Ebook and Audiobook Library Loans Surge in Houston

The Houston Public Library has reported a record-breaking number of ebook and audiobook checkouts in the past year as fear of spreading the coronavirus kept people out of in-person visits for many months. 

It’s the proverbial silver lining found amid the disappointment to both patrons and library staff that during a large number of days over the past two years, public libraries had to close their doors because of COVID-19.

For the first time after several years of offering would-be borrowers the Libby app created by OverDrive, Houston Public Library reached the 1 million mark in digital book checkouts in 2021.

“What started as a supplement to the print collection over a decade ago has now become a core part of our collection development strategy,” said Patrick Atkins, assistant director of LMS and Frontline Training at HPL. “Anytime access to HPL’s digital materials that can be downloaded from home or anywhere is key to serving those customers who may have difficulty visiting the library in-person, especially over the last two years when access to Library buildings has been limited. The massive increase in circulation of our digital materials shows how important they are to the people we serve.”

Atkins said HP: has been aggressively expanding its digital library collection. And the hours are great. Barring any computer downtime, readers can borrow books 24/7.

The Harris County Public Library system saw an even greater number of ebook and audiobook loans come in: 4 million, according to Overdrive, the service that provides access to digital reading. Of course, the monster of them all has to be the Toronto Public Library with 9 million ebook and audio book checkouts in 2021.

All you need is a valid library card to access the books which can be viewed on Apple(R), Android™, Chromebook™ and Kindle(R) (U.S. only). Download the Libby app or visit to get started.

And in case you care to know what your fellow area residents have been borrowing:

The top 5 ebook titles borrowed through Houston Public Library’s digital collection in 2021:

1. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

2. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

3. Nomadland by Jessica Bruder

4. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

5. Educated by Tara Westover

The top 5 audiobook titles borrowed through Houston Public Library’s digital collection in 2021:

1. Becoming by Michelle Obama

2. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

3. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

4. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

5. Educated by Tara Westover

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