Now is Really a Time for Digital Books. Let Me Help You Get Started Finding Them!

Dear friends, it’s exceedingly likely you’ve heard a lot about ” social distancing ” lately — just look at these official ” Guidlines for America “: 

The message is clear: we must follow federal/local government guidelines during this pandemic. And there’s an irony in our situation — that by staying home we are doing more — for everyone! That said, I would like to help make staying home easier —  by helping you find books to read at home! In the following I delve into how to go about downloading e-books and audiobooks from home, with your library card — using eLibraryNJ. This ” tutorial ” is applicable to virtually everyone in our country who uses a service called Overdrive.   


These days, and for years now, public libraries have had digital books available for download using your library card.  All across the country, public libraries have access to an e-book and audio-book collection called Overdrive. For libraries located in NJ, the Overdrive site is called eLibraryNJ. To see this collection from the Web browser you’re using, click on this link. On the homepage that loads for eLibraryNJ, click on ” Sign In.” From the sign-in page you will see a drop-down menu from which you can click the name of your public library. With your library selected, simply enter your library card number in the box beneath it and press ” Sign in.” 

If you see any sort of error message regarding your library account, or don’t have your card, I advise you to contact your library. Many public libraries have staff that are working from home during this pandemic crisis. This is the case with the Cranbury Public Library. For CPL library card holders, if you have any questions about your library account, or library services, please email We will help you!

Once you are signed in under your library card at eLibraryNJ, you’re ready rock! To look for books to check out, click on the search box with a magnifier icon and type any keyword for the book you have in mind, and press “enter.” If you want to get more specific in your searching, you can click on the ” Advanced Search ” link by the magnifier icon. Within Advanced Search you can specify things like ” Author,” ” Availability,”  ” Genre ” and more.


At any point when you’re browsing through the eLibraryNJ website and you see a book cover that interests you, click on the book cover image to see more information on the book, and to check it out or place a hold (more on that later). 

At this point, I want to stop right here and let you know about Libby. Libby is the official app — made by Overdrive — for browsing eLibraryNJ (or the corresponding site for the state you’re in, if not NJ). Why switch gears and mention Libby now? You will most likely be reading or listening to any books downloaded from eLibraryNJ using the Libby app. You can still checkout books from eLibraryNJ from your Web browser (be it Chrome, Explorer, Firefox or Edge, etc) ,  but they would appear in the Shelf section of your Libby app.  

How to Get Libby

On your phone, tablet — or any other device that supports installing apps — look for the app store (which is itself an app). If you have an Apple device, it’s called ” app store “; if you have an android device, it’s called ” Google Play Store “; if you have a Windows device, it’s the  ” Windows Store.” Once inside the app store, do a search for ” Libby. ”  You should find it in your search results as ” Libby by Overdrive.” Libby is official and free, so you should download it (note: make sure you’re connected to WiFi or an ethernet connection while you’re downloading the app, otherwise it will take significantly longer to download with just a cellular data connection).



Once the app is installed, go ahead and click on it to open it. When Libby opens, click ” add a library.”  You can either let the software pull up a list of nearby libraries automatically, or browse for your library by choosing your state from the drop-down menu — and subsequently select your library by name, from an alphabetical list. Once you select your library, enter your library card number to sign in. Libby is a simple app; the interface is essentially “two-pronged” — all the user is meant to do is toggle back and forth between the e-library being used, and the bookshelf built into the app: Searching for a book/reading book — from one, to the other, over and over. 

As you browse through search results, you will notice that some of the book cover images say ” Borrow ” while others say ” Place Hold.” That’s because even though these are digital books, an unlimited number of them cannot be access by an unlimited number of users; this is in accordance with whatever the agreement is between the books’ publishers and Overdrive. When you press the link for ” Place on Hold ” — your account will immediately be entered into the hold queue for the book; once it’s your turn to check out the title, it will instantly be checked out to your account, and you will receive a courtesy email telling you that your title is available to you (look for it in the Shelf of Libby). You can place up to 5 holds at one time. You can also choose to suspend the hold, for whatever reason. 

As you browse eLibraryNJ, keep in mind that when you see book covers or titles, you can quickly scan for whether they are e-books or audiobooks, simply by the icon. E-books have a book icon. Audiobooks have a pair of headphones icon. Many library members tend to prefer reading books almost exclusively, to listening to books almost exclusively — eLibraryNJ makes it easy to browse for digital books accordingly. 

So how long are books from eLibraryNJ available for checkout. You can checkout up to  5 books at one time for 21 days (you can change this to 7 or 14 days, should you prefer that setting). A very beautiful aspect of checking out these books is that you never have to put any effort into returning them. In a manner sort of like Mission Impossible, they disappear automatically from your device when the checkout duration expires. No late fees, ever! You can also opt to return books early in eLibraryNJ; for example, when you already have 5 checkouts, simply return one early in order to checkout a new book. If you click on “Manage Loan” from a book in the Shelf of Libby, you will see a link for ” Return Early.”

A Word on Formats

When you are ready to checkout an e-book on eLibraryNJ, not the file type. If you choose a Kindle book type, because you have a Kindle, the link you clicked on will take you to the Amazon store, to sign-in. That might seem strange at first, for a free library book, but realize that the Kindle format is Amazon’s propriety book format, and even for a free library book, you need to log in with an amazon account. Once you’ve logged into Amazon, you would see a ” Deliver to…” message listing one of your kindles as a link (if you haven’t already, you need to register your Kindle device with Amazon). Once you’ve selected to download the book to you Kindle device, the book will begin immediately downloading to your Kindle device (if it’s connected to WiFi) and it will appear on the Shelf of Libby (in some cases the book might not appear on the Shelf or Libby; in that case, if your Kindle device has its own default bookshelf, check thast for the title).  

Another common e-book format you’ll see mentioned when using eLibraryNJ is for the Nook. The Nook format is another proprietary format — for Nook tablets. No logging into Amazon to download these, of course!

If your’e using Libby on a tablet, it’s more than likely that you’re tablet can read any of the major format types for e-books and audiobooks, but this wouldn’t be the case e-readers made by Amazon or Barnes and Noble (Nook). 

Follow Up

I’ve given you the basic run through that I would normally give for people visiting The Cranbury Public Library, wanting to know how to get e-books/audiobooks from our eLibraryNJ resource. Here is a link for the getting started section of eLibraryNJ, which will have some extra information. If you need any help, please email me at

Good luck to us all you in this pandemic crisis. And please remember that by reading in socially isolation, you’re really doing something. 

Over the comings days I will be making more posts about other online resources you might enjoy using.

Your Technology Specialist at the Cranbury Public Library,

Jay Oliver                                                                                                            
















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