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App allows eBook, audiobook rentals with library card

As the world becomes ever more modern and digital, it can become easy to forget about the public libraries across America.

“We thought if you can’t beat them, join them,” said Kristina Lecroy, Troy Public Library reference librarian.

In addition to the classical library experience, the library now also offers the rental of eBooks and audiobooks through the “Libby” app and online at camellia.lib.overdrive.com.

The website has actually been accessible since 2014, Lecroy said, but the Libby app is a new feature offered to make reading and listening even more accessible to patrons.

And even the website has often been overlooked by residents who simply may not realize the library has other services outside of the building’s walls.

“Some people just don’t realize we have other services,” Lecroy said. “Many people don’t realize we have DVD, Blu-Ray and video game rentals here as well. If they don’t ask, sometimes they don’t know the new stuff we have like this. I’veheard people complain that they bought something on Kindle because we didn’t have it in the library and I was able to show them that we do actually have it online.”

And those digital books are able to be accessed through popular apps or devices such as Kindle or within the Libby app itself.

The service works similarly to the public library, albeit on a digital platform. Whether on the app or online, users simply need to select the Troy Public Library as their local library and enter the number on the back of their library card. This will not work, however, if the card needs to be renewed or if overdue fees exist on the account.

Once those issues are settled, the user will have access to the digital library of eBooks, audiobooks and magazines, of which some are not even available in the physical library.

“Several libraries in Alabama go in together to purchase these digital copies, so sometimes there are books on there that we don’t have,” Lecroy said. “There are also books in our physical library that aren’t on the app; the publishers of some of the older books especially have not made digital versions.”

Depending on the popularity of the books, there are varying amounts of digital copies, Lecroy said.

Another benefit of the digital service is that there are no overdue fees and no need to remember to turn the books back in, as they simply disappear 14 days from the rental date.

There are also no “closed” hours on the online service, so whether it’s 3 p.m. or 3 a.m., readers can rent a book whenever they get the urge.

The digital library allows users to check out 10 items at a time and the website and app are interchangeable once the books are downloaded.

Lecroy said the digital service made a difference for one truck driver that had previously been renting audio CDs from the library.

“He would have trouble sometimes getting back on time and so he’d get late fees,” Lecroy said. “We told him about the audiobooks on the app and now he’s been getting all of them through there and has really been enjoying it so that he can listen while he drives without the hassle of changing out physical CDs and having to get them back in on time.”

Lecroy said it’s important to continue evolving as a library to provide access to stories on all platforms in the ways that work best for patrons.