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  • Writer's pictureKit Eyre

Can You Request eBooks for a Library?

The ability to borrow eBooks from your library’s catalogue is one of the best-kept secrets in modern reading.

Many of us still think of libraries as places to pick up physical books, but they’ve moved beyond just that - it’s now possible to access heaps of resources online, including eBooks.

Most libraries in the UK use services like Libby (provided by the Overdrive) and BorrowBox to deliver eBooks to their residents. The specific arrangements your local authority will have and how extensive their catalogue is will vary, but it’s definitely worth investigating if you read digitally.

Personally, in the past, I’ve used the Libby app on my iPad, which was a brilliant reading experience. Not too complicated and I’m confident most people could get their heads around it.

But some libraries take it a step further and allow residents to get involved in developing the eBook catalogue. In the same way that you can request physical books to be added to your library, you might also be able to influence which eBooks they offer.

Librarians generally love input from residents on the type of books they want to read. They actively solicit recommendations - there’s no point having books available if no one wants to read them!

There’s a guide on the Overdrive website to requesting books via your library, although your local library might have different guidelines, so be sure to check if you’re unsure.

From an indie author’s perspective, the potential for getting into libraries is part of why we choose to take our books wide.

Libraries are a gateway to a whole new set of readers, including people who would much rather try for free before they buy. While authors can help with this by offering giveaways and budget books, seeing something in a library catalogue is more social proof that taking a chance on this book could be a good idea.

As an LGBTQ+ author, this is even more important. Books featuring minorities are often poorly represented in library catalogues. Usually, this is not a result of overt biases, more than libraries don’t completely understand the needs of their readers - and the readers aren’t always telling them.

So, one thing you can do for your favourite indie authors is see if your local library accepts eBook recommendations and pitch for them.

A good way to see if an author’s books are could be recommended to your library is by searching for them on the website of your library’s catalogue provider. Most wide authors will opt in to library distribution for their eBooks, so it’s a good bet that many of your favourite indies will be there.

Support your libraries and support the next generation of readers! I remember how hard it was trying to find anything interesting to me as a LGBTQ+ teen. Sad to say, eBooks at the library weren’t an option then - I wonder how diverse my reading might’ve been if they were.

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