Libraries reach first-time patron milestones driven by new Libby app features and “Public Library Connect” partnerships



CLEVELAND – January 23, 2020 – As public libraries have continually innovated throughout the years with programming and services, they’re now competing for and winning online attention in the digital world. On the heels of record-breaking digital circulation and patron growth in 2019, public librarians enter 2020 with a series of effective programs to help readers discover and benefit from a great book.

Significant innovations accelerating readership in all parts of the community include Instant Digital Card, “Public Library Connect” partnerships and digital book clubs. Rakuten OverDrive, the leading digital reading platform for over 45,000 libraries and schools worldwide, provided this data and will be available at ALA Midwinter Booth #1519 from January 24-27.

  • Instant Digital Card reached a milestone in 2019, bringing in the 250,000th new user for participating libraries. Currently available in 30 libraries, this feature in the Libby app allows users to sign up for a digital library card in under 30 seconds using only their cell phone number.

“The Instant Digital Card has greatly helped us reach patrons who may not have the time to get into a branch or we meet during outreach opportunities,” said Matt Hill, E-Resources Supervisor at Sacramento Public Library. “The Instant Digital Card has helped Sacramento Public Library with our goal for access for all.”

  • Public Library Connect”, in which schools and libraries collaborate to expand digital book access for students through the Sora app, welcomed a record 46,000 students to 500 public libraries’ digital collections. This powerful partnership promotes literacy and digital learning by providing 24/7 access to both the school’s and the public library’s digital reading resources through Sora, named one of TIME’s Best Inventions of 2019. As a result, students across the US using Sora increased the number of books read by nearly 50% when connecting to their local public library.

“Through this initiative, Harlandale ISD (TX) students have direct access to the library’s vast collection of ebooks, audiobooks and digital magazines,” said Ramiro S. Salazar, San Antonio Public Library Director. “We feel that providing students with this resource will play an essential role in their education, while opening doors that may not have been previously accessible.”

“The school-public library partnership through OverDrive advances our goals to simplify access to critical resources for our children,” said Tobin M. Cataldo, Executive Director of Jefferson County Library Cooperative in Alabama. “Public libraries are premised on the ideals of literacy, education and service and are critical resources for the entire community.”

  • Digital book clubs around the world introduced countless readers to the benefits and convenience of borrowing a digital book from the public library and joining a digital reading event. National and worldwide digital book clubs such as Big Library Read and Together We Read united millions of readers through the shared experience of reading the same ebook during the same time period then discussing online. Statewide or local digital book clubs were conducted by numerous libraries including St. Paul Public Library (MN), San Diego County Public Library (CA), Toronto Public Library, Maricopa County District Library (AZ) and Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (PA).

To learn more about these user acquisition initiatives and bring them to your library, visit the OverDrive Booth #1519 at ALA Midwinter and



About Rakuten OverDrive

OverDrive is the leading digital reading platform for libraries and schools worldwide. Named one of PCMag’s Best Free Software of 2019 and one of Popular Mechanics’ 20 Best Apps of the 2010s, the award-winning Libby is the “one-tap reading app” for libraries. We are dedicated to “a world enlightened by reading” by delivering the industry’s largest catalog of ebooks, audiobooks, magazines and other digital media to a growing network of 45,000 libraries and schools in 78 countries. Founded in 1986, OverDrive is based in Cleveland, Ohio USA and owned by Tokyo-based Rakuten.

David Burleigh

Rakuten OverDrive
Director of Brand Marketing & Communication