Libraries in Canada and the United States are experiencing an influx of new memberships due to digital library cards. This is a relatively new initiative that Overdrive launched the service in 2017. Patrons can sign-up for a card using their smartphone and start borrowing audiobooks and ebooks via the main Overdrive app or Libby.
Last year, public libraries and schools loaned 274 million digital books using OverDrive technologies and apps, a 22% increase over the previous year and the highest growth rate since 2015. New Instant Digital Card holders from leading public libraries, including San Antonio Public Library and Sacramento Public Library, generated over 200,000 additional loans of their materials last year.
Digital library cards are responsible for a loan increase of 15% from all libraries and on average, 5-15% of these libraries’ digital checkouts are coming from new digital card holders. The people who using the cards aren’t one-time users, but rather heavy readers in these library systems that are contributing to circulation boosts.
Heather Eddy, a Collection Development & Acquisitions Librarian at Kern County Library, was pleased with her library’s experience using this “alternate ID option.” “Instant Digital Cards have helped Kern County Library increase circulation and facilitate our user experience at a significant cost savings,” she said. “While it can cost upwards of $4-$6 in staff time & resources to create a standard card – not to mention cost and time for the borrower to come to the library — for only 90 cents this digital card can take place much faster and easier. Since it’s gone live, we’ve hardly given it a thought except to maintain statistics. We can see it’s being used regularly and we are VERY happy with the convenience!”
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.