By: Adam Sockel, Integrated Marketing Specialist

129 public library systems on pace to surpass one million digital checkouts in 2021

2021 is shaping up to be an incredible year for reading as more public library systems than ever are set to eclipse one million digital checkouts on the OverDrive platform. Thanks to library staff and their dedication to meeting community demand for digital books and promotion of apps like Libby, ebooks and audiobooks’ popularity continues increasing with readers of all ages. This year is on pace to break the all-time record, set in 2020. See last year’s list.

Total 2021 digital circulation for OverDrive library and school partners is on track to exceed half a billion checkouts, showing major growth for libraries of all sizes. Public libraries around the world are seeing double-digit growth in their digital checkouts with Toronto Public Library leading the way, having already surpassed five million checkouts this year.

What is everyone reading?

Popular 2020 releases have maintained their popularity into 2021 with titles such as The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, A Promised Land by former President Barack Obama, and The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab. New releases from this year are also topping the charts: The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah, The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave, and Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir are all being borrowed in massive numbers. Readers are also discovering page-to-screen titles like Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone and Jessica Bruder’s Nomadland after their onscreen adaptations entered the cultural zeitgeist

As physical libraries and bookstores open up, it’s clear that demand for digital reading isn’t slowing down. Readers, by and large, read multiple formats meaning that many people will engage with physical as well as digital content. Libraries increased spending on digital content in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and it appears that users gained through digital books are continuing to discover and enjoy content through their local public library anytime, anywhere.