eBook Lending

Cara Shelton Asks:

I am wondering if anyone has figured out the e-book lending thing? We have many requests for e-books and for audible books. I am not either an e-book or audible book fan, so this is a whole new territory for me.  I'm still in the "audio book on CD" phase of things. 

Public libraries loan out both e-books and audible-type MP3 formats.  Can we? How?

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  • We added ebooks and audiobooks in May 2022 as a stand-alone church library. Spoke with Glenn McEowen as I researched the possibilities of consortium or stand-alone and he was very helpful.  Our local regional library already had ebooks and e-audioboks available and their circulation in that category increased dramatically during the Pandemic.  The Regional Acquisitions department head was on our library staff and led us through the process.  

      We also use OverDrive's Libby access and the entry point was affordable.  We used our gift funds to get started and added e-items to our budget for 2023.  We have started small and continue to add ebooks and e-audiobooks.  For the 9 months we have made e-materials available they represent 7% of our checkout statistics.  

       We have been using an online catalog since 1996.


  • Hi Cara!

    It has been awhile since we have discussed ebooks so you are bringing up a popular topic that keeps changing. If you search the word "ebooks" in the search field at the top of your CLN screen, you will find 41 posts on the subject. Or click here to see if that list will open for you. Some of that information is now out of date as you scroll through the list. Some if not many of our CLN members are lending ebooks. I hope they will update us all on their experiences with ebooks. Others  recommend Libby to those who ask for ebooks.


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    • In the public library world, groups of libraries go together in a "consortium" to pool their resources and provide a wider selection of ebooks.  I don't know the cost, but it could be that church libraries might be able to follow the same model and share in the cost.  The members of the group do not have to be located near each other. 


      • Our church library is in an ebook consortium with other church libraries in our county. While we have had this arrangement with OverDrive for over 10 years, I can say it was not easy to set up initially. We had to have every library to agree to the contract amount within a narrow window of time, and the totals of all the contracts had to reach an Overdrive-imposed minimum before the consortium could "make." (“Herding cats” comes to mind.)

        And, Pam, while technically the churches do not need to be near each other, OverDrive was adamant that they all be within our one county. 

        So, once we hit the goal, Overdrive worked with us to get everything set up, all of us trained, purchasing processes established with our ebooks/audiobooks available in our own consortium's catalog ready to be checked out. That part was fun!

        One of the great and also problematic things with a consortium is that each library shares all of the ebooks purchased by every library. This gives us access to many more titles than we could afford by ourselves. Sometimes, though, titles are added that our own library would not have purchased. That hasn't been much of a problem for us, but other consortia have had real issues with this. 

        I understand that the costs for stand-alone church libraries have dropped since we started our consortium years ago. That would be the first option to consider now because it is so much easier to implement, and a library will have full control of the titles in its collection. Contact OverDrive for pricing. 

        While there are other vendors, we use Overdrive as our ebook/audiobook vendor because:

        • It has a very good selection of publishers that we typically use in our church libraries
        • Most of its materials are available for Kindles
        • It has ways to provide user authentication that work with any church library application. (This is technical, but it is a big deal!)
        • Overdrive is the most common vendor serving most public and school libraries. Many people probably already have the "Libby" reader app on their devices.

        While this may not be important to most CLN members, a church without a traditional library can maintain an ebook-only library for its members. I know one church that does just that.

      • Yes there are church library consortiums. I'll see if we can get an update on that. 

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