Fort Worth, TX - July 29, 2012 - “Since my eyesight has gotten so bad, I had quit coming to the library,” commented a senior adult to the library staffer at Wedgwood Baptist Church. She was one of the first to sign up for the library’s new eBook check out service. “Now you have eBooks.” she continued, “I can read those on my iPad®. I just make the letters big enough to see. I love it! Thank you.”


This week, six Baptist church libraries in Texas began offering their members eBooks, the downloadable, electronic format used on popular readers such as Kindles®, Nooks® and iPads®. They are the first church libraries in the nation to offer eBooks according to their service vendor, OverDrive.


"We realized our church members currently download their eBooks from public libraries and online stores. While nothing is wrong with that, we thought it was important to provide an alternate source that is family-safe and Christian-focused, much like we do for traditional print books," said Ruthe Turner, librarian at First Baptist Church, Dallas


To manage the eBook services, two consortia were formed to share the costs and the collection of eBook titles as well as audiobooks, music and video titles. One consortium, the Tarrant Baptist Libraries Digital Collection includes Birchman, Glenview, North   Richland Hills and Wedgwood Baptist churches. The other consortium, the Dallas/Rockwall Church Library Digital Collection, includes First Baptist Dallas and Park Cities Baptist churches.


“Anybody know a place to legally download Christian audiobooks for free?” read a vacationing college student’s Facebook post. A Wedgwood library staffer, in a return Facebook comment, was able to direct him to his church's new eBook service. It includes, in addition to eBooks, audiobooks, music and video in downloadable digital formats.  


The use of an outside service vendor was essential because the digital download process is highly technical. The two church consortia chose to work with OverDrive, the service used by most public and school libraries.


OverDrive is a leading full-service digital distributor of eBooks, audiobooks, music, and video. It delivers secure management, DRM protection, and download fulfillment services for hundreds of publishers and thousands of libraries, schools, and retailers serving millions of end users. OverDrive has been named to the EContent 100 as a company that matters most in the digital content industry. Founded in 1986, OverDrive is based in Cleveland, OH.

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  • I would love to know of any church libraries in CANADA using ebooks!

  • I would love an update on this process.  Has it been working well for you?  How expensive is it?


    • Jackie, we have been using ebooks (and audio books) in our church library for nearly 10 years now. It is now so much a part of our ministry that we expect to maintain it for the foreseeable future. The annual cost of the service has now become a part of our library budget, quite an affirmation, since the early years were paid with donations.

      We have discovered that ebooks serve different group of members from our "regular" customers. Some travel, some have limited mobility, some just prefer ebooks over print books or just getting books in the middle of the night. Our ebook usage increased greatly during COVID … go figure!

      While my church is in a consortium (a group of church libraries that share the cost and the collection) our vendor, Overdrive, seems to prefer working with stand-alone libraries. Most churches I know are using the OverDrive stand-alone service.

      As for an update on cost, I do not have that information. You will have to contact OverDrive directly and work with a representative. Our cost was based on our church membership count. The annual fee sets aside 1/2 to 2/3 of it for ebook purchases. The other portion pays for the service itself. I think OverDrive provides outstanding service, well worth the cost.

      You might also look at Bibliotheca (formerly 3M Cloud Library) a vendor I know of that is serving church libraries.  

  • Congratulations to these two Texas consortia for being on the cutting edge of technology where many of our church members already are. This is a huge step forward for church libraries, Christian authors, and publishers! Please share updates on your project as you go through the promotion and adoption phases by your church members...

  • Lynda, you noted that some users are actually reading eBooks on their phones. I tried reading on my phone and discovered, very much to my surprise, that it was a GREAT reading experience. I prefer my Samsung Tab 7" (similar to the Kindle Fire) over my phone reader, but not by much.

  • We are hoping to add e-books to our church library in 2013.   My husband and I went to our public library this weekend to learn how their system worked so we could download stuff to our phones.  I see now why people are so enthralled with these.

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