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49 Libraries Each Made More Than 1 Million Digital Loans in 2016

OverDrive’s ebook app may be so painful to use that they built and are beta-testing a new replacement, but that hasn’t stopped four dozen libraries from setting new records in lending ebook titles.

OverDrive announced today that 30 standalone public library systems and 19 library consortia in the U.S. and two other countries have set a new record for lending more than one million digital books in 2016. These 49 systems each achieved significant year over year circulation growth, and together surpassed the 32 systems that accomplished the feat in 2015.

The record-setting libraries achieved their success in a variety of ways. "We increased checkout and holds limits early in the year and lowered holds ratios periodically to get more copies in circulation," said Kady Ferris, Electronic Content Librarian from Multnomah County Library in Oregon. "We update curated collections on the OverDrive landing page frequently and featured a local author each month." Multnomah County Library is new to the "Million Checkout Club" and experienced 38 percent year-over-year growth.

Another first-time Million Checkout Library, Harris County Public Library (HCPL) in Texas, created a campaign specifically to reach one million checkouts and, as a result, enjoyed 34 percent growth in 2016. Michael Sapertstein, Branch Manager of Jacinto City Branch Library, who helped create the Project Mill-E program at HCPL, stated, "Part of the success was from getting management and staff excited about eBooks. It helped create a united front the staff could work towards.

See the complete list below, including five libraries above 3 million checkouts and seven libraries above 2 million.

3 million or more digital books circulated
Toronto Public Library (ON) +20% (standalone library)
King County Library System (WA) +21% (standalone library)
Wisconsin’s Digital Library (WI) +11% (consortia)
Greater Phoenix Digital Library (AZ) +12% (consortia)
The Ohio Digital Library (OH) +15% (consortia)

2 million or more digital books circulated
New York Public Library (NY) +28% (standalone library)
Los Angeles Public Library (CA) +44% (standalone library)
Seattle Public Library (WA) +12% (standalone library)
Tennessee READS (TN) +21% (consortia)
Digital Downloads Collaboration (OH) +17% (consortia)
Maryland’s Digital Library (MD) +14% (consortia)
Ontario Library Service Consortium (ON) +12% (consortia)

1 million or more digital books circulated
Hennepin County Library (MN) +20% (standalone library)
Cuyahoga County Public Library (OH) +8% (standalone library)
Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County (OH) +22% (standalone library)
Calgary Public Library (AB) +8% (standalone library)
Fairfax County Public Library (VA) +20% (standalone library)
San Francisco Public Library (CA) +23% (standalone library)
Multnomah County Library (OR) +38% (standalone library)
Broward County Library (FL) +13% (standalone library)
Boston Public Library (MA) +24% (standalone library)
Pikes Peak Library District (CO) +21% (standalone library)
Mid-Continent Public Library (MO) +25% (standalone library)
Indianapolis Public Library (IN) +19% (standalone library)
Sno-Isle Libraries (WA) +34% (standalone library)
County of Los Angeles Public Library (CA) +25% (standalone library)
Denver Public Library (CO) +26% (standalone library)
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (PA) +25% (standalone library)
Harris County Public Library (TX) +34% (standalone library)
Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative (FL) +16% (standalone library)
St. Louis County Library (MO) +17% (standalone library)
The Free Library of Philadelphia (PA) +12% (standalone library)
Brooklyn Public Library (NY) +21% (standalone library)
Orange County Library System (FL) +12% (standalone library)
Metropolitan Library System (OK) +8% (standalone library)
San Antonio Public Library (TX) +25% (standalone library)
Ottawa Public Library (ON) +9% (standalone library)
CLEVNET (OH) +16% (consortia)
Oregon Digital Library Consortium (OR) +9% (consortia)
North Carolina Digital Library (NC) +18% (consortia)
Kentucky Libraries Unbound (KY) +17% (consortia)
Lî (NY) +15% (consortia)
My Media Mall (IL) +1% (consortia)
Utah’s Online Library (UT) +39% (consortia)
Midwest Collaborative for Library Services (MI) +12% (consortia)
Houston Area Digital Media Catalog (TX) +17% (consortia)
Bridges (IA) +124% (started collection in July of 2015) (consortia)
Las Vegas-Clark County Library District (NV) +31% (consortia)
Auckland Libraries (NZ) +24% (consortia)

image by Jan David Hanrath


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Fbone January 18, 2017 um 2:30 pm

How does Maryland’s Digital Library with 22,000 titles have over 2 million downloads?

Lemondrop January 18, 2017 um 3:38 pm

Kobo’s purchase of Overdrive is looking smart. But how will control of Overdrive benefit them?

Mark Williams – The International Indie Author January 19, 2017 um 4:09 am

Kobo didn’t buy OverDrive. Kobo’s parent company Rakuten bought OverDrive.

But Kobo and OverDrive are now working in tandem.This from Kobo’s Mark Leslie Lefebvre.


Phase One Beta of the Kobo Writing Life to OverDrive testing was done in Q4 of 2016. It was minor (with virtually no "marketing" testing other than a small push for a couple of titles to measure the effect), but the results of having just over 200 titles pushed through was significant, with sales to libraries in CA, US, AU, NZ and MY so far.

I’m predicting some solid growth in that area for this year based on the current results. I was surprised to see librarians buying titles over the holidays (I’m used to seeing "traditional publishing" shut down from mid Dec to the end of the year).

Phase Two Beta is now in place – we’re now testing the author-controlled OPT-IN, manually setting unique USD LIBRARY PRICES — because indie authors can certainly offer incredible value to libraries that’s nowhere near the ridiculous over-charging that they’re seeing from trad pub, and yet indie authors can still set their library price a bit higher than their retail. IE, even if an indie author adds a few dollars to their library price, the library can likely still buy 3 or more indie titles for the price of one trad pub’d books – meaning they can better serve their readers.

Part of the marketing efforts from my own team in 2017 will involve how we can help librarians with two core things:

1) Finding great curated titles via both existing sales and existing reading data on titles from Kobo – ie, best-sellers in different categories, and best-read, ie, the titles that readers "burn through"

2) Assisting libraries with finding their "local authors" – ie authors who live within a country, state, province, city so that libraries can boast about the local author eBooks they have available to their customers.

Unfortunately, the entire beta is a manual and a slow process and none of those in beta can see live sales data – it’s currently manual reports emailed to authors. But by the time we get out of beta, we should have some decent automation and reporting in place for that.


Source – comments in The International Indie Author Facebook Group –

Anthony January 19, 2017 um 2:03 pm

Fbone: the library has 21,329 unique titles, but some of those have multiple copies. If you consider a popular title like 'Grey' has 73 copies. This means the site must be plowing a lot into buying multiple copies of popular titles.

ShellBell January 20, 2017 um 6:01 am

Although I know I’m not the only library patron to use Auckland Libraries digital library, I’m kinda surprised that they have had over 1 million eBook lends!

Top 5 Publishing Articles/Blog Posts of the Week 1/16-1/20 – Publishing Trends January 20, 2017 um 11:50 am

[…] In 2016, forty-nine library systems distributed over a million ebooks each. […]

Top 10 de Noticias: Enero 2017 | Anatomia de la edicion February 14, 2017 um 11:26 am


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