Does anyone offer ebooks in their church library?  I would like to do this, but have no idea where to start.  Any information would be greatly appreciated.

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Thank you to all who responded to my question.  I'm glad to hear that progress is being made to make eBooks affordable to small church libraries.  Unfortunately for our church library here, it’s still not quite attainable. 


Thanks again to everyone who responded.  And especially for Glenn who worked with Overdrive to make eBooks a little more affordable to church libraries.  I hope that the “trial church library consortium” will end up being permanent and offered all over the country!

THANKS for all the information on this.  I was excited to see the information on Overdrive.  Our church members want the capability to download Christian books.  I am going to present this to our administrator and see what they think about this idea.  The consortium is a phenomenal idea.  I sure hope it catches on.

I am excited about possibly forming a consortium here in Southern California, perhaps in conjunction with BIOLA or another Christian university.


I don't think the $750 rate would be unattainable for any church regardless of budget - my suggestion is that you maintain the regular collection for all your users, but have a separate fee-based subcription for your library users who have the Kindle or whatever to download the book. I would have a one month promotion with information, and get folks interested. Develop a list of prospective users and let them know that the more members you can line up, the lower the individual annual fee will be per person.  Remember that these are folks who have invested in the technology, and will be BUYING the books electronically unless & until they can "borrow" them from their church library, so it's not as if they can't afford to participate, and they will be saving money in the short run!

For example, if you have 25 people who want to participate, charge a first year fee of $30 per person (or household?), which gives you the $750 you need. If you have additional people who sign up later, you can prorate it any way you wish, but decide that in advance and have it in writing in your use policy. For ease of annual renewal, try to have all your subscriptions end in the last month and begin reminding folks to renew about 3 months before the end of the year.

If you start out with your full fee of $750 covered, then all the folks' fees that sign up after the first period can go into a (carry-over) fund for the following year. You can use those fees to reduce people's renewal price the 2nd year OR you can use the extra for other library needs!


I would also approach your church board and see if the board is willing to sponsor at least part of the fee since it may be likely that they will use the resources the most frequently of any members.


I would also keep a record of any ebook that is checked out frequently that is not just a flash hot pick that fades out quickly - perhaps it is a title that you would want a permanent copy of in the regular library holding as well. Keep in mind that ebook suppliers don't have "stock" in the traditional manner, so if they drop an ebook, it's gone. That's fine for current hot reads but for reference works or other books you expect to have call for over many years, you may also want a copy on your shelves.

I'd be interested in joining this consortium.  We are in Northern California.  Do you know if such a consortium has been created?  This idea is very intriguing and I would definitely join something like this.

Hi, Peter!

I'm part of a southern CA chapter, with Joanne, of the ECLA, The Evangelical Church Library Association.

Please tell us something about you and your church library - we'd love to get to know more California librarians!

Hi Deanna,

I'm the church librarian for San Jose Christian Alliance Church -  We have about 1000 members in our congregations.  I've been the church librarian for the past 14 months.  Currently, not too many people uses the library.  But I think if we can get this ebook going, it will generate lots of interest.  Would love to hear about your library and how far along you are in providing ebooks to your members.



The problem with this is that it costs less to get their own personal subscription to audiobook or something. My local public library offers kindles for check out, so also people would go to something like that over paying for my library fee. For some the overdrive cost is still unattainable, if it still sits at 750. I have looked at the website, however, and can't seem to find a price or library sign up sheet anywhere.

Buford, thanks for the article - will read it soon and investigate.

Have you looked into it very much?

Especially to see how many Christian titles are in there?

I'm also wondering if you plan to use this service and if you do, please let us know how it progresses in 2012.

I certainly can see our library sending high quality books that we weed out because of duplicates to them for the sake of getting good Christian content in there.

Could not reach this site.

I took a look tonight and my guess is that unless they develop a separate "Christian" book section, it would be useless for church libaries. I'm still very concerned about the copyright issues - if they can scan the books page by page, these must be books past the copyright dates, which would make them older titles. In our church library we usually circulate (and most people come in for) the more recent titles. Our library is used almost exclusively by the laity - the pastoral staff have their own resources, so our collection is much less "academic" and we cater to the general congregation, which wants about half fiction and half nonfiction/children's items/DVDs. Most of what we currently circulate is still under copyright.

I have looked at the site "Open Library" - still a bit confused, but it seems there are two collections, a Free ebook collection (mainly older titles) and also a "lending library" collection where newer titles ARE available, to be borrowed one at a time.

I have just signed up to try to borrow a book, so I will let you know when I get approved to do it.  I did a search of Karen Kingsbury - only 1 title.  John MacArthur - over 12 titles.

I'll post some more after a day or two!


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