Library Blog: How to check out a digital book online

Ben Loftis Contributing Columnist

March 3, 2014

The Union Carnegie Library will take a big step forward on March 5, adding e-books as a service provided by the library. The next few blogs I write will discuss e-books and other digital resources, as well as how to use the services offered.

To make e-books available, the library joined the Jasmine Digital Consortium, a consortium of 17 libraries throughout South Carolina. Each year, each member library contributes a set amount of money to go towards adding new titles to the collection, and patrons at each library have access to all titles.

Like print titles in a physical library, digital titles also have a specific number of copies, each of which can only be checked out by one patron at a time. For example, there are three copies of John Grisham’s Sycamore Grove in the Jasmine catalog, and currently all three copies have been downloaded by a patron. After those patrons’ time expires, the title will leave their device and become available to the next patron in the holds line. Essentially, downloadable titles work exactly like print titles in that regard.

To access e-book and e-audiobooks through Overdrive, all you need is a UCCL library card in good standing. To sign in, simply visit jasmine.lib.overdrive.com, select “Sign In” in the upper right hand corner, choose “Union County Carnegie Library” from the drop down box, and enter your library card number. Then begin searching the catalog to find a book to download.

Overdrive offers two primary search options. Users can either enter a title or author to search for in the search (an advanced search option is also offered and is useful if you want to limit your search by available device or format, such as Kindle or audiobook) or select the headings in the menu at the top of the page (such as “Historical Fiction” or “May We Recommend”). Books appear by cover, and you can differentiate e-books from e-audiobooks by the image in the upper-right corner of the books cover — a book for e-books or headphones for e-audiobooks. Once you have found a book, click on title to open the book’s page. From this screen, you can view a brief description of the book and view its availability as well as in what formats it is available.

If the book is available, click the “Borrow” button to begin the download process. After clicking “Borrow,” the title will appear in your bookshelf, and you will have two reading options available. One option is to download the book and select what format to use — note that some titles are not available in all formats. The other is to use the Overdrive Read feature which will allow you to read the book in your internet browser.

For more information about how to download for a specific e-reader, visit the Overdrive Help page by clicking the Help icon at the top of the screen and selection Overdrive Help. This page provides instructions for using the site and downloading to a variety of e-readers.

Users can also adjust the settings for downloads by selecting the account icon at the top right of the menu and choosing settings. This screen allows users to change to adjust the contrast of the screen, as well as to set the check-out length for e-books and e-audiobooks. Many titles can check out for either 7, 14, or 21 days, though other titles have more rigid circulation lengths. For many titles, an option to renew will appear about 3 days prior to the end of the circulation period.