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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Interesting idea. I can't help but you might check with your public library. Overdrive supplies the ebook services for Centre County Libraries. You can check Overdrive at 

Please keep us informed on what you learn.

Check with Glenn McEowen at PC Card Catalog (Library He has done quite a bit of research on possibilities for e-books for church libraries. See the ad in the right side bar on this page--you can contact him through a click on that ad.
At Ridgecrest, Glenn held a class on this. He mentioned that there was a bit of hurdle to overcome. He and Bill from ConCourse were working to get that resolved.  So, yes, please talk to Glenn.

All, I have done a fair amount of research on this, too.  You can't really do this right now due to issues similar to copyright infringements but for digital data.  There are 2 exceptions.  1) If you are a paid subscriber to a service like Overdrive, which is the best one I have found for Christian works.  2) If you are offering titles that are public domain and not covered by copyright laws.


If you want option 2, check out Project Gutenberg.  You can at least play with it to see how it would mesh with your system and how to set it up with an eye to the future.  Most of these titles, though, are ridiculously old and you might find very little to no demand for them.


If you want option 1, prepare a VERY GOOD proposal for your leadership.  The last time I checked, Overdrive was charging $6000 per year for subscriptions.  I am guessing that is out of most of our league.


Interestingly, Overdrive does now have a 'teaser' on their website that they have started offering flexible pricing schedules for smaller libraries and consortia, but I sent a request for information three weeks ago and still have not gotten a response.  If you find out anything, please let all of us know as we all want in!!!!

First, for a number of reasons, I agree: Overdrive is the most practical eBook service for church libraries wanting to check out copyrighted eBooks and MP3 audio books.

Overdrive has long provided arrangements for small, special libraries, as has been noted here. The costs, however, are prohibitive to most church libraries. We were hoping that Overdrive would consider allowing us to create a group of churches (a "consortium") to share the costs as they have done with school districts and community libraries.

To our delight, Overdrive has just now committed to a "trial" church library consortium. The process is in its early stages, so our experience is limited. We do know this about the trial:
      ** The church group will include Baptist churches in two Texas counties, Dallas and Rockwall.
      ** 2/3 of the annual cost will go to purchasing titles for the "consortium" collection. Each library in the group will be able select and purchase titles proportional to its annual fee.
      ** The "consortium" collection titles are equally available to each library's patrons. (Consider this remarkable value: pay for, say, 60 titles yet have access to 700! ... and that's just the first year!)
      ** The "consortium" will coordinate such things as loan terms and, very important, avoiding too many duplicate titles.
      ** The annual pricing is based on tiers of church enrollment. (I'm pretty sure the Annual Church Profile will be the reference.) Here are some of the tiers Overdrive has proposed:
           0 to 1000 members: $ 750/yr
           1001 to 3000 members: $1500/yr
           3001 to 6000 members: $3000/yr
           6001 to 10000 members: $4500/yr
[Need I say, these prices are subject to change. They do reflect the current contract, though.]

As you can see, this service is not cheap, but, I feel, it is attainable. I am pleased that Overdrive has been so gracious. Honestly, this is a remarkable arrangement for churches!

As for other church libraries in other areas, Overdrive has assured us it is planning to expand after it has had some actual "church consortium" experience.

Glenn, woohoo!! This is great news.  Perhaps we are on the way.  My own church probably has between 1001 and 3000 members, but this price would still be way over my budget.  In my situation, we have many members that just don't utilize the library for whatever reason.  It would be much better for me if they looked at registered library patrons.  Any chance of that?  Haha.  Are they counting kids in this number too?



Good question about using the library patron count. We tried that one with Overdrive, and it didn't fly. In their defense, they charge county consortiums on population, and I'm pretty sure most residents do not have library cards.  It seems to like a similar screnario.


Counting children? Oh, yes, they should be counted! With schools adopting iPads, with the expanded publishing of chidren's eBooks, with many picture eBooks for pre-school, I'm thinking children may become one of our larger groups using church eBook services.


I don't mean to dismiss the substantial budget hit that eBook services will be to most church libraries. It will be a hit for our church library, too. But now may be the time to help your budget committee understand the urgency. Adults and children already get their eBooks somewhere...shouldn't it be be in the safety of the church library? (Take a look at your public library eBook's scary!) And you might also highlight the great deal you get for your expediture...700 or so current titles added each year for your $1500 annual cost. Sounds like a "deal" to me.


Glenn, it does to me, too.  Maybe someday for the future...   I am saddened to say I don't even have a $500 annual budget for my library at this time.  I will keep it in prayer.  Thanks a bunch for your great info.

I don't have a budget like that either.  In fact, I requested $600.00 for this years' budget, but it was cut to $200.00 because of the terrible economy.  There are lots of cuts being made in all areas this year at our church.  Two hundered is not much.  I hope to have enough for at least my necessities.


Glenn, would that give us access to even secular titles?  

I had given a lot of thought over the past 2 years about this issue.  Is there perhaps any way they might consider other options?  Maybe an even lower tier pricing that somehow restricts access to everything except Religion titles, Christian living, etc.?  Or even some sort of pricing system where we pay a flat fee for a set number of downloads, like say $500 a year and you get 100 downloads.  Once your library reaches 100 downloads you are cut off until the next year.  Are they open to considering other ideas like these?

Yes, thanks so much, Glenn, for your work!

Is there a web site or two that you'd recommend for us to learn the details and options for lending ebooks?  There is so much that I don't know, and I need to get moving on this whole issue now, as we have many teens and adults who are savvy with technology here in southern California, and our pastors want to know what we can do for them in our library.

Thanks for your help,

Deanna King

Santa Clarita, CA

I'm sorry, I don't know of any websites that provide a good tutorial on the topic of eBooks. I would suggest, as Buford Carter did earlier in this thread, that you spend some time at the Overdrive site (

Also, there is an "eBook Update" article in the "Articles of Interest" section on the CLN homepage. It includes the most current information about the work with Overdrive and a few suggestions for getting your library ready.

For some of our workshops we assembled a Q&A eBook brochure. I would be glad to send you a PDF if you (or anyone else) want to contact me direct (




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