Reading apps and outreach programs target 100 million new library cardholders with a priority on equity of access



NASHVILLE, Tenn. – February 25, 2020 – As the nation’s public librarians gather for the Public Library Association (PLA) Conference in Nashville, OverDrive announced its “Vision 2030.” This multi-year initiative will build on the success librarians are experiencing using digital books and mobile apps to reach and provide access to all parts of the community including underserved segments to help bridge the digital divide. In the OverDrive Booth #823 at the PLA Conference, OverDrive will provide detail on Vision 2030 and the key components designed to target 100 million new readers. In addition, public librarians will present how their libraries are currently using digital books and OverDrive technologies to achieve these goals.

Why Vision 2030?

Books and reading improve lives, and our nation’s libraries play a crucial role in supporting literacy and reading. Yet nearly half of all Americans do not possess a library card.  According to Pew Research, 96% of US adults have a cell phone, which provides an immediate opportunity for libraries to introduce their services to tens of millions of new users to their online and other essential programs.

As part of OverDrive’s social mission to create “a world enlightened by reading,” the company has partnered with libraries to reach tens of millions of readers since Cleveland Public Library launched the first popular ebook lending service in 2003. As part of this mission, in partnership with the American Library Association, OverDrive has been the primary sponsor for the Libraries Transform initiative since 2015 and continues to advocate for library funding and equity issues as well as to educate publishers and authors on the benefits of fair and flexible content lending models.

“Our vision for this decade is to leverage the proven success of how libraries can be more relevant and meaningful in the lives of all citizens in every community,” said Steve Potash, founder and CEO of OverDrive. “For 2020 and beyond we are prioritizing services that will enable libraries to attract, engage, and best serve the next 100 million readers who have yet to discover and embrace their library by 2030.”

Vision 2030 campaigns include:

  • Onboard 40 million readers using their mobile phone number as their library card. Pew Research reports that in the US there are over 300 million mobile phones serving 96 percent of the population. OverDrive recently introduced Instant Digital Card, which has already enabled over 250,000 readers instant access to their local public library using their mobile number as their library card. The library sets its lending policies and can determine the level of access for these new patrons.This service is being utilized in innovative ways to provide homeless citizens immediate access to the local library. In metropolitan Seattle, King County Library System librarians are reaching out to homeless and others that own a smartphone and welcome them to the KCLS community by instructing them how to gain instant access to the KCLS library of digital books, audiobooks and other content.
  • Connect 50 million K-12 students to the library: OverDrive introduced Public Library Connect in 2019, in which schools and libraries collaborate to expand digital book access for students through the award-winning Sora app. This initiative will allow libraries to reach 50 million new student readers in the next decade. Libraries have already welcomed tens of thousands of new readers by providing 24/7 access to the public library’s digital reading resources through Sora, named one of TIME’s Best Inventions of 2019.
  • Reach 10 million readers through popular reading clubs. Digital book clubs around the world introduce millions of readers to the benefits and convenience of borrowing a digital book from the public library and joining a digital reading event. Successful reading events such as Big Library Read, and community reading programs held by St. Paul Public Library, San Diego County Public Library and Toronto Public Library unite readers through the shared experience of reading the same ebook during the same time period then discussing online. These programs can bring in 10 million or more new patrons in the next 10 years.
  • Develop innovative access models and sources of digital media. The evolution of digital content and lending models over the last 10 years has impacted the industry significantly. OverDrive is committed to working with libraries over the next decade to discover and implement new, more efficient ways to reach and serve communities. In addition to providing industry leadership and advocacy for more flexible and cost-effective lending models, OverDrive recently integrated hundreds of thousands of small publisher and self-published titles in OverDrive Marketplace which has streamlined catalog access and increased choice for libraries and patrons.

To learn more about Vision 2030 and these user acquisition initiatives, visit the OverDrive booth #823 at PLA Conference and Presentations include “School-Library OverDrive Lending: A Collaborative Approach” (Jefferson County Library Cooperative, Alabama) and “Public Library and School Collaboration – Increasing Juvenile/YA Access Through Sharing” (San Antonio Public Library).


About OverDrive

OverDrive is the leading digital reading platform for libraries and schools worldwide. We strive to create “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. Our popular reading apps provide best-in-class user experience and tools for staff management: the Libby app for libraries is one of PCMag’s Best Free Software of 2019 and Popular Mechanics’ 20 Best Apps of the 2010s, while the student reading app Sora is one of TIME’s Best Inventions of 2019. Founded in 1986, OverDrive is based in Cleveland, Ohio USA and was named a Certified B Corp in 2017.

David Burleigh

Director of Brand Marketing & Communication