The classic OverDrive app helped make digital reading accessible to millions. Many discovered ebooks and audiobooks for the very first time through their library and the OverDrive app. The most common response after showing family or friends this new find was usually something along the lines of, “Is this for real?” or, “This is seriously free?” After my own introduction to the OverDrive app back in 2011, I would get a rush every time I borrowed a book. I never even moved from my living room couch! It felt like cheating. Although the OverDrive app will be discontinued in early 2023, the ability to borrow free ebooks and audiobooks from your library lives on.
The Libby app, also created by OverDrive, has wowed those same friends and family members since launching in 2017. Both apps allow you to check out the same great titles from your library, but Libby has a fresh design that's super easy to navigate, especially for first-time users. I still get that rush. I still maintain my position on the living room couch. And yes, it still feels like cheating.
Many readers (including me) agree that the Libby app has taken digital reading to the next level. The same creators who brought you the OverDrive app put a lot of time, energy, research and love into making Libby a state-of-the-art reading experience no matter your comfort level with technology. When my 90-year-old neighbor reluctantly agreed to try it, she was baffled that just a few taps on the iPad took her to the book she wanted, and just a few more made sure she could read it in large print.
I know for many who loved the OverDrive app, switching apps isn’t easy. Read on to learn how Libby has many of those same great features you loved so much about the OverDrive app.
If you have a Kindle, you can set your preferences to make sending ebooks to your device a little faster. Tap Settings, then tap Read with and select Kindle.
When browsing for titles, you can also choose to set a preference to filter your library’s catalog to only see books available to read on your Kindle.
Everybody needs a reminder now and then, so this welcomed feature lets you manage in-app notifications for things like expiring loans, books ready to borrow and new issues of your favorite magazine. Enjoy full control over which notifications you receive, and which you don’t.
You won’t lose that list! You can import your wish list from the OverDrive app into Libby. Plus, you can create tags to help you organize all the great books you find in Libby. Some of my tags include “Books I want to buy,” “Vacation books,” “Listen while I commute” and “Books to read to the kiddo.”
While Libby is for everyone, you can customize it to fit your own personal reading preferences. Set your preferences to filter and see only the content you want. Filter by Format (ebooks/audiobooks/magazines), Language, Audience or Availability to limit the titles you see while browsing. This can be particularly helpful if you're looking for a title to check out immediately, or if you’re only interested in a single format like audiobooks.
Bonus! When you’re borrowing all of these great books, you no longer have to download them manually to the OverDrive app bookshelf. By default, all books are downloaded for offline use (when you're on Wi-Fi).
Finding and discovering new books to read is one of the most magical experiences in a library. In Libby, you can use Guides to find the catalog broken down by categories. For instance, many libraries have guides for Magazines, Languages, Kids, Teens, Available Now, Inclusive Collections, and the list goes on. Check out all of the cool collections that your library has to offer.
To make the app an inclusive experience for readers, Libby supports screen readers for blind or low vision users. There are also many other features that allow you to customize the app and make Libby even more reader-friendly.
What was the name of that book I read last month? Nevermind, it’s in Libby! Libby’s Timeline allows you to see all your activity, like loans, holds and returns. You can also visit your “Borrowed” tag, which Libby automatically creates and syncs across all of your devices.
Your reading history in the OverDrive app won’t transfer to Libby, but you can export your history from your library’s collection or your list of downloads in the OverDrive app for your records.
If you like to jot down notes about what you’re reading or highlight special quotes or passages, you can do that in Libby, too, with the Notes & Highlights feature. You can even export them, so you’ll have them long after the book is returned.
Download the Libby app, follow the prompts for set up and keep on reading. Visit this page for more information about the OverDrive app sunset.
For more updates and Libby tips and tricks, subscribe to the weekly Libby Life email newsletter.