A group of people standing in front of a big window looking at their phones

Library Love

The race to 1 million ebook checkouts is on


Oct 04, 2022

It’s been over 2 years since COVID-19 first hit, and a lot's changed. It’s hard to remember a world where masks weren’t a common occurrence and phrases like “social distancing” weren’t in the mainstream. During the height of the pandemic, more people than ever accessed their library’s digital collection to educate and entertain themselves while staying at home. While we may now have entered what they call the “new normal,” more readers continue to enjoy free access to ebooks and audiobooks in the Libby app, which has resulted in higher-than-ever digital circulation for many libraries. Some are reaching into the millions, and having some fun with it, too.

Reading toward checkout milestones

Libraries like the Ajax Public Library in Ontario are getting their library patrons involved in the fun by holding a race for readers. Obviously, everyone’s a winner when it comes to reading, but this race is a little different. Library staff are challenging patrons to work together to reach a big milestone: 1 million all-time ebook and audiobook checkouts from their digital collection.

To keep track of progress, they’ve add a live countdown on their website showing digital loans for each day and month, year-to-date and all-time. As they inch closer to 1 million, the library's handing out swag packs for mini-milestones along the way, and one lucky library user will receive a grand prize when they check out the millionth ebook or audiobook. At their current rate, Ajax Public Library estimates getting to the finish line around December, since many authors have big book releases in the fall, which will further boost circulation.

Just this year, another Canadian library, the Toronto Public Library, hit an all-time record of 50 million digital checkouts - the first library system in the world to ever do so. While the library noticed an uptick in pandemic-related subjects like cooking and crafting books for families stuck at home, they also cite accessibility as a big factor, with more people utilizing in-app features in Libby for the visually impaired.

The pandemic isn’t the only reason for increased checkouts

While the number of digital readers grew due to the pandemic, there are other factors that contributed to higher digital circulation among many libraries in recent years. Many students continue to use remote learning during illness or closures, leading to greater demand for juvenile and young adult digital titles. Strong interest in social justice titles and BIPOC authors continues to drive readership amid our current social and political climate.

More readers than ever are discovering audiobooks as well. Increasingly busy lives and the return of commuting mean that readers are able to get through more books by listening to them. With more and more people listening to podcasts, audiobooks are a natural extension for those seeking spoken entertainment.

Did your library hit 1 million?

Here’s a list of all the library systems worldwide that hit or surpassed that 1 million checkout milestone in 2021. Stay tuned to see who made the list in 2022!

9 million checkouts

Toronto Public Library

8 million checkouts

National Library Board Singapore

Los Angeles Public Library

7 million checkouts

King County Library System

MELSA: Twin Cities Metro eLibrary

The Ohio Digital Library

Wisconsin Public Library Consortium

5 million checkouts

New York Public Library

Greater Phoenix Digital Library

Tennessee READS

4 million checkouts

Multnomah County Library

Digital Downloads Collaboration

Seattle Public Library

Harris County Public Library

Maryland’s Digital Library


3 million checkouts

Calgary Public Library

Beehive Library Consortium

Mid-Continent Public Library

San Diego County Library

Auckland Libraries

Brooklyn Public Library

San Francisco Public Library

Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library

LA County Library

Sno-Isle Libraries

Boston Public Library

Ontario Library Service Consortium

North Carolina Digital Library

Sacramento Public Library

2 million checkouts


Cuyahoga County Public Library

Minuteman Library Network

Digital Library of Illinois

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

Midwest Collaborative for Library Services

Metropolitan Library System

Kentucky Libraries Unbound

San Antonio Public Library

Fairfax County Public Library

St. Louis County Library

Pikes Peak Library District

Edmonton Public Library

Denver Public Library

Las Vegas-Clark County Library District

Austin Public Library

Santa Clara County Library

Oregon Digital Library Consortium

Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative

Salt Lake County Library Services


Broward County Library

Washington County Cooperative Library Services

Ottawa Public Library

Indianapolis Public Library

Chicago Public Library

Nashville Public Library

Wake County Public Libraries


1 million checkouts

The Free Library of Philadelphia

Pierce County Library System

Nassau Digital Doorway

Montgomery County Public Libraries

Orange County Library System

Washington Anytime Library

British Columbia Libraries

South Australia Public Library Services

Vancouver Public Library

Saskatchewan Library Consortium

Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

OC Public Libraries

District of Columbia Public Library

Lee County Library System

Contra Costa County Library

New Hampshire State Library

Pima County Public Library

Buffalo & Erie County Public Library

Timberland Regional Library

Halifax Public Libraries

Mississauga Library System

Missouri Libraries 2Go

Hamilton Public Library

Bergen County Cooperative Library System

Arapahoe Library District

Fort Vancouver Regional Library District

Fraser Valley Regional Library

Baltimore County Public Library

Brisbane City Council Library Services

Kent District Library

San Jose Public Library

Georgia Download Destination

Westchester Library System

NC Kids Digital Library

Western Australia Public Libraries

Ocean State Libraries eZone

Hawaii State Public Library System


Northern California Digital Library


OK Virtual Library

Download Destination

Arkansas Digital Library Consortium

Douglas County Libraries

Peninsula Library System

Winnipeg Public Library

NorthNet Library System

Louisville Free Public Library

Albuquerque Bernalillo County Library System

eLibrary NJ

Dayton Metro Library

Fort Worth Public Library

Indiana Digital Download Center

Jacksonville Public Library

Libraries NI

Houston Public Library

Camellia Net Digital Catalog

Berlin, Verbund Öffentlicher Bibliotheken (VÖBB)

Nebraska OverDrive Libraries

Okanagan Regional Library

eIndiana Digital Consortium

The Libraries Consortium

Nominate your library to be featured in Libby Life

Nominate your library

Do you know a library or librarian that's going above and beyond to champion reading in their community?

Send in your nomination! They may be featured in the next post.


About the Author

Annie Suhy has been working in the book industry since 2006. When she’s not working, practicing yoga or petting cats, she’s doing paint-by-numbers or buying more plants. An avid poetry fan, her favorite collection is "The Splinter Factory" by Jeffrey McDaniel.


Never miss a post

Get the best in books straight to your inbox weekly!
Unsubscribe anytime!
Stay connected

Follow for updates on TwitterFollow for updates on InstagramFollow for updates on FacebookFollow for updates on TikTok