Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh breaks record with nearly two million digital book checkouts | Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh breaks record with nearly two million digital book checkouts

click to enlarge Libby digital library app - PHOTO: RAKUTEN OVERDRIVE
Photo: Rakuten OverDrive
Libby digital library app
There’s no denying the allure of a physical book – that distinct smell of the pages, which changes depending on a title’s age, the sound of a new spine cracking, the satisfying feel of flipping a page. But even those most resistant to digital media can’t dismiss the convenience and accessibility of eBooks and audiobooks, especially when you can get them from a local library for free with just the tap of an app. As a new milestone demonstrates, this is definitely felt by patrons of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP).

CLP announced that, in 2019, they had a record-breaking 1.9 million digital book checkouts through the digital reading platform, Rakuten OverDrive, and its app, Libby. Launched by CLP in 2005, the OverDrive-powered digital collection provides readers “24/7 access to eBooks and audiobooks,” according to a press release.

Hilary Lewis, coordinator of eResources at CLP, says the library has seen digital book checkouts grow every year since the OverDrive rollout.


“We are very excited to celebrate close to two million checkouts in 2019,” says Lewis. “We appreciate our staff who promote our collection and our customers who enjoy reading.”

CLP is not alone in this accomplishment, as Rakuten OverDrive reported that, in 2019, it was among the Top 25 public library systems worldwide in total digital circulation, and one of 73 systems that surpassed one million checkouts.

Among the most popular titles borrowed digitally through CLP include Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, Becoming by Michelle Obama, Educated by Tara Westover, Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty, and Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng. Becoming, Educated, and Where the Crawdads Sing were also among the most popular audiobooks, along with You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

CLP cardholders are able to access the digital collection by downloading the OverDrive or Libby app on Android and Apple devices, Chromebooks, eReaders like Kindle, and Windows. Like regular books, all titles are subject to checkout periods, as well as limited availability (readers can reserve titles on a waitlist and automatically get them once they become available).


Unlike regular books, eBooks and audiobooks are returned automatically once the checkout period is up, which means there are no late fees (which, to be fair, some CLP branches have eliminated them). Readers can also download titles onto Libby for offline use.

CLP cardholders can download the OverDrive or Libby app for free.

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