Best Library Apps: How to Utilize Your Library from Anywhere

The power of the library in the palm of your hand.


Fun fact: I used to work at a library part-time as a concierge, which is a fancy way of saying library assistant.

It was hands-down, one of my favorite jobs that I’ve had.

The library has always been my favorite place.

As someone who has dealt with chronic illness since childhood, books have been my way of living a life outside of my temperamental body. Books have taken me on adventures, taught me lessons, given me camaraderie, and quelled my sadness. So, to be able to work in a library was an incredible experience.

Why don’t I still work there? Well, I got in my accident in 2015, and I, unfortunately, wasn’t able to heal fast enough to go back in the time frame allotted. I did eventually go back to volunteer once I was able, but then, I had to have another surgery, so at that point, I knew it was time to just walk away completely. It still bums me out at times, but even if I don’t work in a library, I will always be an outspoken library advocate.

So, my favorite way to utilize the library now is through apps. (Though, when we’re not in the midst of a global pandemic, I do like to take my son to our local library once a week to checkout books, participate in programs, and spend time reading in the quiet.)

The Best Library Apps

Libby Libby is powered by the library app favorite, Overdrive. Libby is an immersive and easy to utilize app to access your library’s online selection of e-books and audiobooks. Libby is available on Android and IOS. I, personally, have it downloaded on my Android smartphone and my iPad, and it is able to sync my content between both devices. Libby also allows you to utilize more than one library card at a time, so you are able to expand the content that is available to you. The help and support tabs are easy to use and help guide through the technical aspects of the app. There are also a great deal of options when reading content to adjust text size and the background color to help with reading ease. As someone with a structural eye issue, the ability to enlarge print size is invaluable!

RBdigitalRBdigital is a digital magazine service, but it also has a selection of e-books, audiobooks, comics, and it is home to The Great Courses Library Collection and AcornTV. I love RBdigital! I am able to read issues of my favorite magazines like The New Yorker, Popular Science, and National Geographic. I prefer to have this app on my iPad, just because I find it easier to read magazines on a bigger screen, but it is also nice to utilize in on my smartphone and the actual website on my laptop as well.

HooplaHoopla is a unique digital media service that allows you to use your library card to check out audiobooks, e-books, comics, as well as, tv, movies, and music. Hoopla is awesome! My local library allows me to have 8 checkouts per month. I tend to utilize Hoopla for audiobooks and new music on my smartphone and iPad, though I do also have it linked to my Roku for the odd tv show or movie I find interesting. That is another awesome feature that you are able to link Hoopla to your home streaming device including: Roku, FireTV, AppleTV, and ChromeCast.

Final Thoughts

There may be more, but these are definitely my favorite and most used apps. I love being able to access the library without having to leave my home. These apps help keep me reading and learning during times when I haven’t been able to physically use the library, and I think it’s important, now more than ever, that we all have access to free, library content.

Libraries help to make information and learning accessible to EVERYONE, and that is a service that is essential and worth protecting.

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