Did you know that in many cases, there are library systems that allow anyone in the state to obtain a card even if they don’t live in the same city or county? Generally you have to go in person to apply for a library card, but after the events of 2020, many libraries have changed their policies to allow you to get a card online.
Some of these cards only allow patrons to check out digital materials. However, if you don’t live near the library, this won’t matter much to you as the digital materials are probably what you’re looking for.
Why would you want cards to multiple libraries? More resources, of course! You will probably want to check to see which digital catalog the location uses before applying. Some libraries in my state (Ohio) use the same Overdrive catalog, and thus doesn’t really expand my choices.
Overdrive is one of the major digital book services that libraries use to give their patrons access to ebooks and audiobooks as well as some movies. They have two apps, the original Overdrive app and the newer Libby app, which some find to be more user-friendly. Both allow you to access digital media that you’ve checked out from your library.
When checking out a book using Overdrive, you often have a few different choices about how you can read your books.
For ebooks, you can read them in your browser or on the built-in e-reader on the apps or you can download PDF or Epub files to read on your computer or e-reader app. My favorite way is to use the Kindle version, which is available for most books. I have my Kindle apps synced with Goodreads to keep track of highlights and books read. (Highlights stay on Goodreads even after you have returned the book, so you can reference them later! This is the main reason why I choose the Kindle version.)
Audiobooks can be listened to on your browser or in the apps. Some can be downloaded to your computer as MP3 files, but it depends on your operating system. I definitely like to use the apps on my smartphone to listen.
Overdrive operates borrows like the library does for physical books. The library can buy certain numbers of digital copies and when they’re checked out to someone else, you have to place a hold on them. They will email you when a book comes available.
Another service that many libraries use is Hoopla. Hoopla offers many books that I can’t seem to find on Overdrive and their movie selection is much bigger. Unlike Overdrive, Hoopla’s digital media can be checked out even if someone else has borrowed it. However, the number of items you can check out in a month is limited. My local library allows ten per month and I know of another library that allows only four per month.
I also love using non-book resources. One library allows me to access old copies of The London Times newspaper, and my local library allows access to Newspaper Archive. Another library allows me to use Newspapers.com (although not every newspaper is available).
Since genealogy and history are hobbies of mine, I LOVE having access to some of these resources.
If you are an avid reader or like to listen to books, definitely check out other libraries in your state to see if you qualify for a card.