Services promote access for underserved populations by reducing barriers to digital books


Washington D.C. at the American Library Association Annual Conference & Exhibition – June 23, 2022 – At the in-person conference of our nation’s libraries, digital library leader OverDrive will announce tools and services to help librarians provide “Access for All.” In response to requests from industry leaders to leverage their digital collections to reach more readers, OverDrive will present Public Access Connect and other initiatives at the 2022 ALA Annual Conference & Exhibition Booth #933 in Washington, D.C. from June 23-28.

Public Access Connect enables individual libraries to grant instant access to select digital materials at a wide variety of public locations in their community. OverDrive is working with public librarians to bring instant access to highly-curated collections of ebooks, audiobooks, and magazines for all ages and interests to readers with no app to install. Public Access Connect will reach readers where they work, travel and congregate, taking advantage of open Wi-Fi where available and convenient QR codes. Key features of the program include robust curation and branding tools, and digital library card permissions set by the library.

“OverDrive is prioritizing services for libraries to address community challenges including workforce development, health and wellness, legal aid and all literacy issues,” said Steve Potash, OverDrive founder and CEO. “Our goal is for public libraries to leverage their investment in their digital collections and materials to efficiently reach and engage underserved audiences.”

Areas of focus for Public Access Connect services include:

Internet deserts, areas with low internet access:  Location-based programs using QR codes offer access to curated collections in parks, healthcare facilities, government offices, museums, senior centers and anywhere where Wi-Fi is open. Pioneer Library System (Oklahoma) is launching a series of solar-powered park benches offering open Wi-fi and access to curated digital book and magazine materials.

Seniors and super-seniors (ages 85+): Services geared specifically to older individuals, offering accessibility features to assist low-vision adults and those with disabilities. St. Louis County Library (Missouri) is supporting seniors by providing connected GrandPad tablets preloaded with Libby (browser-based version) to access the library’s curated high-interest digital collections.

Additional programs from OverDrive prioritizing “Access for All”:

Students and children:  Public libraries continue to seek efficient solutions to reach and support the students and children in their service area. Public Library CONNECT enables students to safely access their local public library’s ebooks and audiobooks (in addition to their school’s) through the Sora student reading app. This service is now in 31,000 U.S. schools, allowing 18 million students secure access to their public library digital collections using their student ID or credentials.

English Language Learners:  Over the past three years, OverDrive has donated millions of books, including Spanish Titles for Young Readers collections, to thousands of public libraries and schools worldwide. Based on the growing catalog of English language learning materials including Read-Alongs, audiobooks and Kanopy Kids videos, the company is working to assemble new curated and bundled options for those learning English.

Prison and incarcerated populations:  County libraries and state agencies in Pennsylvania and Delaware are curating ebook and magazine collections serving readers in prisons and juvenile detention centers in their area. OverDrive also powers digital collections in over 30 states by partnering with hardware suppliers that serve the educational and literacy needs for the incarcerated.

Accessibility needsImproved Libby app features for those with visual impairment, dyslexia and other disabilities. These include screen reader support, customizable ebook reader display, adjustable text size and other features.

BIPOC, LGBTQ+, AAPI and other select audiences:  Diversity audits and OverDrive Marketplace curation tools can drive inclusive collections to support DEI initiatives. For example, “Celebrating Pride Month,” “Elevate Black Stories and Black Voices,” “Diversity, Equity & Inclusion” and more.

Content access affordability:  Libraries can access more content through affordable access models. Librarians can maximize their budget by reaching more readers through OverDrive Max and other cost-effective models offering flexible options.

Visit OverDrive at ALA Annual 2022 in Booth #933 for more information about Public Access Connect and updates for all its public library content services.

Find more information about OverDrive.


About OverDrive

OverDrive is a mission-based company that stands with libraries. Named a Certified B Corp in 2017, OverDrive serves more than 81,000 libraries and schools in 106 countries with the industry’s largest digital catalog of ebooks, audiobooks, video and other content. OverDrive’s commitment to empower every library and school includes expanding access for all, tireless industry advocacy and consistently innovating. Award-winning apps and services include the Libby library reading app, the Sora student reading app, Kanopy, the leading video streaming app for libraries and colleges, and, which offers one of the largest catalogs of supplemental materials that enhance literacy outcomes. Founded in 1986, OverDrive is based in Cleveland, Ohio USA.


David Burleigh
Director of Brand & Communications