology, Corvida Raven talks tech in plain English on SheGeeks.net.