It’s often noted that if the public library was invented today, it would never fly. IP lawyers would immediately snap to attention, cable news pundits would declare it a socialist handout, and neighborhood associations would object to a social services agency being built in their backyards. Thankfully, a now-unthinkable coalition of activists and philanthropists, most notably steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, built thousands of these great institutions over the past couple centuries.
In this century, much of the content that libraries housed has now been made accessible digitally. And while the library itself is still a wonderful institution to visit, this continual revolution has allowed them to extend their reach beyond their four walls. The result is possibly the most delightful little free mobile app on the market: Libby.
Libby, developed by longtime digital distributor Overdrive, allows you to download ebooks and audiobooks from your library for free. Simply enter your library card info, browse for your next read, and borrow a digital copy for free. Most ebooks can even be read in your Kindle app or your dedicated eReader hardware.
You do need a library card to access the app, and you can have access to multiple libraries at once if you are a member of more than one. Beyond Libby, you should definitely get yourself one if you don’t already – as a wise aardvark once said, having fun isn’t hard when you have a library card. The New York Public Library, the Queens Public Library, and the Brooklyn Public Library are free and open to all residents of New York state, and a number of other states have similarly wide-open eligibility.
Maybe you’re like me and prefer a physical copy of your books. Despite having 1-2 “real” books on rotation at any time, I have found that having a “phone” book that I can pop into while waiting for the train has been the best antidote for mindless scrolling through social media. Libby makes that free and easy – it’s low commitment, if I don’t like what I borrowed I just go download something else.
PS. If you’re looking for a great audiobook for some upcoming fall or winter roadtrips, we’ve recently loved some comedian memoirs read by the authors themselves: