Library Extension Turns Amazon.com Into a Branch of Your Local Library

A reader has tipped me to a Chrome extension which lets users browse Amazon.com and see if a book or ebook is available at their local library. It’s called Library Extension, and you can find it in the Chrome Web Store and in the Firefox Add-Ons.

library extension amazon overdrive

Library Extension has been around since at least January 2013, but it just got discovered again in 2020. I think it’s a great way to reuse one of the better designed bookstore sites, but I do wish it weren’t still so limited.

It works with OverDrive, CloudLibrary, Axis360, and Hoopla. The developer also told me that support for RBDigital and BorrowBox should be added by the end of January 2020.

Once installed (and configured), simply browse book or ebook listings on Amazon.com, and Library Extension will insert an extra widget above the buy button with info on whether your library has the title in its catalog. For some libraries, you will also see results from the library’s audiobook, movie, music, and print book catalogs.

LibEx works with a lot of libraries in the US, Canada, and Australia, but not all. It can check a library’s ebook catalog with OverDrive and Hoopla, and in many cases it can also check a library’s print catalog (which is a lot harder than it sounds).

If it finds a match it will offer the option of checking out the ebook or placing a hold

I just tested it with a Harry Potter book, and LibEx found the audiobooks, ebook, and print books offered by my local library. (Only the print books were available, of course).

Do you use this plugin?

Thanks, Tom!

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

21 Comments

  1. Juli Monroe21 May, 2015

    That is an awesome discovery! Saves me a step when looking up a book. My usual progression is 1. Check Scribd. 2. Check library. Cuts out a step, and if it’s in my library, and I’m not in a rush, I can skip Scribd.

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder21 May, 2015

      It does cut out a step, doesn’t it? Now I just have to have a single tab open, and not two.

      Reply
      1. Andrew A21 May, 2015

        Hi,

        Author of the extension here! So glad to hear that you find it useful! I’m working on some improvement that will allow it to work on additional sites (like Goodreads, etc) and provide some richer details on the match details! I’m always happy to hear feedback and new library additions and feature suggestions (I’ve been getting a few thanks to this post, and will try to get to as many of them as quickly as I can!)

        Reply
        1. Juli Monroe22 May, 2015

          If you could add Scribd/Oyster to the library additions, that would be awesome. I don’t know if they are open enough to allow your extension access, but that would give me everything I need in one place.

          Goodreads would be great too!

          Reply
          1. Andrew A22 May, 2015

            Juli,

            Great ideas! I’ll see if I can get those on my backlog for future consideration!

            Reply
        2. Nate Hoffelder22 May, 2015

          Welcome! I’m glad it’s bringing additional attention. I think more people should use it.

          Reply
  2. Elaine21 May, 2015

    Thanks! This will be especially helpful when publishers decide to price ebooks for insane amounts of money.

    Reply
  3. August Wainwright22 May, 2015

    Hmm, just imagine if you could achieve the exact same results for indie authors. Like maybe via the eBooksAreForever.com API (shameless self plug).

    Seriously, Andrew, this is really awesome.

    Any plans to add a similar FF extension?

    Reply
    1. Andrew A22 May, 2015

      Yes! Though I can’t promise on any dates, I am hoping to release versions for both Safari and Firefox in the coming months!

      Reply
  4. Fliss C28 May, 2015

    Any chance that Library extension will come to the UK?

    Reply
    1. Andrew A28 May, 2015

      Hi Fliss,

      The biggest challenge is often the catalog software in use at a particular library – if it is not already one that I have added support for, then it may take a while (at the moment) to get that library added with my current roadmap. But feel free to submit a request on the website and I’ll be happy to take a look!

      Reply
  5. […] the past few years we've seen Chrome plugins that let you browse Amazon and check books out of your local library, borrow books on Oyster's (now defunct) ebook service, or reverse showroom […]

    Reply
  6. Darryl12 April, 2019

    I’ve been using this extension for years now and it’s fantastic. If any particular library’s software is supported the Developer has always added it within days of request, at least in my experience. It simply never occurred to me that so many dedicated readers of e-books had not discovered it. I’m glad it has come up now in any event.

    Reply
  7. Anne Marble19 April, 2019

    It’s available on Firefox now! 🙂

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder19 April, 2019

      oh, is it? The website said it was still in the works.

      Thanks!

      Reply
  8. Faith8 January, 2020

    My library does participate and I would love to be able to use this feature. Unfortunately, I don’t have a desktop or laptop. I only have my iPads and iPhone.

    Is there any chance that this will be available for mobile devices sometime in the future?

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder8 January, 2020

      I think they assume that if you’re going to be on your mobile device you will just open the library’s app instead of Amazon’s?

      Reply
  9. Scott10 January, 2020

    I’ve been using this for years. It’s saved me a lot of money.

    Reply

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