Demystifying Libby

Published on June 05, 2024

A library customer is gazing down at her digital tablet with a look of consternation

By Catherine L.

A peek behind the curtain 

Books on Libby are so convenient. They’re no cost to you, and you don’t have to go anywhere to get them. It makes sense that they’re popular and getting even more so.  

In 2023, we saw a 30% increase in digital checkouts, and use has almost doubled in the last 5 years.  

A bar graph shows levels of circulation of library materials, both physical and digital.

The cost of print books for libraries is generally comparable to what they are for the public (you!). But digital books do not work the same at all. 

Libraries are required to buy licenses for the digital versions of books. Licensing options can vary wildly, but the cost is almost always several times more than what someone would pay for their personal use, and most of ours also expire.  This is causing many libraries nationwide to struggle to afford eBooks and eAudio altogether, not just on Libby.

To balance the high demand and high costs, we’ve just made the change to allow 10 checkouts at a time on Libby, beginning June 10. Reducing the maximum number of checkouts for each customer from 15 to 10 will free up more titles for use. This will, in turn, lower the number of holds customers need to place on titles and help us maintain reasonable wait times. 


How to maximize your efficiency

  • In Libby, keep track of your TBR without having to check things out or place holds by using tags.
  • Did all your holds come in at once? Happens to the best of us. Instead of attempting to tackle 10 books at a time, choose “deliver it later.” This preserves your place in line, but allows you to finish your current read first.
  • Let Libby send you a push notification. Don’t miss a hold or forget about a book that's about to expire!
  • Sample or preview. An audiobook narrator’s voice is a make-or-break situation. Tap “Preview” or “Read Sample” to give you a taste without using a checkout.
  • Increase your audiobook speed to get through your book faster! (Your chipmunk-voice tolerance may vary.)
  • Pay it forward and return your book early! The next person in line gets to read it sooner. You’ll appreciate it when it’s your turn!
  • Supplement your Libby content with hoopla, especially Bonus Borrows or BingePass content which you never have to wait for. Choose from a list of special titles:
    • BingePass allows you to check out whole collections of content with just one borrow.
    • Bonus Borrows cost both you and the library nothing. These are available during the last week of every month. Check the hoopla announcements for each month’s free titles.
    • Not familiar with hoopla? Download the app: iOS | Android

Have a question? Ask a librarian for help. We’re happy to show you how to use any of these features.

Finally, in case there’s any doubt, we want you to use our collection. Use of your public library saves you $$$ and keeps libraries thriving. Our customers are simply the best, and your help in managing the exorbitant costs of digital content is much appreciated.